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Neutral Zone Wrap: Success through preparation

by | Rotowire.com
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Fantasy can be a fickle fancy. The first moments may be exciting and full of bliss. Your team sits on top and there is no way your mood could ever be soured.

Then reality sets in. Up pops an injury. And another one. A couple skaters aren't contributing anymore. One of your goalies was just knocked out after a freak on-ice accident. Happy days have gone away.

The lesson in this story is to always be prepared. If an injury occurs, then there are always available replacements on your bench, other teams, and the waiver wire. Don't panic; the solutions are always out there and can be carried out easily.

This week, we display five NHL organizations in various states of joy. But no matter their situations, don't think for one second any of them are ill equipped to handle the next roadblock. (SPOILER ALERT: Except for Dallas.)

If you live in the Greater Toronto Area and have already mapped a Stanley Cup parade route for the Leafs, then you may want to postpone these preparations. A slip in the schedule has neatly coincided with James Reimer going down (hopefully not a concussion), although that means Jonathan Bernier (2.14 GAA, .938 SV% in seven appearances) will serve as the starter until further notice. Unless your league goes pretty deep, there's no reason to tie up a center spot with Dave Bolland (three goals, three assists). Let's welcome Mason Raymond (eight points in nine games) to 2008-09 levels (where he peaked at 53). On the blueline, Jake Gardiner (two assists) is slumping slightly and may not be the coach's favorite but give him a couple more outings before cutting or trading. And youngster Morgan Rielly has shown some nice offensive touch (four assists, with two on the power-play), so grab him if his ice time (breaking through the 20-minute mark Saturday) holds.

Three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and Teemu Selanne scoring for Anaheim. The now 43-year old can still find the net (goals in three straight), although beware of him sitting for one of the Ducks' back-to-back nights throughout the season for maintenance reasons. While Bobby Ryan was the cost, Jakob Silfverberg (six) is definitely acting as the reward. Good thing Washington gave up on Mathieu Perreault (eight, with none on the PP to date), since he's already taken a liking to his new surroundings. Emerson Etem (first two points Sunday) is back from injury, so he'll need a little longer to get going. We're sure you've heard about Sami Vatanen (only two, but on first PP duty). If not, there's always rookie Hampus Lindholm (also at two) on the radar.

There's nothing wrong in Carolina these days. One of the more surprising fantasy forwards so far has to be Nathan Gerbe (six, including four PPPs). Stay patient with Jordan Staal (one goal, one assist, minus-3) and you will be repaid in full. Remember Tuomo Ruutu (two in four) has recently returned from some form of lower-body injury, so the stats will revert to regular numbers. Justin Faulk may be the #1 defender, but former Sabre Andrej Sekera (three assists, 23:49 a night) has clearly stepped up as #2. Even without a ton of minutes (17:22), Ryan Murphy is earning first power-play duties (two of his five).

The Big D in Dallas currently stands for 'doubtful'. With starter Kari Lehtonen sidelined, the Dan Ellis and Jack Campbell production (with the former sporting a 3.60 GAA and .895 SV% in five) has received rotten reviews. No complaints about third-year pro Alex Chiasson (six, three on the PP) or veteran newcomer Rich Peverley (four). That huge exhale you heard Sunday evening was for can't-miss forward Valeri Nichuskin finally notching his first NHL point (after six misses and one trip to press box). Wanna know the Stars' biggest weakness? Check out these combined figures from Alex Goligoski and Sergei Gonchar: one point, minus-16. At least they're slightly offset by the promising play of Brendan Dillon (four, plus-4, leads club with 20:07).

Remember when I mentioned a couple weeks ago how Buffalo should be much improved this season? So sorry about that. How terrible are the Sabres? Only two skaters have exceeded three points while the local supporters have urged just about anyone on the team over 22 to leave town immediately. And you can't blame Ryan Miller for this mess (2.73 GAA, .926 SV%), as opponents have peppered the American with more shots (just under 37 a start) than that guy who comes to paintball and doesn't know how to play. While Marcus Foligno (two goals, developing power forward skills) presents at least a glimmer of hope, there seems to be no trusting either Tyler Ennis (one) or Mikhail Grigorenko (zero) until one of them wins the lottery. Jamie McBain (two PPPs) would be recommended material if he didn't have this nasty habit of getting scratched (like, twice).

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Player News
P.K. Subban
Habs' Subban Scores In Game Win
P.K. Subban, D, MON
12:45 PM
News: P.K. Subban blasted home his first goal of the playoffs in Friday's Game 2 win over Ottawa.
Analysis: A monster outing from P.K. Subban, who also finished with five shots on goal. After getting kicked out of Game 1 for a slash on Mark Stone, Subban ditched the rough stuff in Game 2 and led with his offense. When he's on top of his game, the 25-year-old is one of the best offensive defenseman around.

