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.
In 14 games for the Syracuse Crunch the Bolts’ 2012 1st round pick (19th overall) has shined posting a season line of 8-3-3/2.34/.918% in 15 games played winning seven of his last eight starts including shut outs on back-to-back nights against Rochester and Springfield earlier this month. The 20-year-old Tyumen, Russia native spent last season with Salavat Yulaev Ufa in the KHL but only appeared in eight games. He helped Russia to medals at the 2012, 2013 and 2014 World Junior Championships and lead them to gold at the 2014 World Championships, though, so clearly success follows him wherever he goes. Whether it follows him to the NHL remains to be seen, but one way or the other the kid is going to see time on big ice this week given the Bolts have back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday and there’s no bloody way they’ll trust the 39-year-old Nabby to start both games if Bishop is still out. Nabby will get the nod tonight, but start him at your own risk.
In the short term if you are a Bishop owner (I am, sadface) you’d do well to grab either Nabby or Vasilevskiy, but if I had a choice I’d go with the kid for now. Normally I wouldn’t recommend taking an unproven rookie over a vet like Nabby in this situation, but I’ve watched most of Nabby’s starts and he has looked slower than molasses out there and I firmly believe that Vasilevskiy has the talent to go on a mini-run in a short stint with the Bolts and it could be enough to help mitigate the damage while Big Ben heals up. Either way, don’t drop anyone important to make a move, we still don’t know just how bad the Bishop injury is. Say it with me now! Please be okay, please be okay, pleeeeease be okaaaay *sobs uncontrollably*. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
Sidney Crosby does have the mumps but word has it he’s past the infectious stage and could return in the next few days. Breathe easy, Sid owners.
Johan Frazen has the mumps apparently. That hasn’t been confirmed but he’s out due to illness tonight and this season “illness” means “mumps.”
Jacob Trouba suffered an undisclosed upper-body injury and will be out for the next six-to-eight weeks. He isn’t expected back until February. That’s a bummer for a guy who has a ton of upside and was really starting to show some promise. I’d stash him on IR if you can afford it, but he isn’t worth holding for too long if you need the space for more critical assets down the road.
Fedor Tyutin has been activated from IR and will play tonight for the Jackets. I’d say get him in back in your lineups, but meh.
Justin Abdelkader is healthy again and will skate on the Wings’ top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist. That bodes well for Abs’ production, which spiked when he played with Z and Pavel Datsyuk but fell off a cliff when Dats went down with injury and the line was broken up. He’s worth a stream.
David Krejci should rejoin the Bs’ lineup soon, he’s traveling with the team on their current three-game road trip so expect him back on the ice soon.
Johnny Boychuk might be back for Friday’s tilt vs. the Red Wings, but that isn’t guaranteed so keep a close eye on his status and get him back in your lineups when he’s healthy again.
John Gibson was healthy enough to take shots but didn’t practice with the team yet. It doesn’t really matter, though, as he’s more than likely AHL bound once healthy.
Nikita Kucherov, RW (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – Man, I hate those one shot, one goal games but I’m not going to worry too much about it given how beast Kucherov has been so far this season. With a two-point game last night he pushes his season line to 12/16/28/+17 in 32 games played with six points (3 G, 3 A) over his last five games. It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Kucherov and I see no reason why he won’t top 70 points and reach for 30 goals by season’s end.
Jonathan Drouin, LW (1 G, 2 SOG) – Ah the inevitable disappointment with a rookie who is hailed as the next big thing. Drouin potted just his second goal of the season last night giving him just 12 points in 23 games so far this season. He isn’t getting time on the Steven Stamkos (-1, 1 SOG) line and he isn’t going to for an extended period of time. I pegged Drouin for around 50 points this year and he’s on pace for 38, so not too far off at this point that he can’t hit that number, but it’s going to take one hell of an effort by the rookie to get there this season. He remains a no-brainer keeper, though, and will be a monster offensive weapon as soon as next year.
Steve Downie, RW (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – Oh how I missed you, Steve Downie! For a few years he was the premiere scoring goon in the NHL and then he fell off like whoa. Since his return to the Pens this season he’s been racking up both points (15 in 30 GP) and PIM (116) and has officially re-emerged as a guy to own in all deep leagues. Since his coaches asked him to scale back taking so many minor penalties (bastards!) his PIM dropped off until he added 29 in one game earlier this week. I expect the PIM to come in fits and spurts moving forward so it’s tough to own him in standard leagues, but in deep leagues he should stay in your lineup as much as possible so you can get full value from him.
