NHL Fantasy Fare: No laughing matter

Nashville Predators' Craig Smith (L) is checked by Edmonton Oilers' Andy Sutton during their game...

Nashville Predators' Craig Smith (L) is checked by Edmonton Oilers' Andy Sutton during their game in Edmonton on October 17, 2011. (REUTERS/Dan Riedlhuber)

JOEL COLOMBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:31 PM ET

Fantasy leagues sometimes can come down to a singular moment, one you look back on and wonder: What if? Check your standings at the end of the year and the difference between contigious teams occasionally can be decided by a home run here or an assist there. So, it was with a mixture of disbelief and disgust that I and likely every Craig Smith owner watched the young Predators forward get cute on an empty-net breakaway against the Maple Leafs on Thursday. Instead of simply sliding the puck into the empty cage, he got in close and tried to roof it, but put the puck over the crossbar instead. TV showed the Preds bench having a good laugh about it, but there will be fantasy implications. At least Patrik Stefan could blame his infamous empty-net miss against the Oilers five years ago on a wobbly puck. This was just hot-dogging and, somewhere in the fantasy world, some unfortunate owner is going to lose a head-to-head game or drop a spot in the final standings because of it.

-- Shouldnt even have to mention this, but Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth is an obvious must-add now that Ryan Miller is out indefinitely with a concussion. He has alternated good and bad outings since taking over and there are concerns about his ability to handle the workload. But one of the NHLs best blue lines in front of him and solid offensive support should make him a viable weekly start.

-- The Oilers are on the road for four games this coming week, which means you might want to reserve Taylor Hall if you have a decent replacement. Hall, the second-year star in the making has only one assist in eight road games this season and is a minus-5. Its a different game for many of these young first-liners when they have to face the home sides shutdown forwards on a regular basis.

-- Islanders Kyle Okposo, one of the more sought-after young power forwards in fantasy hockey the past couple of seasons, has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

-- Andrew Cogliano is the latest Duck to try and replace injured Jason Blake on the second line with Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne. He scored twice on Friday and is 3-1-4 in his past four games.

-- Interesting note from the Nashville Tennessean: The Preds top defence pairing of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter has not been on the ice for an even strength goal against since Oct. 27 and are a combined plus-33 for the season.

-- Jean-Sebastien Giguere has started the past two games in net for the Avalanche and could be in line for more. Jiggy, as we pointed out last week, is one of several backup goalies with far superior numbers to the No. 1s on their respective teams. But after allowing just one goal in his two recent outings and with Semyon Varlamov coughing up 22 goals in five winless November starts you have to figure the Avs will ride the hot hand for a while.

-- Kyle Wellwood is back in a top-six role, this time with the Jets, who have bumped him up to a line with captain Andrew Ladd and former Leafs teammate Nik Antropov. With 6-7-13 totals in 19 games, Wellwood is actually having his best season since 2006-07 with the Leafs.

-- Caps C Brooks Laich played defence for a game last weekend, but it looks like this was a one-and-done for now. He played more than 23 minutes and apparently didnt look out of place.

BOURQUE NO HELPER

Okay, Flames winger Rene Bourque is more sniper than playmaker. His half dozen goals are fine, but how does a guy playing top-six minutes with regular power-play time have zero assists by late November? Youd think hed fluke into one somewhere, right? Heck, he needs two helpers just to pull even with Senators goalie Craig Anderson.

GAMES THIS WEEK

4 -- BOS, CGY, CAR, CLB, DAL, EDM, FLA, MON, NJ, NYI, PHIL, PHX, STL, WASH

2 -- ANA, COL, OTT, SJ

All other teams play 3 games

HOT AND NOT

Forwards, the past two weeks

Tyler Seguin BOS

7 goals, 2 assists, +7

Johan Franzen DET

5-4-9, plus-6

Tomas Plekanec MON

0-9-9, 8 PIMs

- - - -

Clarke MacArthur TOR

0-0-0, minus-9

Rick Nash CLB

0-2-2, minus-8

INJURY UPDATES

Jaromir Jagr left Thursdays game with a groin injury but may be okay for Monday Marek Zidlicky has a concussion after taking a stiff hit on Tuesday Ryan Whitney (knee) could return to the Oilers by next weekend Daymond Langkow has missed five games following the passing of his mother Anton Babchuk is out with a broken hand Ian White broke his cheekbone stopping a shot last weekend Mikael Samuelsson (groin) is getting close to making his Panthers debut Carlo Colaiacovo (hamstring) is out again David Perron (concussion) and Mason Raymond (back) are finally taking light contact in practice First it was a twisted ankle, now Mike Green is out with a sore groin.

WAIVER WATCH

With fantasy rating out of 5

Al Montoya

G, Islanders

* * *

Day-to-day right now with a sore hamstring, but two sterling starts coming off IR, and better stats than either DiPietro or the now-injured Nabokov, may give him separation in Isles three-goalie juggling act.

Anton Stralman

D, Rangers

* * *

Signed early this month, the ex-Leaf bears watching, if only because of his 34-point season two years ago in Columbus. Yes, there is that combined minus-28 the past two years with the Jackets, but that should not be as much of a concern on Broadway.

Ryan Johansen

C/RW, Blue Jackets

* * *

In and out of the press box early on, last years fourth overall pick is now starting to find himself with four goals and a plus-2 in his past six games while playing on the second line.

Aaron Rome

D, Canucks

* * *

Since being called up Nov. 6, the 28-year-old has been a fantasy stud with three goals, five points and 21 PIMs in just five games. But, with only 12 points in 131 career games before that, this looks like his so-called 15 minutes of fame.

Brendan Smith

D, Red Wings

* * *

Late-first-rounder in 2007 was a minus-2 in his NHL debut Thursday, paired with Nik Kronwall, but saw decent PP time and bears watching after 12 goals, 32 points and 124 PIMs as an AHL rookie last year.

-- Stats do not include Saturday's games --


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