Around the League � Sunday December 8, 2013
As a fantasy hockey fanatic, this is one of my favorite times of year � not because the snow is starting to fall, or that Christmas is around the corner. Nothing quite that pedestrian - this is the time of year that early slumps start to disappear. Players trip out of the gate, and have a terrible first few months to start. They start to grip the stick a little tight, they try a little too hard � it all results in some GMs trying to sell assets they overvalued at the start, and the other GMs trying to nab those players at rock-bottom prices before they start to excel and become unaffordable. This past week was a great example of players that have snapped their early disappointment.
Case in point: Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais. Both players had a rough start, with Pacioretty recording only four points in his first ten, and Desharnais recording only one. The mayor of Montreal even publically called out Desharnais for his lackluster effort, and expressed his belief that he should be demoted to the minors. Since, both have turned things around. Pacioretty has been stellar in his last nine games, recording nine goals and an assist, and Desharnais has been just as good with three goals and six assists of his own. As soon as three weeks ago, both could have been picked up for next to nothing.
Similarly, after an atypical start to his season, Eric Staal has found his game again. Shrewd GMs that bought him in the middle of November appear to have grabbed him at the low point of his season. He�s scored in eleven of the last twelve games and is on pace to record his best season since 2007-2008 where he tallied 82 points in 82 games.
You also don�t need to look farther than most of Philadelphia to spot similar opportunities. With their horrendous start to the season, fantasy GMs were jettisoning quality Flyers for almost no good reason. Yes, they all started very poorly, but they�ve all now started to come around.
Keep your fantasy eyes peeled for similar opportunities at this time of year � most people are quicker to give up on someone than they are to jump back on the bandwagon. If you use this to your advantage, you can build a fantastic team.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid
San Jose Sharks (Antti Niemi) at Minnesota Wild (Josh Harding), 6:00 PM
Boston Bruins (Tuukka Rask) at Toronto Maple Leafs (Jonathan Bernier), 7:00 PM
Washington Capitals (Braden Holtby) at New York Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist), 7:00 PM
Florida Panthers (Tim Thomas) at Chicago Blackhawks (Corey Crawford), 7:00 PM
Colorado Avalanche (Semyon Varlamov) at Vancouver Canucks (Roberto Luongo), 8:00 PM
Injury News For Teams Playing Sunday
San Jose Sharks
Raffi Torres, LW - Torres (knee) skated on his own Tuesday, the David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reports. (10/22/2013)
Adam Burish, RW - Burish will undergo back surgery in the coming days and is out indefinitely, CSN Bay Area's Kevin Kurz reports. (10/16/2013)
Mikael Granlund, C - Granlund (concussion) will be shut down for a while, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. (12/4/2013)
Marc Savard, C - The Bruins are expected to place Savard (concussion) on Long-Term Injured Reserve, Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe reports. (7/6/2013)
Shawn Thornton, LW - Thornton will have an in-person hearing with league disciplinarians next week for sucker punching the Penguins' Brooks Orpik while he was down on the ice in Saturday's game, according to NHL Department of Player Safety. Thornton received a match penalty on the play that sent Orpik to hospital on a stretcher. (12/7/2013)
Johnny Boychuk, D - GM Peter Chiarelli announced Saturday that Boychuk has been diagnosed with a back sprain that will sideline the blueliner for approximately three-to-seven days, the Bruins' official site reports. (12/7/2013)
Loui Eriksson, RW - Eriksson suffered a concussion Saturday against the Penguins and won't travel with the Bruins for Sunday's game against the Maple Leafs. (12/7/2013)
Chris Kelly, C - Kelly will miss Sunday's game against the Maple Leafs with a lower-body injury, WEEI.com reports. (12/7/2013)
Adam McQuaid, D - McQuaid (lower body) won't play Saturday against the Penguins or Sunday against the Leafs. (12/7/2013)
Toronto Maple Leafs
Tyler Bozak, C - Bozak (upper body) has landed on long-term injured reserve, David Alter of Sportsnet 590 The Fan reports. (12/6/2013)
Dave Bolland, C - Bolland has been placed on long-term injured reserve, David Alter of Sportsnet 590 The Fan reports. (11/8/2013)
Joffrey Lupul, LW - Lupul (groin) will not play Saturday vs. the Senators, Jonas Siegel of TSN Radio 1050 reports. (12/7/2013)
Colton Orr, RW - Orr (elbow) was placed on injured reserve Thursday, James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail reports. (12/5/2013)
Evgeny Kuznetsov, C - Kuznetsov is expected to miss two months with a shoulder injury, NHL.com reports. (9/9/2013)
John Erskine, D - Erskine (upper body) will not play Wednesday against the Penguins, Katie Carrera of the Washington Post reports. (11/20/2013)
Brooks Laich, C - The Capitals are considering Laich out indefinitely with his right groin injury, the Washington Post's Katie Carrera reports. (12/6/2013)
Michal Neuvirth, G - Neuvirth (lower body) participated fully in Friday's practice but probably won't return over the weekend., the Washington Postreports. (12/6/2013)
