This week’s lucky-special-wow winner is Ruslan Fedotenko, who goes from being bumped around every line possible to skating shotgun on a mega-line with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. That also means that something’s not quite right in Pittsburgh, as uniting the two star centres on one line is usually a formula for kick-starting a club without any mojo. The second line currently has Jordan Staal and Miroslav Satan, though Staal has a miserable three assists in 10 games.
Be wary, though, as any Fedotenko pickup may only last a game or two, if that. In fact, there are already rumblings that the Pens may try some minor-league talent out on the Cros-kin wing. No word yet as to whether or not Crosby’s injury from Thursday night’s game will keep him out for an extended period of time.
Markus Naslund is back! At least for the past week, Naslund has been putting up a nice little point streak. As for buddy Chris Drury? Well, his point total is still ugly. Just a hunch, but Naslund should be returning to “pretty good but not great” status fairly consistently now.
Will Tampa Bay’s first road trip of the season help turn around its fortunes? Fantasy owners have been dumping players like Radim Vrbata (scratched) and Ryan Malone (just plain sucking) left and right, but after the Bolts got their first win of the season, it’s possible things could start to come together. Vaclav Prospal has been moved on and off the Vincent Lecavalier/Martin St. Louis line, meaning that the wing position is sometimes given to other players like Malone. Also, while many fantasy owners have already given up on young Steven Stamkos, coach Barry Melrose is increasing his ice time and giving him a shot on the first power play unit. It’s paying off, too, as Stamkos has found a nice little groove in his past two games.
In other words, a bunch of options are now open for sleeper picks in Tampa. Keep an eye on their performance over the next few games; if they’re trending up, it might be worth it to take a gamble on a player or two.
The Ducks have recovered from an awful start to hover around the .500 mark, and a big part of that has been the significantly improved play of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Teemu Selanne. While Selanne is still skating regular shifts with Brendan Morrison (one assist in 11 games — ouch), he’s on the top power play unit with Perry and Getzlaf. Five of Selanne’s six goals have come on the power play. Coincidence? I think not.
Not a lot’s going right in Columbus outside of Kristian Huselius playing well. Need a goalie who’ll get starts? Grab Fredrik Norrena, as No. 1 starter Pascal Leclaire is on the shelf seeking second opinions for his injury. Rick Nash is being moved to centre in what will probably be a temporary experiment and R.J. Umberger disappears into the void known as the third line. If you have Nash, better let him sit for a few games as he’s never played centre in his career before — yikes!
In the “You didn’t see that coming” category, three of San Jose’s defensemen are putting up big points. Okay, we all expected Dan Boyle to do well, but Christian Ehrhoff (nine points) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (seven points)? Vlasic’s been bumped to the top power play unit with Boyle while Ehrhoff’s just plain old gotten better about getting his shot on the net.
Mark Streit is a perfect example of “Someone has to score, right?” on Long Island. Streit’s defensive skills are pretty much non-existent, and many — myself included — figured he’d be a bust with the Islanders since he didn’t have the powerhouse Montreal team around him. However, Streit’s doing more than respectable with seven points in nine games, and about half of those coming on the power play. He may continue to be under the radar simply because Islanders are essentially fantasy black holes right now, but it’s worth watching.
The Week Ahead
- The disaster that was last season for the Thrashers has continued right into this season, and after five straight losses — the past four in regulation — Atlanta finds itself in dead last in the Southeast Division. The problem is clearly a lack of offense, as the Thrashers have managed just 17 goals in their past nine games. The good news is Sunday afternoon they get a chance to go right after the fourth-place Panthers in the “Battle to Avoid the Southeast Basement.” If you’re in need of a nice nap on Sunday afternoon, this game should provide the ideal backdrop.
- Dallas, struggling defensively early this year, is turning things around with two wins in its past three games, but the Stars face a tough task this week with a five-game road trip kicking off with dates in Chicago and Boston and then tilts in Anaheim and San Jose next weekend. The Hawks, meanwhile, seek to stem a two-game losing streak, coming on the heels of a seven-game point point streak.
- As if the Habs weren’t rolling already, Saturday they get a pleasure cruise to the Island to face the woeful inhabitants. Then they get almost a full week off before a visit to almost as moribund Columbus before heading to Toronto to engage in the always interesting Leafs-Canadiens rivalry.