No defenseman had a better fantasy night than Sabres blue-liner Craig Rivet, who tallied three assists in Buffalo’s 6-5 home shootout win against the Sharks.
Rivet’s totals (one goal, 14 assists, +0, 77 PIM) are unimpressive, until you realize he’s only played 38 games. He missed nearly a month with a shoulder injury in December and early January. He returned January 6, and did not score for four games.
But on January 15 he notched an assist, and since then he’s lit it up. In fact, in the past month, he was the fantasy world’s second rated defenseman, behind only Washington Capitals stud Mike Green. Rivet’s stats in the past month: one goal, nine assists, +6, 28 PIM, four PPP, and 23 shots on goal.
Despite this prolific month, Rivet is only owned in 25 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 61.8 percent of ESPN leagues. That disparity is telling, but it’s a demographic story. For now, focus only on the fact that Rivet is a No. 3 fantasy defenseman who’s widely available for no cost. He is an ideal pickup for any owner seeking penalty minutes: in each season since 2001-02, Rivet has totaled at least 69 PIM.
Quick hits on the goalies:
- Devils goalie Scott Clemmensen (24-11-1, .922, 2.23) posted his second-straight shutout, an impressive 1-0 blanking of the Bruins in New Jersey. Clemmensen stopped 31 shots, while Bruins goalie Tim Thomas stopped 17 of 18. There are few fantasy ramifications to this, since Devils goalie Martin Brodeur returns March 1. Therefore it’s too late to fetch anything in a trade for Clemmensen. The only lesson is that handcuffing, either with running backs in football or goalies in hockey, is not a bulletproof strategy. If you handcuffed Brodeur, the goalie you would have done it with is Kevin Weekes. On paper, Weekes was Brodeur’s backup, but by Thanksgiving he’d lost the job to Clemmensen.
- Looks like Columbus goalie Steve Mason (20-12-2, .924, 2.09) is over his mono. He stopped 32 of 34 shots as the Blue Jackets notched an impressive 3-2 home win against the Red Wings. Mason is 2-1 with a 1.97 GAA and .938 save percentage against Detroit. If he keeps this up, he will be a first-round fantasy pick next year.
- Meanwhile, the other Mason, Blues goalie Chris Mason (9-15-4, .916, 2.55) shut out the Black Hawks in a 1-0 home win, stopping 22 shots. Mason has had a superb month (6-2-3, 1.61, .941) and is a No. 2 goalie for the rest of this season.
- Mason’s counterpart in last night’s game, Black Hawks goalie Cristobal Huet (13-10-3, .915, 2.35), stopped 22 of 23 shots. Nevertheless, Huet does not belong on fantasy rosters. He has been inconsistent all season, bottoming out with his February 7 debacle at Vancouver, in which he allowed six goals in 20 minutes. Yes, Black Hawks starting goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (lower-body injury) is day-to-day. But I still can’t trust Huet, even if Khabibulin’s injury guarantees a string of easy starts. The Black Hawks’ next four games are vs. Dallas, at Tampa, at Florida, at Dallas. If Huet gets through the first two without a hitch, I’ll change my mind.