Just what the doctor ordered for the start of your stretch run, there’s a bunch of key guys out with injuries and almost no one who can replace them. We all knew about Sergei Bobrovsky‘s injury going into the break, but the big news is that Kyle Okposo is going to be out for the next two months with an upper-body injury. The Isles are mum on what exactly happened to Okie, but some fan accounts say it’s likely a wrist problem. That sounds terrible. This is terrible and there’s no replacing him. Ryan Strome might get a shot at the top line, Brock Nelson could see a promotion and Mikhail Grabovski is on his way back to the lineup after missing some time with an injury, but regardless of who ends up playing on John Tavares‘ wing, the slot isn’t going to provide the value boost to whomever gets the bump up without Okie there. Josh Bailey and his newfound value also take a hit here, as defenses will be able to clamp down on him and he’s going to lose the space that Okie and JT created for him, which was a large part of his recent success. All in all this is a crushing blow for the Isles and fantasy owners alike. All you can do is stash him on IR and hope for a speedy recovery, but if it’s his wrist, and that two month timeline is because he needs to recover from surgery we’re in trouble fellow Okie owners. Even if he does get back before the playoffs if he has to shake off rust, get back into game shape and get his shot mechanics back to normal there just isn’t going to be enough time for him to get back up to full speed and his value will be nil for the rest of this season. If that isn’t enough to start your week with a “Dammit all!” here’s the skinny on a few more key guys who are down for a while with injuries:

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Going into the season Sergei Bobrovsky, G (L, 9 SV, 3 GA, .750%) was one of the most sought after fantasy asset in goal and for good reason, the former Vezina winner was coming off of two straight fantastic years for less than stellar teams and at just 26 years old and entering his fifth year on big ice all the stars seemed like up not only for Bob to maintain his Vezina quality play but for the Blue Jackets to step up to his level, too. So far this season that hasn’t happened and yesterday everything went from bad to worse for Bob as he suffered an apparent LBI making a routine save in the first. There’s no word as to the extent or severity of the injury, but he needed to be helped off the ice after staying on all fours for a few minutes and from the looks of it it’s going to be a groin thing, and he might be out for a while.

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In just his second full season with the Rangers 23-year-old power forward Chris Kreider, LW (1 G, 7 SOG, +1) burst out of the gates strong and quickly faded, often looking lost on the ice. His decent culminated with a demotion to the Rangers’ fourth line, a destination that Kreider is none too familiar or comfortable with, and following that he was a healthy scratch. The Rangers claimed it was a neck issue, but it was clear to everyone he was just getting scratched. It was clear that the sophomore was listless on the ice at times, bereft of the passion and drive that had propelled him to early playoff success two years ago and a hot start this season. Kreider hadn’t lost it though; he was suffering through the death of his Grandfather, and admitted that his heart just wasn’t in it during that difficult period. Well, that period is over, and he’s currently riding a three game point streak posting four points (2 G, 2 A) over that span. He enters the all-star break riding high, showing every sign of finishing this season with a bang and breaking out in a big way next year.

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The Arizona Coyotoes did a strange thing yesterday when they traded their best goalie, Devan Dubnyk, to the Wild for a third round pick. On the surface this might sound like a fairly yawnstipating deal. The Wild are getting killed in goal this season and it’s one of the few parts that don’t work for them, but adding a guy who has a career GAA of 2.88 might seem like the wrong direction to take to fix those woes, but if you take a deeper dive into his numbers you’ll find a goalie who has been burned by playing on some of the worst possession teams in the league for his entire career, and this season is no different. With Niklas Backstrom clearly past it and Darcy Kuemper both injured and clearly not ready to handle a starter’s workload, Dubs will get every opportunity to win the starting job right now and that means if you need help in the crease, he’s is definitely worth adding.

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In seven seasons since the Flames took Mikael Backlund 24th overall he has failed to live up his draft position or the hype that followed. Not once has he topped 40 points or 20 goals, so it might seem odd to peg him as a second half sleeper now, but after he returned from an abdominal injury recently he’s been on fire. Since January 7th he’s put up three goals, two assists, a game winning goal, a shorthanded goal, 11 faceoff wins, three hits, a plus-3 rating and a block in three games. That pushes his season line to 4/5/9/+3 in just 14 games and it looks like he might finally be ready to live up to the high expectations heaped upon him nearly a decade ago.

