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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
Jiri Hudler
Flames' Hudler Skates Sunday Morning
Jiri Hudler, LW, CGY
12:26 AM
News: Jiri Hudler (undisclosed) was able to take part in morning skate Sunday, Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet 960 The FAN reports.
Analysis: He was also able to skate Saturday, which indicates that Jiri Hudler will likely be available for the Flames Game 2 contest Sunday night. It's possible that the large deficit the Flames faced when Hudler was initially injured played a part in his not returning to that contest.

Micheal Ferland
Flames' Ferland Will Go Sunday
Micheal Ferland, LW, CGY
12:18 AM
News: Micheal Ferland (upper body) indicated that he will play Game 2 Sunday against the Ducks, Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet 960 The FAN reports
Analysis: Micheal Ferland was forced out of the Ducks' Game 1 win with an upper body injury, and was not able to practice Saturday either. While he will go Sunday, the wing may still be hampered by this injury, putting his fantasy value into question a bit.

Matt Beleskey
Ducks' Beleskey Scores GWG In Game 2
Matt Beleskey, LW, ANA
5/3/2015
News: Matt Beleskey scored the game-winning goal in Game 2 against Calgary.
Analysis: It was an all-around productive night for Matt Beleskey, who also finished with four hits and five shots on goal. While he's no longer playing on the top line, the 26-year-old is skating on the second line with Ryan Kesler and has scored in back-to-back games. Considering he's seeing power play time and potted 22 goals in the regular season, it's fair to assume Beleskey might find twine a few more times this postseason. With seven shots on goal in Round 2 thus far, things appear to be trending upwards for Beleskey.

Ryan Getzlaf
Ducks' Getzlaf Tallies Two Helpers
Ryan Getzlaf, C, ANA
5/3/2015
News: Ryan Getzlaf factored in on two of Anaheim's three goals in their shutout win over the Flames on Sunday.
Analysis: Lost amongst teammate Corey Perry laying waste to the Pacific Division is Ryan Getzlaf's impressive postseason. He now sits on 10 points -- tied for second in the league and trailing only linemate Perry. If the duo continue to be as effective as they have been thus far, there may be a very good chance this team can return to Stanley Cup glory once again.

Corey Perry
Perry Paces Ducks To Victory
Corey Perry, RW, ANA
5/3/2015
News: Corey Perry tallied two assists in Sunday's Game 2 win over Calgary.
Analysis: The Ducks have now won their first six playoff contests, due in no small part to Corey Perry's prolific scoring rate. He now has 13 points in six playoff games, and a commanding lead atop the NHL playoff scoring race.

Hampus Lindholm
Ducks' Lindholm Notches First Career Playoff Goal
Hampus Lindholm, D, ANA
5/3/2015
News: Hampus Lindholm scored his first career playoff goal in Sunday's 3-0 Game 2 win over the Flames.
Analysis: Hampus Lindholm now has six points in the playoffs -- good enough to sit alongside Sami Vatanen for the team lead amongst defensemen. If the Ducks can continue to put together strong offensive efforts like they have in the first six games of the playoffs, expect Lindholm to continue to pick up points.

Frederik Andersen
Ducks' Andersen Pitches 30-Save Shutout In Game 2
Frederik Andersen, G, ANA
5/3/2015
News: Frederik Andersen stopped all 30 shots he's faced in Sunday's Game 2 win over the Flames.
Analysis: Frederik Andersen is having a fantastic start to the second round, stopping 53 of 54 shots through two games. While he's been rock-solid, Anaheim has erupted for nine goals in Round 2, relieving some of the pressure off the 25-year-old. With a whopping .930 save percentage in the playoffs, expect Andersen to continue his strong play as the Ducks look to eliminate the Flames and move on to the Western Conference Final.

Karri Ramo
Flames' Ramo Outstanding In Game 2 Loss
Karri Ramo, G, CGY
5/3/2015
News: Karri Ramo stopped 31 of 33 shots in Sunday's Game 2 loss to the Ducks.
Analysis: An outstanding performance from Karri Ramo, who kept the Flames in a game they had no business being in. Considering he had replaced Jonas Hiller in the previous two games and looked fantastic Sunday, it's fair to assume Ramo will get the call again for Game 3. The 28-year-old only has four NHL playoff games under his belt, but he's been steady in two straight regular seasons and should give the Flames a fighting chance against the Ducks as the series shifts to Calgary.

Alex Killorn
Bolts' Killorn Adds Two Helpers In Win
Alex Killorn, C, TB
5/3/2015
News: Alex Killorn chipped in with two power-play assists in Sunday's Game 2 win over the Canadiens.
Analysis: Alex Killorn ended the regular season cold as he failed to get on the scoresheet in the final five games, but he's been able to turn the page since the start of the playoffs as he's now registered six points in nine games this postseason. The most encouraging news, however, may be that linemate Steven Stamkos broke out for three points in the win, so Killorn should benefit from his captain waking up out of his slump.

Tyler Johnson
Bolts' Johnson Keeps Rolling In Game 2
Tyler Johnson, C, TB
5/3/2015
News: Tyler Johnson added two power-play helpers in Sunday's Game 2 win over the Canadiens.
Analysis: Tyler Johnson has been incredible in the playoffs as he's now up to 10 points in nine games, including four multi-point efforts. While he couldn't lead to his playoff-leading seven goals in Sunday's win, he was still able to turn in another productive night as he helped chip in on a power play unit that netted four goals. Keep him rolling as the series shifts back to Tampa on Wednesday.

 
 
 
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