The Fantasy Hockey Planner is the essential guide to setting your lineup for the upcoming week. Every week, we provide you with top matchups, the latest news and give you the scoop on injured players.
Teams with four games: Atlanta, Carolina, Colorado, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Minnesota, Montreal, N.Y. Islanders, N.Y. Rangers, Philadelphia, Phoenix, St. Louis, Washington
Teams with three games: Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Chicago, Columbus, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Nashville, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver
Teams with two games: New Jersey, Ottawa
Fantasy Week 8 (Nov. 24-30)
With Thanksgiving on Thursday, the NHL schedule is a bit crammed Week 8.
There are three days -- Wednesday, Friday and Saturday -- in the upcoming scoring period with 11 or more games.
Also, 14 teams will be playing four games and 23 teams have one back-to-back slate.
Editors Note: Projections are for Nov. 24-30 games and all stats are through Thursday
This week's news and notes for each team:
Anaheim Ducks: Defenseman Francois Beauchemin had surgery Thursday to repair a torn ACL that is expected to keep him sidelined for six months. Beauchemin had four goals and one assist in 18 games. Kent Huskins and Steve Montador are expected to help pick up the slack ... Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere is winless in four appearances (0-3-1) and has allowed three or more goals in each game during that span. Giguere has a 3.15 GAA this season, but despite some struggles, Anaheim is not ready to turn to Jonas Hiller ... Left winger Brian Sutherby left Wednesday's game against Washington with a groin injury. He is only day-to-day after a MRI cleared him of further damage, but the fourth-line forward will hardly be missed in Fantasy ... Coach Randy Carlyle hasn't been pleased with Rob Niedermayer's production as of late, opting to bench him for one game before returning him to the lineup Wednesday. Niedermayer has just one goal in 13 games after scoring twice in the first two.
Atlanta Thrashers: Goalie Kari Lehtonen's back injury has been so problematic he still hasn't played since Oct. 30. The Thrashers have no timetable for his return and it's best to keep him reserved through Week 8 ... Atlanta has four games Week 8 and is looking at a favorable schedule. Three of their opponents -- Toronto, Nashville and St. Louis -- have a GAA of 3.31 or higher. Consider starting your Thrashers' skaters Week 8 ... In trying to pinpoint Ilya Kovalchuk's early-season scoring troubles, many believe Kovalchuk is having trouble scoring goals since he isn't controlling the puck as much as he did in 2007-08. A main reason for the problem is that Atlanta's not winning many faceoffs ... Defenseman Mathieu Schneider returned to the lineup Thursday against the Penguins after missing five games with a hip flexor. Schneider was only expected to miss three games, but since Zach Bogosian is still out with a broken leg, Atlanta was in no rush to activate Schneider since his primary objective is to tutor the 2008 first-round pick when Bogosian is healthy ... Forward Bryan Little had four goals and five assists during a six-game point streak that ended Thursday.
Boston Bruins: With Andrew Ference out until at least late October with a broken leg, defenseman Matt Hunwick is back in the defensive rotation. He has capitalized on the extra PT with one goal and two assists in his last two games ... Forward Marco Sturm missed his first game Wednesday against the Sabres because of an upper-body injury. Sturm, who is listed as day-to-day, has three goals in his last four games ... Left winger P.J. Axelsson still doesn't have a goal this season, but he has been moved to the left point on the second power-play unit ... First-line center Marc Savard had a four-point night Wednesday and it resulted in him reaching the 600-point plateau of his career. It also helped extend his point streak to four games (1 G, 8 A) ... Phil Kessel has scored in two straight games after getting one goal in his previous 11 games ... Patrice Bergeron is second on the team with 55 shots, but has scored just three times ... Defenseman Zdeno Chara is turning the corner with four goals in his last seven games after not scoring in his first 12.
