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Ice Chips: Week Four

October 27, 2006 | By Mike Chen | comment on this post

Another episode of your weekly fantasy hockey spin…

  • When I said, “Break up the Blackhawks,” I didn’t mean that literally. Michal Handzus is out for the season. Nikolai Khabibulin has a broken finger. Martin Havlat is still on the mend. Chicago’s fast start is becoming a fast memory, at least until Havlat comes back. The player who suffers the most from this? Radim Vrbata, who was riding high on the Havlat-Handzus connection.
  • Sticking with the Hawks, Tuomo Ruutu is working his way back into the lineup. He will most likely centre Havlat when Havlat returns. Could those two work the same magic as Havlat/Handzus? More importantly, will Vrbata continue getting sleeper points?
  • Over in Nashville, flashy rookie Alex Radulov scored in his first NHL game. He’ll get plenty of ice time until Steve Sullivan and Josef Vasicek come back. After then, who knows? But if his play is consistent, it will be very difficult for GM David Poile to send him back down to the minors.
  • Have you noticed how many power play points Joe Corvo has been getting? That’s because he was signed to be Zdeno Chara’s point man replacement. Now that the Sens have woken up from their slumber, look for Corvo to continue getting power play time — and that means power play points.
  • David Lenevue is being given the ball in Phoenix for now. It’s a heavy, kinda crappy ball, but a ball nonetheless. Who knows, Lenevue could surprise everyone and give the Coyotes the confidence they need to get over the hump. He’s done well by winning his first start and saving Wayne Gretzky’s reputation for at least one game.
  • Jordan Staal, the “other” Penguin rookie sensation, is staying in the NHL. Right now, he’s playing on a second line with Mark Recchi/John Leclair and Nils Ekman.
  • Speaking of the Pens and rookie sensations, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby are working magic together on the same line. That means that for fantasy benefits, look to their linemate (Colby Armstrong) and the defense on the power play (Sergei Gonchar/Ryan Whitney).
  • It’s been reported that Jaromir Jagr’s shoulder still isn’t 100 per cent. If you look at his poor goal total, that makes sense. The Rangers won’t break their funk until Jagr gets healthy; however, Brendan Shanahan will continue to put up the points.
  • Todd Bertuzzi is still out with a bad back. The Panthers’ power play, which was humming along at a great conversion rate for the early part of the season, has struggled lately and sure could use the big guy back.
  • Marion Gaborik will be out at least another week with a groin problem. However, groin problems can linger a long time, so don’t be surprised if it bothers Gaborik again.
  • Do goals count more than assists in your fantasy league? Most leagues count points that way, so watch out for Joe Thornton — he’s got a ton of assists but he still doesn’t have a goal.
  • Do you know who Chris Higgins is? He’s being way more effective for Montreal than big-name free agent Sergei Samsonov, who has been demoted to the fourth line after signing his big contract.

    The Week Ahead

  • The Sabres face their toughest challenge yet with a red-hot Atlanta team on Saturday night.
  • The new-look Flyers face on-fire Pittsburgh and resurgent Tampa Bay, but get one match against injury-riddled Chicago.
  • On the road: the inconsistent Washington Capitals pay a road visit to the Northwest Division, while the Penguins and Rangers tour the tough Pacific Division (though they get to relax against Phoenix).
  • The Ducks go for the fantasy bonanza with games against Chicago, St. Louis, Phoenix and the struggling Rangers.

For hockey analysis, rants, and random music references, visit Mike Chen’s Hockey Blog.

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