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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
Sven Baertschi
Canucks Reassign Baertschi
Sven Baertschi, LW, VAN
4/28/2015
News: Sven Baertschi was reassigned to AHL Utica on Monday.
Analysis: The 22-year-old skated for the Canucks in two games during the team's first-round playoff series against the Flames, his former organization. He didn't make much of an impact while seeing a grand total of 19:19 of action across the two games, but should be primed to receive heavier minutes for Utica, who is in the midst of a first-round series of its own against Chicago.

Brad Richardson
Canucks' Richardson Ticketed For Ankle Surgery
Brad Richardson, C, VAN
4/28/2015
News: Brad Richardson will undergo surgery to repair a fractured ankle next week, Jon Abbott of TSN 1040 reports.
Analysis: Brad Richardson was able to suit up for the Canucks' final two games of their first-round series defeat to the Flames, but was consistently hobbled by the injured ankle during the second half of the season. The forward, who also will require a procedure to address ligament damage to the ankle, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The surgery shouldn't prevent him from being ready for the start of training camp with any organization he might join.

Jannik Hansen
Canucks' Hansen Played Through Groin Injury
Jannik Hansen, RW, VAN
4/28/2015
News: Jannik Hansen acknowledged Monday that he played through the Canucks' first-round playoff series against the Flames with a groin injury, Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun reports.
Analysis: Jannik Hansen labeled it as a minor injury, but it will still prevent him from participating with Denmark in the World Championships in May. The winger tallied two points in the season-ending Game 6 loss Saturday, giving him four points during the postseason. The 29-year-old is still under contract with the Canucks for three more seasons.

Mikael Granlund
Wild's Granlund Contributes Assist In Game 6 Win
Mikael Granlund, C, MIN
4/28/2015
News: Mikael Granlund posted a secondary assist in Sunday's win over the Blues.
Analysis: Mikael Granlund is a proven playmaker, as evidenced by his 80 assists from the past two seasons combined. He'll look to carry the positive momentum over to the next series, against the Blackhawks.

David Pastrnak
Bruins' Pastrnak Day-To-Day
David Pastrnak, RW, BOS
4/28/2015
News: David Pastrnak was forced out of AHL Providence's playoff game Sunday with a lower-body injury, csnne.com reports.
Analysis: David Pastrnak, who is currently seeing some AHL playoff action, with Boston having failed to qualify for the postseason, absorbed a check Sunday during overtime that sent him to the locker room. Fortunately, his injury doesn't appear to be serious and he is day-to-day in advance of Tuesday's Game 4 against Hartford. The 18-year-old is coming off a season in which he recorded 10 goals and 27 points in 46 games for the big club, displaying a nice blend of speed, creativity and offensive instincts that bode well for his future production at the NHL level, as he continues to fill out physically.

Niklas Lundstrom
Blues Reassign Lundstrom To Minors
Niklas Lundstrom, G, STL
4/28/2015
News: Niklas Lundstrom was reassigned to AHL Chicago on Monday.
Analysis: Niklas Lundstrom was with the Blues for their first-round series loss to the Wild, serving strictly as an emergency depth goalie. After spending most of the 2014-15 campaign at the ECHL level, where he went 17-16-2 with a 3.05 GAA and .895 save percentage, Lundstrom probably won't see much involvement for Chicago during their postseason run.

Ty Rattie
Blues' Rattie Reassigned
Ty Rattie, RW, STL
4/28/2015
News: Ty Rattie was reassigned to AHL Chicago on Monday.
Analysis: With the NHL squad officially eliminated from the playoffs with a loss Sunday to the Wild, Ty Rattie will join Chicago, which remains in the midst of its first-round series with Utica. Rattie, who didn't see any action with the Blues in their six postseason games, finished third on Chicago in scoring during the regular season, netting 21 goals and 42 points in 59 games.

Marco Scandella
Wild's Scandella Maintaining Impressive Rating
Marco Scandella, D, MIN
4/28/2015
News: Marco Scandella was plus-3 with an assist Sunday, helping the Wild to a series-clinching win against the Blues in Game 6.
Analysis: The helper was a nifty one, as Marco Scandella had to fight through heavy traffic along the boards in order to drop the puck off to Justin Fontaine for the score. Scandella posted a plus-5 rating in the opening round of the playoffs, which currently has him tied with five other skaters for the league lead in the plus/minus category.

Beau Bennett
Pens' Bennett Heads Into Offseason Feeling Healthy
Beau Bennett, RW, PIT
4/28/2015
News: Beau Bennett (upper body) said Sunday that he's fully healthy heading into the offseason, Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Analysis: The upper-body injury resulted in Beau Bennett being scratched for the final three games of the Penguins' first-round series with the Rangers, but it looks like he would have been a candidate to play had his team extended the series to six games. With just 10 goals and 33 points in 96 games over his three seasons with the Penguins, Bennett has yet to emerge as the top-six winger the team thought it had on hand when they selected him 20th overall in 2010. He'll be a restricted free agent this summer, but it remains to be seen if the Penguins will tender him a contract.

Zack Kassian
Canucks' Kassian Won't Need Back Surgery
Zack Kassian, RW, VAN
4/28/2015
News: Zack Kassian will not require offseason surgery to deal with the back issue that kept him out of the Vancouver lineup down the stretch.
Analysis: Zack Kassian, who last suited up on March 14, now has the offseason for his back issue to settle down. In 42 games this past season, he notched 10 goals, 16 points and 81 PIM. He remains under contract with Vancouver next season at a cap hit of of $1.75 million.

 
 
 
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