Buffalo Sabres: Defenseman Henrik Tallinder has entered coach Lindy Ruff's doghouse. After creating a turnover early in the first period of Wednesday's 7-4 loss to the Bruins, Tallinder logged just 5:49 of ice time. Ruff is sending a message to his team to correct the mistakes or find themselves on the bench ... Oft-injured center Tim Connolly is back out of action with an upper body injury. The Sabres are treating the fragile forward as a week-to-week candidate ... Forward Ales Kotalik is expected to be sidelined at least two weeks with a pulled hamstring. Keep him out of lineups Week 8 ... Buffalo has three games Week 8, but all their opponents -- Boston, Pittsburgh, Montreal -- rank in the top 15 for GAA ... Left winger Thomas Vanek had another two goals Wednesday and has four two-goal games this season ... Right winger Jason Pominville has scored in four straight games and six of eight after scoring just twice in 10 October games ... Derek Roy was demoted to the team's second line Wednesday after posting just 10 points in his first 17 games. He responded by scoring a goal and adding an assist to run his point streak to three games (1 G, 3 A).
|1.||Ian White, D, TOR||26|
|2.||Pavol Demitra, C, VAN||25|
|3.||Matt Stajan, C, TOR||25|
|4.||Cam Barker, D, CHI||22|
|5.||Bobby Ryan, RW, ANA||20|
|6.||Derick Brassard, C, CLB||18|
|7.||Kris Versteeg, RW, CHI||17|
|8.||Jordan Staal, C, PIT||17|
|9.||Erik Ersberg, G, LA||16|
|10.||Mikael Samuelsson, RW, DET||14|
Calgary Flames: Adrian Aucoin has been moved to a defensive pairing with shutdown defender Robyn Regehr. He responded in a big way with one goal, one assist and a plus-3 rating in his first game with Regehr Tuesday against the Avalanche ... Injured forward Matthew Lombardi, who has been out since Oct. 23 with a shoulder injury, is inching toward a return. He has been practicing for a couple of weeks, and the Flames are dying to get his speed back on the ice. At this point, it's best to keep Lombardi reserved until he can return and prove productive ... Calgary has one game against Los Angeles and two games against Vancouver Week 8. The Flames have scored just seven goals in three games against those two teams this season (2.33 GAA). The thought of facing Roberto Luongo twice in a week is not very appealing.
Carolina Hurricanes: Injured forward Justin Williams, who had surgery Sept. 18 to repair a ruptured Achilles', took part in his first full team practice Thursday since the operation. He is wearing a non-contact jersey, but said his heel feels fine and believes he is ahead of schedule. Williams was expected to be sidelined until mid-January until the earliest. The Hurricanes aren't budging on the 4-6 month timetable, but are encouraged by Williams' progress ... Defenseman Frantisek Kaberle (foot) was also back at practice Thursday, but still has not been cleared for contact. Keep him reserved for Week 8 ... Carolina is up for four games Week 8 with two against the Flyers and one each against Florida and Anaheim. Both the Ducks (3.15) and Flyers (3.24) rank in the bottom 10 for GAA ... The Hurricanes have five games in eight days starting Sunday, so backup goalie Michael Leighton should be in net at least once, if not twice during that stretch ... Center Eric Staal continues to be mired in a scoring slump, failing to notch a goal in eight straight games.
Chicago Blackhawks: The recent buzz around the Windy City is a trade that would bring Michael Nylander to Chicago and send Dustin Byfuglien and Brent Sopel to Washington. Chicago has been looking for a veteran center since shipping Robert Lang to Montreal. A trade to Chicago could once again make Nylander a reliable Fantasy forward ... Forward Patrick Sharp ended his four-game point drought with a goal Tuesday. He had 16 points in his first 12 games before going dry for the four-game spell ... The Blackhawks are on the road for games against San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles Week 8. Chicago hasn't scored well away from home, averaging just 2.86 goals per game on the road ... After getting just two points in his first four games, forward Patrick Kane has 22 points in his last 14 games ... Forward Kris Versteeg has 11 points (five goals) in eight November games.
Colorado Avalanche: Injured center Joe Sakic (back) has been practicing recently with his teammates and will go on a two-game road trip starting Saturday against the Kings. Sakic is in no rush to get back from the nagging back injury, so if he doesn't play Saturday, then consider him an injury-risk start Week 8 ... Fourth-line center Ben Guite (ribs) is also slated to go on the road trip, but his absence means very little in Fantasy ... Colorado is up for four games Week 8 and with one back-to-back we should see Andrew Raycroft make a start ... Center Paul Stastny inked a five-year extension earlier this week. Hopefully it will be motivation to jump start his stagnant offensive game. Stastny has no goals, three assists and a minus-7 rating in eight November games ... Marek Svatos, who came into the season coming off major knee surgery, says he is finally settling into a rhythm. He has two goals in his last four games after getting just one in his first 13. However, he suffered an abdominal injury Thursday against the Flames and is back to being day-to-day ... Wojtek Wolski still doesn't have a goal in 17 games since scoring in the opener.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Enforcer Derek Dorsett, 21, was recalled from Syracuse (AHL) Thursday. In his first stint with Columbus, he had one goal, one assist and 56 penalty minutes in 10 games ... Defenseman Rostislav Klesla has been placed on IR because of a nagging ankle injury. Columbus has given no specific timetable for his return, so Fantasy owners will want to keep him reserved until further notice. Marc Methot has been elevated to a pair with Fedor Tyutin in Klesla's absence ... Columbus is still uncertain about their goalie situation, but with three games Week 8, we can see the split being two starts for Pascal Leclaire and one for rookie Steve Mason, if he is not sent back to the minors following Saturday's game against Atlanta ... Forward Rick Nash has scored in four straight games after going nine contests without one -- the second longest streak of his career ... Derick Brassard continues to be the frontrunner for the Calder Trophy with his 18th and 19th points Tuesday against the Oilers. Brassard has eight goals and 11 assists and has had at least a point in 15 of 18 games this season ... Fellow rookie Jakub Voracek has gone a bit cold with just one point in his last six games. He hasn’t scored in 12 contests.
Dallas Stars: Jere Lehtinen is back out of action, but this time with an upper-body injury. Lehtinen missed the first 14 games of the season with a groin injury and has dressed for only three games this season ... With four games in seven days Week 8, coach Dave Tippett is likely to throw rookie goalie Tobias Stephan in net for an outing ... In a surprising move, Dallas traded away Philippe Boucher to land defenseman Darryl Sydor from the Penguins. The move seems more beneficial in Fantasy for Boucher since Pittsburgh needs some offensive help along the blue line. Sydor moving to Dallas just gives the team another defensive presence and veteran leader ... Forward Brenden Morrow is having an awful November. After totaling 12 points in 11 October games, Morrow has one goal and two assists in seven November contests ... Forward Loui Eriksson has a team-high eight goals and is converting 20.5 percent of the time.
|1.||Thrashers||@TOR, @WAS, NSH, STL|
|2.||Wild||WAS, DAL, TB, @NSH|
|3.||Canadiens||NYI, @DET, @WAS, BUF|
|4.||Flyers||DAL, @CAR, CAR, @TOR|
|5.||Blues||@NSH, @COL, EDM, @ATL|
Detroit Red Wings: Goalie Ty Conklin picked up his first shutout in a Red Wing uniform Monday against the Oilers. It came after his wife gave birth to the couple's third child Saturday. It was also Conklin's second consecutive start in place of an ineffective Chris Osgood, who has only lost once this season but has a 3.29 GAA and .881 save percentage. Detroit is yet to spark a goalie controversy, but don't forget Detroit had no problems rotating Osgood and Dominik Hasek last season on their way to a Stanley Cup ... Forward Jiri Hudler isn't getting a lot of time as a top-six forward, but he is making the most out of his playing time. He has 16 points (six goals) in his last 14 games after failing to register a point in his first four games ... A benching is what defenseman Brett Lebda needed. After struggling with no points and a minus-9 rating in 11 October games, coach Mike Babcock sat Lebda for three games to begin November. In four games since returning to the lineup, he has two assists and a plus-2 rating. Lebda is being lauded for doing a better job managing the puck and moving his feet ... Dan Cleary is still out with a painful eye infection, but hopes to resume skating within a week. He is still an injury-risk start Week 8 ... Both left winger Tomas Holmstrom (back spasms) and defenseman Niklas Kronwall (ankle) missed Thursday's game against the Oilers. Both are listed as day-to-day, but neither injury is considered serious ... Detroit has four games Week 8 with three against top 10 defenses -- Boston, Vancouver and Montreal.
