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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
Michael Bournival
Habs' Bournival Reassigned To AHL Hamilton
Michael Bournival, LW, MON
12:58 AM
News: Michael Bournival was reassigned to AHL Hamilton on Monday, TSN's John Lu reports.
Analysis: Forward P.A. Parenteau (concussion) will finally rejoin the lineup, and defenseman Jeff Petry was recently acquired in a trade. The Habs will thus reassign both Michael Bournival and Greg Pateryn, freeing up room for a pair of proven veterans. Bournival only has five points through 29 NHL appearances this season, but he does have eight points in just seven AHL games.

Maxime Talbot
Talbot Traded To Bruins
Maxime Talbot, C, COL
12:57 AM
News: The Avalanche traded Maxime Talbot and Paul Carey to the Bruins on Monday in exchange for Jordan Caron and a 2016 sixth-round draft pick, the team's official site reports.
Analysis: Maxime Talbot, who has notched five goals and 10 assists in 63 games with the Avs this season, gives the Bruins some added depth and experience up front, something that will come in handy, with centers Gregory Campbell and David Krejci currently sidelined.

P.A. Parenteau
Canadiens' Parenteau To Rejoin Lineup Monday
P.A. Parenteau, RW, MON
12:53 AM
News: P.A. Parenteau will rejoin the lineup for Monday's game against San Jose, NHL.com's Arpon Basu
Analysis: After missing six weeks of action due to a concussion, P.A. Parenteau was a healthy scratch for Saturday's game against the Maple Leafs. He may be limited to a spot on the fourth line in his first game since Jan. 15.

Jordan Caron
Caron Traded To Avs
Jordan Caron, LW, BOS
12:50 AM
News: The Bruins traded Jordan Caron and a 2016 sixth-round draft pick to the Avs on Monday in exchange for Maxime Talbot and Paul Carey, the team's official site reports.
Analysis: Jordan Caron, who has been held without a point in 11 games with the Bruins this season, was a first-round draft pick (25th overall) in 2009. After having recorded just 28 points in 134 career NHL contests with Boston, however, a change of scenery will probably do the 24-year-old winger some good, though a wait-and see approach is in order from a fantasy perspective.

James Wisniewski
Ducks Acquire Wisniewski In Late Deadline Deal
James Wisniewski, D, CLB
12:45 AM
News: James Wisniewski was traded to the Ducks on Monday along with a 2015 third-round draft pick in exchange for forwards William Karlsson and Rene Bourque and a 2015 second-round draft pick, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: James Wisniewski will likely assume a top-four role on defense with his new organization, giving the Ducks an added dose of puck-moving ability on the blue line. The 31-year-old has predictably been unable to replicate last season's 51-point scoring outburst in 2014-15, but he's still been an above-average source of goals and assists for a defenseman. Assuming the foot injury he suffered in Saturday's game against the Penguins doesn't prove too problematic, Wisniewski's fantasy value figures to notice a small uptick with the move, as his placement on a superior Ducks squad should allow his plus/minus mark to recover from its current minus-10 standing.

Alexei Marchenko
Wings' Marchenko Sidelined
Alexei Marchenko, D, DET
12:43 AM
News: Alexei Marchenko is dealing with an oblique strain, Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports.
Analysis: The report suggests that Alexei Marchenko will be out for a week or so. The 23-year-old blueliner has two points in 12 games with the Wings to date, including a goal in his last outing, Saturday against the Preds.

Darren Helm
Wings' Helm Dealing With Oblique Injury
Darren Helm, C, DET
12:38 AM
News: Darren Helm is dealing with an oblique strain, Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports.
Analysis: Per the report, GM Ken Holland indicated that Darren Helm's injury is not considered serious, but it looks like the forward will be out a week or so.

Sven Baertschi
Flames Deal Baertschi To Canucks For Pick
Sven Baertschi, LW, CGY
12:35 AM
News: Sven Baertschi was traded to the Canucks on Monday in exchange for a 2015 second-round pick, TSN's Bob McKenzie reports.
Analysis: A former first-round selection by the Flames in 2011, Sven Baertschi made the NHL squad out of training camp in 2013-14 but wasn't able to maintain a spot after tallying 11 points over 26 games. He failed to break camp with the Flames this season and didn't make much of his opportunity when injuries resulted in his promotion to the big club. His pedigree still made him intriguing to many organizations, so the Flames decided to part with him before his value completely bottomed out. Still only 22 years old, Baertschi could unlock his full potential with the move to the Canucks, though he'll likely have to prove himself at AHL Utica first.

Simon Despres
Pens Deal Despres To Ducks
Simon Despres, D, PIT
12:21 AM
News: Simon Despres (head) was traded to the Ducks on Monday in exchange for defenseman Ben Lovejoy, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.
Analysis: The Penguins indicated the head injury that Simon Despres suffered in Sunday's win over the Blue Jackets appears to be minor, but that didn't prevent the team from seeking a veteran blueliner on deadline day. While Lovejoy possesses more NHL experience and might offer more present-day value than Despres, it appears the Ducks have added yet another intriguing young blueliner to a corps that also includes three under-25 talents in Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, and Sami Vatanen. At 6-foot-4 with a willingness to hit and the ability to score, Despres could become a mainstay on the defense for the Ducks over the next several seasons.

Chris Stewart
Stewart Moves To Playoff Contender With Wild
Chris Stewart, RW, BUF
12:17 AM
News: Chris Stewart has been traded to the Wild in exchange for what is expected to be a 2017 second-rounder, WGR550.com reports.
Analysis: Even though this deal was snuck in just ahead of the deadline, Chris Stewart was as good of a bet as any player in hockey to get dealt Monday. He'll head to a playoff contender, which should immediately boost his plus-minus prospects. And Minnesota might start to be considered Buffalo West, with four former Sabres on the roster once Stewart gets settled. Stewart has a disappointing 25 points in 61 games this season, but he's been playing better lately with the potential to do more with better talent around him. Keep an eye on his line assignment, though it's worth noting that inconsistency has always been a part of his game.

 
 
 
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