Ice Chips: Week Two
There’s nothing consistent about the new NHL season so far except that the Southeast Division is a bunch of teams at extremes: the Lightning can’t score despite investing $21 million in three all-stars, Alex Auld and Kari Lehtonen can’t be beat, and the Hurricanes can’t win. Some random thoughts for your fantasy fix:
- Dan Cloutier is still letting in soft goals. Let him ride the pine until he gets more comfortable with the defense in front of him (if that ever happens).
- Mark Smith won the “Mark Bell is injured” sweepstakes and is currently riding shotgun with Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo — including power play time. He’s definitely not a bad temporary pick up.
- Speaking of the Sharks, Ron Wilson is apparently going with a pure 1-1 rotation of his goalies. That means that you should be able to predict whether or not to start Evgeni Nabokov or Vesa Toskala.
- Dominik Hasek is looking soft, and other than the 9-2 ass-kicking of Wayne “Anger” Gretzky’s Coyotes, the Wings haven’t been terribly threatening. One offensive explosion does not make a hot team — search for some consistency before trusting in Hasek.
- Speaking of hot hands, it’s been a great week for some ex-Senators — Martin Havlat and Marian Hossa are putting up points like no one’s business.
- Does your fantasy league put a heavy emphasis on saves instead of wins? Then you should play Auld and/or Lehtonen, who are facing ridiculous numbers of shots behind mediocre defenses.
- Reclamation project check: Up in Calgary, Jeff Friesen and Tony Amonte have combined for one assist. So much for the “new-look” Flames.
- Speaking of Calgary, bench Alex Tanguay in favor of other players for a few days until he gets in a groove with the Flames. As of today, he’s being switched on and off of Jarome Iginla’s line.
- Staying with the Flames, Miikka Kiprusoff falls in the same category as Auld and Lehtonen — unless his offense wakes up, he’ll have to win 2-1 and 1-0 games. Saves, though, are coming in droves.
- When best friends play together, you can’t stop the love — Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra are proving naysayers like myself to be a lethal combination and are always a threat when they touch the ice.
- +/- check: So far, Niclas Havelid of the Thrashers is leading the league in +/-. Think he thanks Lehtonen on a daily basis?
- PIMS check: Need a consistent PIMs guy for your team? Check out defensive-oriented Brendan Witt, who was one of the league leaders last year and is up to his old tricks again on the awful Islander team.
- Hot power plays: Did you expect Florida, Minnesota and Columbus to be the top three in power play percentage? Chicago’s right behind, along with Pacific powerhouses Anaheim and San Jose.
- Marc Andre-Fleury’s looking sharp, but he’s still not getting consistent help. If you’ve got him on your team, consider starting another goalie until Evgeni Malkin gives the Pens a little more depth in a few weeks.
- David Aebischer is pushing Cristobal Huet for playing time up in Montreal. Maybe the Avalanche should have kept him instead of paying craploads of money to Jose “I make out with Paris Hilton and catch diseases” Theodore.
- Toronto finally understands what a good young player is with the arrival of Kyle Wellwood, who has been the Leafs’ best player under new coach Paul Maurice. Wellwood was squashed by former coach Pat Quinn, but is being given almost 19 minutes a night in the new regime and is leading the Leafs in scoring.
Up in Ottawa, it appears like it’s anyone’s game now for the goal crease. Ray Emery looked fantastic against the Flames and will get a long look over the inconsistent Martin Gerber.
The Week Ahead
- The Hurricanes play the inconsistent Penguins and equally struggling Lightning. You’d think they’d be able to take one of those two games.
- Similarly, the winless Predators should be able to find their magic against the Coyotes or Islanders, but it’s a crapshoot as to which team will actually show up against the Devils and Rangers.
- On paper, the Coyotes’ defense looked great, but they’re having a really hard time gelling. If you’ve got Coyotes, best to start them against St. Louis on Tuesday.
- The Senators have a few days off between games. Think they’ll be doing bag skates in practice?