Of course I have to lead off this piece with Sidney Crosby. In his first game in roughly 11 months, after missing 61 of 68 games, he brought forth memories of the stirring comebacks of another Penguins' superstar Mario Lemieux in producing an offensive extravaganza in a return from injury. All Crosby did was record eight shots on goal. That alone would have been an encouraging effort. When you add in a +3 rating, now we're talking some serious success. How about two assists? You've got to be kidding right? Toss in two goals and you've got a made for television movie. So is the case with Sid the Kid, the most dynamic offensive performer in the game.
David Booth had only one point in six games with the Panthers, and though he has seven points with the Canucks in 12 games he has only two goals and is a (-6) skater with the team from Canada.
Jeff Carter missed 10 games with a broken foot, but he has had a triumphant return to the ice with three goals in his last two games. A sniper of some renown, Carter should be counted on to be a mighty productive force whenever he can drag his bones onto the ice.
Rick Nash is about as impressive a forward as there is with his combination of size, grit, and sniping ability. Lost amidst the NHL landscape at times because he plays for the Blue Jackets, Nash has not been lost amongst the fantasy game where the winger and his average of 36 goals a season the past four years is outstanding. Alas, he's only lit the lamp five times in 20 games this year, though he still has 10 assists to leave him with some value. He scored an empty netter on Monday to end a seven game goal scoring drought, and it will only take a few hot games to get things back on track. If you can buy low, do it now.
Matt Read, have a start to your career kid. In 17 games with the Flyers Read has an impressive +7 rating. He's also scored a power-play marker as well as a shortie. Overall he has nine goals and 14 points in 17 games, not bad for an undrafted winger.
How the mighty have fallen. Alexander Semin was a healthy scratch on Monday. "He's taken penalties seven games in a row. At some point you have to be accountable for your errors," HC Bruce Boudreau said. Being undisciplined will obviously draw the ire of one's coach, but with Semin it likely goes deeper than that. The guy is paid to score, and he's just not doing that. Semin has only nine points in 18 games this year and his November has consisted of three points in nine games. For a guy who has averaged 33 goals a season the past five years, those are unacceptable totals. Still, he's too talented to struggle like this forever, so if you can scoop him up on the cheap from a frustrated owner, do it.
This Kris Versteeg thing is getting totally out of control. We're 20 games into the season and he's up to 25 points, including a massive total of six goals and 12 points in his last six games. This guy is no Crosby, so my recommendation would be to foist him off on someone else who is willing to pay you top dollar for the solid, but far from superstar level, left winger of the Panthers.
Blue Line Business
Erik Johnson hasn't lit the lamp the past two weeks but he has fired 24 shots on goal, tied with Dustin Byfuglien for the most at the position. However, Johnson is also a (-5) the past two weeks, and for the year he is sporting a (-12) rating without a single goal. All that kind of makes his nine assists pretty useless in the fantasy game.
Remember how I mentioned Aaron Rome last week and warned that despite his outbreak of offense that he wasn't someone you should be counting on to lead your blue line in points scored? In his last two games he has zero points and is a (-3) skater.
Sheldon Souray got off to a blazing start, and his numbers to this point of the year are still wonderful as he has 13 points, 35 PIMs, 55 shots on goal and is a +10 skater. However, he's also gone six-straight without a point. The window to move him for full value is rapidly closing, especially since we all know that an injury has to be coming down the pipe.
Anton Stralman was practicing on the first power-play unit for the Rangers on Tuesday taking the place of Michael Del Zotto. Stralman recorded 34 points, 22 on the power-play, in 2009 when he was a member of the Blue Jackets. He's worth a speculative add in case the Rangers choose to keep him on the top man advantage unit.
Martin Brodeur is just 4-4-0 with some horrible ratios (3.02 GAA, .888 SV%) in his nine trips on the ice this season. He's shown a little improvement of late allowing three or fewer goals in five of his last six outings, but he just doesn't seem to be able to get locked in. Meanwhile, Johan Hedberg has seen action in only three games in November despite having vastly superior numbers this season (2.45 GAA, .914 SV%).
With Steve Mason thinking the goal of a keeper is actually to let the puck into the net (3.63 GAA, .875 SV%), the Blue Jackets have been dismal this season. The best thing that may have happened to the club, and sorry for this Steve, is that Mr. Mason has come down with an issue to his noggin after taking a puck off the mask from Rick Nash in practice. Curtis Sanford, about as vanilla a goalie as there is in the league, has stepped to the fore for the Jackets. Sanford has won each of his last two outings and in his three starts this season he's allowed a total of five goals. As crazy as it sounds, he might be the goalie to own right now with Columbus.
It's too early to say that Semyon Varlamov has lost his starting job with the Avalanche, but he's 5-8-1 with a 3.30 GAA and .890 save percentage through 14 starts. If those numbers aren't scary enough, consider that he is 0-5-1 with a .831 save percentage in his last six games. Meanwhile, Jean-Sebastian Giguere has really asserted himself and his 1.86 GAA and .924 save percentage are light years removed from the shaky work of Varlamov. At this point J-S should be owned in all leagues, and hopefully you had the sense to pick up J-S at the draft table if you tabbed Varlamov as one of your starters.
Fists of Fury
Theo Peckham doesn't do much other than get involved in the rough stuff from the Oilers' blue line, but he's done a good job of that of late. On the 19th he racked up 19 penalty minutes against the Blackhawks, but his +5 rating may have been the most impressive part of his performance that night. Theo has at least two penalty minutes in six of seven games and on the year he has 44 PIMs, one more than Shane O'Brien for the lead amongst blue liners.
Jaromir Jagr (groin) hopes to return to action on Wednesday. He has 17 points in 18 games.
Ryan Miller (concussion) remains out of action for the Sabres. His progress is apparently coming along as hoped, but there is still no date being given for his return to game action.
Brent Seabrook (leg) should be able to return to action on Wednesday. Brent has seven points this season to go along with 33 hits, 31 shots, and 47 blocked shots.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, and his NHL thoughts can be read at RotoWire.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.