We are about six games into the Fantasy Hockey season so while it’s too early to make any definitive judgments as to what we have seen, that won’t stop me from pointing out a few items that have caught my eye.
The broken leg suffered by Logan Couture that will keep him out of the lineup until sometime in December is a big loss for Fantasy Hockey owners. Couture is one of the best young players in the game and keeps getting better and better. He is a 30-goal scorer waiting to happen and the Sharks came out of the gate looking like they have something to prove this season. One owner’s loss though is another’s game as Tomas Hertl will replace Couture at center on the second line. Hertl is a player that can help your Fantasy Hockey team and if he’s still on the waiver wire, you should think long and hard about acquiring him.
When it comes to the Calder Trophy (top rookie) all we seem to be able to think about is Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel but don’t forget about Dylan Larkin. He was the Red Wings 2014 first-round pick and had been playing at the University of Michigan, something many thought he would continue to do this season. Well, he has proven so far that although he is only 19 years of age, he is ready for the NHL. He has two goals and six points in five games as he has been playing on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader. Whether or not he can keep up this production could depend on what happens when Pavel Datsyuk (ankle) returns to the lineup (November). One would assume that Datsyuk will center the top line which means someone will have to depart. Whom that person is remains to be seen.
Because of their offensive woes to start the season the Penguins (seven goals in five games) have decided to go with a top line of Sidney Crosby playing between Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. While this line should certainly rule the ice, it is unlikely to last long, that would be the definition of putting all of your eggs in one basket. When the Penguins acquired Kessel, I thought he would play on a line with Malkin, replacing what he lost when James Neal was traded to Nashville. Instead he was put on Crosby’s line, nothing wrong with that, but I wonder if one of the reasons that Crosby hasn’t scored a point in five games (longest drought of his career) is because he is trying too hard to get Kessel the puck.
The Capitals Nicklas Backstrom came back with a bang, scoring a goal along with two helpers in his first game back. He’s safe to put back in your lineup. The Caps have made noise about easing him back into the game and possibly not playing him on the top line with Alexander Ovechkin but with this kind of production, that won’t last long.
Victor Hedman who didn’t play Saturday due to a head injury practiced Monday and seems likely to play Tuesday. Injuries seem to be the only thing that can stop Hedman from being one of the best defensemen in the NHL.
Steve Mason who has missed the past week or so due to personal issues is slated to start Tuesday for the Flyers. Mason will more than likely be re-inserted as the starting goaltender but Michal Neuvirth did play well in his absence and Tuesday is the first of back to back games so perhaps Neuvirth will once again have a chance to show that he deserves to play more than just the normal amount of games for a backup goaltender.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock stated before the season started that he wouldn’t make up his mind about who the starting goaltender should be until November, that he would rotate starts until then. Well so far, Brian Elliott is 4-0 with a 2.01 GAA and .918 save percentage. Jake Allen is 1-1 with a 3.03 GAA and .887 save percentage. Allen is slated to start Tuesday versus Montreal but if his play doesn’t pick up, Elliott will win this battle pretty easily. One could argue that the Blues should start Allen because he is the long term future at the positon and will only get better the more he plays. This may very well be true, but one also has to remember that Hitchcock is essentially coaching for his job. If the Blues don’t win this season, and by win I mean, go to at least the Western Conference Semifinals, Hitchcock won’t be around to worry about Allen’s future.
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