The chance of a potentially season shattering injury exists for both the New York Rangers and owners of Henrik Lundqvist today, who remains day-to-day with a neck injury that the Rangers are saying very little about. What is known is that Hank took a Brad Malone slapper to the neck in the opening minutes of the second period during the Rangers’ 4-1 win over the Canes this past Saturday. He finished that game in his usual stellar, Kingly fashion and then went on the down the Florida Panthers 6-3 in Monday’s tilt before sitting out last night. Here’s the scary part, he’s experiencing intermittent headaches since the incident and, given that he played a full game before sitting, one can assume that his symptoms worsened over the course of the last few days. Speculation is a dangerous game, but the Rangers are leaving little room for much else at this point. Whether The King will be off his throne for more than a few games is unknown at this point, so it’s a wise precautionary move for all Hank owners to add Cam Talbot, G (W, 18 SV, 2 GA, .900%) as a handcuff for now.
If you do get stuck with an injured Hank, my condolences, but hey it’s not all bad because Cam Talbot is actually pretty good. In 12 games this season he’s posted a record of 5-4-1 to go with a 2.14 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage. Three of his victories are shutouts, too. The sample size is small here, but you can take solace in the fact that over the course of his short career as his majesty’s understudy Talbot has won 17 of his 27 starts, so there’s room to be cautiously optimistic if he does have to take the reigns as starter for a bit Talbot can hold fort and provide reasonably acceptable stats while doing it. One thing is for sure, the Rangers are going to keep winning games and so will whomever they have in net and the Rangers defense is healthy and playing well lately and they showed as much last night against the Bs.
Save one two minute stretch in the first period when the Rangers defense momentarily forgot they were playing a game the Bruins potted two quick goals on the Goal Buster, but otherwise Talbot was solid once again. So it breaks down to this; if you own Hank you should handcuff Talbot to him if you can and wait for word on whether or not Hank will miss more time. He’s listed as day-to-day, so if you’re lucky enough to be in a league with an IR+ slot stash Hank immediately and don’t hesitate to add Talbot. As for those of us in deeper, goalie-starved leagues, Talbot is likely already gone but if he’s out there you know what to do. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
Pekka Rinne is back! Rejoice! Hallelujah! Onward with your Vezina season, good netminder! He’s starting tonight against the Ducks, so get him back in there pronto.
Tuukka Rask, G (L, 22 SV, 3 GA, .880%) – There were not bad goals here, Rask was simply beat on each occasion and had a chance to stop each puck. He’s been stellar lately, though, and like the Rangers the Bruins defense is finally healthy and playing well, so that will bolster Rask’s numbers down the stretch.
Rick Nash, LW (1 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – Nashty regained the league lead in goals from Alex Ovechkin after potting his 32nd last night in a frenzied 3-2 victory over the Bruins. He’s scored four goals in his last three games and the only thing that will stop him from scoring 50 or more goals this year is Rick Nash.
Milan Lucic, LW (1 G, 2 SOG) – Once upon a time there wasn’t as much talent on the left side of the ice, but as Dylan said, the times they are a changin’! Cheech has five points (2 G, 3 A) over his last five as he continues to roar his way back to fantasy prominence after a mediocre first half. He should finish the year with over 100 PIM, 200 Hits, 20 goals and 50 points with around a plus-15, give or take. Yes please and thank you.
Derick Brassard, C (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – I was wondering whether Brass would be a consistent producer or a streaky guy that is tough to own, but in the end if you stick with him he’ll give you the stats you need to win. I hate owning the streaky guy; give me that sweet, sweet consistent production month-to-month any day. Brass is slowly proving himself to be one of those consistent guys I love, with just a slight dip in goal scoring with just one goal scored in all of December, otherwise he’s money in the bank. He’s on pace to finish with around 60 points but I could see him hitting his stride down the stretch and finishing with around 65. The Rangers have one of the best fantasy playoff schedules of any team in terms of quality of competition and number of games played over those weeks, so target Brass in trades as the deadline approaches.
Derek Stepan, C (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – You know all that stuff I just said about Brassard? Yeah, replace “Brass” with “Steps” and it all applies again. It’s kind of surreal that the Rangers have such a good offense this season; it has been their Achilles heal for so long it’s still a bit hard to accept.
Chris Kreider, RW (1 A, 2 SOG, +1, 4 Hits) – He’s getting some flak because he drives hard to the net and runs into goalies a bit too frequently and I can’t say I disagree, but what’s important here is the guy keeps on cranking away. He has points in three straight games now and continues to put shots on goal, spend time in the box and lay hits left and right. He remains on pace for around 20 goals, 50 points, 130 PIM, 175 shots and 160 hits. Maaaagnificent.
Marc-Andre Fleury, G (W, 22 SV, 1.000%, SHO) – Hopefully this 22 save shutout will snap Fleury out of his recent cold spell that saw him give up four goals to both Nashville and Washington over his last five start. He also gave up like seven goals in the All-Star game. What a bum!
Sidney Crosby, C (1 A, 2 SOG, +1) – Speaking of bums, Crosby only has three points (3 A) over his last seven games. The Pens as a team look pretty bad out there lately, but they’ve also been bombed by injury and plagues this year and they’ve had their roster and lines shuffled like mad. That makes it a bit tough to create and maintain chemistry with your teammates that’s so essential to success in hockey. That being said, Sid is still on pace to finish with around 90 points.
Patric Hornqvist, RW (1 A, 5 SOG, +1) – Since returning from a month long absence due to injury Horny just hasn’t been the same. He only has two points (1 G, 1 A) in his last five games with a minus-2 and 16 shots on goal, five of which came in last night’s tilt. That’s probably a good sign, anyway. He probably needs a few more games to get back into a groove.
David Perron, RW (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Since joining the Pens Perron didn’t exactly explode out of the gates, but he’s been a consistent source of delicious goals since the move with seven goals and 10 points (7 G, 3 A) in his first 13 games. Last night he was in the right place at the right time to deflect a goal in off his shin. You’ll take it. He should continue to be a valuable guy to own down the stretch playing in the Pens’ top six and I can see him maintaining this pace for the rest of the season.
Jonas Hiller, G (W, 28 SV, 1 GA, .966%) – Over his last six starts Hiller has allowed more than one goal just twice. The last bad game he had was back on January 9th when he got spanked by the Cats coughing up six goals on 35 shots and then went to the disgraceful list with an “injury.” Since returning he’s regained the starter’s job from the also injured and bleh Karri Ramo and has been white hot since then. You know what that means? Sell high, my friends. Trade him now before he goes cold again, or worse, gets hurt again. He indulges in both activates rather regularly.
Alex Stalock, G (L, 20 SV, 3 GA, .870%) – Ugh. You have betrayed me, Alex.
Mason Raymond, RW (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – Rayray scored a hatty back in the first few games of the season, went down with an injury and basically has done absolutely nothing since. That is until he started scoring again with points in three straight games and goals in his last two in a row. I’m not saying he’s heating up, but he does have the ability to score some goals. If you’re really hurting for offense in very deep leagues, he’s worth a look and perhaps flier. If he has regained some semblance of his former scoring self, he could give you 10-12 goals down the stretch.
Jiri Hudler, LW (1 G, 2 SOG) – Back in December I told you to sell high here. I hope you listened. He does this every year. Solid to huge first half, total collapse in the second half. And so it goes, and so it goes.