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Neutral Zone Wrap: You must make the tough decision

by | Rotowire.com
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Breaking up is hard to do. Just ask the Fantasy owner who can't get rid of a certain player mainly out of devotion. You've given so much to support him but he hasn't recently reciprocated the love. You lose sleep trying to figure out the reason for his pathetic performance. Why is he hurting you when you've stood by him for so long?

So when is it time to say goodbye?

Knowing when to drop is not an exact science and often depends on league structure and available replacement options. First, there's the difference between keeper and one-year formats. They are similar in many ways, but the carryover involves an added decision of whether or not you would retain a player for the following season and beyond. Of course, you would not dump anyone without a suitable fill-in. Can Player X in the free-agent pool do more? Or would Player Y on that other owner's squad be a better fit (provided the asking price isn't too steep)?

Patience is a virtue. But sometimes, it gets in the way of statistics and good old-fashioned common sense. Even if your underperformer has established himself as a mid-level scorer, maybe he's better off gone if he hasn't done anything in 10 games and his ice time is steadily decreasing. The signs are often present, but we often ignore them because we believe in what a player once did - and not what they are failing to do now. If that's the case, then cut the cord. Most likely, he will be happier with someone else.

Maybe you'll discover the perfect mate on one of the following teams. Or a match made in Fantasy hell:

In the continuing love-hate relationship between Leaf fans and the club, the momentum is quickly shifting to the negative side. After a preseason romance and a shotgun fling, the mood has soured of late. Is this typical reactive support behavior? Or is the honeymoon over in Toronto? The goaltending situation is deteriorating without James Reimer (concussion), as neither Jonas Gustavsson (3.78 goals-against average, .880 save percentage in nine) nor Ben Scrivens (4.05 GAA, .870 save percentage in three) can handle #1 duties, let alone serve as an able #2. Tim Connolly (upper-body injury absolutely, positively not related to earlier shoulder problem) has already reverted to fragile form after a promising run (six points in four). And Tyler Bozak (zero in six) isn't the solution as the top-line center, but 6-foot-5 kid Joe Colborne (19 in 12 in the AHL) could be the savior down the road. Maybe Cody Franson (one assist, minus-5, healthy scratch in eight of the last nine) isn't fitting in, but that might have more to do with the depth of blueline competition.

After an early European swoon (listless in two OT defeats), the Rangers are flourishing closer to home (winners of five straight). It's always sweet to tag along with a healthy Marian Gaborik. The latest beneficiaries are Artem Anisimov and Derek Stepan (combining for 13 in the last three), but that could easily change with the flick of a head coach's mood. Ruslan Fedotenko (one in seven after five in the first seven) has successfully performed another disappearing act. And hey, Ryan Callahan, you may be up there in goals (six), shots (52), hits (32), and blocks (20) but please try to do more in the points department (only one assist). You too, Brandon Dubinsky (no goals, six assists), although you're a pleasant surprise in the penalty minute category (tied for fourth in the NHL with 47). Ryan McDonagh may not receive much power-play time, but he's the defensive workhorse without Marc Staal (at over 25 minutes a night) and chipping in with the right amount of offense (six).

Not much changed over the summer, so no surprise on Anaheim's terrible beginning following a disappointing playoff exit. When you rely so much on your big guns to carry the load, the deficiencies really show when they - and everyone else - struggle to score (the Ducks sit last averaging 1.83 goals per game). It's unfortunate what happened to Jason Blake (lacerated arm, out another two months), but it is also important to realize he wasn't that important Fantasy-wise (name something relevant he has done since the 63 points of 2008-09). Neither Andrew Cogliano (two) nor Brandon McMillan (three) has earned the open second-line slot, so perhaps it's time to provide rookie Devante Smith-Pelly (first NHL goal Wednesday night, arguably Anaheim's hardest working forward) with more chances to shine. And where in the world is Lubomir Visnovsky (four, minus-9)?

When Mike Richards headed to Hollywood, many believed he was the final piece to place Los Angeles as legitimate Cup contenders. But after the first 15 contests, the Kings do not display any resemblance to hockey royalty, at a mediocre 7-5-3. The eternal Dustin Penner problem may have finally yielded a glimmer of hope (woke up with two points Tuesday). Jarrett Stoll may also be breaking out of a slump (adding two on Tuesday). Scott Parse was looking to be a worthy secondary contributor (two goals), but now he's gone indefinitely with some mystery malady. For someone who showed promise in his first full year (16 in 60), it's amazing it took 14 outings for Alec Martinez to register his first point. No question Jonathan Quick can dominate in net (1.87 goals-against average, .940 save percentage, three shutouts), as Jonathan Bernier (3.37 goals-against average, .870 save percentage in three) hasn't exactly stolen the headlines with his play so far.

