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Neutral Zone Wrap: Injuries are piling up

by | Rotowire.com
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One quarter of the way through and all is well in the NHL. The action is quick, the competition is intense and the excitement is indescribable. And the fans are eating it up, right down to the final second of every game.

But then there are the injuries. Oh boy, how they've multiplied lately. Don't think a recent list of casualties needs to be mentioned, so let's just say their absence affects many fantasy teams – enough to make the average owner contemplate undertaking a new hobby.

If you lost a player to a serious injury, then there's nothing you can do. Move on. But if he is carrying some form of non-threatening physical issue, then evaluation is required. Based on the injury, can he return within a week? A month? Longer? Has this problem been lingering and/or possibly hindering performance?

Only when these questions have been answered can you properly assess the status of your lineup. Then you can decide how to fix the holes and reach a point where injuries don't matter. (Except if more than, say, three or four are out. Then you may want to consult a fantasy expert for further consultation.)

After a couple weeks of fooling around with projections, we're back to the five-team format. Let's check the latest talk:

(Stats as of Monday November 18)

The Lightning may have blown a fuse but that won't discourage the current Eastern Conference leaders. Yes, Steven Stamkos (broken tibia) is All-World and will be missed. But his absence only allows others their chance to shine. Valtteri Filppula becomes the obvious beneficiary as he moves up on the power-play (where he has already amassed seven points). Alex Killorn (seven in eight) had already been promoted to the top line but now he moves to center, which allows hotshot Brett Connolly (one goal in nine) to slot in at wing. Tyler Johnson began with a bang last season (six in his first five) and has the chance to build upon this. At 39, maybe we shouldn't expect a lot from Sami Salo (scoreless in 11). And if you haven't heard of Radko Gudas by now (six points, 61 PIM, 74 hits), then you've surely missed the boat.

If you're looking for bargain replacements, then Phoenix is your place to shop. Beyond the obvious leaders, Lauri Korpikoski (five in four) remains your first cheaper option. Give David Moss (five in nine) a chance as long as he continues to skate with the first unit. Rob Klinkhammer (three in 11 after four goals in the opening half) has slowed enough to avoid recommendation. Michael Stone (six points -- all goals) serves as the newest blueline flavor of the week, but keep an eye on repeated letdown David Rundblad (he of the one PPP and 14 healthy scratches) to see if he can string a few decent efforts together.

Defense wins championships, but you probably won't go far if you can't score enough. Minnesota may own the best statistical goalie and uplifting story in Josh Harding (12-2-2, 1.25 GAA, .946 SV%), but they're a few markers short of becoming elite (19th in the league with a 2.47 average). Any one of Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, or Nino Niederreiter (combined seven goals) could find the net a little more. Oh, and that former 50-goal man Dany Heatley (four points matching his fourth-line service) must surely be able to recall what he used to do regularly. Jared Spurgeon (seven, including three PPPs) looks to be maintaining his position but one would like to see more from Jonas Brodin (nothing in nine) based on the massive minutes (25:03 a night).

Perhaps we need to see more from Columbus before we can judge their overall worthiness. Management gave up quite a bit to acquire Marian Gaborik (11 in 17, out at least a month), yet Brandon Dubinsky (15, 40 PIM, 53 hits) continues to assert himself as the more consistent arrival from NYC. Don't discount R.J. Umberger, whose hard work has usually translated to the stat sheet (four goals in seven). Both Ryan Johansen (13) and Cam Atkinson (eight) appear to be able to hold their own. No need to highlight James Wisniewski (leads club with 16 points) but here's a thumbs-up for both veteran Fedor Tyutin (four PPPs) and rookie Ryan Murray (only four but up to almost a 19-minute average). As for Jack Johnson (five, minus-7), well, he better improve or else we'll begin to associate that full name with some sappy songwriter/surfer.

Nashville sure picked the wrong division to be in, as they sit last in the Central even though they own a non-losing record. Ain't no slowing down David Legwand (12 in 10) and no need to rush two-time wounded Mike Fisher (eight in 13). Much more is required from both Gabriel Bourque (five) and Colin Wilson (four-point game in between 11 zeroes). Seth Jones started off his pro career with promise (four in first eight) but now he's truly learning the ropes (one in six, demoted to third defensive pairing). That means Roman Josi (two PPAs Saturday) has been reunited with Shea Weber. Even with Pekka Rinne (hip infection) out indefinitely, stay away from either Carter Hutton (3.39 GAA, .891 SV% in 10) or Marek Mazanec (3.16 GAA, .911 SV% in four).

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Player News
Matt Beleskey
Ducks' Beleskey Out Friday
Matt Beleskey, LW, ANA
12:22 AM
News: Matt Beleskey (lower body) will not play in Friday's game against the Stars.
Analysis: The nature and extent of Matt Beleskey's setback are uncertain, but whatever ailment he is dealing with will prevent him from taking the ice Friday. Consider him questionable for Monday's Game 3.

Ryan Miller
Despite Shaky Start, Blues' Miller Wins Game 1
Ryan Miller, G, STL
12:17 AM
News: After gifting the Blackhawks three goals on just seven first-period shots Thursday, Ryan Miller was perfect the rest of the way, turning aside the next 35 in a 4-3 triple overtime win in Game 1.
Analysis: The nightmarish start by Ryan Miller caused panic among the Scottrade Center faithful, but the veteran netminder settled in nicely to prevent a seventh straight Blues loss. He got a little help by Max Lapierre -- who prevented an overtime goal when he covered a gaping net to stone the Blackhawks' Kris Versteeg -- but sometimes you've gotta be good to be lucky. Miller and the Blues should tighten things up even further when Game 2 goes Saturday afternoon.

Andrew Cogliano
Ducks' Cogliano Scores To Help Keep Home Ice
Andrew Cogliano, C, ANA
4/18/2014
News: Andrew Cogliano scored a shorthanded goal during the third period of a 3-2 victory over the Stars in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs on Friday.
Analysis: Game 2's goal is Andrew Cogliano's first ever in the postseason. It is worth noting that Cogliano has scored more goals this season than any other in his career, so it would not be surprising to see him be more productive in the second playoff appearance of his career.

Corey Perry
Ducks' Perry Ends Playoff Goalless Streak
Corey Perry, RW, ANA
4/18/2014
News: Corey Perry scored an unassisted goal during the second period of a 3-2 victory over the Stars in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs on Friday.
Analysis: Friday's goal snaps a 10-game-long postseason goalless streak for Corey Perry. However, the last time he had a regular season like this one, had eight goals in 13 games. Either way, the Ducks will look for him to be a major offensive presence both to win this series and to go on a possible Stanley Cup Finals run.

Frederik Andersen
Ducks' Andersen Remains Unbeaten In Playoffs
Frederik Andersen, G, ANA
4/18/2014
News: Frederik Andersen stopped 34 of 36 shots on goal during a 3-2 defeat of the Stars in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs on Friday.
Analysis: Frederik Andersen continues to look solid in net in the postseason. He has a combined save percentage of .930 in these first two games of the opening series.

Ryan Getzlaf
Ducks' Getzlaf Amazing In Return
Ryan Getzlaf, C, ANA
4/18/2014
News: Ryan Getzlaf scored an unassisted goal and registered a shorthanded assist during a 3-2 victory over the Stars in Game 2 of the NHL playoffs on Friday.
Analysis: A goal and an assist in his first game back from taking a puck to the face. There's not much more to say, other than that Ryan Getzlaf is the man.

Patrik Berglund
Blues' Berglund Doubtful For Game 2
Patrik Berglund, C, STL
4/18/2014
News: Patrik Berglund (upper body) is doubtful to play in Saturday's Game 2 matinee against the Blackhawks, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Analysis: The versatile Swede -- who has played both at center and wing this season -- was also reported as "skating well and taking good shots" in the Blues' brief practice Friday. Fortunately for St. Louis, the absences of Patrik Berglund and T.J. Oshie, who also sat out Game 1 with an upper-body injury, were offset by the return of their 21-goal scorer Vladimir Tarasenko, playing in his first game since suffering a broken hand 15 games prior. It appears as though Oshie is closer to returning than Berglund, so while the Blues brass would no doubt like to see him back in action, their forward depth affords them the luxury to take their time with his ailment.

Steve Ott
Blues' Ott Receives Top Line Assignment
Steve Ott, C, STL
4/18/2014
News: Steve Ott spent Game 1 against the Blackhawks on the Blues' top line with captain David Backes and Alex Steen, the team's leading scorer. He was productive in his new role, setting up Steen's game-winner in triple OT and firing three shots on goal.
Analysis: Steve Ott, normally a bottom-six guy since arriving in St. Louis 24 games ago near the trade deadline, got the nod to fill in for the injured T.J. Oshie (upper body). The abrasive veteran actually saw the fourth most ice time (30:53) among Blues forwards in the triple OT marathon, and could get another shot with the big boys as Oshie is questionable to play in Game 2 on Saturday. His assist was just his fourth point as a member of the Blues.

Tuukka Rask
Rask, Bruins Drop Game 1
Tuukka Rask, G, BOS
4/18/2014
News: Tuukka Rask allowed one goal on 24 shots in Friday's 1-0 loss to Detroit in Game 1 of the teams' Atlantic Division semifinal series.
Analysis: Tuukka Rask was beaten late in the third period on a tremendous individual effort from Pavel Datsyuk he may not have seen completely. Rask played well in the game, but so did his counterpart, Jimmy Howard. Rask is the frontrunner for the Vezina Trophy and the Bruins will ride their star goalie every night of the playoffs.

Johan Franzen
Franzen On Scoresheet For Wings
Johan Franzen, LW, DET
4/18/2014
News: Johan Franzen assisted on the game's only goal Friday as Detroit beat Boston 1-0 in Game 1 of their Atlantic Division semifinal series.
Analysis: Johan Franzen is one of several experienced playoff performers on Detroit's roster and can be expected to fill a vital role until captain Henrik Zetterberg returns to action. Franzen's regular season was plagued with injury but he still managed 41 points in 54 games.

 
 
 
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