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Sunday Daily Puck: No Going Home?

Noel Baldwin

Noel Baldwin

Noel Baldwin covers the Arizona Coyotes and St. Louis Blues and writes about fantasy hockey for Rotowire.

Around the Rink

The NHL schedule is light on Sunday, but there is one tilt that will at least feature some emotional content as the Senators welcome former, long time captain Daniel Alfredsson back to Ottawa with his new teammates from Detroit. The Sens plan a pre-game video tribute to Alfredsson’s career with the team, which has sparked some debate (at least in corners of the internet) about whether the Swede deserves cheers or boos from the Sens faithful. I know a few passionate Sens fans on both sides of the debate, who see either only the seventeen years he spent in Ottawa that coincided with great success for the franchise, or the quite sudden and surprising departure he made this past summer as a free agent to seek a team with a better chance to win (his words).

I find it hard to muster my ire or my sentimentality for either side. I appreciate Alfredsson’s career with Ottawa and respect what he accomplished with the team, but while I was disappointed that he left, I find it odd to care all that much about someone choosing to work for another company. I suspect that playing fantasy sports actually has something significant to with my view on this. As fantasy players, we end up paying attention to so many different players who spend time on our respective teams and then go elsewhere that emotional attachments start to break down. Even in keeper or dynasty leagues the guys who “come up” as members of your team rarely stay forever. Lots of fantasy games are about churning guys through roster spots; in fact, it can be essential to be ruthless about it in order to win. One can ask legitimately whether this is good for our experience as fans, but I certainly feel more clearheaded about how I look at the sports I love as a result.

As for Alfredsson and his search for a Cup in Detroit, his play seems reinvigorated with 19 points in 22 games (he has, as has been the case the last several years, missed games with injury), and Detroit, though hardly dominating is in a playoff position in a weak Eastern conference. Perhaps what is bothering Senators fans so much is that their team is outside a playoff position looking in, in what has been a frustrating season to date. They trail Detroit by nine points in the Atlantic division and are seven points out of a wild card spot while making Alfie seem a bit prophetic.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid

Vancouver (Roberto Luongo) at Carolina (Cam Ward), 1:00 PM
Detroit Red (Jonas Gustavsson) at Ottawa (Craig Anderson), 5:30 PM
Edmonton (Devan Dubnyk) at Dallas (Kari Lehtonen), 6:00 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Sunday

Vancouver
Jordan Schroeder, C - Schroeder (ankle) had successful surgery on his broken ankle in early November and is expected to return in eight-to-nine weeks, News 1130 reports. (11/5/2013)

Carolina
Tim Gleason, D - Gleason will miss a week with a lower-body injury, Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer reports. (11/26/2013)
Joni Pitkanen, D - Pitkanen (heel) was placed on long-term injured reserve Tuesday, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. (10/1/2013)
Alexander Semin, LW - Semin (concussion) got in some on-ice work at Friday's morning skate, Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer reports. (11/29/2013)
Andrej Sekera, D - Sekera (upper body) is doubtful for Sunday's game against the Canucks, Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer reports. (11/30/2013)
Anton Khudobin, G - GM Jim Rutherford said Khudobin (ankle) is about a week away from returning from injured reserve, Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer reports. (11/19/2013)

Detroit
Todd Bertuzzi, RW - Bertuzzi (shoulder) will not play Sunday against the Senators, MLive.com's Ansar Khan reports. (11/30/2013)
Pavel Datsyuk, C - General manager Ken Holland said he doesn't expect Datsyuk (concussion) to play any time before Dec. 4, the Detroit Free Press' Helene St. James reports. (11/27/2013)
Danny DeKeyser, D - DeKeyser (shoulder) expects to return in 3-6 weeks, MLive.com reports. (11/26/2013)

Edmonton
Philip Larsen, D - Larsen (undisclosed) is uncertain to join the Oilers for their three-game road trip beginning Thursday in Nashville. (11/26/2013)
Tyler Pitlick, C - Pitlick exited Saturday's game with a left knee injury. (10/26/2013)
Richard Bachman, G - Bachman left Saturday's game with what looked like a groin injury. (11/2/2013)

Dallas
Aaron Rome, D - Rome (undisclosed) skated on his own after Saturday's practice, NHL.com's Mark Stepneski reports. (11/30/2013)
Stephane Robidas, D - Robidas underwent surgery Saturday to repair a broken fibia and will be out for the next four to six months, TSN's Darren Dreger reports. (11/30/2013)

Hot

Eric Staal, C, Car – Staal is quietly resurrecting what has been an awful season. A recent seven game point streak was snapped Friday against New Jersey, but including that point free tilt he has nine points in his last eight games (three goals and sex assists). Overall, his season numbers are disappointing (18 points in 26 games, -11), but Staal is showing he is still capable of better.

Niklas Kronwall, D, Det – While he has one 50+ point season to his credit he is not usually viewed as an offensive performer for fantasy purposes, but Kronwall may change that this year, as he is having a very good season with 19 points and a plus-11 rating through 25 games. He has put on a charge lately though with a five game point streak in which he has seven points, including four on the power play, and is plus-4.

Devan Dubnyk, G, Edm – Sometimes in sports there is nothing like the prospect of losing a job to focus the mind. When the Oilers signed Ilya Bryzgalov, some speculation was that it was as much about Dubnyk and getting him focused as it was about wanting Bryz-er in the fold. Since mid-November Dubnyk has performed better, posting a .929 save percentage in his last seven appearances (six starts). This battle for crease supremacy is not likely over (both goalies have been pulled from a start and posted a shutout in the last two weeks), but Dubnyk is likely in front for now.

Cold

Ryan Kesler, C, Van – Kesler has yet to get going this year with 17 points in 27 games and his recent play is not showing many signs of picking up. He has just four points in his last 10 games. He is also a disappointing minus-5 on the season and minus-4 in that ten game stretch. While the Sedins offensive contributions are down a bit this season, it looks like Kesler may be having a tougher adjustment to new coach John Tortorella’s style.

Sergei Gonchar, D, Dal – After putting up 27 points last season in Ottawa, including 12 on the power play, Dallas Stars’ management would be excused for thinking that they had added a valuable piece to their push back toward the playoffs when they got Gonchar. Yet, he has managed only four points and a minus-8 rating in 24 games. His ice time is down more than five minutes and his time on the power play is about half of what it was last year. Remarkably, after a long run as one of the NHL’s best offensive defensemen and power play quarterbacks, Gonchar looks done at age 39.

Cam Ward, G, Car – Ward has struggled this season and his recent play has not been much different. Since coming off the injured reserved Ward has made five starts and let in more than three or more goals in three of them. His save percentage in those games of .904 is actually worse than his overall season mark of .909, and even that is not where you would like to see a starting goalie in the NHL. Ward needs to pick it up or Justin Peters might overtake him.

Recommended Pickup

Martin Hanzal, C, Pho – Hanzal’s Phoenix Coyotes are not on the docket for Sunday, but he needs to be highlighted because he might be making “the leap” this year. At 26, Hanzal is playing in his seventh NHL season and without much fanfare is becoming one of the NHL’s better power forwards. With 21 points in 22 games, he is on pace to shatter his career high 35 points (set in his rookie season), but the 6’6” center is also putting his size to work this year. With 70 hits on the season, Hanzal has been hanging around the top 25 in that category all year. But among those with more hits than he has, only Alex Ovechkin and David Backes have more points. If you play in a league with hits and are among the half of leagues or more where he is available, go grab him now.