Crashing the Net: More Early Season Standouts
Matt Frattin has scored four times in four games and five times in six games for the Leafs. To say that was unexpected from the second year player would be an understatement given that he potted just 15 points in 56 games last season.
Saku Koivu continues to produce points as if it was a decade ago and he was wearing a Montreal sweater. Through eight games he has produced nine points and a +7 rating. There are three huge red flags. (1) He's 38 years old and failed to record 50 points the last two seasons. (2) He's only taken six shots on net in eight games. (3) He has only one point on the power-play.
On review, Chris Kunitz was awarded a fourth goal for his game from Sunday. That gives his five goals and two assists in his last two games. Such is life skating with the big boys in Pittsburgh.
Shawn Matthias scored his first goal in 31 games Monday. It was his first point this season.
Kyle Okposo has been removed from the Islander first line and will skate alongside Michael Grabner and Frans Nielsen. The easiest explanation is the lack of production as Okposo has just one goal and is a (-2) skater through eight games. Brad Boyes will move up to the top line. I know it's hard to recall, but Boyes did score 76 goals in 2007-08 before falling to a total of 39 goals the past three seasons. He's lit the lamp twice and produced six points in his first season on the Isle.
Alex Ovechkin has two goals in nine games, atrocious production for the former 60-goal scorer. Of course, the last time he potted even 40-goals was the 2009 season. What's the reason? The options abound from his looming marriage to a diminished desire, but it might even be simpler than that. Ovechkin owns an 11.9 percent shooting percentage for his career. This season he's only at 5.9 percent. Only once has he finished a year under 10 percent (8.7 percent in 2010). Second, he's simply not shooting the puck enough. After a career best 528 shots in 2008 his shot totals have dipped to 368, 367 and 303, and his current pace would equate to 310 shots over 82 games. My advice, start firing the biscuit at the basket with more frequency Mr. Ovechkin.
P.A. Parenteau is out of control right now after scoring his seventh goal of the season Monday. P.A. has recorded 20 and 18 goals the past two seasons relying more on the assist for his points than his shot. Looking over at the shot column one notices his 36.8 shooting percent which is only three times above normal. Look to deal him now if someone believes he is becoming a sniper.
Derek Roy returned from a groin issue Monday for the Stars. He was on the ice for 21 minutes as the Stars didn't seem too worried about his health. Roy has always been a borderline elite offensive talent, but the guy just can't stay healthy and he's coming off his worst full season of just 44 points in 80 games with the Sabres last year. He's got a lot to prove this season (he has three assists in five games).
Paul Stastny is seemingly one of the few healthy Avalanche forwards on the ice each night, and he's finally rounding into form after a slow start to the year. Paul is an ugly (-6) on the year, but after one point in his first six games he's finally remembered that he's supposed to be a point scorer. Over his last three contests he has three goals and two helpers. Stastny has averaged 0.87 points per game in his career, a fact that some have seemingly forgotten about after back-to-back seasons of less than 60 points.
Alex Amelin leads all defensemen in hits with 35, one fewer than forward Leo Komarov. Amelin does nothing else of note as he has just three shots, a +3 rating, one assist and just four penalty minutes.
Tobias Enstrom is the only blue liner clear of nine points as he leads the way with 11 (six on the power-play). Talk about a guy succeeding off the pass. Tobias has taken only seven shots on net, has just two minor penalties and has hit only three people. He needs to diversify a bit don't you think?
Erik Gudbranson should be recalled Tuesday by the Panthers. Gudbranson has been working his way back from a shoulder injury after a 72 game rookie season that saw him do little of note in the fantasy game (eight points, -19, 76 shots on net). He should be better in Year II.
Andrei Markov steal leads blue liners with four goals (tied with Brian Campbell). It's been four games though since Andrew lit the lamp, hardly a shock considering that he doesn't have a single shot on net in that time.
Stephane Robidas has been a solid producer in the fantasy game this season. Not only is he a +6 skater, but he also has 20 hits and 23 blocked shots for the Stars. If you are in a more traditional setup he's not been much help though as he only has two assists and seven shots on net.
Sami Salo leads the NHL with a +10 rating for the Bolts. Through eight games he has five points, two on the power-play, so clearly he's not producing too many even strength points despite the fact that his plus/minus mark is stellar. He's only taken eight shots on net this season too, so don't get too over the moon excited with the Finnish rearguard. His teammate, Victor Hedman, was a (-9) skater last season. This year, in just eight games, he's been a +9 skater. That's (-9) to +9 trick has also been pulled off in the early going by Johnny Oduya who skates for the Blackhawks. He's only got four PIMs, two hits and eight shots on net in nine games. Talk about a one category contributor.
Sheldon Souray has started off this season just as he did last year - on fire. Souray has three goals and five points, to go along with a +5 rating through eight games with the Ducks. He had 13 points in his first 14 games last season before tailing off.
Craig Anderson has allowed nine goals in eight games. Yeah, he's en fuego.
Devan Dubnyk is only 4-3-2 on the year but it's hard to directly blame the 6'5” keeper given that his save percentage is .925. He's allowed a total of nine goals in his last five games and is starting to look like he might be a buck stopper that can be trusted this year.
Carey Price has won 6-straight games to improve to 6-1-0. He's got the look of at least a top-10 goalie, just as he did before the season starters.
It was supposed to be Cory Schneider as the lead dog in Vancouver. It hasn't been. Not only has Roberto Luongo made one more start, but he's also posted a 1.53 GAA which is better than half the 3.13 mark of Schneider. I found it odd this offseason how folks were so quick to write off Luongo while anointing Schneider as a star. Hasn't happened that way. The Canucks need to make a decision with their keepers, and you have to think one will be dealt as they've simply got too much cash/talent tied up in their two keepers.
So much for Mike Smith's troubles. He has returned from injury with a vengeance winning his last two games allowing just one goal in the process. He's looked like the star he was last season and not the failure he was early this season.
I've been getting an inordinate number of questions about Tomas Vokoun, who is off to a strong start with a 3-1 record an a 2.09 GAA for the Penguins. Folks, he ain't stealing the job of Marc-Andre Fleury. Even though MAF has started slowly with a 3-2 record and .897 save percentage, you have to be crazy to think that the Penguins would turn away from their star in net after a couple of rough weeks. It's like people have totally forgotten that Fleury won 42 games last season and that he's won at least 35 in each of the past four years. Vokoun might see a bit more work than what we thought would happen when the season started, but I find it hard to believe he's got a chance to steal the starting spot of MAF.
Cam Ward has been pretty awful this season but of course people were panicking off a mere five starts. In two appearances in February he's allowed two goals on 52 shots which will hopefully quell the fears of those that thought his season was shaping up to be a disastrous one.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday at 5 PM EDT. Ray's analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.