The Boston Bruins have been dealing with some serious injury problems all season long and while that might be a death keel to their hopes at a cup run this season, it’s opening up some opportunities for their prospects to get time on big ice and some opportunities for fantasy owners to swoop in and snag some sweet, free supplementary scoring that makes the difference between winning and crying alone in your tub. Most recenely the absence of David Krejci forced a reshuffle of the lines in Beantown and when the dust settled rookies Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak ended up skating on the second line with Milan Lucic and at least for now, the trio is putting up fantasy gold and shouldn’t be ignored.
Amidst all the hoopla around the 27-year-old upstart Andrew Hammond and his unbelievable stretch of play filling in for the injured Craig Anderson it has been easy to overlook the rest of the Sens, but if you’re falling prey to that mistake, it’s to your own detriment. Hamrew isn’t the only Sen who is making noise lately; Mika Zibanejad extended his point streak to seven games with a helper this past Sunday and has seven points (3 G, 4 A) over that span. He’s had a somewhat disappointing year overall given the hype the 21-year-old center came into the season with, but don’t let the higher than reasonable expectations fool you, this kid is good and should only get better with time and right now he's playing like the guy everyone hoped he would be back in October.
For most of the season the New York Islanders rotated what seemed like every one of their young forwards through the open slot on their top line alongside Kyle Okposo and NHL scoring leader John Tavares, C (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG), but no one stuck. Then out of nowhere Okie’s eyeball broke off and he needed emergency surgery to fix the problem because, hey, everyone needs working eyes and if they didn’t put him under the knife then there was no chance he’d return this season. Well, the news out of Long Island today is good! Okie is traveling to Florida to skate with the team tomorrow morning ahead of their Saturday tilt with the Cats and that means he’s very close to returning to game action. That’s great news for Okie and JT owners, but in Okie’s absence Anders Lee, C (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) and Josh Bailey, RW (1 A, 2 SOG, +2) have played well, but one of them is going to get demoted when Okie returns and I highly doubt it will be Lee.
I’m not a fan of shootouts. I think they belong in the All Star Skills competition, not playing a critical role in determining who goes home with two points and who goes home with regrets. In a sport where individual achievement is only possible through teamwork we’ve boiled down deciding games to a one-on-one competition that’s antithetical to the very nature of the game. A game where who you play with and the chemistry you have with those players has as much impact on your chances for success as your individual skill does. Why does it have to be this way? Do the fans really prefer shorter games this much? How often do teams really go into double OT anyway? Bah. If thats the worry, lets adopt the AHL's new three-on-three OT rules and watch the fun! Of course this rant is brought on by the longest shoot out in the history of the universe last night between the Cat and Caps. Twenty rounds this circus went. Roberto Luongo, G (W, 23 SV, 1 GA, .958%) stood tall and man was I too harsh on Lu in the preseason; he’s been fantastic all year. He must really love living in Florida. I digress, on the other side of this madness was Braden Holtby, G (L, 28 SV, 1 GA, .966%) who took the loss but not because he played poorly. He held his ground for 19 rounds until he finally cracked and gave one up to Nick Bjugstad (1 SOG) in what was Jugs’ second attempt of the night. Why second attempt? Because the Cats ran out of people to take the bloody shots so they had to give him another go. Ugh. This proves who the better team was last night how, exactly? And of course this wasn’t the only shootout of the night, the Wings and Jackets needed one to decide their game too. Shootouts are so bunk, man. They're about as useful as FoxTrax. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday: 
Mathieu Perreault (1 G, 2 SOG, even) is Anahiem’s version of Martin St. Louis, the only difference is Perreault is actually scoring! It wasn’t always so, though. Maty, not to be confused with Marty, was playing really well to start the season with 11 points in 13 October games but then fell completely off the map for a few months scoring just 8 points over his next 23 games. Then January rolled around he put up 9 points in 11 games. Now this month he’s got six points in seven games and has scored a point in six straight. I’ve mentioned Perreault a few times this season and that’s because I really like the guy. Right now he’s penciled in as the Ducks’ second line center with Patrick Maroon and Kyle Palmieri on his wings and while those names may not overwhelm you to the point that you rush to the wire to add Perreault, they do have some solid chemistry going and Maty is starting to see some time with the Ducks’ second powerplay unit while averaging around 16 minutes TOI a game lately. The smooth skating, shifty playmaker has some solid offensive upside, plays for the Ducks and is scoring right now, so do you need another reason to add him to help keep your title hopes alive? I sure hope not, because you’re playing the wrong game if you do. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Aleksander Barkov (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) scored a very sexy goal after stealing the puck in the offensive zone and has started his NHL career with the same type of success he’s had since he was 15 years old. Unbelievably enough that was just three effin’ years ago and Barkov turned just 18 years old on September 2nd of this year! That’s just days before the 2013-14 training camp was set to kick off. Despite his youth he’s already averaging 16 minutes a night and shows no signs that he can’t handle the speed and strength of the game at the NHL level. The rookie has points in back-to-back games and is on pace for 30 points with 12 goals this year. Aleks is wise beyond his years in hockey sense and has an uncanny ability to read situations quickly and make good decisions with the puck. He’s technically sound in almost every area and will can be an elite defenseman in the NHL as soon as next year. The Panthers have a rich crop of talented young defensemen and the 2nd overall pick in the 2013 draft is already the brightest star among them. He’s a must own in deeper/keeper leagues and will be relevant in most formats soon. Anyway, here’s what else I saw on a short night o’ fantasy hockey:
Only able to break the 50-point mark once back in 2010-11 suddenly Alexander Steen is keeping pace with Ovie atop the league leaderboards and the biggest question in everyone’s minds is “Will it last?” My first instinct is to say no, it won’t. The biggest indicator that the Steen Goal Scoring Express is soon to derail is that his shooting percentage sits at a whopping 25.3%. Lets be realistic here, no one is going to score a goal once every four shots over the course of 82 games so expect that number to drop closer to his career average of 9.9%. Beyond his established personal averages, just 37 players in the history of the NHL have finished with a shooting percentage higher than 25% (100 shot minimum) and I think it's reasonable to say Steen will not become number 38 this year. It's not just the high volume of shots that are leading to Steen's early success, though, his Corsi numbers have long shown him to be a critical cog in the puck possession game and that keeps him in the mix for chances more often than not for the Blues. Unfortunately, outside of his inflated shooting percentage he isn’t doing much different than he has in previous seasons. His TOI numbers remain mostly consistent with previous years both at even strength and on the powerplay, and his shot totals and locations also line up, so what gives? Luck, and eventually it will run out. I think it’s reasonable to expect him to finish the year closer to 35-goals than 50 and with few assists to add to that he’s likely given fantasy owners more than half of what he’s going to give all season, so sell high where you can. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey: