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Shots on Goal: Poetry in motion

by | Rotowire.com
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In last week's column we examined the concept of streaming backups and mentioned that both Martin Biron and Chris Mason would have been useful to pick up for a Saturday spot start, and they both won.

Guess what happened the following Saturday night? They each got another spot start and won. Unfortunately I failed to take advantage, as I don't have the extra roster spot to spare in either of my expert leagues.

Normally I like to keep one spot open so I can take advantage of short-term opportunities based on matchups, etc. For example, in the expert’s league that I'm currently leading I have 52 transactions already. You'd think I was completely rolling over my roster yet I still have 13 players (out of 20) that I originally drafted.

By keeping one spot free you can use the league's free-agent pool as an extended bench. Just be prepared to see some of those players get picked up on waivers after you drop them. This style, which some consider a bit reckless, will always cost you at least one player you'll regret dropping, but that's the nature of the beast.

This week we’re looking at fluid goalie situations around the league and spot some opportunities outside of the crease, as well.

Buffalo

Ryan Miller's implosion on Saturday, where he was pulled twice in a 8-3 blowout vs. Pittsburgh, came out of nowhere. However, all it proves is that he's human. Don't expect Jhonas Enroth to suddenly start five games in a row. The Sabres have had quite the run of injuries but at least 2009 NHL Rookie of the Year Tyler Ennis should be back by the New Year, if not sooner. Veteran top-six forward Brad Boyes is also getting close and, while he's seen a reduction in use and line assignment this season, things could change quickly. Put Boyes on your watch list, as he could be on the first power play unit and possibly even line up with Derek Roy upon his return.

Chicago

Ray Emery has been a thorn of late for Corey Crawford owners, as he's started five straight games and won them all. In last week's column I advised to pick him up if he beat San Jose, which he did. He has subsequently won in the last week at Minnesota and then home against both Anaheim and Calgary. For the season Emery sports a 9-1-2 record with a 2.50 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. With Chicago playing back-to-back Tuesday (Pittsburgh) and Wednesday (Montreal), look for Crawford to see his first start since getting pulled after 21 minutes on December 5 against Phoenix.

Colorado

Jean-Sebastien Giguere, 5-4 this season with a tiny 1.86 goals-against average and scintillating .927 save percentage, will put his stats to the test Monday night when he starts against a Philadelphia team that lost its last game 6-0 to Boston. No. 1 goalie Semyon Varlamov has allowed three goals or more in each of his last four starts and he's given up four goals or more in three of his last four starts. With Varly giving up that many goals and the Avs struggling to score (Matt Duchene has 22 points in 33 games, Paul Stastny has 18 in 30). The Avs have scored just 20 goals in their last eight games, with eight of the goals coming in just two games. Overall they've scored two goals or less in 16 of their 33 games.

Dallas

Richard Bachman continues to draw the starts over Andrew Raycroft, though his window of opportunity is closing fast as the Stars' best player this season -- Kari Lehtonen -- is expected back in the lineup sometime between Christmas and the New Year. Lehtonen has been skating and taking shots with goaltending coach Mike Valley. He will slowly amp up his workouts and barring a setback Bachman will be back in the minors in another five or six games. Lehtonen has already missed eight contests and the Stars have six games left in the calendar year.

Edmonton

Neither Nikolai Khabibulin nor Devan Dubnyk won a game last week. They each lost their only start. Expect the timeshare to continue and don't expect an abundance of wins. The Oilers have lost three straight and five of their last six. It doesn't get any easier with Detroit coming to town on Monday. At least Taylor Hall is back in the lineup. The Oilers' early season success seems to have dissipated.

Minnesota

Josh Harding should draw back into the lineup this week when the Wild face a back-to-back games Monday in Vancouver then Tuesday in Calgary. While Niklas Backstrom is only 0-1-2 in his last three starts he has a 1.99 goals-against average over that time frame. The Wild are struggling to score with so many top-six forwards banged up – Mikko Koivu (lower-body injury could be back Tuesday), Guillaume Latendresse (concussion, out indefinitely), Devin Setoguchi (lower-body injury, at least another week), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (recovering from a broken nose, could be back Tuesday).

New Jersey

Johan Hedberg seems to be good for a start per week these days. His stellar play last season when Martin Brodeur was hurt has carried into this season when he's been called upon. Over a span of 112 games as a Devil Hedberg has amassed a record of 25-17-3 with a 2.40 goals-against average, .912 save percentage and five shutouts.

Less than two weeks ago management made a trade to help address power play woes in acquiring defenseman Kurtis Foster from Anaheim to unleash his heavy shot on the first power play unit. The move has already paid dividends and Foster makes for a solid add if you're in need of a No. 3 or No. 4 Fantasy defenseman.

The return of Travis Zajac bolsters the Devils’ top-six depth but it also creates a quandary for coach Pete Deboer, as Adam Henrique has played very well centering Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. While Coach Pete DeBoer said he has no current plan to reunite center Zajac with Parise, Zajac's long-time left wing, things could change in a week or two. Once Zajac gets a few games in and gets acclimated back after missing the first 10 weeks of the season the coach will have to decide whether to reunite Zajac and Parise. They could go three lines deep if they pair up Parise-Zajac, Kovalchuk-Henrique, and Elias-Sykora with Dainius Zurbrus, David Clarkson and one of Mattias Tedenby/Nick Palmieri filling out the top three lines.

N.Y. Islanders

Al Montoya has enjoyed a nice run of late with five straight starts. He's 2-2-1 with a 2.99 goals-against average during the last five starts. As such he makes for a decent No. 3 Fantasy goalie. However, there will come a time soon when Evgeni Nabokov (currently out with a groin injury) will be showcased for a possible trade so Montoya owners should be prepared for a disruption in his run of starts once Nabokov heals up.

Philadelphia

Ilya Bryzgalov was having a great month until Saturday, when he allowed five goals in 27 minutes against Boston. Up to that point he had won five straight with a 2.87 goals-against average. Saturday's demolition puts Bryzgalov's season stats at 14-6-2 with 2.92 goals-against average and .896 save percentage. With Chris Pronger out for the season (and playoffs) and top scorer Claude Giroux out indefinitely with concussion symptoms, Bryzgalov will need to play extremely well if the Flyers want to keep their place atop the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.

St. Louis

Brian Elliott keeps piling up impressive wins. Thursday's defeat of the Rangers is his latest. Jaroslav Halak got weekend double dip, starting both Saturday at Nashville (a 2-1 loss in overtime) and Sunday at home to Columbus (a 6-4 win). Even with Elliott's excellent performance this season the fact remains that Halak is going to get at least half of the starts for the foreseeable future, thereby making hard to count on either goalie as anything more as a No. 3 roto goalie.

Tampa Bay

Mathieu Garon is 2-0 in his last two starts with a 2.98 goals-against average. The Lightning are hurting with top liner Martin St. Louis (facial fractures) out in addition two D-men -- Mattias Ohlund (knees) and Matt Gilroy (lower body). Dwayne Roloson last started a game Dec. 12 against New Jersey where he was pulled after allowing three goals on 12 shots in 21 minutes of play. Rollie hasn't won a game since Nov. 17 and he's 0-4 in his last five starts (Garon took the loss in the other game).

Washington

Backup Michal Neuvirth has had a shutout at Winnipeg and a 2-1 loss at Colorado in the past week. If he can continue that level of play he may get a bigger share of the goalie pie going forward. For the season Neuvirth has 10 starts to Tomas Vokoun's 21. Amazingly, Alexander Ovechkin has but 22 points in 31 games and he's 10 points behind team leading scorer Nicklas Backstrom. Meanwhile, Alexander Semin has six goals and 12 points in 28 games while earning $6.7 million. Semin has three power-play points. Mike Green remains out indefinitely his strained right groin. We tend to forget that he scored 149 points in 143 games over the two seasons prior to last.

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Player News
Kimmo Timonen
Flyers' Timonen Unlikely To Play This Season
Kimmo Timonen, D, PHI
12:46 AM
News: Kimmo Timonen (blood clots) in leg confirmed Thursday that the chances of him playing this season are "really slim," Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Analysis: Though he didn't announce his retirement as some expected Thursday, Kimmo Timonen acknowledged that the blood clots in his lungs and right leg will keep him out multiple months, putting his career in jeopardy. Timonen will have to wait until January to see if his medical tests reveal any dissipation from the blood clots, but it sounds entirely possible that we've seen the last of the respected defenseman in the NHL. Even in the deepest of leagues, it's tough to justify stashing him on the bench until he returns to health, since it's certainly far from a given that that will happen by the end of the season.

Darcy Kuemper
Wild And Kuemper Negotiations Stalled
Darcy Kuemper, G, MIN
12:06 AM
News: Other than a couple of text messages, the Wild and Darcy Kuemper have not had substantial negotiations over a new contract and he may not report to training camp, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: With Josh Harding out several months with a broken foot, the Wild would appear to be highly motivated to sign Darcy Kuemper. However, the two sides are having a dispute about his guaranteed status on the NHL roster and Kuemper's agent has said he's exploring playing overseas. The Wild are offering a two-way deal while Kuemper wants a one-way deal. With Kuemper's status in doubt, the Wild have reached out to Ilya Bryzgalov about coming to training camp. It's still possible Kuemper could sign at the last second, but his status for the NHL season remains uncertain.

