Crashing the Net: Injuries and Performance
This week there are a handful of notable players battling injuries, and that's a prime focus of the piece. We'll also touch on a myriad of hot/cold players, per usual, in Crashing the Net.
Ryane Clowe was suspended only two games for leaving the bench to start a fight with Andrew Shaw of the Blackhawks. Given that there was some major concern that Clowe could have been levied with a 10-game suspension this has to be viewed as a big time positive outcome (it was deemed that Clowe came on to the ice for a "legal line change" and not just to start a dust-up). Maybe the two games on the sideline will allow Clowe to shake off the cobwebs in his game. His 68 penalty minutes in 16 contests is great (he's tied with Chris Neil for third in the league), but the guy still hasn't lit the lamp once this season.
Cody Hodgson had eight points in 20 games last season for the Sabres. This year, even though the team is playing terribly, he's been producing offensively with 15 points (7g, 8a) in 19 games. He's also won 159 face-offs, the same number as Brad Richards and just one behind Henrik Zetterberg.
Evander Kane is currently working on a 7-game point streak which includes three goals in his last three games (overall he has four goals and three helpers as he has picked up a single point in each contest). With seven goals in 18 games he is averaging 0.39 goals a contest, just off the mark of 0.41 per game that he had last season when he scored 30 times in 74 games.
Rick Nash has produced 12 points in rout games though he's lit the lamp just three times, a fact that can be somewhat overlooked given his +9 rating. However, he's currently on the shelf for --- ? Nash been out for about 10 days now and we still don't know what the issue is. Nash participated in practice Tuesday so it appears he is close to a return, but there is the cloud of a potential concussion being the cause of his time on the sidelines (when asked directly he gave some players speak about not being a doctor). Could it be a concussion? Is his groin an issue? Hopefully we will get some clarity soon and Nash can get back to game action where he's been a positive fantasy force.
Alexander Semin has doubters, people always question his intensity and effort, but the guy is highly skilled. In his first year in Carolina he's recorded 14 points in 17 games including four points in his last three contests. He's also an impressive +10 on the young campaign and has actually been credited by the coaching staff with giving an effort defensively. Who knew?
Three forwards lead the league with four game-winning goals – Eric Staal, Jeff Carter and James Neal. Staal has only one goal of any kind in his last sic games, Carter has goals in each of his last four games (including two game winners), and Neal has lit the lamp twice in his last five outings. Neal also leads the NHL with eight goals with the man-advantage as he's well on his way to proving that his 40-goal effort from last season was far from a fluke.
Brent Burns has been placed on the IR for an undisclosed injury that will force him out for at least a week. Burns scored 17 goals and recorded 46 points with the Wild in 2010. He signed a big money deal to come to San Jose and went out and produced 11 goals and 37 points as it took him a long while to find his comfort zone. This offseason he had surgery and came into camp at less than 100 percent. Once he finally returned to game action he failed to record a point, while posting a (-5) mark in six games, and now he's hurt again. This is shaping up to be a lost season for Burns. Hopefully he can turn things around in the second half of the season cause right now he's a huge disappointment.
Mark Frasor has done nothing on offense with two assists in 17 games for the Leafs. He is a +14 skater though, the best mark in the league, so if you're in a deep league he still has value despite his vacuous offensive effort.
Andre Markov, P.K. Subban and Raphael Diaz are giving the Habs tremendous offensive production from the blue line. Markov is healthy after years of frustration, and he's back to being a dominant offensive force. Markov has recorded, get this, all 11 of his points on the power-play (that includes five goals). Subban has eight points in 13 games including six points on the power-play. Diaz has 13 points with seven of those coming with the man-advantage. Amazingly, the Habs have three #1 defensemen who could run the top power-play unit. For now that top unit, more often than not, includes Markov and Subban, but there are times when Diaz obviously sees the ice with the first unit. What a problem to have for HC Michel Therrien.
Steve Ott leads the NHL with 82 hits, four more than the two men tied for second with 78 hits – Matt Martin and Leo Komarov. Ott's no offensive dynamo, but his total of seven points matches the combined point marks of Martin (one), Komarov (four) and Zac Rinaldo (two) who is fourth in the league with 76 hits.
James Wisniewski can't catch a break, unless it's to a body part. James appeared in only 48 games last season, his first in Columbus, and it might be more of the same this year. The club announced that Wisniewski has a broken bone in his foot that could sideline him for an extended period of time. What will the Jackets do to replace the offense of Wisniewski (3g, 6a in 15 games)? Jack Johnson is still a week away from a return (upper body injury), so his offense from the blue line is also missing (1g, 7a) leaving a gaping hole for the Jackets at the moment.
Craig Anderson has been brilliant this season for a depleted Senators team going 8-4-2 with a 1.49 GAA and .952 save percentage. Alas, he injured his ankle and has been out of action for about a week. Though he returned to the ice on Monday, it's not yet certain when he will return to game action (if this scribe had to guess it would seem to be at least a week if not more before we'll see him back in game action). In the meantime Ben Bishop has performed like, well, Craig Anderson. Bishop has allowed a total of seven goals over his last five outings to drop his GAA to 2.17 while lifting his save percentage up to .935. He's also won each of his last four starts. Tough to think that Bishop will hold off Anderson for the starting gig once the veteran is healthy, but he's a must add in all leagues while he's playing this well, and it's certainly fair to think he has earned himself a bigger portion of the pie than anyone thought would be possible behind the workhorse Anderson.
Martin Brodeur has got a wonky back and he's visiting doctors to make sure everything is OK. The belief is that he will return to action by the end of the week. No injury is minor when you are 40 years old, but it doesn't seem like we should be overly concerned. I know this for certain – this guy is still a damn good keeper even at an aged where most players have been retired for years. Through 13 games this season Brodeur has a 2.27 GAA and .911 save percentage to accompany an 8-2-3 record. If his body holds up he's still an elite goalie two option.
What do you do with Ondrej Pavelec? He's won three of his last four starts and is clearly the lead dog for the Jets, but the numbers just aren't there. His GAA this season is 2.98 while his save percentage is languish at a Mike Vernon like level (.898), and over his last 84 games he's gone 35-37-10 with a 2.93 GAA and .904 save percentage. Is that even passable in today's game? I'm going to say no meaning Ondrej had better be your third keeper or you need to make something happen in your crease.
Tuukka Rask update – he's good, just as good in fact as Tim Thomas ever was, and that's saying something. Rask is 9-1-2 for the Bruins with a 1.97 GAA and .925 save percentage.
Ben Scrivens will have to battle for time in net shortly as James Reimer is closing in on a return from his knee injury. However, it might be Scrivens job to lose at the moment given how he has performed. In 12 appearances this season he owns a 2.17 GAA and .928 save percentage, obviously elite numbers. He's been brilliant over his last nine outings as well with a 1.92 GAA and .940 save percentage. Reimer isn't going to ride the pine when he's healthy, but does it make any sense for the Leafs to substantially cut the workload of Scrivens when he's this hot?
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.