It pays to keep injuries and big developments on your radar all season long, but the bottom line is that “best-kept secrets” tend to dry up after the first month or two. In other words, at some point, I’m not going to have too many more Daily Dose moments when I plead with you to add a player immediately.
The Monday, November 14 Daily Dose falls into that category, though. As of this writing, Jhonas Enroth is available in a ton of fantasy leagues because a lot of people aren’t aware that Ryan Miller is “out indefinitely” with a concussion from that Milan Lucic’s controversial hit on Saturday. A lot can change between the time I file this column and the time this recommendation hits your eyeballs (depending upon when you read it), but hear me out.
If you need a goalie, go pick up Enroth now. Then come back to the Daily Dose.
OK, I’m not saying Enroth is going to heal all of your netminder wounds. Most clearly, Miller’s indefinite leave might not even last all that long. It’s also tough to deny the fact that the Buffalo Sabres defense isn’t exactly a brick wall. That being said, Enroth hasn’t had to deal with a regular wave of 2-on-1 breaks and other psyche-splintering developments for years like Miller has. He’s not the jaded American hero, so maybe the sheer thrill of getting a golden opportunity will allow him to really show his stuff in (what I’d assume is) an abbreviated audition.
First and foremost, it is wise to temper your expectations about Enroth. His 2011-12 stats are pretty staggering right now. Enroth is 5-0-0 with a 1.75 GAA and .944 save percentage. Those numbers aren’t sustainable unless he’s the second coming of Tim Thomas. (Actually, even then, it’s probably not sustainable; Tyler Myers isn’t exactly locking people down like Zdeno Chara right now.)
Still, much like Mike Smith and Jose Theodore last week, you’re unlikely to find a free agent goalie with Enroth’s ceiling again unless Lucic makes steamrolling goalies a habit. Enroth might be more likely to stockpile wins, too, because the Sabres should be able to spot him goals a bit more often than the Phoenix Coyotes (and maybe the Florida Panthers).
Again, it’s important to be patient with Enroth, though. As great as he’s been in an incredibly small sample size this season, he’s only played in 22 NHL games in his young career. It's likely that his stay at the top will be short-lived, although Miller's recent history with concussions could come into play. (He dealt with one toward the end of last season, meaning he’s had two in seven or eight months.)
Anyway, scoop Enroth up while you still can.
With the obvious exclusion of Roberto Luongo, there haven’t been many highly-drafted fantasy goalies who have struggled (and struggled with struggling) quite like Ilya Bryzgalov. Things are starting to look up though, as he’s won four of his last five games and that one defeat yielded a charity point. (An overtime or shootout loss obviously doesn’t matter to fantasy owners – at least in just about every league I know of – but it indirectly helps because it provides Peter Laviolette with added incentive to start him over Sergei Bobrovsky.)
Give Bryzgalov credit, too; It seems like his run of strong games came after that wacky 9-8 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Since that ugly affair, he hasn’t allowed more than two goals in any of his starts. Franchise goalies often distinguish themselves by rebounding from low moments, so Breezy passed the first of what should be many periods of adversity in Philly.
After the jump: reality checks for Toronto/Ottawa, quick hits and injury bits.
BACK TO REALITY? (PART I)
The Toronto Maple Leafs are still on top of the Northeast Division, but things are looking a little shaky without James Reimer (speaking of concussions, allegedly) as a safety net. The Maple Leafs are 1-3 in their last four games, as they’ve been out-scored 19-5.
On the bright side, Phil Kessel remains a red-hot point producer, even when his team is struggling. The bad news is that opposing teams have been lighting up them up, which has been an issue for anyone who needs a few breaks in the plus/minus category or anyone who decided to take a short-term gamble on Ben Scrivens.
The near-future looks pretty scary, too, as the Maple Leafs will play six of seven games on the road starting on Nov. 20. Hopefully Reimer will be back by then or Toronto might find themselves trailing their division opponents (and frustrating their fantasy owners) with dizzying speed.
BACK TO REALITY? (PART II)
Speaking of teams who are suffering from growing pains (or one might say, experiencing the gravitational pull of regression), the Edmonton Oilers are finally looking like … well, the Edmonton Oilers.
The young team lost three in a row by a combined score of 12-6 and you can’t just blame those struggles on Devan Dubnyk or another easy scapegoat, as Nikolai Khabibulin lost two of those contests. To be fair to Edmonton, they happened to face an intimidating trio of teams, as the Red Wings, Bruins and Blackhawks administered those difficult defeats.
Things look a little brighter for Edmonton than Toronto in the short term in the grand scheme of things. They play two home games in a row and then just need to make the best of a four-game road trip, because after that they can stock up points with a six-game homestand. Another bright side is that unlike Toronto, their top goalie is healthy right now.
Both teams must own up to the reality of the situation that they’re about to go into full-on “grind” mode. The fun part of the season is over (unless you own Kessel, it seems).
Steve Mason stopped 35 shots and actually looked like an NHL goalie on Saturday, but it was against the Winnipeg Jets, so don’t throw a parade yet … Speaking of struggling goalies having nice nights, Cam Ward kept the Carolina Hurricanes in a game they eventually won against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Unfortunately, Ward is going to have to do too much too often to be a truly great fantasy goalie, but he’s a keeper in real life. (Eric Staal also broke an ugly slump, by the way) … Brian Elliott is a tough nut to crack; he’s getting the next St. Louis start after earning a shutout but it seems like the club wants to shoehorn Jaroslav Halak into the lineup to justify his paychecks … With a respectable seven points and his usual tomfoolery, Daniel Carcillo might be a gem in fantasy again, so at least keep an eye on him (don’t look at his messed up grill, though) … Pop quiz: who is the Columbus Blue Jackets leading scorer? (Don’t peak!) Anyway, it’s Vinny Propsal, not Rick Nash. He’s doing well enough that he’s at least worth an addition to your watch list … Aaron Rome scored three points, but just stay away.
Lubomir Visnovsky will be out about a month with a broken finger, which really puts a cherry on top of a sundae of fantasy disappointment … Speaking of broken fingers, Alex Goligoski experienced one of his own and should miss a similar amount of time … If you had “November 13” in a Steve Sullivan injury pool, go ahead and collect your prize … Remember that talk about Mark Dekanich potentially taking some of Steve Mason’s playing time in Columbus? He’s injured again, so maybe transfer some of that interest to Curtis Sanford … Dustin Penner’s hands match his feelings: they hurt. (Click here for the full injury list.)
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