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Neutral Zone Wrap: Managing the disappointments

by | Rotowire.com
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When life brings you down, convention dictates one of two responses: lie down and get run over or fight back and reclaim your dignity. If the first path is your preference, then inertia is your friend. Don't bother getting up, as it'll only make you tired again. However, should redemption be your goal, there are several ways to achieve this. C'mon, fight back. Your ego may be bruised repeatedly but that shouldn't stop your spirit from rising above the negativity.

NHLers with above-average skill sets who underperform pose a problem for Fantasy owners. Should you dump them immediately or wait a bit and trust in their abilities to recover based on stats and history? Banking on a name will work up to the point where frustration sets in because the numbers clearly don't match.

A few readers have asked me the same question over the last week, so I will provide the following answer: Have faith in Claude Giroux. Or any of the higher profile Flyers (but not the team itself) who have returned far less on investment than expected. And that means the likes of Jakub Voracek, Scott Hartnell, Wayne Simmonds, and yes, even Kimmo Timonen can be trusted upon for at least a minor upsurge. Try trading for one or more of them, but only as long as the asking price is within reason.

Let's move on and talk about the other skaters who have angered us with their slow starts. But these ones are poised to start increasing their production, either due to pedigree, some sort of change, or the Law of Averages kicking in:

(Stats as of Monday November 11)

Dustin Brown, F, Kings: The summer of 2012 was a special time for Brown. Not only did the Kings win the Stanley Cup but he also became the second American captain to hoist the Holy Grail. And while his current haul (seven points in 17 contests) may not be atrocious, there is room for improvement. Consider the last six full seasons, where 46 was his lowest point total (way back in 2006-07). You'll also notice how Brown seems to step up his effort during the stretch drive (including 23 in 21 to finish the 2011-12 campaign). Remember he missed most of training camp with an injury, so perhaps all the inactivity hasn't fully been shaken off.

Michael Del Zotto, D, Rangers: For someone with a history of questionable defensive skills, it's tough to see Del Zotto struggle offensively (one goal, three assists). While labeling him a power-play specialist may be misleading, this turns out to be the strongest area of his game (eight of 21 points last year). The York Region native may never earn big even-strength minutes (sitting at 16) but he is adept at moving the puck and finding open teammates in the opponent's end. Be patient with DZ; the opportunities will come.

Jonathan Huberdeau, F, Panthers: Blink and you may forget Huberdeau serves as the reigning Rookie of the Year. While his freshman tour consisted of highlight goals and nifty moves, there also existed maturity – one from probably having stayed an extra year in junior. With the QMJHL standout facing his first full professional schedule and the pressure of avoiding a sophomore slump, it is entirely understandable if he felt discouraged during a recent five-game point drought (on the same homestand, no less). The good news is that Huberdeau has regained a bit (three in five), while retaining his top forward status (first with 17:51 a night) on a relatively weak Panthers attack.

Ryan Miller, G, Sabres: It is inevitable. The prognosticators have said it will take place soon. Based on the way the Sabres are sliding and for his long-standing service to the organization, it is only deserving Miller should earn a first-class ticket to a more favorable situation. The 33-year old has been asked to stand on his head (3.40 GAA, .912 SV% facing an average of nearly 38 shots) behind a shoddy Buffalo D and, well, you see how awesome that has worked out in the standings. If a contender is ready to shell out the resources to acquire Miller, then that would surely boost his Fantasy value.

Alexander Semin, F, Hurricanes: Once regarded as one of the best snipers in the league, Semin has gone on to develop a better overall game. The occasional brain freeze or sudden lack of interest still happens but less frequently. Carolina haven't exactly endeared themselves as a scoring machine this season (third worst at 1.84 goals per game), thereby justifying why any of their top players could have been listed in this column. But let's concentrate on the speedy Russian, what he hasn't been doing lately (one in five), and why he is bound to rediscover his touch (first PP duty, second among Canes forwards averaging over 20 minutes).

(Honorable mention: Craig Anderson, G, Senators; Sergei Gonchar, D, Stars; Dany Heatley, F, Wild; Brad Marchand, F, Bruins; Nail Yakupov, F, Oilers)

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Player News
Adam Henrique
Henrique's Assertiveness Pays Off
Adam Henrique, C, NJ
1:09 AM
News: Adam Henrique was one of five in Saturday's loss to the Sharks.
Analysis: While Adam Henrique's goal output is nothing to rave about, his offensive aggression can be an asset to fantasy owners, especially given the amount of minutes he plays.

Alex Stalock
Sharks' Stalock To Start Sunday
Alex Stalock, G, SJ
12:43 AM
News: Alex Stalock will start in the goal Sunday against the Rangers, David Pollak of the Mercury News reports.
Analysis: Alex Stalock has put up a couple of solid starts so far this season, and will look for another one Sunday, where he will continue his quest to earn the team's starting spot.

