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Fantasy Hockey Gauntlet - Week Nineteen: Alex Ovechkin, Erik Karlsson, and Carey Price

Troy Langefeld runs the fantasy hockey gauntlet for week nineteen of the NHL season!

Carey Price has given us a lot to celebrate this year - Photo Credit
Carey Price has given us a lot to celebrate this year - Photo Credit
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

My apologies for the formatting below. It's quite finicky and the only way I can figure out to fix it is to delete it and re-write it... If you missed out on the early entries into my weekly series, you can find it all right here: Fake Teams Fantasy Hockey.

A quick recap of last week's recommendations: I did pretty good.

Chad Johnson, my special recommendation from nowhere got the two starts I anticipated and played quite well. He nearly came out with two wins, but had to settle for just one. Regardless, his 1.45 GAA and 0.954 SV% played in any league and easily could have made the difference in your matchup. continuing on with the Islanders, Travis Hamonic contributed a bit of everything (except powerplay - seems he's been bumped back to the second unit) for a solid week (1G/2A/+3/6PIM/11SOG).

Anders Lee and Josh Bailey continued their hot play on the top line with John Tavares (Lee: 1G/2A/-1/2PIM/1PP/17SOG and Bailey: 1G/1A/-2/14SOG - remember that Bailey isn't on the top powerplay unit). Those were the only Islanders that I recommended, but Islanders players were all making a contribution. If you followed my advice and looked for any that were available to you last week, Frans Nielsen, Ryan Strome, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, and Matt Martin (28 hits last week for hits leagues) all made contributions as well. Nick Bjugstad disappointed with just a goal and a terrible -4 rating, but he kept shooting (11SOG) so I still feel optimistic regarding him. Kevin Hayes predictably disappeared, but linemate Carl Hagelin did not. I was more bullish on Hagelin anyway due to hit shot totals, but it's interesting to see the difference between the two on the same line (1 point vs. 4 points).

Mike Hoffman was meh ok, and Mikko Koivu was awesome with Alexandre Burrows falling somewhere in between. Burrows was injured and only played in two of his four games last week. He tallied an assist but really saved the week by gathering 11PIMs. John Gibson was a decent play winning two of his three games with a 2.67 GAA and 0.908 SV%, but didn't really move the needle for anyone. With Frederick Andersen likely less than a week from returning (and Gibson not stealing the show), Gibson is just a short term fix right now.

In the snake draft league - This was Made in Kariya - I picked up a big win to move back within striking distance of first. I'm still in third, but I trail the leader by three points and second by two. I need to finish in the top two to get a first week playoff bye, so that's my goal with only three weeks left. In the auction draft league - Don't Toews me bro! - I made up a lot of ground in this league as well with a big win and moved back within two points of first. Unfortunately, the team in third put together a masterful 10-0 week to continue catching up to me and trails me by only five points. Again, I need to make sure I secure a bye with only three weeks left. Overall, it was a very good week for me as I went 5-0-1 and I'm now 64-32-11 in head to head matchups on the year. My matchup winning percentage is 0.650 for the year among all leagues versus my category (points) winning percentage of 0.575.

Week Nineteen (February 23 - March 1) Preview:

4 Game Week: Anaheim, Arizona, Columbus, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, New Jersey, St. Louis
2 Game Week: Edmonton, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Tampa Bay
All other teams at 3 games

This upcoming Friday will mark the three quarter point in NHL games played this season and I thought I'd review the our best and worst fantasy assets to this point a week early as next week I'm sure to have lots of trade deadline topics to talk about.

Top Forward:

Quarter Mark Winner: Jacub Voracek - RW - PHI (94% owned) Runner Up: Vladimir Tarasenko - RW - STL (93%)

Mid Season Winner: Jacub Voracek - RW - PHI (94%) Runner Up: Tyler Seguin - C/RW - DAL (99%)

Three Quarter Mark Winner: Alex Ovechkin - LW/RW - WAS (100%) Runner Ups: Patrick Kane - C/RW - CHI (100%) and John Tavares - C - NYI (100%)

Alex Ovechkin has risen quickly up the ranks with strong third quarter results. He know leads the league in goals, ranks fifth in points, fifth in powerplay points, and first in shots. His 44 penalty minutes aren't terrible for a guy with his skill and he's actually maintain a plus rating this year (+12) which is what everyone always dinged him for. Hard to argue with those kind of numbers.

Patrick Kane leads the NHL in points now and is fully deserving of a runner-up role and my favourite John Tavares has been on such a hot run lately that he know finds himself in contention as well (sixth in goals, fourth in points, sixth in powerplay points, and seventh in shots. The race for the Hart trophy has by no means finished early this year.

Top Defenseman:

Quarter Mark Winner: Mark Giordano - D - CGY (97%) Runner Up: There really was none.

Mid Season Winner: Kevin Shattenkirk - D - STL (88%) Runner Up: Mark Giordano - D - CGY (97%)

Three Quarter Mark Winner: Erik Karlsson - D - OTT (100%)
Runner Ups: Kris Letang - D - PIT (99%) and Dustin Byfuglien - RW/D - WPG (95%)

We seem to be seeing the cream rising to the top at this point in the season. Early surprises for both fowards and defenseman have both fallen off the pace slightly to be outdone by the initial favourites. The race for defenseman was close, but I'm giving it to Karlsson for the abundance of shots that he takes. Letang leads NHL blueliners in points with 47, but Karlsson is only two behind (Byfuglien has 40). Karlsson and Byfuglien have 14 goals apiece to Letang's 10. All of them have recorded a plus rating, but now one has blown it out of the water. They aren't seperated much in powerplay points as Letang has 20 to Karlsson's 19 (Byfuglien has 15). The real difference is shots. Karlsson leads all defenseman with 208 (sixth in all the league). Byfuglien has 187 (16th in the league and third among rearguards, while Letang is back at 158 (still a more than respectable eighth among blueliners). Byfuglien earns a runner up mark for his additional contributions in penalty minutes as he leads all defenseman with 107.