Alex Galchenyuk
Hab's Galchenyuk Is Game 2 Overtime Hero
Alex Galchenyuk, C, MON
12:41 PM
News: Alex Galchenyuk scored the overtime-winning goal in Game 2 against Ottawa on Friday.
Analysis: Alex Galchenyuk's off to a great start in these playoffs recording two points and seven shots on goal in his first two games. Skating on the top line, the 21-year-old is likely to be a key difference maker for the Habs during their postseason run.

Max Pacioretty
Habs' Pacioretty Scores In Return
Max Pacioretty, LW, MON
12:34 PM
News: Max Pacioretty returned to the lineup in Game 2, scoring a goal and firing three shots on goal in Friday's win over Ottawa.
Analysis: A great return for Max Pacioretty, who had been out of the lineup since April. 5 with an upper-body injury. While Pacioretty hasn't been a huge playoff performer in his career, the 26-year-old appears to be in full health and will play a large role in determining how far the Habs make it this postseason.

David Desharnais
Habs' Desharnais Collects Two Assists In Game 2
David Desharnais, C, MON
12:28 PM
News: David Desharnais collected two assists in Friday's Game 2 win over Ottawa.
Analysis: A dominant effort from David Desharnais, who saw 18:40 of ice time in the victory. With the return of Max Pacioretty, Desharnais saw his ice time from Game 1 increase by a whopping six minutes in Game 2. While he's only scored twice in 29 career playoff games, Desharnais, skating on the second line with Pacioretty, can be a difference maker in a playoff series.

Mark Stone
Sens' Stone Grabs Two Assists In Game 2
Mark Stone, RW, OTT
12:19 PM
News: Mark Stone picked up two helpers in Friday's Game 2 overtime loss to the Canadiens.
Analysis: While Mark Stone is currently dealing with a wrist injury, he still managed to be very effective for the Sens in the loss. It's worth noting, however, that the 22-year-old sniper didn't record a shot on goal for just the first time in nine games. While the wrist fracture is likely to hurt his overall production, Stone should still be able to pile up points in a top-six role for the Sens.

Andrew Hammond
Sens' Hammond Makes 39 Saves In Game 2 Loss
Andrew Hammond, G, OTT
12:12 PM
News: Andrew Hammond made 39 saves on 42 shots in Friday's Game 2 overtime loss to Montreal.
Analysis: While it was a good performance from Andrew Hammond, the overtime winner is one he will likely want back. After going on a crazy 20-1-2 run in the regular season, the 27-year-old has come back down to earth in his first two career NHL playoff games. Considering he got the Sens into the playoffs, Ottawa is likely to keep Hammond rolling despite the fact they're now trailing Montreal 2-0 in their best-of-seven round one series. Don't be shocked, however, if the team decides to turn to veteran Craig Anderson for Sunday's Game 3 in Ottawa.

Carey Price
Habs' Price Makes 29 Saves In Game 2 Win
Carey Price, G, MON
12:03 PM
News: Carey Price turned away 29 of 31 shots in Friday's Game 2 win over the Senators.
Analysis: That's back-to-back wins for Carey Price, who has helped the Canadiens grab a 2-0 series lead over Ottawa. The Habs will continue to ride him in the playoffs, so make sure he's in your lineup whenever Montreal is in action.

Christian Ehrhoff
Pens' Ehrhoff (Upper Body) Skates Saturday
Christian Ehrhoff, D, PIT
9:30 AM
News: Christian Ehrhoff (upper body) participated in the Penguins' morning skate on Saturday, Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Analysis: Christian Ehrhoff is still questionable to play in Game 2, but the fact that he was able to participate in the Penguin's morning skate indicates that he has a legitimate shot of returning to Pittsburgh's lineup for the second game of their series with the Rangers. The team will provide an update on his status prior to puck drop on Saturday.

Kevin Klein
Rangers' Klein (Arm) Skates Saturday
Kevin Klein, D, NYR
9:21 AM
News: Kevin Klein (arm) participated in the Rangers' optional morning skate on Saturday, Dan Rosen of NHL.com reports.
Analysis: Kevin Klein has already been ruled out of Saturday's Game 2. Head coach Alain Vigneault has stated that Klein will need to log at least one full practice before returning to game action, so the fact that he was able to return to the ice on Saturday, albeit in a limited fashion, is certainly promising in that regard. His next chance to play will come on Monday.

Jonas Hiller
Flames' Hiller Pulled In Loss
Jonas Hiller, G, CGY
9:16 AM
News: Jonas Hiller made 26 saves Friday but was pulled in the third period of a 4-1 loss in Game 2.
Analysis: Jonas Hiller wasn't particularly on his game Friday, but there was an empty netter included in those four goals. Calgary was not shy about switching goalies throughout the season so if Hiller has another rough outing Sunday, Karri Ramo may get a shot in Game 4.

 
 
 
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