Josh Harding
Wild's Harding Suspended For Off-Ice Injury
Josh Harding, G, MIN
9/18/2014
News: Josh Harding (broken foot) has been suspended by the Wild since he suffered a broken right foot while kicking a wall after an off-ice altercation with a teammate, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: He won't be paid a prorated portion of his $2.1 million salary and he won't count against the Wild's salary cap while suspended. Josh Harding is expected to miss at least two to three months with the broken foot and it's assumed his suspension will end when healthy.

Derek Roy
Preds' Roy Enjoying New Linemates In Camp
Derek Roy, C, NSH
9/18/2014
News: Derek Roy has been skating with Craig Smith and Colin Wilson so far in training camp, the Tennessean reports. "They're both good players with the puck and real smart," Roy said of his new linemates. "Smitty's an offensive dynamic with a great shot. Colin is a great passer and has great vision around the ice. I'm looking forward to playing with those guys and seeing where it goes."
Analysis: With Mike Fisher out until at least late November with a ruptured Achilles, new coach Peter Laviolette has to decide who will be centering his top two scoring lines. At this stage, Derek Roy appears to be right in the mix, while Mike Ribeiro and Olli Jokinen - the Preds' two other free agent acquisitions earlier this summer - will also get a look. A second line of Wilson-Roy-Smith seems like a pretty decent second line possiblity, assuming the trio shows some chemistry together. However, it's still just the first week of camp, and there's sure to be a lot more line juggling to come, so don't assume anything is written in stone just yet.

David Perron
Perron To Open Camp On The Right Side For Edmonton
David Perron, LW, EDM
9/18/2014
News: David Perron will open up training camp playing right wing, according to the Edmonton Journal.
Analysis: David Perron is slated to play on a line with Benoit Pouliot and rookie Leon Draisaitl. This line could be broken up however if Draisaitl doesn't make the team out of camp. The Oilers don't have another playmaking center on the roster so Perron's offensive numbers could take a dip this season.

Nail Yakupov
Oilers' Yakupov To Start On Third Line
Nail Yakupov, RW, EDM
9/18/2014
News: Nail Yakupov will open up training camp on the third line, according to the Edmonton Journal.
Analysis: Nail Yakupov played mainly on the right wing last season but will be moved to the left side this season playing on a line with Mark Arcobello and Teddy Purcell. This is obviously not good for fantasy owners but this is also not written in stone. A productive camp could see Yakupov bumped back up to the second line.

Johnny Oduya
Blackhawks' Oduya (Foot) Cleared For Training Camp
Johnny Oduya, D, CHI
9/18/2014
News: Johnny Oduya (broken foot) has been cleared for full activity during training camp, Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Analysis: Johnny Oduya suffered the broken foot in the Blackhawks' Game 7 loss to the Kings in the Western Conference Finals, after it was struck by a shot from the opposition. A summer of rest allowed the foot to heal without too many complications, and he should be on track to reprise his role on the second pairing with Niklas Hjalmarsson when the new season begins.

Ryan Johansen
Jackets Receive New Offer From Johansen's Agent
Ryan Johansen, C, CLB
9/18/2014
News: Ryan Johansen's agent, Kurt Overhardt, has sent a new two-year contract proposal in to the Blue Jackets, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: The two sides were reportedly about $3.5 million per year apart when Ryan Johansen left camp, so while this latest offer likely didn't close the gap much it's encouraging to see that there's at least some movement.

Rich Peverley
Stars' Peverley Cleared To Work Out
Rich Peverley, C, DAL
9/18/2014
News: Stars GM Jim Nill said that Rich Peverley has been cleared to work out, but not to go on the ice, according to Mark Stepneski of NHL.com.
Analysis: Earlier this summer Rich Peverley was told he should be able to play this season, which had previously been in question after he suffered a cardiac incident during a March 10 game against the Blue Jackets. There is not yet a timetable for his return.

Dustin Byfuglien
Jets Confirm Byfuglien To Open Season As Forward
Dustin Byfuglien, RW, WPG
9/18/2014
News: Jets coach Paul Maurice reiterated Thursday that Dustin Byfuglien would "start and finish" training camp as a forward, Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun reports.
Analysis: This was to be expected after Dustin Byfuglien played exclusively at forward when Maurice replaced Claude Noel as coach in January, and it should only help Big Buff's fantasy value in leagues where he retains eligibility as a defenseman. Byfuglien racked up 10 goals and 12 assists over 32 games on the wing last season, scoring at a rate actually lower than what he provided at the blue line. However, with a full offseason to prepare for a role at forward, Byfuglien stands a good chance at boosting his per-game point totals, but perhaps only if he's able to land a spot on the first or second line.

 
 
 
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