So, I guess some guy named Scott Nieder-something-or-other is going to be suiting up in a game any day now. Just in case, you know, he’s still available in your league. The Niedermayer effect? Everyone involved in the dismal Anaheim power play should get a lift, including underachieving Andy MacDonald.
Who’s on their way out of Anaheim? No one knows, as Brian Burke has a bunch of different options. If he keeps Mathieu Schneider, Schneider will still retain some of his power play time, but it won’t necessarily always be on the first unit. Most likely, that will depend on who was out on the previous shift rather than who’s designated as a power play specialist. Of course, Schneider can move to a different team, and if that’s the case, all sorts of different fantasy ramifications can pile up.
You know how they say people perform in a contract year, then relax after they get their deal? If that’s the case, then Mike Richards’ better than a point-per-game pace earned him the right to relax for the next decade or so. Don’t look for him to do that, though; Richards isn’t one to shy from the pressure and should continue rolling well into the future when he becomes Philly’s captain.
You need a boost to your fantasy points? Trying playing guys against Tampa Bay. The Bolts’ dismal defense/goaltending have given up 20 — yes, 20 — goals in their past four games. The scary thing is that even if you took out their nine-goal disaster against Calgary, that’d still be a bad goals-against-average. They’re among the league leaders in goals scored, but they’re second-to-last in goals against. Jay Feaster, do you need Curtis Joseph’s phone number?
Marc-Andre Fleury’s going to be out for a while. That means that unless the Penguins make a move, Dany Sabourin’s the man for Team Crosby. While Sabourin doesn’t have Fleury’s natural skills, he does have that explosive team in front of him, meaning that he should go .500 at the very least, even as the Pens work through their struggles.
Who’s Dustin Byfuglien and how the hell do you pronounce his name? 1. He’s a defenseman-turned-winger for Chicago who is tearing it up; and 2. It’s pronounced Buff-lin. A natural defenseman, Byfuglien’s been moved up to a line with Robert Lang, though Byfuglien’s played back at the point on the power play. He won’t rival teammates Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews for Calder votes, but he’s an interesting pickup while he gets first-line duty.
Speaking of Kane and Toews, say hello to their new linemate: Martin Havlat. Originally, the Hawks had Havlat on the wing with Lang, but coach Denis Savard decided to experiment and stack his top talent together. So far, it’s paid off, as the Hawks snapped out of their losing skid.
Not Sleepless in Seattle, it’s Injured In Vancouver: Mr. Everything, Roberto Luongo, hits the sidelines with a bruised rib while second-line centre Brendan Morrison is day-to-day with a wrist injury. With Luongo out, look for Curtis Sanford to get the starts.
Oh, Jonathan Cheechoo’s on the injured reserve too. That actually helps fantasy owners.
While Alex Auld looks good in his first few Boston outings, be forewarned: Auld’s had good starts in Florida and Phoenix too. It’s that whole consistency thing that gets him down. Pick him up if you need a short-term boost in net, but don’t expect anything stellar in the long run.
The Week Ahead
- The Lightning tries to stop the bleeding with games against lowly Washington and Atlanta and faces off against surging Toronto. The combined goal total of these three games should equal Wayne Gretzky’s career points; however, no one’s quite sure how that’ll all be divided up.
- Scott Niedermayer won’t play until Brian Burke makes a move. That makes Friday, December 14 against Minnesota, Sunday, December 16 against San Jose, and Tuesday, December 18 visiting San Jose as possible debut games.
- If you have Red Wings on your roster, circle Wednesday, December 19 on your calendar — Detroit takes on LA, the league’s worst defensive club. At home, to boot. Which goalie impersonator will be in crease for the Kings? Well, they’re starting to dip into their farm system for netminders.