I love Ilya Bryzgalov. He’s hilarious! Have you heard some of the things that have come out of this guy’s mouth? Here’s one of my favorite gems “I’m very into the universe, you know like how was created, you know, like, what is it, you know? Solar system is so humongous big, right? But if you see like our solar system and our galaxy on the side, you know, like, we’re so small you can never see it. Our galaxy is like huge, but if you see the big picture our galaxy (is) like a small tiny-like dot in the universe.” Oh god, never stop talking Breezy. Seriously. He’s expected to practice with the AHL Admirals today and start for them tomorrow. His tryout culminates in this game and if it goes well he will likely be signed. In that event, there’s a lot of speculation about what would happen next. John Gibson has already exceeded the initial six-week timetable set for his return from a groin pull and word has it he won’t be ready to go until the end of December. That leaves at least a few weeks where Frederik Andersen needs more help than Jason LaBarbera can offer, hence Breezy getting the shot. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun speculates that Gibsy is destined to spend the rest of the season in the AHL with Andersen starting and Bryzgalov backing him up. That’s a viable hypothesis, but there are no signs that’s the case just yet. There’s a reason that Breezy can’t stick with a team for very long, so it’s not like the Ducks are looking for a long term solution here. Gibson will need a conditioning stint in the AHL when he gets back and it may be an extended stay, but for the rest of the season? I don’t know that Gibson benefits from spending too much time off big ice and Breezy isn’t known for his consistency. Questions about whether Andersen’s starting job are already being asked and I have to think that he’s safter with Breezy as his backup than Gibson, who showed some serious chops earlier this season before getting hurt. That said, the Ducks are going to use the kid gloves with their prized prospect, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see an Andersen/Bryzgalov duo in the Anaheim crease for the next few months at least. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Semyon Varlamov hurt his groin for the third time this season during practice yesterday and he’s been shut down yet again. After three injuries to the same groin I wouldn’t be surprised to see Varly get shut down for a fairly long stretch because he clearly isn’t healing right. At worst he’ll need surgery to fix the issue, but I haven’t heard any rumblings to that nature yet. Calvin Pickard gets recalled and will start tonight against the Preds. He’ll battle Reto Berra for the starting gig once again. Both should be owned in most leagues.
Patrick Sharp returns to the lineup tonight against the Devils, so get him back in your lineups.
Zdeno Chara is nearing his return and could be back as early as this Thursday. He’s been skating with the team for the last few weeks and looked really solid in practice the other day, so all signs are trending up for his imminent return.
Mason Raymond is finally set to return today after a long absence due to a shoulder injury. He was scoring fairly regularly before the injury, so get him back in your lineups.
Brandon Dubinsky will make his season debut tonight returning from hernia surgery. The Jackets desperately need him in there and he should be a great source of PIM, hits and a smattering o’ points ROS.
Leo Komarov remains out indefinitely with a concussion thanks to Alex Ovechkin. Thanks a lot, Ovie.
Evander Kane was suspended for two games for his hit on Clayton Stoner. Not that it matters much given his play so far this season.
Kris Letang is down with a tweaked groin, it doesn’t sound serious but he’s out for tonight. He’s listed as day-to-day for now.
Marian Gaborik may return from his latest injury today, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. Even if he does come back, he’ll get hurt again in short order.
Corey Schneider (W, 39 SV, 1 GA, .975%) – So do we want to start taking bets to see just how many games in a row this poor bastard is going to start? Maybe the Devils coaching staff and Cory got together and decided that since he was stuck behind Roberto Luongo and Marty Brodeur for so long he needs to make up for lost time and start 80 games this season. What’s odd to me is you have the Blues giving Marty and the Ducks buzzing Ilya Bryzgalov, why the hell aren’t the Devils looking for a viable backup for Schneider? Even if he does well in the regular season and by some miracle the Devils make the playoffs he’s going to be exhausted.
Cam Ward, G (L, 14 SV, 2 GA, .875%) – Speaking of exhausted, thinking about Cam Ward makes me feel exhausted, because I’m bored to tears when I look at his mediocre 8-10-1/2.49/.908% season line. Not horrible, not great, sorta solid. Yawn.
Adam Henrique, C (1 G, 2 SOG) – Easily the best forward for the Devils this season, Henry isn’t blowing the doors off the league offensively sporting a season line of 8/8/16/+3 in 22 games played, but he’s on pace for around 30 goals and 60 points, and that’s worth owning in most leagues. Bonus points if you’re in a pool that counts faceoff wins, Henry has 67 in his last seven games and 165 overall.
Jaromir Jagr, RW (1 G, 1 A, 5 SOG) – I’d say last season was the last wholly effective season of Jagr’s career. He’s on pace for around less than 20 goals and around 50 points this year, and I’d say that’s the ceiling. He’s 42 now, so the end had to come eventually. That said his goal moved him to 5th all-time in points with 1,772. We salute you, Master o’ the Mullet, but you are barely hanging on to fantasy relevance.
