The Pittsburgh Penguins are getting beat up by injury, disease and all sorts of nonsense this season and their luck didn’t improve with the news that Patric Hornqvist will miss at least a few weeks with a lower-body injury as he hit the IR for the first time this season a few days ago. Horny isn’t the only Pen down for a few weeks either, Blake Comeau suffered an upper-body injury a few days before Christmas and will be out until mid-January as well. The fun doesn’t stop there, either! Steve Downie joined the mumps brigade not too long ago, and though he’s returning this week and bringing his NHL leading 135 PIM with him, the Pens needed to shore up their top six in a bad way so they saved David Perron from the Oilers and banished Rob Klinkhammer and whoever the poor bastard that ends up being their number one pick in 2015 to the Great White North. While this does little to help Klink’s already minimal value, Perron gets a huge boost, but expectations should be tempered.
Often when a goalie makes 49 saves the focus is on how stellar the goalie performed and why not? Making that many saves in a single game is quite the feat. When I saw that Jonas Hiller (W, 49 SV, 1 GA, .980 SV%) accomplished that very feat last night my immediate reaction was not “Wow, killer game from Hiller!” it was “Jesus, the Flames gave up 50 shots on goal?” Make no mistake, Hiller was absolutely brilliant last night, but that does that make him a brilliant goaltender. So far the Flames are third overall in shots against. That’s not good. They’re offering up almost 37 shots a game. The only teams that are worse in this department are the Avs at 37.5 shots against per game and Buffalo at 39 against per game. Surprised to not see the Oil up there? Me too! In fact, Edmonton is tied for 11th overall allowing 31.3 shots per game despite already allowing 22 goals. Ouch. At any rate, the high shots against average is elevated a bit for the Flames due to the 50 they allowed last night, but the trend remains clear; the Flames defense is suspect and shows few signs of tightening up soon. I don’t believe either Calgary tender, Hiller or Karri Ramo, are good enough to handle the crazy shots load their defense is leaving them with. Hell, I doubt any goalie is. It might not be that bad if their shot differential wasn’t horrible, but it is and as it stands they offer up almost 13 more shots than they take. That’s a recipe for sadness and defeat. To make matters worse Hiller has shown himself to be streaky, injury prone and definitely doesn't perform well when he's fighting for time in net. Ramo was solid last year and he remains solid this year, in fact, he's looked better than Hiller until last night's game and last night's game does nothing to take the shine off of Ramo's work so far this season, it just gives Hiller a polish. If I was a Hiller owner I'd hope he can build off this start and string together a few more good ones. If he can, and the shots are still being poured on by the opposition, I’d try to sell high before it’s too late. I won't, though, because I wasn't foolish enough to draft Hiller anywhere. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
The New York Islanders are struggling to score goals. Shocking. They’re struggling to win as a result because, you know, you need to score goals to win hockey games. Outside of their top line of Thomas Vanek, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, no one else is producing much of anything and with top prospect Ryan Strome decimating the AHL with 33 points in 23 games so far, they decided to call him up. A smooth skating, playmaking center with a nose for the net Strome is the next big hope for a team that has just one playoff berth since 2007 and hasn’t won a Cup since 1983 and he could be the next big thing in fantasy hockey, too. Last year Strome absolutely ruined opponents in the OHL posting 94 points with a +43 rating in just 53 games played for the Niagara Ice Dogs, so he was called up to Bridgeport and put up 7 points in 10 games for good measure. At every level he has shown the ability to adapt and excel so there’s reason to believe success awaits the dynamic young centre in the NHL. He’s got nothing but space to work on a weak Isles team and there’s is talk that he’ll debut on the second line for the Isles and I don’t know if that’s more of an endorsement of Strome’s skills or an indictment of the Isles as a team. Either way, if he can pair with someone like Michael Grabner he has the potential to produce for fantasy owners immediately. He’s owned in just 8% of Yahoo! Leagues and 4% of ESPN Leagues, so if you’re looking for a stellar keeper, snatch him up! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey yesterday: