Around the Rink
If you played Small World's salary cap fantasy hockey in the late 1990s and early 2000s like I did, you might remember how important picking up teams with a heavy weekly slate. The teams with some of the best Week 8 schedules are: Detroit, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg and Pittsburgh. Goalies and defensemen make for good pickups on teams with strong home schedules.
Let's take a look at some of recent action around the league.
Sunday night had a fairly heavy schedule. Kris Versteeg chipped in with a goal and an assist in his return to Chicago. Versteeg picked up three points in two games over the weekend. Yes, he's considered more as a depth player now than he was in his first go-around with the Blackhawks, but he's still better than a lot of other waiver-wire options - especially if Marian Hossa is forced to miss time.
The Kings' Dustin Brown has yet to find his stride. He took six shots Sunday in yet another pointless night. That said, the tough forward has collected 50 or more points in five straight 82-game seasons. He should be on fantasy owners "watch lists" at the very least.
The Blue Jackets' Sergei Bobrovsky won just his second game in November on Sunday night, stopping 29 of 30 shots against Ottawa. It looks like he might finally get back on track.
St. Louis goaltender, Jaroslav Halak, has hit a rough stretch, allowing three goals in each of his last three starts. That wouldn't be too bad except for the fact he made just three saves before being pulled against the Capitals.
Washington's John Carlson scored his fifth goal, a power-play marker. Carlson now has five goals and seven points in his last eight.
Valerie Nichuskin netted his second NHL goal Sunday. He's gone from an over-pubbed rookie to a bust to a post-hype star in the span of his seven-week career. Sergei Gonchar has two assists in his last six games, but wishing for a turnaround may still prove futile.
"Big Buff" Dustin Byfuglien scored his fourth goal in as many games Sunday. He and the rest of Winnipeg are in line for a nice Week 8 showing, given their favorable schedule.
Projected Goalie Starters (All times Eastern)
Boston (Tuukka Rask) at Carolina (Justin Peters), 7:00 PM
Anaheim (Viktor Fasth) at Pittsburgh (Jeff Zatkoff), 7:30 PM
Calgary (Reto Berra) at Winnipeg (Andrej Pavelec), 8:00 PM
Notable Injury News for Monday
Mathieu Perreault, F - Missed Friday with the flu, should be ready to go Monday against Pittsburgh.
Saku Koivu, F - Getting close to returning from concussion, check for Monday updates.
No major injuries
Adam McQuaid, D - Has missed the last three games with a leg injury.
Alexander Semin, F - Questionable after leaving Saturday early with an upper-body injury.
Jeff Skinner, F - Getting close to returning from upper-body injury, check Monday updates.
Radek Dvorak, F - Missed the last two games with a lower-body injury.
Cam Ward, G - Out the last 10 games with a lower body.
Curtis Glencross, F - Expected to miss another month with a sprained MCL.
Mark Giordano, D - Looking at another month or so with a broken ankle.
Zach Bogosian, D - Missed Saturday and not expected back Monday with lower-body.
Mark Stuart, D - Out for the last seven games with a hip injury, but back at practice.
Bryan Little - He's one of the lesser known top scorers thus far in 2013-14. Little has seven goals and 19 points in 22 games for the Jets. With a favorable Week 8 schedule, look for the likes of Little and Andrew Ladd to have big weeks. It might even be time for Tobias Enstrom to wake up.
Slava Voynov - Don't look now, but Voynov has five points in his last five games. The defender got off to a slow start with three points in his first 15, but he averaged better than a half-point per game last year and looks to be righting his ship in 2013-14.
Braden Holtby – More of a group shout-out to the Washington Capitals. Holtby has won 10 of his last 13 decisions after losing three straight to begin the season. He stopped 46 of 47 against the Blues on Sunday night, but it's his potential wins total that attracts fantasy owners. Holtby got hot at the end of 2012-13 and has the ability to pile up the wins again this year, especially behind a high-octane Washington offense.
Alexander Edler – Heading into Sunday's tilt against Dallas, Edler ranked fifth in scoring among Vancouver defenders behind Kevin Bieksa, Jason Garrison, Ryan Stanton and Christopher Tanev. That sentence, alone, speaks for itself. He had six points and a team-worst minus-8 rating. Only Garrison (2:54) has averaged more power-play ice time than Edler (2:35). Edler's scored better than a half-point per game since 2009, so there's reason to expect improvement.
Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Pascal Dupuis, Beau Bennett – Crosby has two points in his last five and one goal in his last 10. Malkin is out-performing Crosby from a fantasy perspective, with eight assists in his last seven, but he hasn't scored in a month (October 17). Dupuis has one goal and three points in the last month, while Bennett is pointless in four games since returning from a lower-body injury. Pittsburgh plays four times in Week 8 and the big guns have to break out now that the team is back on a heavy schedule, right?
David Desharnais, Ville Leino – Desharnais has one point in 19 games. There are about a billion places an NHL hockey player would rather be than Michel Therrien's dog house. Therrien once moved defenseman Brooks Orpik to left wing when he coached the Penguins. Never pass up an opportunity to watch Therrien's "soff" press conference. Perhaps new Buffalo coach, Ted Nolan, will find a way to maximize Ville Leino's $4.5 million cap hit sometime soon. He's got the next four seasons to figure it out. The Finnish forward has one assist through 10 games.
Danny DeKeyser – The Red Wings have struggled replacing Nicklas Lidstrom on the blue line since he retired at the end of the 2011-12 campaign. While there's small chance anyone will ever truly fill his skates, DeKeyser has emerged as a competent defender. Passed over by all 30 NHL teams in the draft, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound defenseman has turned heads with his heavy ice time and offensive production in recent weeks. After collecting one assist in his first 11 games, DeKeyser has compiled two goals and eight points in his last 10.
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