Around the Rink
As we push ever toward next year's Olympics in Sochi and start talking about the rosters, it's worth starting to think about how our fantasy players are going to be affected by Olympic participation – or lack thereof.
There's an interesting balance to be struck here. Some guys will play in the Olympics, meaning they get another couple weeks worth of games – which we can pessimistically look at as opportunities to be injured or worn out – added to their schedule, while other guys will sit home and perhaps grow cold and rusty. With all the best players headed to international competition in February, probably every fantasy team in your league will send players to the Olympics, so at least the damage will theoretically be spread around.
The big ice used in international play – 15 feet wider than NHL rinks – changes the complexion of the game, drawing players out of North America's grinding style and into a more skillful contest that's closer in resemblance to an All-Star Game (but with hitting). Like competing in the Home Run Derby, that style change can have an impact on players as they continue through the year. Guys who've gotten into the habit of working with the relatively minimal space on NHL ice, then successfully adjust to international ice, will have to adjust yet again back to the smaller North American rinks. Some may find it tougher than others, especially if they were able to find a winning formula on the wider ice.
That said, again, all the best players are going to play in the Olympics. And there's no getting away from owning the game's best players in fantasy.
Anyway, there's only one game Tuesday, which is passing strange.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid.
Ducks (Jonas Hiller) at Stars (Kari Lehtonen), 8:00
Injury News for Teams Playing Tuesday
Bryan Allen, D (lower body) – Left Saturday's game; no word on Tuesday
Luca Sbisa, D (hand) – Out 6-8 weeks
Viktor Fasth, G (lower body) – Out 3-4 weeks
Francois Beauchemin, D (upper body) – Placed on IR over the weekend
Saku Koivu, C (concussion) – Still not feeling right
Jakob Silfverberg, LW (hand) – Out into late December
Sheldon Souray, D (wrist) – Skating, but no word on return
Ray Whitney, LW (groin) – Expected back Tuesday
Brent Burns, LW, SJ – Burns has collected a point in each of his games since finally returning from a mouth injury that surprisingly kept him out for more than a month, picking right back up where he left off before getting hurt. He's pulling a point per game through 10 contests on the year, and for some icing on the cake, he's plus-10. Fantasy owners have to be feeling good about holding onto him while he was out.
Justin Schultz, D, EDM – Schultz has skated in three games since returning from groin and rib issues that kept him out for eight contests, and he's recorded a point in all three. After scoring in his return and assisting in his next game, he tacked on another goal Monday night, and he's gone plus-3 in that span – a dream from any Edmonton player, as the Oilers have been leaking plus-minus all year.
Max Pacioretty, LW, MON – Another guy who had a cold and injury-shortened start to the year, Pacioretty's found a new gear over the last week. He's scored five goals in his last three games – a hat trick and a two-goal affair – while shooting heavily and seeing his most consistent power-play time of the year. Nearly a point-per-game player last year, Pacioretty's stats still don't look good so far this season, but he's certainly coming around.
Kevin Poulin, G, NYI – When Evgeni Nabokov went down, Poulin was handed a major opportunity to establish himself as the Islanders' goalie of the future, but all he's done is prove the exact opposite. He's started seven straight games for the Isles, and he's given up three or more goals in six of them. All in all, he's allowed 23 goals in that span while only putting up a save percentage over .900 in one game. He's unplayable in fantasy right now, and it wouldn't be terribly surprising to see the Isles try some other options, though the organization isn't exactly deep with alternatives.
Matt Carle, D, TB – The Bolts expect some degree of offense out of Carle, and he really hasn't delivered it all year long, but it's been particularly rough lately. He's without a point in his last five games and has just two points in his last 13 contests, making everyone forget his productive start to the year (eight points in 11 games). He's playing career-low power-play time, a major component in his drop in time on ice from the last two years. And with Steven Stamkos out, the Tampa offense isn't as supercharged as it was. Carle's just a body on the blue line in most fantasy leagues right now.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, D, SJ – Pickles' hot start to the year was much celebrated, but things have quieted significantly for him on the offensive end, as he's gone eight games without an appearance on the score sheet. He's still seeing minimal power-play time (less than half a minute per game) and hasn't raised his shot rate meaningfully, so it appears that the development we hoped were seeing out of him may simply have been statistical noise in a small sample. Vlasic's never been a high-flying offensive player.
Matt Read, RW, PHI – The Flyers have finally been flying on offense lately, and Read's been a driving force behind their newfound productivity. He's plus-6 with five points in the last three games, including consecutive two-goal efforts Thursday and Saturday. Read's skating first-line minutes, and though he's still only seeing second-unit power-play time, he should be an immediate pickup in those fantasy formats where he's floating around on the wire. He's got a track record of putting up points in college, the AHL and even Sweden during the lockout, and anytime you see a guy like that start having big games in the NHL, it's worth plenty of attention.