Welcome to week 14 of fantasy hockey’s 5 duds and 5 studs, the official midpoint of the NHL season. This is the point of the season where the contenders and pretenders begin to take shape. An emerging contender, and fantasy hockey’s team of the week for week 14, goes to the New York Rangers. The Rangers are in fine form as of late, winning nine out of their last 10. The Rangers just completed a rare sweep in California, defeating the Ducks, Sharks, and Stanley Cup Final rivals the LA Kings. Rick Nash continued his resurgence, picking up goals against the Sharks and Ducks. Nash is now tied with Tyler Seguin at the top of the Rocket Richard race with 26 goals. Henrik Lundqvist has also really turned up his game as of late, as “The King” has remarkably picked up only one loss in his last 10 games. In addition, Lundqvist has let in more than two goals only once in his last 10 starts, so the king of New York is on fire.
Staying with hot goaltenders, Tuukka Rask finally collected consecutive wins for the first time since December 23. Rask picked up a couple of victories during week 14 against the Penguins and Flyers. After a poor first half of the season, it looks like Rask is finally beginning to catch heat at the right time for the Boston Bruins. Keep an eye on what Rask does during week 15, as it will be crucial for his game and the Bruins as well. We'll have much more on goalies during the official studs and duds list of the week, so stay tuned!
A couple of underrated players deserve an honorable shout out for their week. Justin Abdelkader of the Detroit Red Wings is one of them. The underrated Red Wing led the Wings to a couple of wins on the road in Western Canada, as Justin picked up five points on the week. Abdelkader has already set a new career high in goals, surpassing his previous career high of 10.
Former 3rd overall pick Jonathan Huberdeau picked up his game in week 14, Huberdeau picked up five points on the week, scoring two goals and an assist against the Canucks and following that up the very next night with a goal and assist against the Flames. Huberdeau is enjoying success on a line with Vincent Trocheck and Brad Boyes.
Finally, stud praises go out to the underrated defensemen in Nashville, Roman Josi. The young 24 year old defenseman is enjoying a terrific season, picking up 27 points in 41 games for the Preds. Josi is playing a ton of minutes for the Predators and Saturday against the Wild. Josi lead all players in the game in ice time playing almost 29 minutes. Josi is currently playing on the top defensive pairing with Shea Weber and also plays the power play unit with Weber on his right as well. If still available, Josi can be an absolute steal for your fantasy team.
Alright, that is all for the honorable studs of the week, lets now begin with the top 5 duds and top 5 studs for week 14 in the NHL.
10 DUD: Tyler Seguin (0G, 1A, -4)
Every stud must go through a dud-like week over the course of an 82 game schedule. Jakub Voracek went through this last week and this week the unfortunate honors go to Seguin. Tyler was ineffective for the Stars, failing to score in the team's three losses during week 14. Seguin’s lack of production caused players to catch him in the leaderboards, Malkin is closing in on Seguin’s 48 points quickly. Seguin currently sits in second in the points race, two points in back Jakub Voracek’s 50. Tyler also felt the consequences of scoring no goals this week, as Rick Nash picked up two goals this week to tie Seguin for the league lead in goals. Look for Tyler to get back on track during week 15.
9 STUD: Melker Karlsson (3G, 0A, +1)
Don’t worry Shark fans, leave it to the undrafted Swede to pick up the pieces during Big Joe’s absence! With Thornton on the injured reserve, the Sharks promoted Melker to the team's top six, playing him on a line with Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture. The 24 year old caught some serious heat during his promotion, going on an unexpected five game goal streak. Karlsson tied a Sharks franchise record for most consecutive goals by a rookie. With Thornton now back in the lineup, the Sharks have still kept the Swede in their top six rotation. Congrats to the young rookie for a great week and it will be interesting to see what Karlsson will do in week 15. Fantasy hockey owners take note.
8 DUDS: Henrik & Daniel Sedin (1G, 1A, -1)
Since arriving in Vancouver, Willie Desjardins has emphasized the importance of playing a four line game every night. This style of play has limited the Sedin’s ice time. Points wise, the duo is having a strong season but has dropped their pace as of late. Remarkably, the team's captain Henrik Sedin has only scored in one game out of his last 10, scoring two empty night goals against the Red Wings. Daniel is also well short of his previous goal marks, as Daniel has registered only nine goals in 40 games this season, Daniel has only two goals in his last 10 games. Despite the lowered amount of ice time, expect the Sedin twins to ramp it up in a hurry, as they are still regarded as elite players in this league. Week 15 will be crucial for the duo to get back on track.
