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Neutral Zone Wrap: It's time to flex your muscle

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

The road to Fantasy success is rarely paved with good intentions.

You might not want to hurt someone else's team, but that's the price you pay for wanting to do well. So you improve your squad while taking away a key piece or two from a non-contender. Don't worry about it. Just think if the situations were reversed: Your roster would be gutted worse than a turkey before Thanksgiving.

There is no remorse in Roto.

Well, only when you have the chance to strike and you fail to pull the trigger. Now that's something that could haunt you down the line.

So go ahead and take the initiative. Be ruthless. Make that move now. Yes, now. Don't delay. C'mon, time is wasting. After all, being proactive worked for a few NHL clubs. Like, perhaps, one or more of the following:

You would expect a team to struggle after moving across the continent and enduring ridiculous travel schedules. But the Winnipeg Jets have been able to defy the odds to become a respectable outfit (10-4-1 since mid-November). Reason No. 1 for their success would be their top man in net. Ondrej Pavelec (3.11 goals-against average, .903 save percentage) has exceeded expectations by standing on his head most nights (top 5 in shots). Right behind him in importance are the trio of Evander Kane, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler (43 combined points in 13 contests). After a blistering beginning (nine points in nine games) Alex Burmistrov has fallen off the map (two in 10 and a minor injury to boot). Will Antti Miettinen (a double-digit goal scorer in each of his six full seasons) be able to add some offense? Tobias Enstrom (fractured collarbone) is still out, but Zach Bogosian (six points in 10 games, 23 PIM) has been able to carry a bit of the load. Ron Hainsey (back from consecutive maladies) can also add some stats if he feels like it.

The Blues are proving a coaching change and an awful power-play can spur anyone to greatness. (OK, maybe not the latter. But they've promised to improve. And we should take their word for it.) The dynamic duo of T.J. Oshie and Alexander Steen top the charts (with 19 each). Poolies and hockey fans alike have cheered the return of David Perron (three points in four games). Grab Jason Arnott if you need someone who is only useful in one area (half of his 14 points have come on the man-advantage). Meanwhile, Chris Stewart (four-game point streak ended last week) is struggling less than usual. A similar state exists for Patrik Berglund (also had a four-game run halted), a perennial favorite of this column. Another player mentioned often here, Kris Russell, has surprised at times since coming from Columbus (although one point in nine games sounds more like the old Kris). And when will Brian Elliott (with a Parent-like 12-2 mark, 1.46 goals-against average, .947 save percentage and four shutouts) finally show weakness?

It’s good to see Dallas still up in the standings, even with a couple notable absences. When Kari Lehtonen (groin injury, probably gone until 2012) went down, many thought Andrew Raycroft (3.53 goals-against average, .897 save percentage in nine) would be the one to step in, but no one believed Richard Bachman (one goal allowed in three appearances) would turn it into overdrive. Brenden Morrow is back again from his latest training room sabbatical. No worries about Jamie Benn and his mini-slump (one in seven, minus-5). Michael Ryder has made a marked improvement after a slow start. Steve Ott will still earn you enough assorted goodies (68 PIM and 90 hits expected, 12 points added bonus). And where did all those goals from, Eric Nystrom (tied for team lead with 10)? Sheldon Souray (scoreless in 15) has been trending downward for weeks, but Trevor Daley (three in two, more special-teams minutes) deserves an uptick for his recent efforts.

Why can't Buffalo stay consistent (currently at two wins in seven)? Does Sabre life mainly revolve around Ryan Miller (team was 3-5-2 while he recovered)? Is Tyler Myers (broken wrist, close to practicing again) that big an influence? Can Ville Leino's undisclosed, potentially long-term injury be considered catastrophic if he was underperforming (10 in 29, minus-7)? Many questions remain, but there still is hope. Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford have the opportunities and tools to produce. Zack Kassian looks to be developing into a nice all-around winger. Without Myers, the blue line hasn't filled in adequately. Jordan Leopold isn't faring too poorly, although Marc-Andre Gragnani (three in 13) could be contributing a lot more.

And, hey, congrats to Detroit on completing our team tour this season. It's a shame there isn't more we could discuss, but they need more notables injured -- or at least rotate a couple different players in the lineup now and then. It's difficult to ignore Todd Bertuzzi slotted on the top line, although it's easier to discount his mediocrity (still out there between 13-14 minutes a night). Someone has lit a fire under Jiri Hudler (six in four) and Danny Cleary (five in five). The same spark may have transferred to Darren Helm (five in eight), but it was extinguished before reaching Justin Abdelkader. And with five power-play assists and a top-10 rating of plus-17, there’s no need to mention Ian White, right?

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Player News
Scott Laughton
Concussion Confirmed For Flyers' Laughton
Scott Laughton, C, PHI
1/30/2015
News: Scott Laughton confirmed Thursday that he's been dealing with a concussion, Tim Panaccio of CSN Philadelphia reports.
Analysis: Scott Laughton has been cleared to resume skating, but likely needs to pass more tests before he's able to absorb contact. He'll sit for a fifth straight game Thursday against the Jets.