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Jimmy Howard, G (2 SV, 1 GA, 3 SA, .667%) has the worst luck. Just hours after he was named to the 2015 All-Star Game in a rebound season he was caught out of position, slid awkwardly against the far post to try to stop a wrap around chance and suffered a slight groin tear in the process. He coughed up the goal, too. After an MRI revealed the slight tear the initial estimates are that he’ll be out for at least a week now that he’s on IR, and up to a month or longer depending on the severity of the injury. We won’t know for sure how bad it is until Howie undergoes an ultrasound for a more accurate assessment, but whether he’s out of a week or a month, you have to add Petr Mrazek, G (L, 12 SV, 2 GA, 14 SA, .857%) everywhere.

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If you are among the many owners who benched Semyon Varlamov, G (W, 54 SV, 0 GA, 1.000%, SHO) and David Backes, C (4 G, 6 SOG, +2) take some solace in the fact that it was the right call. It might sting, but don’t second-guess yourself here. Before either guy found some semblance of their 2014 selves on Wednesday night they were hot garbage with a side of crusty old gym socks so there was no reason to put either of them in your lineups. Generally the rule of thumb is to always, always start your big names. You drafted them, you can’t trade them and if there’s nothing better on the wire, you just slot them in and live or die with your decisions. But both Varly and Backes have been so bad this year that you almost had no choice but to bench them. With performances this good it begs the question whether or not either of them has found their stride for a big second half, but I’m sorry to say that neither is poised for a big run and neither of them has earned the right to be regularly inserted into your lineups moving forward, either.

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The Pittsburgh Penguins are getting beat up by injury, disease and all sorts of nonsense this season and their luck didn’t improve with the news that Patric Hornqvist will miss at least a few weeks with a lower-body injury as he hit the IR for the first time this season a few days ago. Horny isn’t the only Pen down for a few weeks either, Blake Comeau suffered an upper-body injury a few days before Christmas and will be out until mid-January as well. The fun doesn’t stop there, either! Steve Downie joined the mumps brigade not too long ago, and though he’s returning this week and bringing his NHL leading 135 PIM with him, the Pens needed to shore up their top six in a bad way so they saved David Perron from the Oilers and banished Rob Klinkhammer and whoever the poor bastard that ends up being their number one pick in 2015 to the Great White North. While this does little to help Klink’s already minimal value, Perron gets a huge boost, but expectations should be tempered.

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Draft day is one of the most important moments in any fantasy season. It can make or break your chances and though a bad draft isn’t a death sentence for your season, it definitely puts it on death row early on. One of the big mistakes I see a lot of owners make is taking goalies too early, especially in the first round. Henrik Lundqvist and Tuukka Rask were the usual suspects this season and neither has or will live up to their ADP this year and it’s likely that if you drafted either your team is hurting because of it, but goalies aren’t the only position to be wary of taking too early. Defensemen are a bigger gamble early on than people give them credit for and so far Erik Karlsson, D (1 A, 2 SOG) is doing his damnedest to make that point clear as day to all. 

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Last night the unthinkable happened, Ben Bishop (5 SV, 1 GA, .800%) left the game late in the first period with what the Bolts say is a lower body injury. They call it an LBI, I call it a heart attack because that’s what I’m having watching Big Ben topple towards a possible stint on the injured list. Word has it he has to be re-evaluated before they can give a timetable for his return so they’ve called up their top prospect Andrei Vasilevskiy to help tend net with the woeful Evgeni Nabokov G (L, 18 SV, 3 GA, .857%) in the meantime. Proving he isn’t the guy to carry the load in Bishop’s absense, Nabby came in to replace Bishop and promptly gave up three goals on just 21 shots over two periods last night, gross. He has been awful in limited minutes this season and I sincerely doubt that he’ll do much better getting rolled out there as the starter in Bishop’s potential absence, so that makes Vasilevskiy an intriguing option if Bishop is out for an extended period of time.

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