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Blue Line Buzz: Scoring at a premium

by | Rotowire.com
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Montreal's P.K. Subban is leading NHL defensemen in scoring and has been a boon for owners in multi-category leagues. He's earning his spot as the second defenseman taken in most drafts, justifiably ahead of quite a few forwards. Through Saturday's games, Subban sits with 10 points, two more than Jason Garrison. His 26 shots on goal and 16 penalty minutes are among the leaders for defensemen as well while his plus-5 isn't too shabby, but you knew that when you drafted him.

Ditto for Erik Karlsson, who had an excellent night Thursday against New Jersey, snagging a goal and assisting on two others. Expect Karlsson, who has six points through eight games, to continue producing as the top-draft pick he is, but again, you knew that.

Matt Niskanen remains a player with some value for Pittsburgh, especially in multi-category leagues, as he is a plus-9 with 21 shots on goal. Kris Letang has been practicing but remains out with a knee injury. Letang's return seems imminent, but the Penguins are sitting pretty with a 7-1 record and probably aren't in a rush to get their star defender back in the lineup. While Letang remains out, Niskanen remains a player worth giving a look. Remember, though, Letang has been practicing for a week now and can return whenever.

Anton Volchenkov has three points on the season after assisting on New Jersey's opening goal Saturday against the Rangers. Those three assists are as many points as New Jersey's top line center, Travis Zajac, has and just one less point than Chicago's Jonathan Toews. Don't pick up Volchenkov, but it's amusing.

Speaking of the Devils, Marek Zidlicky continues to make it difficult to ignore him entirely, as much as we'd like to. Zidlicky registered two assists in Saturday's win over the Rangers, giving him seven assists in eight games. Zidlicky is the team's leader in points with seven, as he has yet to score. He lives on the power play and will see scoring chances. However, if you're going to gamble on him, be prepared for stretches of invisibility and a hit to your plus-minus; Zidlicky is highly prone to being out of position and giving the puck away. Still, seven points in eight games is hard to ignore.

Hit Me with Your Best Shot

Reiterating points that were made last week, shots on goal and power-play time are some of the better indicators when looking to add a defenseman to your roster, especially in deeper leagues.

Fans of the Rangers and the Penguins may remember the name Torrey Krug. Krug scored several key goals for the Bruins during last season's run to the Cup Final, most of the booming point shot variety. Just 22, Krug is playing 17:32 per-game through seven contests, but is seeing 3:28 on the power play, second only to Zdeno Chara. Chara is used as a forward on the power play, parking his mammoth frame in front of opposing goaltenders while Krug is blasting away from the point.

Krug has 19 shots on goal through seven games to go with a goal and two assists; two of those points have come on the power play. Krug wasn't an unknown heading into this season after his performance in the playoffs last year, but the Michigan State grad was a player who could have been had in later rounds. If he's available in your league, consider snatching him up as he's seeing significant power-play time on one of the league's best teams.  He is a rookie, so expectations need to be a bit tempered, but the scoring chances will be there for Krug.

Heading to The OC ( don't call it that), the Ducks have another rookie defenseman worth knowing. True, Cam Fowler put up 40 points as a rookie three years ago, but Fowler's struggled to say the least since then. 19-year old Hampus Lindholm is making a name for himself over his season's first five games with two assists and a healthy amount of power-play time. Lindholm was the Ducks' first round pick in 2012, sixth overall, and is a plus-9 already with two assists. He is logging 3:25 on the power play so far and has 13 shots. These are certainly favorable numbers and the fact that he won't kill your plus-minus in multi-category leagues, like Fowler did, is encouraging.

Shark Week

Dan Boyle is out for the foreseeable future in San Jose after being a victim of a controversial hit by St. Louis' Maxim Lapierre this past week. Lapierre was suspended five games for the incident which resulted in Boyle being stretchered off the ice. Boyle has returned to San Jose and is recovering. This will leave ice time to be divvied up in Silicon Valley, drawing further attention to Matt Irwin. Irwin snagged a power-play assist in Saturday's drubbing of Calgary as did Jason Demers, who sits with five assists on the season. Irwin is one of the league leaders in shots on goal among NHL defensemen with 28 and has three helpers.