Jhonas Enroth, G (W, 29 SV, 4 GA, .879%) – Yeah, he won another game and that makes four in a row, but I still wouldn’t own him. He’s going to allow at least three goals a game whether he wins or loses and his save percentage only seems to be solid when he gets hammered by tons of shots, which in turns leads to allowing at least three goals, and that vicious cycle will continue for some time in Buffalo’s crease.
Robin Lehner, G (L, 29 SV, 4 GA, .879%) – When I saw that Lehner was getting two starts in a row I was almost giddy, but then I remembered that Lehner will do something to make sure that Craig Anderson retains his starting gig and sure enough, here’s a 5-4 loss to the freakin’ Sabres. Expect Anderson back in there for the Sens’ next tilt.
Bobby Ryan, RW (1 G, 2 SOG, -1) – Is Bobby Ryan actually starting to wake the hell up? This is the second mention he’s earned in as many days and neither of them are to bemoan his lack of production! Ryan has six points (2 G, 4 A) over his last five games and this tally pushes his season line to 7/12/19/+2 in 27 games played and while that isn’t stellar, he’s on pace for about 55 points now and slowly clawing his way back to fantasy respectability.
Matt Moulson, LW (1 G, 3 SOG, -1) – Speaking of fantasy respectability, Moulson has none. He has four points (3 G, 1 A) over his last five but that recent “outburst” only gets him on track to tally 40 points and 18 goals by season’s end. That’s horrific. I could do better than that. Hell, my sister could do better than that. Punt!
Marcus Foligno, LW (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – Marcus can’t hold a candle to his brother Nick, but he does have goals in three straight games with four points over that span. He could be worth streaming in the deepest of leagues, but that’s aboot it.
Marc-Andre Fluery, G (W, 28 SV, 2 GA, .933%) – If Pekka Rinne wasn’t completely dominating the league so far I’d peg Flower for a Vezina bid, but that’s not going to happen this season.
Jaroslav Halak, G (W, 26 SV, 2 GA, .929%) – And thus begins another streak!
Ryan Strome, C (1 A, 3 SOG, +2) – It’s easy to forget about Strome amidst all the hype around the long list of prospects around the NHL, but he’s the real deal and you definitely shouldn’t lose track of him. He dominated the OHL for three seasons from 2010 through 2013 netting 106 points in 64 GP, 68 points in 46 GP and 94 points in 53 GP respectively. He followed that up by owning the AHL for 37 games last season putting up 49 points in 37 games before getting called up and netting 18 points in 37 games on big ice. This year he looks like he’s taking another step forward with 21 points (6 G, 15 A) in 21 games so far this season. That puts him on track to net 55 points in a full 82 games this year and I’d buy that for a dollar! Look for him to take another step forward next year, too.
Keith Kinkaid, G (L, 31 SV, 2 GA, .939%) – The Devils are finally starting to trust someone in net other than Cory Schneider? Not only that, but Kinkaid despite taking the loss in this one he looked solid doing it pushing away 31 of 33 Isles shots. This bodes well for the continued good health and hopefully improved play of Schneider, who desperately needs regular rest.
Scott Gomez, C (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – Alright, I know it was just yesterday that I said you shouldn’t pick him up, but points and points and Gomez has points in three straight and six points (2 G, 4 A) over his last five games. He’s skating on a line with Jaromir Jagr (2 A, 6 SOG, 2 PIM) and Travis Zajac (4 SOG) in what appears to be the top line for the Devils right now. That might be one of the oldest lines in hockey, but they’re producing right now, so stream Scotty while the streamin’ is good. A fair warning, dude could fall apart at any moment, so look at any production you get from him as a bonus.
Marek Zidlicky, D (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – Man alive, the Devils are old aren’t they? Despite his advanced years, the 37-year old Zid-lick-me is actually on pace to end up with around 45 points by season’s end and that’s worth owning everywhere. His plus/minus is going to be a bit harsh, but no so horrible that he doesn’t make for a very solid third defenseman in most formats.
Kyle Turris, C (1 A, 5 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) – Remember Turris? The Arizona Coyotes’ first round pick back in 2007? Hell, he was third overall. Last season he took a good step forward and matched his scoring output from his previous two seasons combined with 58 points in 82 games with a plus-22 to boot. There’s no chance he matches that sexy plus/minus rating again this year, but he is on pace to top 50 points again and that’s worth owning in deeper leagues and some standard leagues as well.
Korbinian Holzer, D – Korbin Dallas didn’t play a game last night but I noticed him shining since his call up to big ice and I figured he deserved a mention. In nine games since joining the Leafs on big ice he has two assists, 17 PIM, 18 blocked shots, 42 hits and a plus-six rating. Wait, did that say 42 hits in just nine games? You betcha! Dude hits anything that moves, so if you need help on the back end in deeper roto leagues this guy is a must grab for now.