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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
Carey Price
Canadiens' Price To Start Saturday
Carey Price, G, MON
11:57 AM
News: Carey Price will start in the crease Saturday against the Rangers, the Canadiens' official site reports.
Analysis: Carey Price started off the season slow, but has gotten it together recently and stopped 27 of the 28 shots he faced Tuesday against the Red Wings. He will look to keep lowering his 2.96 GAA Saturday.

Radko Gudas
Bolts' Gudas Draws Back In Friday
Radko Gudas, D, TB
11:55 AM
News: Radko Gudas (lower body) has been activated from injured reserve and will play Friday against the Jets, Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reports.
Analysis: The Bolts cleared up the spot for Radko Gudas' return by sending Luke Witkowski to AHL Syracuse on Thursday. Gudas isn't a premier scorer from the blue line, but his outstanding production in the PIM, hit and block categories make him highly useful in specialty leagues.

Ryan Callahan
Bolts' Callahan Skates On Own Friday
Ryan Callahan, RW, TB
11:49 AM
News: Ryan Callahan (lower body) skated on his own after Friday's morning session, Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reports.
Analysis: Ryan Callahan won't be an option Friday against the Jets and perhaps a few more games beyond that, but he noted after the skate that he's been pleased with the progress he's made in the recovery from the injury. He'll still have to incorporate some more additional activities into his workouts before receiving clearance to play.

Jonas Gustavsson
Detroit To Start Gustavsson On Saturday
Jonas Gustavsson, G, DET
11:45 AM
News: Jonas Gustavsson will receive the start in goal Saturday against the Flyers, Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News reports.
Analysis: The Red Wings will turn to Jonas Gustavsson as the team looks to snap its long losing streak in Philadelphia, a drought that dates back all the way to when the two squads met in the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals. With a 2-3-2 record and several key defensemen missing, this season's edition of the Flyers wouldn't seem to represent a formidable adversary for Gustavsson, who shut out the Maple Leafs in his first start of the season a week earlier.

Eriah Hayes
Sharks Demote Hayes
Eriah Hayes, RW, SJ
11:44 AM
News: Eriah Hayes was sent to AHL Worcester on Friday, Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area reports.
Analysis: Eriah Hayes played in just four of the team's eight games, failing to record a point. In 19 career games in the NHL, he has just one goal and no assists.

Dave Bolland
Panthers Rule Bolland Out For Saturday
Dave Bolland, C, FLA
11:38 AM
News: Dave Bolland (lower body) will not return to action Saturday against the Coyotes, Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.
Analysis: With Dave Bolland again failing to take part in Friday's practice, the Panthers felt comfortable ruling him out as an option for Saturday. After the game against the Coyotes, the Panthers won't play again until Oct. 30, affording Bolland some needed recovery time. If Bolland fails to return to health by that point, the Panthers could choose to place him on injured reserve.

Roberto Luongo
Panthers Will Start Luongo On Saturday
Roberto Luongo, G, FLA
11:33 AM
News: Roberto Luongo will be in goal Saturday against the Coyotes, Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.
Analysis: The goalie is looking to earn his third straight victory, after shutting out the Sabres and defeating the Avalanche in overtime in his previous two turns. Roberto Luongo sports only middling ratios (2.72 GAA, .906 save percentage) on the season, but it's safe to say that he represents a steep upgrade in goal over Tim Thomas, the Panthers' primary starter in 2013-14.

Mark Alt
Flyers To Recall Alt
Mark Alt, D, PHI
11:20 AM
News: Mark Alt will be recalled from AHL Lehigh Valley prior to Saturday's game against the Red Wings, Sarah Baicker of CSNPhilly.com reports.
Analysis: GM Ron Hextall suggested that Mark Alt would be the only immediate call-up the Flyers would add in the wake of top-four blueliners Andrew MacDonald and Braydon Coburn being ruled out for four weeks with lower-body injuries. The 23-year-old Alt had one point in three games with Lehigh Valley, after supplying 26 in 75 contests at the AHL level in 2013-14.

Devin Setoguchi
Flames' Setoguchi (Illness) Practices Friday
Devin Setoguchi, RW, CGY
11:16 AM
News: Devin Setoguchi (illness) returned to the ice for practice Friday, Aaron Vickers of NHL.com reports.
Analysis: Devin Setoguchi was held out of practice Thursday because of the illness, but his return to practice Friday indicates he should be fine if needed for future games. That being said, with the Flames enjoying solid health from their wings thus far, Setoguchi will most likely be headed for the press box most nights.

Stefan Matteau
Devils' Matteau Nursing Upper-Body Injury
Stefan Matteau, LW, NJ
11:16 AM
News: Stefan Matteau is nursing an upper-body injury, Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record reports.
Analysis: Stefan Matteau sustained the injury in a game with AHL Albany last Friday. Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said the team is just playing it safe with Matteau for now, but there's no indication as to when he might be ready to play again. The 20-year-old hasn't seen any NHL action since his 17-game debut in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

 
 
 
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