Demers and Marc-Edouard Vlasic each have five assists on the season, but it's Demers who is slated to see power play time in Boyle's stead. Both Irwin and Demers have more upside than Vlasic, despite currently having more points than both of them. San Jose is scoring goals in bunches and allowing few, thus giving their stable of defensemen impressive plus-minus totals.

How the Mighty Have Fallen

Remember when Sergei Gonchar regularly posted double-digit goals during his tenures with Washington and Pittsburgh? Those halcyon days are gone for the veteran, who is now plying his trade in Dallas. Gonchar has one assist through seven games coupled with a minus-5 rating and a mere seven shots on goal. These numbers are all the more disappointing considering Gonchar is seeing 3:22 of power-play time per game, almost 90 seconds more per-game than Alex Goligoski, who is No. 2 on the Stars' man-advantage ice-time list.

For Your Entertainment

With four points through eight games, Seth Jones is showing the kind of potential most believed made him worthy of consideration as the No. 1 pick in this past June's draft. He's logging over 24 minutes per game for the Predators, most of it alongside Shea Weber. You have to believe Jones, the fourth overall pick, lucked out when going to the Predators as opposed to Florida or Colorado . Jones snagged the second goal of his career on a give-and-go with David Legwand that saw Jones dance around several Montreal defenders with a slick toe drag on Saturday, before beating Carey Price short side with less than 1:30 remaining in the game. This kid is legit.

It was a nasty scene in Winnipeg on Friday for Jacob Trouba, who's slated to be out indefinitely after falling awkwardly into the boards and having his head and neck bend backward.

Marc-Andre Fleury probably doesn't watch highlights from his last two playoff appearances. Characterized by soft and sometimes bizarre goals dating back to the 2012 playoffs against the Flyers, Fleury has been sketchy in terms of reliability. The goal he allowed to Alexander Edler in a shootout win over the Canucks on Saturday roused memories of Tommy Salo's laugher against Belarus in the 2002 Olympics. It's doubtful this goal will derail Fleury's career like it did to Salo. Fleury went on to secure the win Saturday, including denying all three Vancouver attempts in the shootout.

Mike Smith beat the buzzer on Saturday night to cap off Phoenix's rally over Detroit with an empty-net goal. Yes, the goaltender scored. It's pretty impressive considering Smith caught a dump-in on one knee and then fired the puck immediately, having the puck cross the line with .01 seconds remaining.

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Player News
Michael Raffl
Four Goals In Three Games For Flyers' Raffl
Michael Raffl, LW, PHI
12:48 PM
News: Michael Raffl found the back of the net for the third consecutive game in Thursday's loss to the Lightning.
Analysis: He's got four goals on nine shots over that three-game span and six markers on the year. Michael Raffl's sky-high shooting percentage says this luck is bound to balance out, but it's hard to ignore the offensive contributions he's made early on here. The Flyers' offense has awoken, and that should only help Raffl, so he's worth a speculative add at minimum.

Jared Spurgeon
Wild's Spurgeon Exits Early Thursday
Jared Spurgeon, D, MIN
12:47 PM
News: Jared Spurgeon left Thursday's win over San Jose in the third period with an undisclosed injury after taking a hard check, the Associated Press reports.
Analysis: Between the illness that's rummaging through the locker room and injuries, the Wild are could be down four blueliners if Jared Spurgeon's injury is something to worry about. Before departing, Spurgeon skated 22:31 and had six shots on goal, but no points.

