The NHL All-Star game is this weekend. Yeah, I don’t really care either, but it could lead to some interesting lineup decisions this week. Teams could elect to sit players who are injured to give them extra rest, even though they might try and play through it under normal circumstances.
Is Evgeni Malkin one of those players, or is his injury more severe? It has already been announced that Malkin won’t play Thursday, and he won’t participate in the All-Star game. The Penguins have announced that his lower-body injury will be further evaluated after the break, which indicates that the injury may be more than a day-to-day situation. Fantasy owners will need to play it cautious with their lineups next week.
Semyon Varlamov is also out through the break, and the question should be – does it really matter? The Avalanche have been awful this season, so it’s not like he was helping you in any goaltending category anyway. His backup, Calvin Pickard, isn’t the answer either. Losing Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson, possibly their two best defenders, to injured reserve doesn’t help matters any either. It’s just time to move on from Colorado.
Jimmy Howard is back on the ice and taking shots for Detroit. He probably could play this week if necessary, but the team will likely hold him out until after the All-Star break. When Howard is deemed healthy enough to play, it will lead to a crowded goaltending situation in Detroit. Jared Coreau, who was called up to replace Howard on the roster, has started seven of the past 10 games, but he is still likely to be the goaltender sent down to the AHL. Petr Mrazek has been awful this season, as he lost the starting job to Howard and then to Coreau. Could they send him down? That’s unlikely, if only because they would want Coreau to play more often than not. It’s more likely that Howard will take over the starting job when he is deemed healthy enough to do so.
The Panthers were dealt a huge blow when it was announced that Alexsander Barkov could miss the rest of the regular season with an upper-body injury. Florida was already thin up the middle and at forward to begin with, as Jonathan Huberdeau has yet to play this season due to an Achilles injury. Florida currently sits 10th in the Eastern Conference, but is only four points out of third place in the Atlantic Division, and three points out of a wild card spot. The problem is they have played 49 games already, which outside of Boston, is the most games played among the teams they are trying to catch. They should be in the market for an upgrade on offense before the trade deadline. Matt Duchene would be a good fit here, but the price is extremely high to acquire the Colorado center.
Alex Galchenyuk is once again out of the lineup after reinjuring the knee that kept him out of the lineup for 18 games earlier this season. He had only returned for five games, posting two goals and two assists, before succumbing to injury. The Canadiens have been besieged with injuries of late, and losing a probable 30-goal scorer again has to hurt. The team hasn’t announced how long they expect this latest knee injury to keep Galchenyuk out of action.
The Predators exchanged one defenseman with an upper-body injury for another over the past week. P.K. Subban has returned to the team, but Roman Josi was placed on IR. Subban isn’t likely to be 100 percent healthy all season, so it remains to be seen what level of play we will see from him. If you can find a believer in your league for his services, I’d move him if the deal is right. Josi doesn’t have the same skill level, but this is still a loss for Fantasy owners and Nashville. The good news, however, is that Josi is expected to return to the lineup sooner rather than later.
Good luck trying to figure out what’s going to happen in net for the Blues. Entering this week, the plan was for Carter Hutton to start Tuesday and Jake Allen to start Thursday, with Pheonix Copley backing up in each game. Well, that plan changed after Hutton shut out the Penguins Tuesday (yeah, who saw that coming?). Hutton will get the second start this week, and this may not be the worst thing for Allen. It will give him more time to find his game, and perhaps the All-Star break will enable him to relax and regain his confidence. Going up against the Wild on Thursday may not have been the best thing for Allen and/or his owners anyway, as Minnesota is one of the best teams in the league this season. The problem, of course, is what happens if Hutton plays lights out once again? Hutton is not the long-term answer in net; that is still Allen. But the Blues are likely to play the goaltender who gives them the best chance to win now and worry about bruised egos later.
You can feel free to follow me on Twitter, @georgekurtz