Victor Hedman
Bolts' Hedman Out Four Games
Victor Hedman, D, TB
12:36 AM
News: Victor Hedman (upper body) is expected to miss the rest of the Lightning's road trip, the team's official site reports.
Analysis: Victor Hedman suffered an undisclosed upper body injury in Saturday's game, where it appeared he took a puck off his hand. If he is indeed out for the remained of the road trip, he will not return until October 28 against Arizona.

Andy Greene
Devils' Greene Producing on Both Ends
Andy Greene, D, NJ
10/19/2014
News: Andy Greene filled up the stat sheet on Saturday, with four blocked shots, an assist, and one point.
Analysis: The Devils' top defenseman shows that he is capable of being a two way player on the ice. While defense is his calling card, his ability to produce offensively makes him an interesting choice for fantasy owners who are looking for a player who has balanced production on a nightly basis.

Nikita Zadorov
Sabres To Decide Zadorov's Fate In 48 Hours
Nikita Zadorov, D, BUF
10/19/2014
News: Nikita Zadorov, who has been a healthy scratch for all season, will find out where he'll play this year in the new few days, reports the Olean Times Herald.
Analysis: In a twist of events, Nikita Zadorov's agent revealed that the London Knights may not be an option for Zadorov this year. The big bruising defenseman's rights are owned by SKA St. Petersburg, a KHL team captained by Ilya Kovalchuk that has gone 17-1-1 this season. Last year, St. Petersburg agreed to release Zadorov to the OHL, but that isn't the case this year. The Sabres want to keep a close eye on their prospects and don't want Zadorov to develop in a league so far away, but there may be no choice. The Sabres are waiting to see how Mark Pysyk and Jake McCabe rebound from their preseason injuries, but even if both falter it's hard to see the Sabres play Zadorov. Stay tuned.

Rasmus Ristolainen
Sabres "Almost Scratched" Ristolainen Last Week
Rasmus Ristolainen, D, BUF
10/19/2014
News: Head coach Ted Nolan believed Rasmus Ristolainen was suffering from fatigue and considered making him a scratch last week, reports the Olean Times Herald.
Analysis: Nolan hinted that it wasn't physical fatigue that was ailing Rasmus Ristolainen, but mental fatigue, citing the "lights and action" of the NHL being overwhelming for young players. Nolan didn't say which game he considered sitting Ristolainen, but did say he came out flying on Friday. That lends to the belief that Nolan may have wanted Ristolainen to sit Tuesday vs. Carolina in the second part of a back-to-back after a 5-1 loss to Anaheim on Monday where he played a season-low 14:38 and failed to register a shot. Ristolainen is not an elite defenseman yet, but he'll get there. With the Sabres struggling, expect Nolan to juggle players in and out of the lineup all year.

Kevin Hayes
Rangers' Hayes Records First Career Goal
Kevin Hayes, RW, NYR
10/19/2014
News: Kevin Hayes tallied his first career point, a goal, in a 4-0 win over the Sharks on Sunday.
Analysis: The rookie has quickly been climbing up the organizational ranks, and centered the second line on Sunday with Rick Nash and Chris Kreider. It's likely not a permanent position, and though he won just five of his 14 faceoffs, he did record the team's fourth goal.

Martin St. Louis
Rangers' St. Louis Nets Goal In Win
Martin St. Louis, RW, NYR
10/19/2014
News: Martin St. Louis scored, his first of the season, in a 4-0 win over the Sharks on Sunday.
Analysis: After struggling in the regular season after being traded to the Rangers last season, scoring just once in 19 games, this was just his second as a Blueshirt. He still managed to end up with 30 goals though, and should be one of the better point scorers again this season.

Luke Gazdic
Oilers' Gazdic Still Two Weeks Away
Luke Gazdic, LW, EDM
10/19/2014
News: Luke Gazdic (shoulder) believes he is still a couple of weeks away from playing, according to the Oilers Web Site.
Analysis: Luke Gazdic has been cleared for contact and has been taking part in practice but still needs to work off the rust and get into game shape.

Carl Hagelin
Rangers' Hagelin Scores In Win
Carl Hagelin, LW, NYR
10/19/2014
News: Carl Hagelin scored the opening goal of a 4-0 win over the Sharks on Sunday.
Analysis: After setting a career high in goals last season with 17, Carl Hagelin had yet to record a point this season until Sunday. Hagelin could have some fantasy value if he can improve on his point totals from last season, but his slow start is worth keeping an eye before taking a chance on him.

 
 
 
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