Edmonton Oilers: Dwayne Roloson has won his job back as the Oilers' No. 1 goalie. After losing the job to Mathieu Garon last season and becoming expendable heading into 2008-09, Roloson has replaced an ineffective Garon, who will now share backup duties with Jeff Drouin-Deslaurie ... Edmonton is ready to give defenseman Ladislav Smid a crack at left wing after he has been a disaster along the blue line. The 2004 first-round pick has just 16 points (three goals) in 150 career games. They are hoping the move up front will spark his offensive game ... Forward Fernando Pisani is out at least a 1-2 months after breaking his ankle Monday against the Red Wings ... Forward Dustin Penner was back on the ice Tuesday against Columbus after being a healthy scratch for two games. He responded to a public lashing by coach Craig MacTavish by being on the ice for three goals in a 7-2 win against Columbus ... Forward Shawn Horcoff had a goal and two assists Tuesday after getting just three points in his previous nine games. His breakout performance came after he was put back on a line with Ales Hemsky ... Edmonton has three games Week 8 with two coming against teams in the bottom 10 for GAA (St. Louis and Dallas).
Florida Panthers: Florida has a four-game slate Week 8 with three contests at home. The Panthers rank 25th in home GFA (2.57). It gets even worse with a home-and-home against the Rangers. The thought of facing Henrik Lundqvist twice is not very appealing ... Forward Cory Stillman is out indefinitely with post-concussion syndrome. He has no points in his last six games. For the season he has five goals and four assists. Keep him reserved in Fantasy until further notice ... Rookie Michael Frolik took Stillman's spot on the top line alongside Nathan Horton and Rostislav Olesz. He could get an extended look as a top-six forward with Stillman sidelined ... Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who is in a free-agent year, has a team-worst minus-8 rating ... Defenseman Bryan McCabe scored two goals in a game Tuesday against Tampa Bay for the first time since Nov. 11, 2006. He has at least one point in each of his last five games -- three goals, three assists, plus-3 rating ... Defenseman Keith Ballard doesn't have a point in his last seven games and has seen most of his scoring chances go to McCabe since McCabe returned from a back injury. Ballard and Horton are still the only Panthers with 10 or more points.
Los Angeles Kings: Rookie defenseman Drew Doughty continues to get his crash course as the 18-year-old continues to log more than 22 minutes per game in his first NHL season. He has been impressive with seven points and a plus-8 rating and is proving to be a valuable first-round pick ... While Erik Ersberg has been doing most of the goaltending in November, Jason LaBarbera might jump into net for a start Week 8 as Los Angeles has one back-to-back slate ... Patrick O' Sullivan scored an empty-net goal Thursday against the Capitals for his first score in 12 games after doing so three times in his first five contests.
Minnesota Wild: The Marian Gaborik waiting game continues as the injured forward remains out of the lineup with a lower-body injury. He has played just two games this season and has been out several weeks with the mysterious injury. It seems the disgruntled forward might only return to action as soon as a trade is completed ... Minnesota is up for four games Week 8. With one back-to-back slate, backup goalie Josh Harding should make an appearance ... The Wild have three games Week 8 against teams with GAAs in the bottom half of the league -- Washington, Dallas and Nashville. Consider starting your Minnesota skaters in the upcoming scoring period.
Montreal Canadiens: Defenseman Mike Komisarek is back to being day-to-day after sitting out the last week with a strained shoulder suffered in a fight Nov. 13 with Boston's Milan Lucic ... Defenseman Josh Gorges has played 87 games for the Canadiens without scoring a goal ... Montreal has four games Week 8 and three of the contests are against teams in the bottom half of GAA -- Washington, N.Y. Islanders and Detroit. Consider starting your Montreal skaters ... With one back-to-back Week 8, expect to see backup goalie Jaroslav Halak in net for a start ... Center Saku Koivu has seven points in nine November games after totaling 10 in nine October contests ... Defenseman Andrei Markov has just two goals and three assists in his last 11 games after opening the season on a seven-game point streak (10 assists) ... Montreal has switched up their top scoring line by replacing Alexei Kovalev with Guillaume Latendresse. But with the way coach Guy Carbonneau has rotated forwards in 2008-09, this alignment likely won't last.