Scott Gomez, C (2 A, +1) – I had to laugh when the Devils inked Gomez to a deal. You know your team is in trouble when they dig deep into the free-agent pool and come up with Scotty freakin’ Gomez as the most viable candidate to help your team. Either way, he had a couple helpers last night playing on a line with Jaromir Jagr and Martin Havlat (1 SOG, +1). Say what? Is it 1995?
Justin Faulk, D (1 G, 3 SOG) – The Hurricanes might be a disaster this season, but Faulk is motoring ahead in his development track right on schedule. Last night’s tally was his fourth of the season as he remains on pace to log around 45 points this year. With a good streak or two he could get north of 50 with around 10-12 goals by season’s end, but that plus/minus really limits his value in most leagues. Sadface.
Henrik Lundqvist, G (W, 32 SV, 3 GA, .914%) – Ah, the Lundqvist Paradox continues to baffle one and all. Good game, bad game, good game, horrible game, meh game, good game. That seems to be the kind of season The King is having so far and as the games go by I am actually starting to lose a little faith in Hank. There’s no question that he’s still one of the elite goalies in the NHL, but he has never looked more human in his nine-year career than he does this season.
Marc-Andre Fleury, G (L, 25 SV, 4 GA, .862%) – Flower took a rare loss in this one coughing up four goals on 29 shots to the Rangers last night. That adds a minor blemish to an otherwise beautiful season line of 15-4-2/2.16/.925%. I can’t really say anything about his play other than it’s awesome, so I’ll spend this time critiquing his facial hair. Really? A soul patch? What is this, 1995? Get it together, Fleury!
Steve Downie, RW (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – He was a PIM machine and then the Pens coaching staff sat him down and asked him to scale back the minor penalties and then goes totally cold in the PIM department. Without the PIM his value plummets, but he’s at least playing for an offensive powerhouse and can contribute a few points here and there. 55-points is the ceiling, but we need dem penalty minutes to make ownership worthwhile. I imagine it’s only a matter of time before they start rolling in again. Old habits die hard. Back to the box with you!
Kevin Hayes, RW (1 G, 2 SOG, 2 PIM) – With a goal last night Hayes extends his points streak to four games which puts him pace for around 35-40. That’s probably about where he should be by the end of his rookie campaign, so that’s a good sign. He has a lot of work to do on his skating and positioning, but the big forward shows a lot of promise and will be worth owning in a lot of leagues as soon as next season. Right now he’s best left on the wire outside of deeper keepers.
Kevin Klein, D (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – Last night’s tally gives Klein goals in back-to-back games and four points over his last five. He’s having a solid year on a struggling Rangers squad posting a plus-9, so that’s good, but otherwise he’s probably good for around 35-40 points max. That makes for a semi-solid fourth defenseman, but he doesn’t take a lot of shots, doesn’t lay a lot of hits, doesn’t visit the box very much and, well, you get the idea.
Rick Nash, LW (1 G, 5 SOG, +1) – Nashty continues his march towards 50 goals with another marker last night. In fact, he’s on pace for 56 and I think he can get to 50 at least. He has at least one point in 21 of 26 games this season and is currently riding an eight game streak with goals in back-to-back games fiving him 28 points in 26 games overall. Whatever is wrong with the Rangers, it isn’t Nash. Damn.
Martin St. Louis, RW (1 A, 2 SOG, +1) – I wonder what his production would be like if he was still on the Bolts. With a helper last night he’s on his way to a 65-point season, and that’s solid and worth owning everywhere, it’s definitely a sign of decline for the 39 year old. His deal is up at the end of this season and I’m sure he’ll sign somewhere, but the clock is running out on his career and his fantasy relevance. If he plays next year, which I expect, he’ll be overvalued on draft day.
Martin Brodeur, G (W, 32 SV, 2 GA, .941%) – Marty rolls out for a third straight game and looks like his old self while doing it blocking 32 of 34 shots away for a 4-2 victory over the Cats. Yesterday I speculated that if Marty started this game that it would be a strong signal that he’s the starter and Jake Allen is the backup now and that seems to be the case here. If Marty goes cold Allen can take over, but it seems like the Blues are playing it safe with their rookie.
Nick Bjugstad, C (1 G, 2 SOG) – Man, Jugs can’t be stopped lately. Last night’s goal gives him goals in three straight, four over that span with six points total. He’s up to 12 goals on the year and making 30 by season’s end look like a very real possibility. He should be owned everywhere right now.
Aaron Ekblad, D (1 G, 3 SOG, 2 PIM) – Like his teammate Nick Bjugstad, Ekblad is on fire as well with seven points over his last five with at least a point in each game over that span. Ekblad has more points (18) than Shea Weber (15), Duncan Keith (17) and Alex Pietrangelo (14) so far this season. Lawds have mercy he should be owned everywhere too. Fun fact! The Oilers won their final game last season moving them from 29th in the league to 28th and the Cats ended up winning the draft lottery and selecting Ekblad first overall. Think the Oil could use a guy like Ek about now? I‘d say so. The Oil are cursed, yo.
Paul Stastny, C (1 G, 2 SOG, +2) – Oh! That’s three in a row for Stas with goals in back-to-back games and it looks like he’s coming alive again. The buy-low window is starting to close, so if you want to make a deal for him now is the time while his season line is still fugly.