NHL Hockey Column: Studs & Duds
Stus & Duds : Week Three Recap
After a one game hiccup away from the ice, Thomas Vanek continues to be the stud of the season. Not only did the league leading point getter (19) showcase a dominating performance against Boston (two goals, three assists), he was finally left off the score sheet on the road Tuesday night against Ottawa. Unfortunately for the Sabres and their fans, Buffalo remains last in its division, unable to win those big games.
A new breed of Penguins was discovered over the most recent scoring period. While Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin recorded excellent numbers, this week’s nod goes to Chris Kunitz who recorded eight points over his last three games including a four goal performance against the Washington Capitals on Sunday. That boost in production was surely well received by Kunitz owners. The winger now sits with 11 points through nine games. Temper your expectations as Kunitz is playing above his norm, and his current pace will likely simmer down.
Mike Smith’s impressive numbers last year made him a favourable pick coming into this season, but a subpar first week and a short term injury left many poolies holding their breath. Until the last few games, it looked like Smith was an early flop, but as the Phoenix system returned to form so did their tender. With Smith posting a nice string of games, any chance at buying low has gone out the window.
Catching some Zzz…
Zdeno Chara (no points, minus-three) and Zach Parise have slumped these past seven days after giving their owners a huge boost in week two. Chara had a monster game last week that seen him notch three points, a shorthanded marker and a game winning goal. Those are the kind of stats that leave poolies drooling when eyeing the win in head-to-head formats. On the flipside, Parise went from a weekly total of four goals, two assists and three power play points to a single point in four games.
Beating a dead Pred
Shea Weber has to be one of the biggest disappoints this season. Through nine games, he remains pointless. Heck, Nashville exploded for six goals last night (Tuesday) and still no sign of the big money blue liner. The only other roster defensemen tied with no points are Hal Gill and Scott Hannan, both of whom hold virtually no fantasy value and should not even be mentioned in the same breath as Weber… yet here we stand.
If the season ended today, Washington would not only finish last in the standings but also hold the league worst goal differential with a minus-13. Falling this far behind early on will make for a nasty uphill battle just to have a sniff at making playoffs. What a train wreck.
by Eric Daoust
- This year we have seen the emergence of Zack Kassian as a power forward who can contribute points and physicality for fantasy owners. So far he has five goals, six points, 12 PIM and 21 hits in nine games. If you do not own Kassian and are looking for an alternative, consider Andrew Shaw or Marcus Foligno. If you are looking for future power forwards in the prospect ranks, look no further than Tom Wilson or Anthony Camara.
- Situations such as the one in Vancouver with Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider are definitely frustrating for poolies. Most people thought Schneider would be the man in Vancouver and Luongo would be the starter elsewhere. The trade never materialized and Luongo has earned the No. 1 gig for the Canucks for the time being. Now the future of both netminders is very much in the air. Despite the headaches it is too early to simply give up on Schneider if you own him because you will be unable to get fair value in return.
- Injuries are mounting among forwards as Jason Spezza, Ray Whitney, Steve Sullivan, Ryan Callahan, Wayne Simmonds, Steve Downie and Gabriel Landeskog are among the more significant names who recently suffered an injury that will keep them out for the foreseeable future.
- On the back end Nikita Nikitin, James Wisniewski, Dustin Byfuglien, Sergei Gonchar, Andrej Meszaros and Brent Burns are important defensemen who currently find themselves on the shelf.
- With Gonchar out Andre Benoit is an interesting blueliner worth keeping an eye on. He has three assists in nine games and obviously has a better opportunity to produce with Gonchar on the sideline.
- In addition to the obvious offensive production from Erik Karlsson, he has been head-and-shoulders above the pack in shots on goal with 39 after 10 games. Kris Letang is in second place with 28.
- Jaroslav Halak was recently put on injured reserve with a groin injury. He is simply not a workhorse number one goaltender so you can count on his backup goaltender to see a fair share of action every year.
- Four surprising goaltenders share the lead for wins at the moment: Halak’s former crease partner Carey Price (6-1-0, 1.70, .938), Antti Niemi (6-1-1, 2.07, .927), Corey Crawford (6-0-2, 1.82, .930) and Craig Anderson (6-2-1, 1.33, .956). How many people would have predicted this development?
- This week, the New York Rangers flipped Mike Rupp to Minnesota for Darroll Powe looks insignificant on the surface but both players benefit from the move and makes them more relevant in deep multi-category leagues.
- Powe is not much of a scorer but has 347 hits and 151 blocked shots over the last two seasons and his style of play will be appealing to coach John Tortorella. Look for him to be used a lot in defensive situations and collect a lot of peripheral stats.
- Rupp was a non-factor in New York but becomes an important part of a Minnesota lineup that is largely undersized and not physical. He will not contribute many points but has 221 PIM and 284 hits over the last two years.
- Lubomir Visnovsky is set to finally join the New York Islanders this week. Projecting his totals is difficult because there are a lot of factors at play. Last year his production crashed with just 27 points after a career-high 68 the prior season. Additionally, he has been very hesitant to return to the NHL so you have to wonder if his heart and mind are elsewhere. If you do not have a tight limit on roster moves he could be worth a gamble but only if there are other waiver wire alternatives should you have to bail on Visnovsky.
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