7 STUD LINE OF THE WEEK: Scott Hartnell, Ryan Johansen & Nick Foligno (4G, 9A, +2)
A new duo is quickly emerging out of Columbus, as Ryan Johansen and Nick Foligno seem to be tearing it up on a nightly basis. Foligno is having a breakout season for the Blue Jackets, putting up career numbers in every offensive category. Nick has collected an impressive 40 points in 39 games played so far this season and is currently riding a seven game point streak. Teammate Ryan Johansen has also caught fire as of late. Johansen is surging for the Blue Jackets, scoring goals in five out of his last six games. In addition, Johansen has picked up points in his last 10 consecutive games. Johansen has 39 points on the season so far. Props to the newly emerged dynamic duo in Columbus. The question remains, can this duo lead the Jackets back into the playoffs this season?
6 DUD: Antti Niemi (1W, 2L, 4.34 GAA)
Struggles continued for Antti Niemi during week 14. The Sharks goaltender continues to get haunted by the potent St. Louis Blues offense, as for the second time in two weeks, the Sharks goaltender was yanked against the Blues after allowing five goals on 21 shots. Times have been rough for Niemi as of late, picking up five loses in his last seven starts. With Stalock winning his last start against the Wild, Niemi must be careful to not lose his starting position. Week 15 will be crucial for Niemi and his future in net for the Sharks.
5 STUD: Semyon Varlamov (3W, 0L, 1.66 GAA)
The Avalanche finally seem to be stringing some wins together, thanks in large part to Semyon Varlamov. Seymon was sensational in week 14, stopping 127 out of the 132 shots he faced. Varlamov absolutely stole one for the Avalanche to begin week 14, shutting out the Blackhawks with a tremendous 54 save shutout. The Avs number one goaltender closed out the week with a 37 save effort against the Stars. Varlamov is catching some serious heat, having won five of his last six starts. With the Avs clawing to get into a playoff spot, expect Varlamov to start a ton of games down the stretch.
4 DUD: Thomas Vanek (0G, 1A, -3)
With the Wild quickly sliding down the standings, Thomas Vanek was heavily relied on to up his game in a crucial time for the team. With Parise out due to the saddening death of his father, Vanek was expected to pick up his game for the struggling team. This, however, like most of the season was not the case. Vanek continues to struggle, with only seven goals halfway through the season, along with a -10 rating. This is clearly not good enough for a player making $5.5 million per season. The first half of the season has been very disappointing for Thomas Vanek.
3 STUD: Pekka Rinne (3W, 0L, 1.66 GAA)
After playing only 24 games due to injury last season, it’s pretty clear Pekka Rinne is the comeback player of the year halfway through the season. Rinne has been spectacular all year long and is certainly a front runner for the Vezina Trophy. Rinne sits a top of the league in almost every category, Rinne is second in goals against with a 1.98 GAA, second overall with .930 save percentage and first overall with 28 wins. Rinne is six wins clear of any other goalie in the league. Pekka is flaming hot, winning five straight starts along with nine wins out of his last 10. What a year so far for Rinne.
2 DUD: Jonathan Quick (0W, 2L, 3.895 GAA)
Labelled as one of the league’s best goalies, the former Stanley Cup champ is going through some rough times as of late. Quick has only two wins in his last eight starts. Week 14 was once again difficult for Quick, as dropped games to the Jets and Rangers. Quick was poor early on in his last game against the Jets, allowing 3 goals in just 6:39. Despite his poor numbers, Quick is a gamer and a battler, so be sure to continue to have faith in Quick. He will likely turn into a gem down the stretch for the Kings.
1 STUD: David Backes (5G, 3A, +4)
I think it’s pretty safe to say no player in the league was better than David Backes during week 14. Backes tore it up early in the week, feasting on Arizona with four goals. What's even more remarkable is that all four goals were scored consecutively. Backes didn’t stop there, as he had multi point nights against the Sharks and Hurricanes. His teammates also deserve a mention for their week, as David’s linemates T.J. Oshie and Alex Steen were tremendous, picking up five points apiece. Jaden Schwartz and Paul Stastny also ripped it up, picking 10 points combined as well. What a week for the Blues, going 3-0, while outscoring the opposition by a combined 18-6. The Blues are scary good going into week 15.