Nashville Predators: After coming into the season with high hopes for rookie forwards Patric Hornqvist and Ryan Jones, Nashville sent both struggling forwards to Milwaukee of the AHL Thursday. Hornqvist, who was a healthy scratch in his last two games before being demoted, had seven points (two goals) in 15 games. Jones had six points (three goals) in 15 contests ... Top-line center Jason Arnott, who already missed three games earlier this season with a broken finger, dodged a real bullet Monday after suffering a nasty collision against San Jose. Arnott had to be stretchered off the ice, but only suffered a mild neck strain. He is not expected to miss any time, so keep Arnott active for Week 8 ... Nashville has three games Week 8 with one back-to-back. Backup rookie goalie Pekka Rinne could find his way into the lineup for a start.
New Jersey Devils: Kevin Weekes was given the first chance to replace injured goalie Martin Brodeur, who is out 3-4 months following elbow surgery, but failed miserably and has since been replaced by Scott Clemmensen, who has started four straight games. This is a situation that could fluctuate until Brodeur returns or New Jersey trades for some goalie help ... Center Brian Rolston is skating on his own and adds his sprained right ankle is getting better. However, New Jersey still has no timetable for his return and it's best to keep him reserved through Week 8 ... New Jersey has a pair of road games Week 8 against Florida and Pittsburgh. Both teams have GAAs below 3.00 and the Devils rank dead last in road GFA (1.57). Consider benching your New Jersey skaters Week 8 ... Patrik Elias has scored in three straight games after getting just two goals in his previous 13 games ... Dainius Zubrus doesn't have a goal in nine November games after scoring twice in his last three October contests.
New York Islanders: Defenseman Thomas Pock will finish with his five-game suspension for elbowing Senators forward Ryan Shannon Monday against the Canadiens and be eligible to play Wednesday against the Penguins ... Forward Mike Comrie is still being listed as day-to-day as he recovers from an inflamed hip ... Islanders goalie Joey MacDonald is 5-2-1 since replacing injured goalie Rick DiPietro (knee) for a second time this season ... Defenseman Brendan Witt, who has been out with a knee injury since Oct. 23, is practicing and hopes to play soon. Witt is primarily a Fantasy option in leagues that reward heavily for PIM and short-handed stats when healthy ... Doug Weight has a point in five of his last six games (2 G, 4 A) ... Defenseman Mark Streit doesn't have a goal in eight games after scoring four times in five games from Oct. 23-Nov. 1 ... Center Frans Nielsen has seven points (two goals) in nine November games after getting just two points (no goals) in nine October games ... The Islanders have four games Week 8 and each opponent -- Boston, Ottawa, Pittsburgh and Montreal -- have a GAA of 2.67 or better. Consider benching your Islanders' skaters Week 8.
New York Rangers: It recently came out that first-line center Scott Gomez has been playing with a stress fracture in his ankle for most of the season. He recently opted to take himself out of the lineup, but the team is holding out hope he will play Monday against the Coyotes. Still, it appears Gomez is far too risky of a start Week 8 ... New York has four games in the upcoming scoring period and all three of their opponents -- Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Florida (twice) -- have GAAs 2.83 or better ... Markus Naslund has had a quiet November with just four points (two goals) in nine games ... Chris Drury continues his November purge with six goals in seven games ... Ryan Callahan is tied for third on the team with six goals.
Ottawa Senators: Chris Neil is one of the toughest guys in the NHL, but he will be out several weeks following knee surgery Friday. Keep the penalty-minute hog reserved in Fantasy until further notice ... Center Mike Fisher is also out a couple of weeks after straining ligaments in his right knee. He will not need surgery, however ... Dany Heatley scored just his fourth even-strength goal Thursday against the Canadiens. He has seven power-play goals ... Antoine Vermette just can't get any lucky bounces these days. His ran his goal-less streak to eight games Thursday after his third goal was waved off during a delayed penalty call. Referee Don VanMassenhoven immediately waved it off indicating that he had blown his whistle when Montreal defenseman Francis Bouillion played the puck just before Vermette beat Carey Price with his shot from the slot ... Ottawa has just two games Week 8, but both opponents -- N.Y. Islanders and Toronto -- rank in the bottom 10 for GAA.
