It was a good week of hockey for the Phoenix Coyotes heading into Thursday night. They played well in Anaheim before falling 3-2 in a shootout, beat Detroit with a stirring come from behind effort 5-2 and got past Calgary 4-2. Even though last nights 7-4 defeat wasn't good for real hockey purposes, it was all right for fantasy players. Let's look at three players of note for this past week.
1. Martin Hanzal
#11 / Center / Phoenix Coyotes
Feb 20, 1987
|2013 - Martin Hanzal||11||4||6||10||-3||17||1||0||1||31|
Hanzal had another solid week, getting three goals and adding an assist. He leads the team in points with 10, is the team's leading forward in ATOI with 18:48, is second in shots on goal with 31 and leads the team in hits with 41. Yes, his plus/minus is down, but that will happen when you still get matched up defensively against the other team's best forwards, but Hanzal is starting to develop an offensive game that has been a long time coming. It's great to see the talented centerman embracing his potential and he is well on his way to a breakout season. Currently, he's available in 78% of Yahoo leagues and in only 9% of ESPN ones. Grab him now, because this is not a fluke. As long as he and Vrbata are healthy, Hanzal will produce. And this season may be a career year.
2. Keith Yandle
#3 / Defenseman / Phoenix Coyotes
Sep 09, 1986
|2013 - Keith Yandle||11||0||6||6||-3||6||0||0||0||23|
Coming into this week, Yandle had produced one assist in his first seven games. He also only had 13 SOG. It was certainly a maddening start for a guy who led the team in points last season and was a reliable fantasy option. For a defenseman who had been drafted among the top 20 at his position, it couldn't have been much worse. But someone predicted a potential breakout was coming soon for the assistant captain.
This week saw the return of the dynamic Keith Yandle, and his fantasy production improved with it. He added five assists in four games, two on the man advantage, and added 10 shots. He's currently third on the team in ATOI, behind OEL and Zbynek Michalek with 21:33. While he is still looking for his first goal of the season, the turnaround in his play this week should be a good portend of thing to come. You could be forgiven for dropping him from your starting lineup in rotisserie scoring before this weeek, but now is a good time to put him back in.
3. Mike Smith
#41 / Goalie / Phoenix Coyotes
Mar 22, 1982
|2013 - Mike Smith||10||546||5||2||28||3.08||301||273||.907||0|
The week started strong for Smitty. He gave up 2 goals in each of his first three games and even added a goal against Detroit. But then came a trip to L.A. and a less than stellar period, giving up four goals on 15 shots. He would be sat down for Thomas Greiss. The majority of that poor performance in L.A. wasn't all Smith's fault, but iffy rebound control cost him and he probably should have had both of the goals Dwight King scored on him. The Coyotes didn't play well in front of him but he didn't bail them out like he has in the past.
Smith's numbers through 10 games are not good. A 3.08 GAA with a .907 SV% is below league average and certainly not good for fantasy purposes. Granted, two poor performances against the Islanders and the Kings have shifted those numbers down, but overall, Smith has not been a top fantasy goalie this season. He's certainly not a number 1 option at this point, and is just barely hanging on to a number 2 spot. You definitely shouldn't drop him unless you are in the shallowest of leagues, but if you feel you have a better option behind him, you could certainly make him your number 3 while you wait to see if he can right the ship. It was trending that direction before L.A., so all is not lost. Don't be surprised if Greiss gets a start or 2 this week just to give Smith some time to catch his breath.
4. Skating With the Pack: Add/Drop Advice
- Mike Ribeiro had another fantastic week, getting four goals and an assist. Oliver Ekman-Larsson continues to be as good a defensman as there is in the league, adding two more assists and nine more shots and playing the 15th most minutes in the NHL (considering the Coyotes have only played in two extra time games this year, that number is good). Play them every game.
- If you need point production from your blueliners, Derek Morris is worth an add. He currently leads the Coyotes in points for defensemen with seven and is a plus skater on the season right now at +1. He only plays 19:16 at this time, but that's is lowered by him missing parts of two games due to injury. He only has 11 SOG, but he leads all Coyotes d-men in hits with 18 and adds nine blocked shots. He is available in 91% of Yahoo leagues and 69% of ESPN ones.
- David Moss spent some time this week on a line with Mike Ribeiro. He got two assists and added eight SOG. He's quietly 5th on the team for shots by a forward and 6th for hits. He's not worth adding yet, but if he sees time with Ribeiro moving forward, he's an interesting flyer. With the current state of Coyote injuries, that doesn't look to be happening in the near future.
- Mikkel Boedker continues to be among the most dropped players in fantasy. He's not shooting the puck as much as is needed for him to score goals, but he is surprisingly leading the team in assists with seven. If you have room on your roster to pick up a forward whom expects to have better numbers coming, don't be afraid to snag him.
5. The Trail Ahead: The Next Week of Games
The Coyotes will see action in four games in the coming week, with the first 3 at home and the final one on the road. They should have a productive week given the matchups.
- The Edmonton Oilers come to town for a Saturday afternoon matinee. Surprisingly, the Oilers are in the lower half of the league in goals per game (17th to be exact, scoring 2.73 per game) but some of that can be attributed to the absence of Taylor Hall. Unsurprisingly, the Oilers defense is a shambles, ranking dead last giving up 3.91 goals per game. The Coyotes have to take advantage of this, especially after the poor game against L.A. This match-up could make or break the week.
- Tuesday night, the Kings come to town. The Coyotes have to play better this time, and hopefully won't take a penalty in the opening moments again. The Kings offense was bad coming into their last meeting and their defense was good. That wasn't the case during the game. Who knows what'll happen when these two teams play.
- Thursday night, the Coyotes get their first look at Seth Jones and the Nashville Predators. Nashville is 26th in the league offensively, scoring only two goals per game. The Coyotes could catch a break as perennial Vezina candidate Pekka Rinne will miss at least the next month due to a hip infection. Another game the Coyotes should be able to take advantage of.
- Finally, the Yotes wrap up the week with a Saturday visit to the Shark tank. The first time they went there this season saw Tomas Hertl's coming out party with two goals including one in the opening minute. Can the Coyotes keep up with the Sharks speed or will they get blitzed again in San Jose? These questions and more will be answered in a week's time.
There is your week 4 fantasy hockey round up. Have fun and enjoy the games.