Throw Caution to the Wind

Three weeks. That’s all that’s left in this great season. It has to be all chips to the center if you’re still in the hunt.

Or just give up and go play fantasy baseball.

No offense to ball fans. I play, too. But there’s not much to lose at this point. Even if you’ve been burned in the past. The past is the past. Look forward and keep moving.

Like my big early season trade to get Sidney Crosby, Brad Marchand, Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan Ellis. Well, that didn’t work out. In the last week, I slipped from sixth and a postseason berth to eighth and out. But I’d do it all again.

Sometimes you’re the windshield. Sometimes you’re the bug.

I might be out in that league, but I’m not in the rest. I’m going for the championship in a few and I’m playing for next year’s draft position in another couple. And yes, I’m still ready for baseball.

I’m all in this close to the wire, regardless of my objective. And that means dumping sluggish performers for the hottest of the hot.

Sure, someone else might decide to grab the so-called star you drop. Better he be a slug for them than for you. Throw caution to the wind. What have you got to lose?

With that, let’s take a look at who caught my eye this week.

Ivan BarbashevLW/RW/C, St. Louis (42 percent Yahoo!) – Barbashev is a must-add right now. Seriously.

Three weeks. That’s all that’s left in this great season. It has to be all chips to the center if you’re still in the hunt.

Or just give up and go play fantasy baseball.

No offense to ball fans. I play, too. But there’s not much to lose at this point. Even if you’ve been burned in the past. The past is the past. Look forward and keep moving.

Like my big early season trade to get Sidney Crosby, Brad Marchand, Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan Ellis. Well, that didn’t work out. In the last week, I slipped from sixth and a postseason berth to eighth and out. But I’d do it all again.

Sometimes you’re the windshield. Sometimes you’re the bug.

I might be out in that league, but I’m not in the rest. I’m going for the championship in a few and I’m playing for next year’s draft position in another couple. And yes, I’m still ready for baseball.

I’m all in this close to the wire, regardless of my objective. And that means dumping sluggish performers for the hottest of the hot.

Sure, someone else might decide to grab the so-called star you drop. Better he be a slug for them than for you. Throw caution to the wind. What have you got to lose?

With that, let’s take a look at who caught my eye this week.

Ivan BarbashevLW/RW/C, St. Louis (42 percent Yahoo!) – Barbashev is a must-add right now. Seriously. He’s on a six-game, eight-point scoring streak heading into Tuesday and has also laid 23 hits. Sure, he’s a third-line guy in St. Loo, but his 53 points show off his skill. There’s no reason why Barbashev should be languishing on any wire right now… unless it’s a really shallow league.

alex chiassonRW, Vancouver (0 percent Yahoo!) – Yes, I’m dubious – Chiasson has struggled offensively all season long. But playing with Bo Horvat has helped him to a three-game, six-point streak that includes three goals. And half of the points have come on the PP. Chiasson needs someone to drive the bus for him and that’s Horvat. If he keeps his stick on the ice, points have a chance to come. Consider him a Hail Mary at this point, but if you’re all in then you’re all in, even on long shots.

Nico HischierC, New Jersey (34 percent Yahoo!) – I wish I’d paid closer attention to Hischier before now. Since the game in Ottawa on Feb 9, he’s been on a monster tear with 30 points, including 12 goals, in 24 games heading into the late game Sunday night. And Hischier’s won 246 face-offs during that span – that’s a double-digit average. The rest of the categories are a bit thin – 55 SOG, six PPP and just 18 hits over those 30. But I’ll take that face-off/offense combo in a couple leagues immediately.

Ryan JohansonC, Nashville (40 percent Yahoo!) – Johansen skated into Sunday on a bit of a rocket. He jumped from 31 to 40 percent rostered in the last couple days on the back of a three-game, five-goal streak (three on the PP). And his category coverage of him has been inspired – he had 33 FW, 12 SOG and three hits on the streak. Sure, the goals are a bit of mirage – Johansen’s 21.2 shooting percentage is almost double his career 11.5 percent. But don’t let that stop you if you need a strong pivot at this point in the season.

Mathieu JosephLW/RW/C, Ottawa (26 percent Yahoo!) – Joseph got his get-out-of-jail card from the Cup champions on Mar. 20. He was pigeonholed in Tampa as a PK/forechecker because of his speed, and was never able to replicate the offense he showed at lower levels. Until Ottawa. Joseph is now a first-line threat with 11 points, 18 SOG and 17 hits in nine games in Canada’s capital. Ten of those points came on a four-game streak that was snapped Saturday at Madison Square. Joseph’s game is obviously somewhere between these two extremes. But this first-line gig needs to be milked for as long as possible.

Sam MontembeautG, Montreal (5 percent Yahoo!) – Montembeault looked sharp in relief Saturday against the Leafs – that first-shot goal by Auston Matthews can be forgiven and the second one was going six inches wide until it went in off his own defender’s skate. Jake Allen’s groin probably needs rest and a four-game week against non-playoff teams like the Jets, Jackets and Islanders suddenly makes Montembeault a guy with appeal. Even if only a little.

Jean-Gabriel PageauC, NY Islanders (29 percent Yahoo!) – Pageau had a great week for the quietly improving Islanders. He started the week last Sunday with a natural hat trick and a helper on the game winner. And then he added a goal against each of the Stars and Canes. But that’s not all – Pageau’s category coverage was strong. In four games, I have counted five goals, one assist, 12 SOG, 36 FW and 11 hits. The Isles have 10 games left and Pageau is their top performer right now. Better than their MVP Brock Nelson and “star” Mathew Barzal. Don’t get me started on Barzal. Seriously – those air quotes fit.

Kyle PalmieriLW/RW, NY Islanders (7 percent Yahoo!) – Palmieri is better than his 29-point stat line. A lot better. He’s really clicking with Jean-Gabriel Pageau (see above) right now, and he has six points (three goals, three assists), 14 shots and six hits in his last six games. Modest production, but Palmieri is a talented veteran out of prove he’s worth the $5 thousand a season the team gave him until 2025. That’s motivation.

Carey PriceG, Montreal (58 percent Yahoo!) Hail Mary? This is Doug Flutie to Gerard Phelan to beat Miami kind of Hail Mary. Price is day-to-day and will decide when he’s ready to roll. But here’s the rub. Jake Allen’s nightmare season could be done and Cayden Primeau, who was called up Sunday, is likely more valuable in an AHL playoff run than in Montreal. Price may choose to test that knee before season’s end, so add him on speculation right now if you have any flexibility. Even two starts of a potentially vintage Price could be a difference maker.

Back to throwing caution.

Mark Knopfler’s words have never been more fitting, even if they are vintage 90s. I might have been the bug in that Crosby trade, but I came oh-so-close to being the windshield. So close.

You won’t get to the final if you don’t go all in to win the semis. You play the goalies you know have the net and not the ones who might, especially in weekly formats.

I’ve moved up three spots in one league – and thus improving my draft lot for next year – on the back of Scott Wedgewood, Andrew Hammond and Mads Sogaard. Simply because they were healthier than guys like Ilya Sorokin and Robin Lehner.

Throw caution to the wind.

Until next week.

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