PP Injury Analysis
It's bad enough the Avs have been forced to live without leading goal scorer Ryan O'Reilly so far this season due to a contract holdout, but they've also been bitten by the injury bug recently, losing top-six forwards Gabriel Landeskog (head/leg), Steve Downie (torn ACL) and David Jones (knee). As a result, you're now seeing guys like Jamie McGinn and John Mitchell see more PP time than they're used to. On Thursday against Calgary, coach Joe Sacco was using a top line consisting of Matt Duchene, Pierre Parenteau, Paul Stastny, McGinn and Erik Johnson. So far, the Avs have been brutal with the man advantage - second-last in the league with just two PP goals in 21 opportunities. With so many of their top guys on the shelf, it will take a herculean effort by the likes of Duchene, Parenteau and Stastny to turn things around.
The Sens are not exactly deep down the middle, so losing stud center Jason Spezza to back surgery at the end of January puts a huge hole in their lineup. The results were on full display this past Friday against the Hurricanes, with the Sens dropping a 1-0 decision. In terms of the power play, Kyle Turris has moved into Spezza's spot on the top line in between Daniel Alfredsson and Milan Michalek. Turris remains mostly unproven at this point, with his career-high 11 PP points coming four seasons ago with Phoenix. However, this is the first time he's had an opportunity to play first-line center with so much proven talent surrounding him in Alfredsson, Sergei Gonchar and Erik Karlsson, so he could be primed for a breakout. So far this season, Turris is averaging roughly 2:30 minutes of PP time per night and has two PP points in eight games.
The Stars are feeling a bit of a pinch these days with Derek Roy missing the last four games with a groin injury, along with Ray Whitney went on the IR with a broken foot. The good news is, the Stars have a ton of depth at forward and can still boast a top PP line featuring the likes of Jaromir Jagr, Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson and Michael Ryder. Another guy to watch is Brenden Morrow, who could wind up seeing some of Whitney's minutes. Meanwhile, Alex Goligoski continues to be the Stars' top PP defenseman, however pay attention to Jordie Benn, Jamie Benn's older brother. The elder Benn has recently been averaging over two minutes per game in PP time and, for now anyway, appears to have replaced Stephane Robidas as the #2 PP defenseman behind Goligoski.
Kris Versteeg opened the season on the IR with a sore groin, but recently returned to the lineup and registered a goal and an assist (the helper coming on the PP) in just his second game back. With Stephen Weiss currently dealing with a groin injury of his own, Versteeg is a welcome addition to the lineup indeed, and could be worth a pickup for those of you needing scoring help. On Thursday against Winnipeg, Versteeg skated mainly with Tomas Kopecky and Tomas Fleischmann. Meanwhile, Alexei Kovalev, who skated mostly second-line minutes in that game, missed the next day's practice with the flu and is considered day-to-day. Other guys to keep an eye on are Jonathan Huberdeau and Peter Mueller, both playing mostly on the second unit, along with rookie Drew Shore. On the back end, it's still Brian Campbell eating most of the team's blue line minutes, with Dmitry Kulikov and Filip Kuba backing him up.
Scott Hartnell continues to be the most prominent guy missing from the Flyers' lineup these days, after he underwent foot surgery in mid-January that is expected to keep him sidelined until late February or early March. More recently, Wayne Simmonds suffered an upper-body injury Feb. 1 against Washington and is considered day-to-day. Assuming Simmonds does not return to the lineup right away, this leaves the Flyers with a top PP unit of Daniel Briere, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. Another guy who has been seeing first-line minutes these days is rookie Tye McGinn, who has three points in five games, though none of those have occurred on the power play. McGinn continues to be an intriguing deep-discount fantasy play, especially if he continues to see the 15-16 minutes of total ice time he's seen the past two games. Incidentally, his PP minutes in those games were 5:43 and 2:13, respectively, so the coaching staff is clearly not afraid to use him in important on-ice situations.
Toronto Maple Leafs
With the loss of Joffrey Lupul to a broken forearm after just three games, the Leafs were suddenly faced with at least a six-week gap without one of their top three forwards from last season, and the guy who probably showed the most chemistry with right winger Phil Kessel. However, the Leafs proceeded to plug offseason acquisition James van Riemsdyk into Lupul's spot on the first line, and JVR has responded by producing two PP goals in his last three games. van Riemsdyk has shown he is not afraid of getting his hands dirty by crashing the crease, so expect to see him score the majority of his PP goals by parking his big body just in front of the blue paint and banging home loose pucks.
Ryan Kesler, normally a fixture on the Canucks' top PP unit, has been plagued by an assortment of injuries the past two seasons. This year, he's been on the shelf since the offseason with various shoulder and wrist ailments, opening the door for newcomer Zack Kassian (acquired last season as part of the trade that sent Cody Hodgson to Buffalo). Not only does Kassian fit Kesler's power-forward mold given his 6-3, 214 pound frame, but he's been filling in rather well on the top line alongside the Sedin twins, notching six points in eight games, including a pair of power-play markers. Meanwhile, another off-the-radar guy to keep an eye on is rookie Jordan Schroeder, who is seeing healthy second-line minutes these days, playing alongside Alexandre Burrows and Mason Raymond on the Canucks' second PP unit.