Ice Chips: It’s November!
For all of you Sidney Crosby naysayers, chew on this — Captain Crosby has an 11-game point streak going on. That’s 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) over that streak. Not too shabby for someone who’s supposedly “slumping” this season, eh?
Speaking of slumping, if you’re stuck with Patrick Marleau and Jonathan Cheechoo, here’s some food for thought. Marleau’s the more consistent player; Cheechoo’s the more streaky player. With the way Ron Wilson changes lines around, both of them can pretty much play with anyone at any shift, let alone any game. Best bet? Give them a rest on your bench until they settle in. Once they find success, Wilson will give them consistent linemates.
Staying in San Jose, for now, rookie Devin Setoguchi (one of the leading pre-season goal scorers) is riding shotgun for Joe Thornton.
In Ottawa, “Crazy” Ray Emery’s back, and word out of Senator Land is that Emery and the rejuvenated Martin Gerber will be splitting the crease for the time being. Remember to check game day notes before picking your goalie starters for the day.
The Tampa Bay Lightning can’t score, let alone win, on the road. Remember to check where the Bolts are playing before starting even their big guns until they shake off this road malaise.
The New York Rangers may be creeping back to .500, but their goal-scoring prowess still ain’t there. In fact, since opening night, the Blueshirts have only broken the three-goal barrier twice. That’s not a good goals-for average considering the several kajillion dollars they shelled out for their top two lines. Defense wins games, but it doesn’t win fantasy standings.
Chris Clark scored 30 goals last season playing with Alexander Ovechkin. This season, he’s on pace for about 15 and currently out with an ear laceration (ugh!). For Clark, he quickly netted four points in the last two games. Not coincidentally, he was reunited with Ovechkin for those two games.
Everyone in Chicago loves Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, but there’s always a third guy on a forward line and that’s Tuomo Ruutu. The career underachiever’s got eight points in 11 games skating with the two young stars, but keep in mind that Denis Savard’s power play configuration sees different looks — including some without Ruutu.
How does your fantasy league score goaltending? If it goes by number of saves, Vesa Toskala isn’t a bad pickup. Toskala’s save percentage isn’t great, but he’s still in the top 10 in number of saves with less games played than the other guys, despite getting pulled a few times. The reason? Well, it’s obvious — Toronto’s D sucks. If your league scores by number of wins, stay away.
In Pittsburgh, Marc-Andre Fleury’s grip on the top spot is in question. Dany Sabourin started the last three game for the Pens, but the more sensible move is for the Pens to bring up a veteran presence to mentor young Fleury and provide a seasoned backup — and, of course, push Sabourin out of the way.
Some news that might fly under the radar: after a lengthy tryout period, including a conditioning stint in Worcestor, the Sharks finally signed former All-Star Sandis Ozolinsh on Friday. There’s no guarantee as to what his ice time will be like, but given Caoch Wilson’s “Throw it all on the wall and see what sticks” mentality right now, don’t be surprised to see Ozo running the power play with Matt Carle.
The Week Ahead
The two hottest teams in the league are Detroit and Ottawa. For the Wings, they’ve got actually got some time off with no games until Wednesday against Nashville. Will the layoff slow down Detroit’s momentum? Against an up-and-down Predators’ team, I’m thinking no. For the Sens, they’ll be getting busy with four games between Saturday and Thursday.
The Central Division’s shaping up to be much more interesting this year, and Saturday’s game with Chicago and St. Louis will actually mean something, as opposed to last year when a rerun of the Andy Griffith Show offered more entertainment value.
Most teams are entering into an intra-division part of their schedule. With coaches preaching the importance of early games against division rivals, look for goal-scoring to take a slight dip as the emphasis falls more on defensive play (at least, if the coaches get their way).
Since starting the season 0-6, the Thrashers have gone a respectable 4-3. They’re still five games below .500, and they’ll try to make up ground this week with games against Tampa Bay, Washington and Florida.