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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
Jakob Silfverberg
Silfverberg Leads Ducks To Win Over Coyotes
Jakob Silfverberg, RW, ANA
12:08 PM
News: Jakob Silfverberg collected a goal, two assists and a plus-3 rating in Tuesday's win over the Coyotes.
Analysis: The points give him 30 on the year (10 goals, 20 assists), already well above his previous best of 23 from last season. The Ducks forward core is a fairly crowded bunch at the moment, so the 24-year-old will probably continue to have a hard time consistently hitting the scoresheet. However, he has fired 144 shots on goal this season, making him an intriguing option in leagues that count that stat.

Ryan White
Flyers' White Collects Assist In OT Loss
Ryan White, C, PHI
5:32 AM
News: Ryan White added a helper to the box score in Tuesday's 3-2 overtime loss to Calgary.
Analysis: After a four-points-in-four-games streak two weeks ago, Ryan White entered a zero-points-in-four-games streak last week. His fantasy value is of particular interest to dynasty owners, as he doesn't figure to have a tremendous impact on the remainder of this season.

Henrik Sedin
Canucks' H. Sedin Scores Twice In Loss
Henrik Sedin, C, VAN
5:30 AM
News: Henrik Sedin scored both Canuck goals -- one on the power play -- but went minus-3 in a loss to the Sharks on Tuesday.
Analysis: Vancouver fell behind early in this one, as goalie Jacob Markstrom put them in a 3-0 hole, but Henrik Sedin -- in tandem with brother Daniel, of course -- drew the team back within a single goal with a pair of second-period tallies. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough, as the Sharks scored three unanswered goals after that. The minus-3 rating is a rare occurrence for the veteran center, who hasn't finished in the negative for a season since his rookie year, and with a plus-7 this year, he probably will maintain that streak. Speaking of streaks, Henrik's found the scoresheet in eight consecutive games, with an impressive five goals and 13 points in that span. He's starting to approach a point-per-game pace.

Claude Giroux
Flyers' Giroux Snags Assist In OT Loss
Claude Giroux, C, PHI
5:28 AM
News: Claude Giroux assisted on the game-tying goal in Tuesday's overtime loss to Calgary.
Analysis: Claude Giroux has six points in his last 10 games -- not exactly the kind of numbers owners would expect from one of the league's top players. He's also on pace to fall short of last season's points-total. While he's undoubtedly part of the NHL elite for years to come, the Flyers are entering what seems to be a rebuilding process. As a result, shrewd dynasty owners might consider moving Giroux.

Daniel Sedin
Canucks' D. Sedin Sets Up Brother Twice In Loss
Daniel Sedin, LW, VAN
5:26 AM
News: Daniel Sedin assisted on a pair of goals by his brother Henrik -- one on the power play, one at even strength -- and went minus-2 in Tuesday's 6-2 loss to the Sharks.
Analysis: Unfortunately, other than a Daniel Sedin-fueled second-period flurry, the Canucks weren't able to keep up offensively in this one. Daniel's goal-scoring remains way down from its old levels, but he's been piling up assists lately, having tallied 10 points (nine of them helpers) in his last eight games.

Patrick Marleau
Sharks' Marleau Gets Two Helpers
Patrick Marleau, C, SJ
5:23 AM
News: Patrick Marleau rattled off a pair of assists, a plus-2 rating and two penalty minutes Tuesday in a 6-2 win over Vancouver.
Analysis: That's a four-game point streak for the veteran now, in which he's got three goals and now these two helpers. It's also nice to see him finish on the positive side of the plus-minus ledger, as he'd managed to do that only one time in the prior eight games and had gone minus-7 in that span, cratering his season number to minus-16 before he pulled it up two notches Tuesday. At 35 years old, Patrick Marleau isn't the scorer he once was, but he's still been plenty productive if you can take the rating hit.

Sean Couturier
Flyers' Couturier Nets Goal In OT Loss
Sean Couturier, C, PHI
5:21 AM
News: Sean Couturier followed up Saturday's two-assist performance with a goal in Tuesday's overtime loss to Calgary.
Analysis: Sean Couturier broke a four-game drought with a pair of assists on Saturday, and this goal is encouraging news to owners. If he can ramp up his offensive game, Couturier could finish the season with the highest points-total of his career.

Joe Thornton
Two Cheap Points For Sharks' Thornton
Joe Thornton, C, SJ
5:19 AM
News: Joe Thornton assisted on two empty-net goals, finished plus-3 and gathered four PIM in Tuesday's win over Vancouver.
Analysis: Well, that's about as cheap as multi-point games come. But hey, it all counts the same on the back of your baseball -- er, hockey -- card. Thorny remains one of the NHL's finest playmakers.

Matt Nieto
Nieto Lifts Sharks' Offense Tuesday
Matt Nieto, LW, SJ
5:18 AM
News: Matt Nieto scored twice on four shots -- one into an empty net -- and added an assist Tuesday in a win over the Canucks.
Analysis: He'd managed all of one point in the prior six games coming into Tuesday's action, and with only 20 points on the year, the best thing we can say about Matt Nieto's overall production is that he's poised to pass the 24 points he posted as a rookie last season.

Mark Streit
Flyers' Streit Scores In Loss
Mark Streit, D, PHI
5:17 AM
News: Mark Streit potted the equalizer late in the third period in Tuesday's 3-2 overtime loss to Calgary.
Analysis: It's Mark Streit's first goal since early February, but his fifth point in his last five games. He's on pace for his best points-total since the 2008-2009 campaign.

 
 
 
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