Jakub Voracek
Four Straight Two-Point Games For Flyers' Voracek
Jakub Voracek, RW, PHI
12:45 PM
News: Jakub Voracek scored a goal and added an assist Thursday against Tampa Bay, giving him two points for the fourth consecutive game.
Analysis: Yep, that's called being red-hot. Jakub Voracek has only failed to hit the scoresheet one time so far this year, and with an impressive 15 points in 10 games, it's looking like he could blow last year's career-best 62 points out of the water. He's always had point-per-game talent.

Claude Giroux
Giroux Racking Assists For Flyers
Claude Giroux, C, PHI
12:44 PM
News: Claude Giroux picked up two more assists Thursday against the Lightning, giving him 11 in just 10 games this season.
Analysis: He's also scored a pair of goals, but Claude Giroux's made his presence felt as a distributor the most. With a sparkling 47 shots on goal over 10 games, Giroux should see his scoring rate rise as his luck balances out, as his shooting percentage is less than half its career norm right now.

Ray Emery
Emery Allows Four As Flyers Fall
Ray Emery, G, PHI
12:41 PM
News: Ray Emery was scored upon four times among 32 shots in Thursday's loss to the Lightning.
Analysis: Not the shiniest outing for Ray Emery, who'd been undefeated in regulation over his first five starts of the year. Steve Mason has been abhorrent so far, so Emery has a chance to carve out a bigger role, but outings like Thursday's won't help his case.

Jonathan Toews
Toews Delivers Two Goals for 'Hawks
Jonathan Toews, C, CHI
12:38 PM
News: Jonathan Toews scored his third and fourth goals of the year Thursday in a shootout win over the Senators.
Analysis: He'd been off to a bit of a quiet start, so it's nice to see Jonathan Toews break out with his second multi-point game of the season. We know the talent is there, so assuming he stays healthy enough to play 80 games, Toews could quite conceivably exceed 70 points for the second time in his career.

Craig Anderson
Sens' Anderson Allows Four, Loses In Shootout
Craig Anderson, G, OTT
12:36 PM
News: Craig Anderson allowed four goals on 39 shots as well as the only tally in the shootout Thursday in a loss to the Blackhawks.
Analysis: This represents the worst start of the young season for the veteran goalie, who'd posted a save mark over .900 in each of his first four outings. Robin Lehner is nipping at his heels for playing time, so Craig Anderson will need to be sharper.

Scott Darling
Darling Gives Up Four, But 'Hawks Get Shootout Win
Scott Darling, G, CHI
12:34 PM
News: Scott Darling was tagged for four goals on 28 shots Thursday, but saved all three shootout attempts to deliver a 5-4 victory over the Senators.
Analysis: It'll be interesting to see what he 'Hawks make of this performance by Scott Darling, who obviously didn't post good numbers this time, but still did deliver a win. With Corey Crawford likely healthy enough to start Saturday, either Darling or Antti Raanta will soon be sent down to AHL Rockford.

Marian Hossa
Hawks' Hossa Hits 1,000 Points
Marian Hossa, RW, CHI
12:30 PM
News: Marian Hossa picked up a goal and an assist Thursday in a shootout win over the Senators, giving him exactly 1,000 points for his career. He went plus-2 with five shots on goal.
Analysis: It took him just 1,100 NHL games to reach that milestone, emphasizing just how good a career Marian Hossa's had. The 35-year-old started the year slow, with just a lonely goal in his first six games, but has warmed to the task more recently, with four points in his last four contests. Even with a disappointing performance out of the gate, Hossa remains a must-start in the vast majority of fantasy formats.

Mike Smith
Coyotes' Smith Turns In Solid Start, Still Loses
Mike Smith, G, ARI
12:24 PM
News: Mike Smith put a stop to 24 of 26 shots Thursday in Florida, but was stuck with another loss.
Analysis: A solid outing for Mike Smith, but he let Scottie Upshall break a third-period tie with his first goal of the year, and Roberto Luongo was masterful on the other end. On the bright side, this represents Smith's third non-disastrous start among seven outings on the season. He's lost four of his last five for the struggling 'Yotes.

 
 
 
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