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Friday's Face-Off: Face-Off Wins

Ray Flowers

Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: M-F at 5-8 PM EDT), Ray Flowers has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. You can follow Ray on Twitter (@BaseballGuys), he never sleeps, and you can also find more of his musings at BaseballGuys.com.

It's Friday, and that can only mean that it's time for me to ramble on, about the goings on, in the NHL.

LINE NOTES

For the second time, Nikita Filatov has found himself out of favor with his club. The first time it happened in Columbus, the second time with his current club in Ottawa. However, he may have set a record this time around as he went from being a first liner, to a top-6 forward, to a healthy scratch, to a minor leaguer in less than two weeks. Filatov was sent to the AHL because the Sens didn't think he would garner consistent minutes in the NHL. "He has to (go down) and work real hard, develop his game, be a little more competitive and hopefully score some points," said GM Bryan Murray. Filatov has tremendous skills but his lack of compete level, as well as a poor attention to detail, is just dooming him right now. It's hard to keep him stashed if you are in a normal sized league, but at least keep him on your watch list cause he does have oodles of skill.

Patrick Kane seems to have adapted pretty well so far in his transition from right wing to the center position, not that such a statement should be a surprise given how strong Kane's skills are. "It's still something I'm getting used to," Kane said. "I know I'm not there yet." His point production hasn't suffered at all as he has recorded five points in three games. Speaking of Kane, the Daniel Carcillo experiment got off to a great start Thursday. Skating with Kane and Marian Hossa, Carcillo had an assist, four hits, two shots on goal and was a +2. Add him immediately if you have a weakness on the left wing as he's certainly worth a look skating with those two highly talented linemates.

INJURY UPDATES

Martin Brodeur's left shoulder injury doesn't appear to be serious as it's being labeled as a "tweak." Through two appearances thus far he has looked average with a 3.00 GAA and .900 save percentage for the Devils.

Tim Connolly said that his upper-body injury might be worse than he initially thought. I'm shocked. I could have sworn he was going to play all 82 games this season. Now where is my pet chupacabra?

Rick DiPietro is dealing with some head woes after taking a shot off his mask during a practice on Wednesday. The team doesn't think he suffered a concussion, but they're running further tests to be sure. After 3-straight seasons of at least 62 starts (2005-07) Rick skated in a total of 39 games the past three years. He only has nine more years on his contract after this season. This contract appears well on it's way to going down as the dumbest decision made by a front office in the history of the game. Speaking of the Isles crease, Al Montoya stopped 34 of 35 shots against the Lightning to pick up his second win of the year. He's actually building quite a bit of momentum toward being the Isles' starting keeper if you can believe that.

Here we go again. Ales Hemsky had to leave the Oilers game on Thursday as he injured his right shoulder, the same one that he had surgically repaired last season. You can view it as a positive or a negative that he didn't seem to injure it on a big hit or anything, but it might also be just as disconcerting that nothing really seemed to precipitate the issue either. Limited to 22 games in 2009 and 47 last year, Ales still managed to produced 64 points in those 69 games. He's a scoring star when he is on the ice, though the last couple of years that hasn't seen nearly enough ice time.

Evgeni Malkin has missed some time early this season due to lingering soreness in his surgically repaired knee. Apparently he only needs one leg to be an effective NHL skater. Evgeni registered two helpers in his first game back in action, and even better he skated more than 22 minutes in the outing. With Sidney Crosby just being cleared for contact, it's possible that the Penguins could have their full compliment of players at some point in the near future which should scare the hell out of the competition.

YOU GOTSTA KNOW

I gotta spout off for a second, an I apologize since this really has nothing to do with the fantasy game. I want to speak to the lack of clarity we get in regards to player injuries. What's hurt on a player? How long will he be out? Those seem like rather simple, straight forward questions, do they not? What we get is that 'he's day-to-day' and that he's out with an injury. What kind of injury? Sometimes we get an "upper" or "lower" body report, but often times we get 'it's not his head, not his shoulder, and not his troublesome knee.' Great, that really clears it up. Here's a concrete example. Peter Mueller who missed all of last season with a concussion, didn't skate on Thursday because he was not feeling well. Does he have the flu? Did his concussion related symptoms return? Here's what HC Joe Sacco had to say. "We'll see how he presents on Saturday." Seriously? That's it? The guy missed an entire season with an injury an all we get is coach speak? Here's my main problem with all of this. Guys, you aren't dealing with nuclear secrets here. So the guy has a sore elbow. What, the other team is going to try and spear his elbow? Maybe they're going to challenge him to an arm wresting competition to see if they can get the elbow to pop. I mean really. The game is far too fast for players to "target" a body part of a certain player because he is sore. Everyone is sore. How about you do us all a favor (now back to the fantasy relevant part), and actually tell us what is going on? That way we can all set our lineups and make the necessary plans to work around the players maladies. Jeez, is it that hard?

