Fantasy Fare: Return of Sid the Kid
JOEL COLOMBY, QMI Agency
|Pascal Dupuis (centre) and Sidney Crosby celebrate one of Sid the Kid's two goals against the New York Islanders on Monday. (GETTY IMAGES)
Sidney Crosby made his much-ballyhooed return to active duty this week, but don’t expect too many repeats of either his memorable four-point game against the Islanders on Monday or the goose-egg the Blues handed him two nights later. His emotion-charged return came against an untested rookie goalie while St. Louis — which historically has done as efficient a job of keeping Sid the Kid in the ball park, so to speak, as any NHL team — held him goalless for a sixth consecutive game. Those fantasy owners who gambled on him on draft day can expect the usual point and a half per game production, but now will be holding their breath every time he takes a hit.
* Crosby’s return, not surprisingly, will have an impact on some of his Penguins teammates. Pascal Dupuis, his RW, stands to benefit the most. He was having a career-best season before No. 87 came back and has added a goal and three assists in the three games since. LW Chris Kunitz might also have enjoyed a similar spike had Crosby not taken his place on the Penguins’ first power-play team. James Neal, Steve Sullivan and defenceman Kris Letang — who, along with Evgeni Malkin, round out that impressive power-play quintet, should also see their point production improve.
* With just three points between them in their previous five games, Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk welcomed back Matt Duchene to the Avs’ top line for Saturday night’s game against Edmonton. The team also re-assembled the line of Ryan O’Reilly, Daniel Winnik and rookie Gabriel Landeskog, which began the season so strongly.
* Talk about streaky. A couple of weeks ago, we turned the spotlight on Patric Hornqvist who had rolled up 7-4-11 totals over a seven-game span and was on pace for a career-best season. The Predators winger has since followed that up with six consecutive games without a point and is now on pace for career-worst totals. Perhaps the most disturbing part of the slump is that he has managed just two shots on goal his past three games heading into Saturday night’s tilt in Motown.
* Kyle Okposo, tabbed as one of the NHL’s next great power forwards for a few years now, has been given a fresh start with the Islanders after struggling through most of the first month and a half. A healthy scratch for three consecutive games, the big winger drew back into the lineup this past week as the LW with Michael Grabner and Frans Nielsen on what, potentially, should be a productive second line.
* Ryan Whitney is back on the Oilers blueline after suffering a knee injury the opening week of the schedule. The offensive-minded but oft-injured defenceman was one of the few bright lights on an otherwise young and struggling team the past couple of seasons, so it will be interesting to see what he adds to the mix now that the Oilers are enjoying some success. Grab him now.
n Joel Quenneville is looking like a genius today. The Blackhawks coach juggled his top two lines during the second intermission of Friday’s game in Anaheim, letting Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp play on the same line. The result was two goals apiece in the first 10 minutes of the final period, three at even-strength with Viktor Stalberg as the LW.
Do you dare reserve the NHL’s leading scorer next week? The Leafs play only a pair of games, but both are against the Bruins, which means Phil Kessel, who is pointless and a minus-2 against his former team this season, might be considered risky play.
GAMES THIS WEEK
4 — CGY, COL, EDM, MIN, NAS
2 — BOS, PHL, TOR
All other teams play 3 games
HOT AND NOT
(Skaters the past two weeks)
Stephen Weiss FLA
3-7-10, +9, 24 PIMs
Radim Vrbata PHX
6 goals in 7 games
Matt Read PHIL
- - - - -
Daniel Sedin VAN
0-3-3 in 5 games
Drew Doughty LA
0-0-0, minus-1 in 6 GP
TRAINER’S ROOM TICKER
Brenden Morrow (back) stayed behind when the Stars left for a two-game road trip on Saturday … Tyler Ennis (ankle) should be back any day now … The Flyers are playing without first-line wingers Jaromir Jagr, who aggravated his groin injury on Wednesday, and James van Riemsdyk, who will be out another week or so with an upper body injury. Chris Pronger has also been felled by a virus … Ryan Miller says he is improving, but the concussion symptoms continue to keep him off skates … Alex Goligoski (thumb) is skating but still a couple of weeks away from a return … Tomas Kopecky sat out Friday with back spasms … Scott Gomez has missed the past two games with a groin injury … Mason Raymond (back) has been given the green light from doctors to start his season … Mike Green (groin) still isn’t skating … Erik Johnson is out with a sore groin.
With fantasy rating out of 5
* * *
Veteran checker has quietly gone 4-2-6 in his past seven games with a solid plus-7. With career highs of 15 goals and 38 points from his first six seasons in Ottawa, this looks to be more of a temporary hot streak than a career-defining breakout, but he should remain a useful end-of-roster skater.
C, Maple Leafs
* * * *
He is 4-5-9 in his past eight games and, with the rediscovered chemistry he has with Kessel and Lupul. there is no way the Leafs will bump him back to the third line, even when Grabovski returns. He’ll have to play his way off the line, which still is entirely possible, but the upside now is too great to ignore.
* * * *
We were hesitant to recommend him after he produced only two shots on goal his first four games back from IR. But a five-shot effort Wednesday, including his second goal in three games suggests he is comfortable now with Smyth and Horcoff and is safe to pick up if available.
Buffalo’s top pick (13th overall) in 2009 earned an assist in his NHL debut on Friday and has the size and skill to be a formidable power forward. But he’s not yet top-six material and is best left stashed on reserve in keeper leagues.
— All statistics do not include Saturday’s games —