Philadelphia Flyers: Enforcer Riley Cote (oblique) has been placed on the long-term injury list and isn’t eligible to play until Nov. 29 at Toronto. It's best to keep him reserved in leagues that reward heavily for PIM through Week 8 ... Center Daniel Briere is targeting a Monday return from a groin injury that has kept him out the past week. Briere said his recovery is coming along slowly, but is hoping to make progress over the weekend. Briere seems like a risky start heading into Week 8 ... Defenseman Ossi Vaananen isn't having much better luck in his recovery from a broken finger. He has limited Fantasy appeal when healthy ... The Flyers dress for four games Week 8. They play Carolina twice, and Dallas and Toronto once. All three of their opponents have GAAs 2.89 or worse. That's definitely good news for one of the top scoring teams in the NHL (3.41 GFA). Consider starting your Philadelphia skaters ... With one back-to-back slate, Antero Niittymaki should be in net for one start ... The Flyers continue to await word from free-agent forward Brendan Shanahan. The hold up appears to be a contract dispute as Philadelphia is offering $1 million and Shanahan wants $1.5 million ... Simon Gagne has 11 goals and 11 assists which has him on track for a career-high 56 goals and 56 assists.
|2.||Islanders||@MON, PIT, @BOS, OTT|
|3.||Sabres||BOS, PIT, @MON|
|4.||Panthers||CAR, NJ, NYR, @NYR|
|5.||Blackhawks||@SJ, @ANA, @LA|
Phoenix Coyotes: Daniel Winnik is hurting after being struck in the midsection with a puck Tuesday against the Blackhawks. Coach Wayne Gretzky is not expecting Winnik to miss much time, but when he does return, The Great One is hoping Winnik picks up his offensive game. Winnik has no goal and one assist in 15 games ... The Coyotes are up for four games Week 8. Starting Friday, they have six games in nine days and two back-to-back slates. Ilya Bryzgalov will see most of the starts, but Gretzky might have to turn to Mikael Tellqvist for a start or two ... Shane Doan played in his 900th game Tuesday. He commemorated the appearance with a goal and now has six points (three goals) in his last five games ... Peter Mueller is quietly getting his act together with eight points (two goals) in nine November games after posting four points in October ... Steve Reinprecht is a surprising fourth in points with 10 and third in plus/minus (6).
Pittsburgh Penguins: Injured defenseman Ryan Whitney returned to practice Friday for the first time since August foot surgery. He has yet to be cleared for full contact, but Whitney is still eyeing a mid-to-late December return ... Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury will miss a third straight game Saturday with an undisclosed injury, which is believed to be a groin pull. All Pittsburgh is saying is that Fleury is out until "next week." Fantasy owners can't rest at ease not knowing Fleury's status, so he remains a risky option heading into Week 8. Dany Sabourin has started in his absence ... Coach Michel Therrien has already taken a liking to new acquisition Philippe Boucher. He has been impressed with defenseman in his first two games and even moved him to the left point on the first power-play unit ... Don’t look now, but Tyler Kennedy is tied for fourth on the team with 12 points. Jordan Staal and Petr Sykora also have 12 points after very slow starts to the season.
San Jose Sharks: Injured goalie Evgeni Nabokov, who has been out since Nov. 6 with a lower-body injury, returned to practice Thursday for the first time since the incident and that prompted San Jose to send Thomas Greiss down to the AHL. Nabokov hopes to be available Saturday against Washington, if not able to start. It does appear he is close to regaining his starting job and could once again be a useful Fantasy option Week 8. In return, Brian Boucher will head back to the bench ... Mike Grier, on the other hand, is still slow to recover from his own lower-body injury and might need a few more days to rest ... Right winger Devin Setoguchi leads the team with 11 goals and is tied with 22 points. He has four goals and four assists during a four-game point streak ... Joe Thornton has two goals and five assists during a four-game streak.
