The New York Rangers are on a seven-game hot streak right now, but you’re unlikely to land the biggest catalysts. So which of the lower-level guys might do you right?
If Ryan Callahan and/or Brandon Dubinsky are free agents, snatch them up. Both are scoring at a solid rate, but they pile up peripheral stats too; Callahan rocks the SOG (58) while Dubinsky has a hearty amount of PIM (47) right now. I don't hate Derek Stepan or Artem Anisimov as options, either, but I imagine there are probably other, better fish in the sea.
Much like the Rangers, the majority of the best Bruins are already taken. (If you have the chance, scoop up Brad Marchand, though. He’ll be taken in most leagues, but if not, he should provide almost as much “bite” as Alexandre Burrows.) Beyond Marchand, two interesting choices are Patrice Bergeron and Joe Corvo. Both are owned in a good amount of leagues, but there’s still a chance of getting both.
Bergeron is especially enticing because he’s produced some strong seasons in his career. He’s a four-time 20+ goal scorer who crossed the 70+ point mark twice already. He’s been falling in the 50-point range more often as his role has changed with the Bruins, but it’s exciting to know that he might have that kind of ceiling. As long as he plays with some solid linemates, he can succeed. (Bergeron is also strong in the faceoff circle, if FW's are a stat category.)
Corvo isn’t quite as “sexy” of a choice as Bergeron (at least in my mind), but quality blueliners are tougher to come by then solid centers. Corvo scored at least 37 points four times in his career, which is generally a solid output for a fantasy D-man. He’s also been especially hot lately, with five points and a +9 rating in his last five games.
They're not home run-type options, but both Bergeron and Corvo have the potential to help you win your league.
SUSPENSION FOR STEWART?
Here's something to keep an eye on over the next day or two: Chris Stewart could face a suspension for his check from behind on Niklas Kronwall. Stewart received a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct for the hit, which was great in the short term (15 PIM in one game!) but could put him on the shelf for at least a night or two.
A better question is whether you should drop him from your team regardless. It's getting tougher and tougher to play the low shooting percentage game with Stewart. The bottom line is that he only has five points in 17 games, which is especially surprising since the budding power forward is in a contract year. At this point, his PIM totals are carrying him, but if comes down to someone like Stewart or Marchand (or say ... Thomas Fleischmann?) then maybe it's time to cut bait.
For some reason, my instinct is to recommend that you give him at least one more chance ... if the suspension isn't too long, that is.
NOT FOR LUONGO
Originally it seemed like Roberto Luongo suffered a groin injury, but the most recent word is that it’s an upper-body issue. At least that’s what they’re saying.
The most important thing is that the Vancouver Canucks are also saying that it’s nothing too serious, so don’t rearrange your roster too drastically to make room for Cory Schneider. That being said, the Canucks much-ballyhooed backup could be an interesting short-term option, especially if Luongo’s injury sidelines him for a week or two.
KOVALCHUK ‘S CLOSE
Ilya Kovalchuk apparently almost played on Nov. 15 and looks primed to be a game-time decision against the Buffalo Sabres tonight. The sniper hasn’t exactly been on fire to start the season, but considering the fact that he’s only connected on five percent of his 40 shots for two goals, it’s quite likely that his best days are ahead of him. (At least as far as this season is concerned … he simply might not be the same fantasy force he once was in Atlanta, even if his ice time can be downright ridiculous.)
I almost wonder if NHL teams should make their players take flu shots during prolonged breaks as a precautionary measure to avoid the dreaded locker room flu run. Bobby Ryan is the latest player who might miss some time with flu-like symptoms … Michael Cammalleri’s lower-body injury issues continue, so keep an eye on updates … Speaking of mysterious lower-body injuries, both Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur are dealing with problems that leave them day-to-day. (Click here for the full injury list.)
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