Why does Niklas, with no "c", Backstrom get so little love in the fantasy game? Is it because he's never in the playoffs or because no one expects anything from the Wild? I'll tell you what, you should pay attention cause the guy is a hell of a keeper. In his 285 game NHL career his goals against average is 2.41 and his save percentage is .918. Ryan Miller, universally regarded as an elite net minder, owns career marks of 2.56 and .915. Backstrom is coming off an injury plagued season, but he still posted a .916 save percentage in his 51 appearances. He's off to a strong start once again this season allowing only eight goals in four games leading to a 1.93 GAA an a .928 save percentage. If he's your second goalie, you're going to be in really good shape this year.

Cory Schneider picked up a loss on Thursday night even though he managed to stop 35 of 37 shots that were thrown his way by the Wings (Jimmy Howard pitched a shutout for the Wings). The loss drops Cory to 1-1 on the season but he's allowed only two goals in each game he's appeared leading to a .935 save percentage. Schneider certainly isn't going to vault into the elite category having to pick up table scraps around Roberto Luongo, but the youngster has been a dynamic option in net for the Canucks in his 37 game NHL career; Cory has posted a 2.49 GAA and .920 save percentage, not to mention a 19-10-3 record, as a spectacular backup. If Roberto were ever to go down with an injury, Schneider would have a legitimate shot to be a top-10 net minder with the strong Canucks' squad in front of him.

Zenon Konopka, the NHLs reigning penalty minute champ, has spent two of four games with his new club, the Senators, in a suit. He missed one game because of a wonky back, an on Thursday night he was out of action because he was a healthy scratch. It seems odd that the Senators would bring him into the fold and then not utilize him every game, especially with the lack of proven talent in their lineup. Regardless of the in an out of the lineup situation he's currently dealing with he still has a whopping 24 PIMs in his two games.

THE NUMBERS GAME

The Red Wings always have a potent power-play due to the never ending stream of talented players they can run out there with the man advantage. To this point of the season though, it just hasn't mattered. The Winged Wheel has gone a sickly 0-for-16 on the power-play despite running out all kinds of players to help spark the unit. Don't expect the woes to linger as Detroit still sports a bevy of talented offensive weapons.

Craig Anderson allowed seven goals to the Avalanche in his fourth start of the year. He's really in no danger of losing his starting gig with the Sens, but that doesn't mean he should be anywhere near your starting lineup right now as his GAA is so bad that it would Lindsey Lohan look like she wasn't living a life that had her flying off the rails at ever opportunity. Anderson's GAA is 5.07 while his save percentage is .853. Be patient with Anderson, but your suicidal if you're starting him right now.

Ryan Getzlaf is a superstar in this league, but he's been dreadful to start the year winning only 13 of 36 face offs. He's been working on it trying to figure out what the problem is.

David Legwand was the second overall pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. He's approaching 800 NHL games played in what has been a solid career, even if he's never really developed the offensive flair that was expected when he was selected. Legwand has only two season of 20 goals, and just one time has he recorded more than 48 points, so it's unlikely that in his 12th season he is suddenly going to morph into a scoring star, but he does have two goals and five assists through just three games (he leads the NHL in scoring with those seven points). It would be wise to parlay that hot start into a struggling scoring star if possible since Legwand has less chance of keeping up a point-per-game pace than I do of landing that elusive date with Jessica Biel.

Chris Stewart has two goals in three games this year for the Blues, and that means he has lit the lamp 17 times in 29 games since joining the club. That pace would lead him to 48 goals over an 82 game season. How is that for an 82 game pace?


Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.To email Ray a question for next week's piece, drop him a line at fantasyfandom@yahoo.com.