St. Louis Blues: Center Patrick Berglund, who is expected to pick up the slack in the absence of Andy McDonald (ankle), is dealing with his own injury, but on a much minor scale. The rookie has a strained groin and is day-to-day ... There is still no definite word on when Paul Kariya will return from a foot injury. He has been sidelined for several weeks for an injury that was only supposed to keep him out a few games ... Brad Boyes has been stuck in a scoring funk since lighting the lamp seven times in his first eight games. He has just one goal in his last eight games and he could really struggle without McDonald's presence ... Keith Tkachuk is also in a scoring slump with just one goal in his last eight games ... David Perron has two goals and four assists in his last five games. The second-year player and 2007 first-round pick is third on the team with 11 assists and fourth with 13 points ... St. Louis is on the road for three of four games Week 8. The Blues rank sixth in road GFA (3.14) and three of their opponents -- Nashville, Atlanta and Edmonton -- have GAAs 3.00 or higher. Consider starting your St. Louis skaters.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Ryan Malone is trying to play through a groin injury. Hopefully he won’t suffer a setback that will keep him out several weeks ... New coach Rick Tocchet has unleashed rookie forward Steve Stamkos, who was averaging around 11 minutes per night under Barry Melrose. Stamkos is expected to be featured more prominently under Tocchet and the transition has already begun for the No. 1 pick. He took nine shots Tuesday against Florida and played almost 18 minutes ... Radim Vrbata, a key offseason acquisition, was held without a goal in his first 17 games before scoring Tuesday. He is another player expected to pick up his game with the coaching change ... Vincent Lecavalier has a point in each of his first two games under Tocchet and could be ready for have his first big scoring spree of 2008-09.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Goalie Vesa Toskala has an uncharacteristic 3.24 GAA and .878 save percentage this season, and coach Ron Wilson has said his goalie realizes his play is not up to par. Wilson says Toskala needs to get better at fighting for his space since at 5-10 there are a lot of open holes in the net. Despite Toskala's struggles, Wilson is not ready to turn Curtis Joseph. Continue to use Toskala as a No. 2 Fantasy goalie ... Toronto expects John Mitchell back from a shoulder injury in the near future ... Mikhail Grabovski has had a breakout November with eight goals in nine games ... Matt Stajan leads the team with 17 points with 11 coming in nine November outings ... Jason Blake has three points (one goal) in three games since a one-game benching.
Vancouver Canucks: Pavol Demitra has been red hot since returning from injury. In the four games since missing 10 games with a rib injury, Demitra has three goals and seven points. He continues to display his versatility as he bounces between the top two lines and is logging major power-play time as well ... The "Fragile Finn" Sami Salo appears to be nursing another injury. After leaving Wednesday's game with a combination of the flu and hamstring ailment, Salo did not dress Thursday against the Wild. It is the 31st documented injury of his career. There is no timetable for how long he will be out ... Right winger Steve Bernier scored his first goal in nine games -- and his first point in seven games -- Thursday in Minnesota, ending a lengthy slump that has seen him spend time on the fourth line ... Enforcer Shane O'Brien has taken six minor penalties and one major penalty in his last two games to up his penalty minutes to 53 on the season ... Vancouver has a game against Detroit and a home-and-home slate with Calgary Week 8. Both teams have a GAA 3.06 or higher.
Washington Capitals: The Capitals stars seem to be dropping like flies. With Sergei Fedorov (ankle) already out of the lineup, Washington has lost Alexander Semin (upper body) and Mike Green (shoulder) in the last week. All of their statuses remain up in the air ... Washington has four games Week 8, but it's hard to speculate who will be in net since coach Bruce Boudreau is going blindly picking his goalie matchups. It's best to treat Brent Johnson and Jose Theodore as low-end No. 2/high-end No. 3 Fantasy goalies until the situation plays itself out ... Alex Ovechkin had an assist Thursday against the Kings to extend his point streak to six games (6 G, 9 A). He is starting to look like his MVP-self again ... Linemate Nicklas Backstrom is also out of his early-season funk with 14 points (four goals) during a seven-game point streak.
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