March 22, 2023
Eastern Edge: Swayman's launch, Kakko's positioning, and Jenner's schedule

Eastern Edge: Swayman’s launch, Kakko’s positioning, and Jenner’s schedule

In this week’s Eastern Edge we focus on the goalkeeping situation in Boston. We’ll also be highlighting two players this week who are worthy of being pulled off the waiver wire.

Don’t be fooled, man

The Bruins have only played six games, but a gap has already opened up between their two goalies. Linus Ullmark has a 4-0 record with a brilliant 2.23 GAA and 0.929 save percentage. In contrast, Jeremy Swayman was drafted on one of his two starts and currently has a 5.40 GAA and a .816 save ratio. A quick look at each goalie’s past opponents gives the impression that Swayman has had the easier matchups. He has faced off against the Coyotes and Senators (for two periods), while Ullmark has faced off against the Senators (for one period), Capitals, Panthers, Ducks and Wild. None of Swayman’s opponents qualified for the playoffs last year, while three of Ullmark’s opponents did – but it’s not that simple. First, it’s a new season with new rosters and our perception of certain teams may be out of date. The Panthers had a strong offense last year, but after losing some big plays in the summer, their attack doesn’t seem as strong as it used to be. Yes, Ullmark did a great job against Florida, but maybe it’s not as impressive as last year. The Sens weren’t a playoff team last season, but they made some big strides in the offseason and look dangerous right now. A bad start against them this season isn’t as bad as it was years ago.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the season is so young. We should not place too many supplies in small patterns. When a good goalie has two bad games in the middle of a season, those lackluster stats get lost in a larger crowd of good stats. When two bad games happen at the beginning of the year, there’s nothing that can cushion the blow. Let’s take a closer look at Swayman’s two starts to see if his early struggles can be explained. His first game was against Arizona and he gave up three goals in 24 shots. The Coyotes have one of the worst rosters in the league, and they get missed and lost every night. Such an opponent can be difficult for a goalie to deal with as seeing fewer shots makes it harder to get into a rhythm. His second start was against the Senators and he gave up six goals on 25 shots in two periods. As I mentioned, the Sens aren’t the same team as they were last season. It’s early days but they average 4.17 goals per game which currently ranks fourth in the league. The excitement in Ottawa is at its highest in recent years and the city rocked for the Sens’ home game against the Bruins, so it was a difficult environment for Swayman to play in. More importantly, it was the second half of a return game to-back for Boston and Swayman fell victim to a series of defensive collapses. I’d say he was at fault for two of the goals he gave up, but turnovers in the defensive zone led to shots from the slot area for three of Ottawa’s goals, and the last one came after a two-on-one rush.

With Ullmark set to get his third straight start against the Stars on Tuesday, some fantasy execs could be concerned that Swayman will fall into a backup role this year. Discussing his team’s goalkeeping situation ahead of the season, new coach Jim Montgomery quoted this:

“I think everyone would say ideally you have a No. 1 (goaltender) by the time you get into the playoffs and after the trade deadline. And it’s up to one of those goalies to come out on top of the other. But in today’s NHL, to succeed in the regular season with as many three (games) in four (days) as you have, you have to have two goalies doing the job night after night. (Source: NESN).

A quote like that leads me to believe that one of Boston’s goaltenders will end the season with a few more starts than the other — say, a 60/40 split rather than the perfectly balanced duties that Ullmark and Swayman saw last year. At this point, it looks like Ullmark could emerge as a prime option, but it’s way too early to rule out Swayman. The Bruins have a back-to-back set on Thursday and Friday this week, so Swayman will be back on the net soon. If he can show a good performance he will be rewarded with more starts. Swayman was dropped in many leagues after his early struggles. If you can pick him up for free, you’re snagging a good goalie on a good team – an advantage not typically available on the waiver wire.

Waiver wire adds

Kaapo Kako — The Rangers are one of three teams — the others being Minnesota and Chicago — to play four league games between Tuesday and Sunday. Two goals in six appearances is nothing special, but Kakko features prominently in New York’s top six and all reports suggest he appears to be a better player this season than in previous years. It’s currently listed in only 10% of Yahoo formats, so chances are it’s available in your league.

BooneJenner – The Blue Jackets are on a favorable schedule for the remainder of this fantasy week. They have a game against Arizona and a game against New Jersey, two teams that struggled to keep the puck out of their nets earlier in the year. Additionally, Columbus is in action on Friday and Sunday, two lighter days with not as many teams playing, making it easier to add Jenner to your fantasy roster. With Patrik Laine returning to the lineup Tuesday, the top line from the team of Laine, Jenner and Johnny Gaudreau should be a potent force. If Jenner isn’t available in your league, Jakub Voracek has five points in his last four games and is another good option.

#Eastern #Edge #Swaymans #launch #Kakkos #positioning #Jenners #schedule

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