Jack Hillen, D - Hillen (leg) was placed on long-term injured reserve by the Capitals on Monday, the Washington Post's Katie Carrera reports. (10/8/2013)
Tomas Kundratek, D - Kundratek has suffered a torn ACL, which will end his season, Katie Carrera of the Washington Post reports. (11/12/2013)
New York Rangers
Derek Dorsett, RW - Dorsett (wrist) will miss his second straight game Saturday with what is being called a sprained wrist, Newsday's Steve Zipayreports. (12/7/2013)
Marc Staal, D - Staal left Saturday's game after taking a shoulder to the jaw from the Devils' Reid Boucher. (12/7/2013)
Ed Jovanovski, D - Interim coach Pete Horachek said Jovanovski (hip) would be out until after Christmas at the earliest, George Richards of the Miami Herald reports. (12/7/2013)
Matt Gilroy, D - Gilroy (lower body) was placed on waivers Friday morning, Darren Dreger of TSN reports. (12/6/2013)
Brad Mills, C - Mills (lower body) was waived by the Blackhawks on Friday, TSN's Bob McKenzie reports. (11/15/2013)
Andrew Shaw, C - Shaw (undisclosed) will not play Friday vs. the Ducks, Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. (12/6/2013)
Nikolai Khabibulin, G - Khabibulin, who has been out since November 16, is still "a way" from returning to the ice, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said on Friday, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. (12/7/2013)
Bryan Bickell, LW - Coach Joel Quenneville said Bickell (lower body) would resume skating next week, Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reports. (12/6/2013)
Mike Kostka, D - The Blackhawks reassigned Kostka to AHL Rockford on Wednesday for a conditioning stint. (12/4/2013)
Alex Tanguay, LW - Tanguay (knee) failed to practice Tuesday, Adrian Dater of the Denver Post reports. (12/3/2013)
Jan Hejda, D - Hejda will be out for 10-to-14 days with a knee sprain. (12/7/2013)
Ryan Wilson, D - Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said Wilson (back) is about two weeks away from returning to practice, Mike Chambers of the Denver Post reports. (11/26/2013)
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)
Alexander Edler, D - Edler is out indefinitely with what is now being reported as a knee injury, Team 1040 reports. (12/6/2013)
Alexandre Burrows, RW - Updating a previous report, Burrows underwent successful surgery on a broken jaw Monday and will be out for four weeks, News 1130 reports. (12/3/2013)
James van Riemsdyk W, TOR � Currently riding a four-game point streak, the Toronto winger is living up to even the loftiest expectations Toronto management had when trading for him two years ago. With all the recent injury problems Toronto has experienced, JVR has elevated his game even further, recording nine points in his last six contests.
Jason Garrison D, VAN � The last two weeks have been phenomenal for the Vancouver rearguard. He�s recorded nine points in his last seven games, including six power play points and four penalty minutes. His recent stellar play, combined with the terrible play of Alex Edler has garnered Garrison more playing time, and his production has increased accordingly.
Daniel Sedin LW, VAN � In order for Vancouver to be successful, the Sedin twins need to be their best players on a nightly basis, and Daniel is doing his part to ensure this is the case. In his last eight games, he has three goals and eight assists, a +2 with four penalty minutes and six power play points. Even for the twins, this is a fantastic output, and during this stretch, the team has gone 5-2-1. Look for this trend to continue Sunday against Colorado.
Nicklas Backstrom C, WAS � The last couple of weeks have not been kind to this Swedish center. In his last eight games, Backstrom has one goal and two assists, and with a -4, his defensive game is not faring much better. This is likely more indicative of a cold streak and not anything systemic with the top line � Washington, and the Backstrom-Ovechkin combo are notorious for going red hot and ice cold at various times.
Jonathan Toews C, CHI � After a very impressive start to the season, the 25-year old center is in the midst of a December slump, only recording one goal and one assist in the last two weeks. While the Chicago captain would be quick to point out that the most important thing is that the team is successful, the Blackhawks have lost their last three games. During this time, Toews is an uncharacteristic -2; as his play improves so will that of Chicago.
Matt Duchene C, COL � As Matt Duchene goes, so too does the Colorado team; in their 10-1 month of October, Duchene recorded nine goals and four assists. In the last two weeks, Duchene has only one goal and one assist, while the team has gone 3-5. We expect that both slumps � as intertwined as they are � will not continue much longer. Both the team and the player are far too talented for this to be indicative of something other than just that � a slump.
David Booth VAN - Many depth charts don�t reflect it yet, but it seems the musical chairs in Vancouver has finally benefitted Booth � coach John Tortorella now has him playing the wing on the Henrik & Daniel Sedin line. While we�re skeptical anything in Vancouver is going to stay the same with Tortorella juggling things, but while it lasts, David Booth may be the recipient of some low-hanging fruit brought about by play with the twins. If he�s free in your league, and you�re interested in taking a flyer on a potential jackpot, grab Booth to see if he�ll be the one to stick on the top line.