SUN Hockey Pool

Fantasy Fare: Going, going Gagner

Oilers' Sam Gagner (middle) shares a laugh with linemates Jordan Eberle (left) and Taylor Hall on...

Oilers' Sam Gagner (middle) shares a laugh with linemates Jordan Eberle (left) and Taylor Hall on the bench after scoring his fourth goal against Chicago on Thursday. (Reuters)

Joel Colomby, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:42 PM ET

So, what the heck do we make of those stunning eight points in 40 minutes by Oilers’ Sam Gagner against the Blackhawks on Thursday? You can bet that fantasy owners everywhere were scrambling late that night to see if he was still available. And chances are, with just five goals and 17 assists going in, he was. Yahoo had him owned in only 7% of its leagues prior to his big night.

There are valid reasons for nabbing Gagner, a high first-rounder in 2007 following a 118-point season with the London Knights — the main one being that Oilers coach Craig MacTavish had no plans to pull him off the hastily formed line between Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall for Saturday night’s game, even with the wingers’ regular centre, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, finally back from a concussion. When a line counts 16 points off 18 shots, over two periods, you don’t break it up.

Now, it’s up to Gagner to continue the magic. Will he? We’re going to say no. And here is why:

1) As undeniable as the chemistry was with Eberle and Hall, Gagner’s big night was just as much the product of some disgraceful defence and goalkeeping. Seven of the eight Edmonton goals were either gimmes into an open net or out-and-out softies. It won’t happen again.

2) It was just one of those nights for Gagner and the Oilers. It was eerily similar to watching Darryl Sittler’s 10-pointer back in 1976, a once-in-a-generation evening when everything the Leafs captain touched turned to goal. As Gagner said: “At one point out there, I thought: ‘This is a joke.’ ” It was.

3) One monster game cannot undo the fact that Gagner has been a 40-point third-liner for each of his previous four NHL seasons. Yes, at 22, his best years are still ahead of him, but that’s down the road.

So, while momentum and confidence may carry Gagner a little longer, the element of surprise is gone and we expect opposing defences to close in on him now. RNH will likely have his first-line role back before long.

-- Sometimes for a slumping player, the most seemingly insignificant of change can trigger a turnaround. For Predators netminder Pekka Rinne, it was going back to a more familiar mask. After allowing 12 goals in three games prior to the Christmas break, Rinne dusted off the mask he used in previous years, but had ditched in pre-season after taking a puck in the face, sustaining a cut over his right eye. Rinne said it just fit better but some teammates believe it was all in his head. Whatever, no one in Nashville is complaining. Since then, Rinne has allowed just 25 goals in 14 games and lost just once.

-- Jeff Carter owners can only hope that the Blue Jackets are able to trade the struggling centre and his 10-year contract. We predicted, before the season, that the newly acquired Carter would not be a good fit with either Rick Nash or the Jackets as a team. We never, however, figured on just 17 points by February. Still, Carter is the type who, given the right situation on a contending team can provide his owners with a nice push over the final weeks.

-- Flyers C Sean Couturier has been bumped up from the fourth line to the second to replace Daniel Briere, who is out indefinitely with a concussion. The rookie is skating between Jakub Voracek and Max Talbot.

BOTTOMS OUT

Luke Adam doesn’t have a point in 18 games heading into Saturday. What’s newsy about that is that the Sabres rookie began the season as a top-six forward and had 4-7-11 totals in his first 11 games. But he was 6-3-9 over his next 38 games until being made a healthy scratch on Tuesday.

GAMES THIS WEEK

4 — ANA, CGY, CLB, DAL, DET, FLA, LA NYI, NYR, PHIL, PHX, STL, TB, TOR

2 — BOST, CAR

All other teams play 3 games

INJURY UPDATES

“I’ve played with broken fingers before,” says Jimmy Howard, who hopes to be back in the Detroit nets next week … Guillaume Latendresse (concussion) has had a setback in his attempted recovery and is likely done for the season … Thomas Vanek hurt his shoulder on Tuesday but it likely won’t keep him out beyond this weekend … Nathan Horton has now missed four games since sustaining a concussion before the all-star break ... Brenden Morrow (neck) is back on the shelf after returning for just two games … Adam Henrique (groin) is expected back early this week … Slumping Jason Arnott is out with a shoulder injury … Jordan Staal (knee) is skating with an eye to a mid-February return.

HOT AND NOT

Forwards, the past two weeks

Mike Fisher NASH

9 GP, 7-2-9, +1

David Clarkson NJ

7 GP, 4-4-8, +3

Justin Williams LA

8 GP, 3-5-8. +4

- - - - - - -

Derek Roy BUF

8 GP, 1-0-1, minus-8

Brad Richards NYR

8 GP, 1-1-2, minus-1

Brandon Dubinsky NYR

6 GP, 0-0-0

 

WAIVER WATCH

With fantasy rating out of 5

Cody Hodgson

C, Canucks

* * *

When you’re playing third line on the same team as the Sedins and Kesler, it’s easy to get lost … even when you count 10 points in 11 January games to be named NHL rookie of the month. The fact that he spread out those points pretty evenly — and didn’t, say, lump eight of them into one game — bodes well for the former first-rounder to keep it up.

Philip Larsen

D, Stars

* *

With the Stars power-play struggling, he replaced Souray on the point of the first unit on Thursday, mainly because he is a right-handed shot and gives them “more balance.” The 22-year-old Dane had only five points in 28 games, but three have come in the past four outings.

Andrew Cogliano

C, Ducks

* *

His natural hat trick in the second period on Tuesday garnered some attention, but it looks like a one-off for the former first-rounder, who has been stuck on the third line all season. With only 20 points all season, he remains a risky pickup.

Andrew Desjardins

LW, Sharks

*

He has five assists in his past eight games, however the only reason to consider him would be that he is playing on Thornton and Pavelski’s line. But with Martin Havlat due back later this month, his best-before date is fast approaching.

-- Statistics do not include Saturday’s games --

joel.colomby@sunmedia.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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