Ryan Suter
Wild's Suter Confirmed To Play Thursday
Ryan Suter, D, MIN
1/30/2015
News: Coach Mike Yeo confirmed Ryan Suter (lower body) would play Thursday against the Flames, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: The injury prevented Ryan Suter from taking part in Wednesday's practice, but he was back on the ice for Thursday's morning skate to verify his availability for the game. Suter has seen his offensive contributions tail off a bit this season, particularly as a goal scorer, but he still paces the NHL with an average of 29:37 TOI per game.

Jhonas Enroth
Sabres' Enroth Wants All Four Road Starts
Jhonas Enroth, G, BUF
1/30/2015
News: Jhonas Enroth wants to start all four of the team's upcoming road games, reports Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News.
Analysis: With Michal Neuvirth (lower body) sidelined, Jhonas Enroth is the undisputed No. 1 goalie with Matt Hackett serving as the backup. Enroth wants to start all the games, including back-to-back Thursday and Friday against Edmonton and Vancouver. Head coach Ted Nolan isn't ready to just hand Enroth the starts, however, saying: "... we want a lot of things. We want some wins, too." Reading between the lines, it basically means that he's happy to give Enroth the starts, but only if he starts winning games. Enroth has not won a game since Dec. 27 and the Sabres are winless in January. It's a good bet Hackett will see some action at some point on the road trip.

Erik Cole
Stars' Cole (Upper Body) Expected To Sit Thursday
Erik Cole, RW, DAL
1/30/2015
News: Erik Cole (upper body) is expected to sit out Thursday's game against the Senators, Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports.
Analysis: Erik Cole indicated that he felt good after participating in Wednesday's practice, but the Stars will exercise a little precaution and keep him out for a second straight game. In addition to the upper-body injury, he has battled a cold recently, which probably has him running at less-than-optimal health at the moment.

Andre Benoit
Sabres Scratch Benoit Against Oilers
Andre Benoit, D, BUF
1/30/2015
News: Andre Benoit will be a healthy scratch Thursday against the Oilers, reports Mike Harrington of The Buffalo News.
Analysis: Despite the team's struggles, the Sabres will keep the same lineup they had against Calgary. Andre Benoit, who has six points in 33 games, will be a healthy scratch alongside Nikita Zadorov. The 31-year-old has served as a depth defenseman for much of the season. He provides some offensive value when he plays, but the team's forwards are struggling, so chances are few and far between. Zadorov will likely dress Friday against Vancouver while Benoit's status is TBD.

Stu Bickel
Wild Reassign Bickel
Stu Bickel, D, MIN
1/30/2015
News: Stu Bickel was reassigned to AHL Iowa on Thursday, Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.
Analysis: He'll be replaced by Matt Dumba, who was recalled from Iowa in a corresponding move. Stu Bickel's stint with the parent club lasted just three days, with the blueliner serving as a healthy scratch in the Wild's lone game during that time.

Matt Dumba
Wild Recall Dumba From Minors
Matt Dumba, D, MIN
1/30/2015
News: Mathew Dumba was recalled from AHL Iowa on Thursday, Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.
Analysis: Mathew Dumba joined the Wild for Thursday's morning practice in Calgary, where the blueliner grew up. Coach Mike Yeo wouldn't say whether or not Dumba would enter the lineup in front of his hometown crowd, but it seems likely that he'd replace Christian Folin if that materializes.

Dwight King
Kings' King Productive Wednesday
Dwight King, LW, LA
1/30/2015
News: Dwight King finished Wednesday's 4-3 win against the Blackhawks with a plus-2 rating and an assist.
Analysis: This was an impressive showing from Dwight King, a player who rarely makes waves in the fantasy realm. Apparent is King's energy on the ice but he shouldn't draw a serious look among fantasy hockey pickups unless he can start to establish any kind of offensive rhythm.

Joffrey Lupul
Leafs' Lupul (Lower Body) Activated From IR
Joffrey Lupul, RW, TOR
1/30/2015
News: Joffrey Lupul (lower body) was activated from injured reserve Thursday.
Analysis: The Leafs were labeling Joffrey Lupul as a game-time decision for Thursday's game against the Coyotes, but his activation from IR and the subsequent demotion of Josh Leivo to AHL Toronto suggests the team fully intends to have Lupul available. Injuries have been his undoing throughout his career, but Lupul has been productive in the 26 games he's skated this season, netting nine goals and eight assists.

Marian Gaborik
Kings' Gaborik Collects Assist Wednesday
Marian Gaborik, RW, LA
1/30/2015
News: Marian Gaborik picked up an assist in Wednesday's 4-3 win over the Blackhawks.
Analysis: Marian Gaborik has helpers in consecutive games. He is best known for putting shots on goal, though he's been relatively idle in that department with only four shots in his last three contests. Gaborik is generally a safe option at the forward spot.

 
 
 
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