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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
Brendan Gallagher
Montreal's Gallagher Scores In Loss
Brendan Gallagher, RW, MON
12:00 PM
News: Brendan Gallagher scored his 18th goal of the season and was plus-1 in Thursday night's 4-3 shootout loss to the Kings.
Analysis: Brendan Gallagher is enjoying life since his move to the top line -- that's the place to be for a Canadien forward. He has nine points (five goals, four assists) in the previous eight games.

Ryan Murphy
Return Date Still Uncertain For Canes' Murphy
Ryan Murphy, D, CAR
12:56 AM
News: Coach Bill Peters said Thursday that Ryan Murphy (leg) is still facing an uncertain return date.
Analysis: The Hurricanes were expected to have a clearer idea of Ryan Murphy's timetable by this point in the week, but it appears they weren't able to gain the clarity they were looking for. Peters did mention that the Hurricanes won't rush Murphy back into action until they're confident he can play on a regular basis, so the blueliner may need to log multiple days of practices in a row before he's activated from IR.

Teuvo Teravainen
Chicago's Teravainen Likely To Be Scratched Friday
Teuvo Teravainen, LW, CHI
12:52 AM
News: Teuvo Teravainen is expected to serve as a healthy scratch Friday against the Oilers, Tracey Myers of CSN Chicago reports.
Analysis: It sounds like coach Joel Quenneville is itching to get a look at the recently acquired Andrew Desjardins, so he'll slot into the lineup for his Blackhawks debut while Teuvo Teravainen heads to the press box. Teravainen was expected to be the main ice time beneficiary in the wake of Patrick Kane's long-term injury, but he hasn't played more than 14 minutes in the three games since his call-up.

Michael Latta
Caps' Latta Out Thursday
Michael Latta, C, WAS
12:32 AM
News: Michael Latta (upper body) will not play Thursday against the Wild.
Analysis: The Capitals are still listing Michael Latta as day-to-day with the injury, but since he failed to participate in the team's morning skate, he'll be held out of the lineup Thursday. Brooks Laich will rejoin the lineup to replace Latta.

Tuukka Rask
Bruins Expected To Roll With Rask On Thursday
Tuukka Rask, G, BOS
12:32 AM
News: Tuukka Rask is in line to start Thursday's game against the Flames, the Calgary Sun reports.
Analysis: With the Bruins clinging to the No. 2 wild card seed in the Eastern Conference, Tuukka Rask figures to remain busy going forward, though it's worth noting that the team has back-to-back contests this weekend, against the Flyers on Saturday and the Red Wings on Sunday.

Corey Crawford
Hawks Turn To Crawford On Friday
Corey Crawford, G, CHI
12:24 AM
News: Corey Crawford is slated to start Friday's game against the Oilers, ESPN Chicago reports.
Analysis: Corey Crawford, who has won his last two starts, will take aim Friday at an Oilers squad that remains in last place in the Western Conference, with 46 points in 64 games to date.

Tim Erixon
Leafs' Erixon Iffy For Thursday
Tim Erixon, D, TOR
12:19 AM
News: Tim Erixon (illness) is questionable to play Thursday against the Lightning, TSN's Jonas Siegel reports.
Analysis: Tim Erixon, who was claimed on waivers from Chicago on Sunday, suited up for his first game in a Toronto uniform on Tuesday, seeing 15:52 worth of ice time in the process.

Alex Burrows
Canucks' Burrows Slated To Play Thursday
Alex Burrows, LW, VAN
12:07 AM
News: Alex Burrows (groin) was a full participant at the Canucks' morning skate and looks in line to play Thursday against the Coyotes, Jeff Paterson of TSN 1040 reports.
Analysis: Alex Burrows resumed skating with the team Monday after first suffering the groin injury about two weeks ago. He skated as a member of the Canucks' second line and saw duty on the top power-play unit during Thursday's morning skate, a likely indicator that the team considers him fit to play. The winger has been about a half-point-per-game contributor when he's been healthy enough to suit up this season, notching 12 goals and 13 assists in 52 games.

Tyler Seguin
Stars' Seguin Progressing Well
Tyler Seguin, C, DAL
12:06 AM
News: Tyler Seguin (knee) is making progress toward a return to action, Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports.
Analysis: While a specific timetable for his return to action has yet to be outlined, the center appears to be ahead of schedule on that front. "Tyler is really closing in on 'day-to-day' for us," coach Lindy Ruff said of Tyler Seguin, who was on the ice with his teammates Thursday. "So I would say probably within a week, or sooner. It depends on how he responds to some heavy workouts here today and tomorrow."

Zack Kassian
Canucks' Kassian Back In Thursday
Zack Kassian, RW, VAN
12:00 AM
News: Zack Kassian (illness) will return to the lineup Thursday against the Coyotes, Jeff Paterson of TSN 1040 reports.
Analysis: Zack Kassian was forced to skip Tuesday's game against the Sharks after coming down with a stomach flu. He received an IV to treat the illness, which apparently was enough to aid his recovery. The winger assumed his usual spot on the top line with the Sedin twins, an arrangement that should make him an attractive, cost-effective play in daily formats, particularly against an Arizona squad that ranks 30th in goals allowed.

 
 
 
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