Top Goaltender:

Quarter Mark Winner: Pekka Rinne - G - NSH (96%) Runner Up: Marc-Andre Fleury - G - PIT (99%)

Mid Season Winner: Pekka Rinne - G - NSH (96%) Runner Up: Marc-Andre Fleury - G - PIT (99%)

Three Quarter Mark Winner: Carey Price - G - MON (100%) Runner Ups: Pekka Rinne - G - NSH (96%) and Marc-Andre Fluery - G - PIT (99%)

Rinne's injury may have given Price the opportunity to catch up in wins, but we shouldn't diminish the excellent play the Price has had recently. He is top five in all goaltending categories right now, leading the league in goals against average and save percentage (among qualified goalies), second in wins (one behind Pekka Rinne with 33), and fifth in shutouts. Rinne ranks second in goals against average and save percentage (and has one more win in two less starts) and probably remains the leader for the Vezina trophy, but his three shutouts is a bit behind Price's five (and Fluery's eight). Fluery is third in goals against average and fourth in save percentage, but his 27 wins are slightly off the pace of the other two goalies. He also has a league leading eight shutouts to keep him in this race.

Most Disappointing Forward:

Quarter Mark Loser: Anze Kopitar - C - LA (97%) Runner Ups: Jeff Skinner - LW/RW - CAR (66%) and Thomas Vanek - LW/RW - MIN (76%)

Mid Season Loser: Matt Duchene - C/LW - COL (93%) Runner Ups: Jeff Skinner - LW/RW - CAR (66%) and Thomas Vanek - LW/RW - MIN (76%)

Three Quarter Mark Loser: Jeff Skinner - LW/RW - CAR (66%) Runner Ups: Matt Duchene - C/LW - COL (93%) and Patrick Sharp - C/LW - CHI (96%)

Jeff Skinner has long been in the running for most disappointing forward and now he has the dubious honour of leading the charge. With only 23 points in 53 games, a terrible rating, and virtually no penalty minutes or powerplay points, he has not been worth wasting a roster spot on in all but very deep leagues. I hate to say I told you so, but I told you to avoid him before the season started.

Matt Duchene hasn't done much either as I alluded to last time, but the big surprise here is Patrick Sharp. Following his injury, he has landed on the third line of the Blackhawks, which while great for scoring depth has shattered our expectations of what Sharp will provide for us. He's also been taken off the point on the top powerplay and is now playing on the second unit. Not good for those who were relying on him this year (myself included).

Most Disappointing Defenseman:

Quarter Mark Loser: Matt Niskanen - D - WAS (71%) Runner Ups: Alex Pietrangelo - D - STL (96%) and Christian Ehrhoff - D - PIT (54%)

Mid Season Loser: Matt Niskanen - D - WAS (71%) Runner Ups: Alex Pietrangelo - D - STL (96%) and Oliver Ekman-Larsson - D - ARI (97%)

Three Quarter Mark Loser: Zdeno Chara - D - BOS (87%) Runner Up: Matt Niskanen - D - WAS (71%)

Big Z was injured at the beginning of the year, but he's still not doing anything despite being healthy again and has been a major disappointment for owners who waited for him to return. His struggles mirror that of the entire Bruins team actually, something that we as fantasy hockey enthusiasts have taken for granted over recent years. I can't remember a time when Chara didn't have a strong goal total, a near league leading plus/minus, decent powerplay numbers, and strong shot totals. He's done none of that this year. Niskanen hasn't done much more than Chara, but at least it's a bit better.

Most Disappointing Goaltender:

Quarter Mark Loser: Mike Smith - G - ARI (58%) Runner Up: There really was none.

Mid Season Loser: Mike Smith - G - ARI (58%) Runner Ups: Kari Lehtonen - G - DAL (90%), Sergei Bobrovsky - G - CLS (87%), and Tuukka Rask - G - BOS (100%)

Three Quarter Mark Loser: Mike Smith - G - ARI (58%) Runner Ups: Kari Lehtonen - G - DAL (90%) and Sergei Bobrovsky - G - CLS (87%)

Little has changed for goaltenders as Mike Smith continues to steal the show for the losers side. Nothing is going to change here before the end of the season, he will finish the year as the biggest fantasy disappointment, but he can still be useful in limited appearances. He put together a good stretch of games from February 3-10th and might be able to do it again at some point this year. He is really hard to trust on a poor Coyotes team, but some of us still remember how he single-handedly won fantasy championships for many three years ago.

Lehtonen has been so poor for the Stars, that they brought in Jhonas Enroth to help with their playoff push. Segei Bobrovsky might not belong on this list as he's been injured for a while, but when playing he has been nothing to write home about.

Week Twenty (March 2-8) Preview:

4 Game Week: Calgary, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, Ottawa, Philadelphia 
2 Game Week: St. Louis, Winnipeg
All other teams at 3 games

My NHL Schedule:

The NHL Schedule has not been revised for anything since last week but can be found here: 2014-15 NHL Schedule. Don't forget to change the time zone to your appropriate time zone. The one thing I ask of you is that you do not take my schedule and use it for your own personal gains. Please do not sell it, you can direct people here to find it, but do not sell it.

I'm new to the twitterverse, but I'd love to hear your feedback and questions. Follow me on Twitter @HockeyGauntlet for more of my thoughts and all of your fantasy hockey needs.