This ain't your father's Minnesota Wild. You know, the one that has existed since inception with a defense-first mentality. This version will come at you with, well, moderate offense (still near the bottom of the league in goals for). Remember when many gave up on Pierre-Marc Bouchard (four in four) due to health issues? And others who pigeonholed Guillaume Latendresse (eight) as a shoot-first, power-play specialist (although the last three were goals)? Surprised Matt Cullen (six) is leading the team in goals? Who is waiting for Jared Spurgeon (three) or Marco Scandella (two) to emerge as second-tier D-men? And does anyone really believe Josh Harding (1.18 goals-against average, .965 save percentage, undefeated in five) can surpass stalwart Niklas Backstrom (2.05 goals-against average, .926 save percentage) on the depth chart?

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Player News
Eric Gelinas
Devils' Gelinas Back In Friday
Eric Gelinas, D, NJ
8:36 AM
News: Eric Gelinas will likely get back on the ice Friday, the the Record's Tom Gulitti reports.
Analysis: It looks like Adam Larsson will be a healthy scratch Friday, which was the case for Eric Gelinas earlier in the week.

Adam Larsson
Devils' Larsson Will Be Healthy Scratch Friday
Adam Larsson, D, NJ
8:34 AM
News: Adam Larsson will be a healthy scratch Friday, the the Record's Tom Gulitti reports.
Analysis: He was skating late with Devils coaches during the morning skate, and it looks like Eric Gelinas is back in for New Jersey.

Martin Havlat
Devils' Havlat (Face) Out Friday
Martin Havlat, RW, NJ
8:32 AM
News: Martin Havlat (face) is out for Friday's game, the Record's Tom Gulitti reports.
Analysis: His status for Saturday is not yet known, but he should be considered day-to-day for now.

Andrew MacDonald
Flyers' MacDonald (Lower Body) Out Four Weeks
Andrew MacDonald, D, PHI
8:24 AM
News: Andrew MacDonald (lower body) will be out four weeks, according to general manager Ron Hextall.
Analysis: He had appeared in all seven of the Flyers contests, recording three points and an average ice time of 22:55, ranking second on the team. This leaves the Flyers thin on defense, as Braydon Coburn will also miss another four weeks with a lower-body injury. Call-ups for the injured defensemen are undetermined at this time.

Braydon Coburn
Flyers' Coburn (Lower Body) Out Four Weeks
Braydon Coburn, D, PHI
8:21 AM
News: Braydon Coburn (lower body) will be out four weeks, according to general manager Ron Hextall.
Analysis: Braydon Coburn has already missed two weeks with the injury, and it was thought he would be able to return earlier in the week, but the latest news confirms the ailment was more severe than anticipated. Andrew MacDonald will also be out for about a month with a lower-body injury, so the Flyers are noticeably thin on defense. Call-ups for the injured defensemen are undetermined at this time.

Jordin Tootoo
Devils' Tootoo (Bruised Foot) Placed On IR
Jordin Tootoo, RW, NJ
8:12 AM
News: Jordin Tootoo has a bone bruise on his left foot, and has been placed on the injured reserve, retroactive to Oct. 21, and is considered day-to-day.
Analysis: His foot isn't broken, which is good news, but he will need to sit out until Oct. 28 after being placed on injured reserve.

Alexander Steen
Blues' Steen Picks Up Helper
Alexander Steen, LW, STL
8:04 AM
News: Alexander Steen (illness) played more than 21 minutes and picked up an assist Thursday in a loss to the Canucks. He was minus-2 and took four shots.
Analysis: The flu that had been bothering Alexander Steen for a couple of days didn't seem to limit him on Thursday. He should be safe to count on going forward.

Sam Gagner
Coyotes' Gagner Still Without Point
Sam Gagner, C, ARI
7:59 AM
News: Sam Gagner was held off the scoresheet and was minus-2 Thursday in a loss to Minnesota. He put one shot on net in 17:34 of ice time.
Analysis: Sam Gagner has yet to register a point with the Coyotes. His track record suggests that the points will come soon, but he could soon endanger his playing time if his slump continues

Jake Muzzin
Kings' Muzzin Returns To Lineup
Jake Muzzin, D, LA
6:36 AM
News: Jake Muzzin logged over 20 minutes of ice time in his return to the lineup Thursday.
Analysis: Jake Muzzin didn't factor into the scoring in a 2-0 win over the Sabres but was able to log some pretty heavy minutes in his first game back. He could see some extra time on the team's second power play until Slava Voynov's situation is resolved.

Marco Scandella
Wild's Scandella Off To Strong Defensive Start
Marco Scandella, D, MIN
5:43 AM
News: Marco Scandella had three shots on goal and was a plus-two in Thursday's win over Phoenix.
Analysis: Marco Scandella doesn't have a point this season but he's played solid defense as he's plus-five and has seven blocked shots. Sandella's value isn't in scoring points, but it looks like he's set for another strong year in plus/minus rating and other defensive stats.

 
 
 
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