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.
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.
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.
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:
Its well known for those who read this blog that I don’t have a very high opinion of hockey in South Florida. In fact, I often call it “hockey hell” and for many years that’s been pretty accurate. I mean hell is hot, right? And it’s muggy, and it rains like a bastard for all of four minutes a day without warning and then stops. Does this sound like a place for hockey?! I don’t think so. Despite that the Florida Panthers have been slowly trying to build a decent hockey team from the ashes of years past when they actually contended for the cup and wouldn’t you know it, they’ve finally hit on a solid combination of guys that might actually turn this team into a winner and could help you do the same with your fantasy squad.
When asked whether or not Anthony Duclair (1 G, 2 SOG) was going to stick with the Rangers or get sent back to juniors, Rangers Head Coach Alain Vigneault quipped, “Talent has no age.” True enough, but the question isn’t whether or not Duke is talented, it’s whether or not he’s ready for big ice. Few dispute Duke’s promise as a potential top-six forward in the NHL. Over the last few seasons in the QMJHL he ate up the competition to the tune of tune of 215 points in 183 games. Last season he nearly tallied 100 points in 59 games falling just short with 99 powered by 50 goals. Yeah, the QMJHL is known for inflated scoring numbers, but still, that’s baller. He’s shown himself to be useful at the NHL level already too, getting his NHL career off to a hot start with five points in seven games, points in three of his last four and sporting a healthy plus-five rating over that span. It sure seems like he belongs with numbers like that, but really, he probably belongs in the AHL.
It was a rough weekend for defenseman in the NHL and a rougher one for the poor saps that own the newly fallen. The biggest blow due to injury fell from the heavens like Mjölnir and smashed me right in the face when my sun and stars Victor Hedman broke his finger while trying to block a shot. He’s out 4-6 weeks after successful surgery to fix his mangled digit. Now where can I go to get successful surgery on my broken heart? Nowhere?! What a world. I guess I’ll just have to pine away and gaze longingly at his stat line over the last week plus and wonder what could have been had he not tried to block a slap shot with his damn hand. The Rangers lost Dan Boyle to a similar injury and it makes me wonder, why the hell are these guys trying to block shots with their hands? Have they not seen the fastest shot competition? Do they not know they’re trying to use their hands to stop a frozen piece of vulcanized rubber flying at nearly 100mph in their direction? I’m all about sacrificing the body for the good of the team and some of us totally need those blocks, but come on! Suffice it to say there is no replacing Hedman but Anton Stralman is reportedly moving to the Bolts’ top powerplay unit with Jason Garrison slated to get time on the second unit, so the value of both jumps a bit with this news. Unfortch for fantasy owners broken fingers (and hearts!) weren’t the only issue that plagued some of fantasy hockey’s defenseman since last week. Slava Voynov was suspended indefinitely today due to a domestic violence incident that apparently left the victim hospitalized. I won’t joke about this because there is nothing funny about it. I also don’t know the details of the situation, but what I have read says that whoever he attacked (assuming he did) was rushed to the hospital and the extend of their injuries was such that the hospital staff called the cops on Voynov. This doesn’t sound good at all, but details are scant right now so if you can afford to, I’d try to hold off on dropping him until we get a clearer idea of how long he could be out. That being said, since this is non-hockey related absence he won’t be eligible for IR or IR+, so if you can’t afford to have a deadweight defenseman clogging up your bench, drop Slava and add whomever you can to fill the void. Luckily his season started somewhat slowly so the void isn’t that big. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey this weekend:
Chris Pronger was recently hired by the NHL to join the league’s Player Safety Department. Wow. Really? Uh. No. Wait. Really? What's next? Announcing the new head of the NHL’s Driver Safety Department, Ray Charles! He’s not only blind, he’s dead! Perfect! I suppose hiring a guy responsible for so many injuries and damage over the years (dem elbows) might make the perfect hire, I mean, the government hires hackers that are good enough to get into their systems to show the government how to secure said systems again, right? So it all makes sense that way. Right? The weird/illegal/BS aspect of this is that Pronger is still under contract with the Flyers for two more years. That's right, he's still technically a player in the league. And now he's going to be part of a league office? We all know he'll never skate again, but still, come on. How on earth is this legal? Can you imagine if this sticks? This just in! The entire top-six of the Devils and Rangers were just suspended for, uh, violating player safety. Yeah, that’s it. Player safety. What a crock. None of this has anything to do with fantasy hockey, but something had to be said. Chris Pronger? Player Safety? With his deputy Todd Bertuzzi, right? Jesus. Anyway, here’s what I saw in the first full night of action in the world o’ fantasy hockey:
Normally I'd start one of my daily rewind posts with a blurb about a guy who is notable for his production and well worth your attention, but this struck me as far too karma conspiracy to not lead off with today, also, its actually really important news. James Neal is out indefinitely with a concussion. Yes, Neal owners, you read that right, try not to cry too much, your tears are made of salt water and that shiz can really eff up your computer/phone/tablet/whatever you damn kids are using these days. Why do I think this is karma catching up with him? Lest we forget, earlier this season Jimmy was suspended for nealing Boston's Brad Marchand in the head while he was down on fall fours trying to get back to his feet. It was a henious move by Neal's part, but he has no real history of dirty play (well, excessively dirty, anyway) so we can forgive it given the tone of that game prior to the incident. Still, it's hard not to see this as cosmic payback for the move. I won't call this a schadenfreude moment for me because I don't wish head injuries on anyone, even if they absolutely ruin my team every time they face Neal and the Pens. At any rate, this weakens the Pens significantly and fantasy owners even more. There is no way to replace Neal, so the best you can do is scope out the wire and hope perhaps one of these guys is available:
Mikael Granlund (2 A, 2 SOG, +1) is a rookie I haven’t mentioned yet and shame on me for that. A natural playmaker with incredibly soft hands, he was largely disappointing in his North American debut last season with the Wild, so he flew under my, and many other 'perts radar. Still, that's no excuse for overlooking a guy who before coming to North America dominated the Finnish leagues with 20 goals, 31 assists, plus-20 and 18 PIM in 45 games for HIFK Helsinki in Finland's SM-Liiga. His subpar debut with the Wild was fueled in part by a bum ankle and a log jam that kept him to third line minutes. Well, that log jam is gone and his TOI has spiked and would you look at that? So has his production! He has all the tools needed to be an All-Star in the NHL and he’s showing it this season posting 32 points in 49 games so far. He has four points (1 G, 3 A) in his last three games he’s going to give you more assists than goals, but he’s going to get his regardless, so why should you be left out? He’s only owned in 10% of Yahoo leagues and ~53% of ESPN Leagues, so grab him if you need some help at center. Then there's his brother Markus Granlund (1 A, 1 SOG, +1) who didn’t want to be left out, so I tailored this post just to include him. Not really, I actually think Mikael is a great sleeper for next season and a solid add for the stretch run this season, I just think it's cool when brothers get to play in the NHL together. Sadly Markus isn't worth owning this season or next, but hey, he tallied a helper last night and it was just his third game on the big stage, so congrats to the Granlunds for their night o' family hockey fun. Anyway, here's what else I saw in the world o' fantasy hockey last night: