Kevin Brown

In The Crease

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The Enigmatic Zach Parise

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Regardless of whether you’re the Crosby owner in your league, chances are you were cheering him on in the night of his return.  Here in Canada it was practically a national event, televised across the country.   Since it’s become chic to offer a projection on Sid the Kid’s final point total, I’ll go with 87, matching his jersey number.  

There may not be a more underrated player in hockey than Keith Yandle. With 59 points last season, he finished third in league scoring among defensemen and with 15 points through 22 games this year he’s on pace to nearly match that total.  On a team that doesn’t score a ton of goals, Yandle’s performance is all the more impressive.  He may not possess the explosive qualities of Erik Karlsson or Kris Letang, but as Nicklas Lidstrom has proven throughout his illustrious career, slow and steady can often win the race.  

With the news that Max Pacioretty has been suspended three games for his hit on Kris Letang, this might be the perfect time to target him in a trade.  Now 24 games into the season, I feel comfortable trusting him as a reliable fantasy asset and even if the Pacioretty owner in your league feels the same way, perhaps he’ll be willing to make a move while MaxPac its out for a few contests.  

When it comes to evaluating players at the start of each season, I realize now that I might be undervaluing guys who consistently find a way to stay in the lineup. As someone who entered the season relying on Jaromir Jagr, Chris Neil and Brendan Morrow while also hoping for a quick return from Andrei Markov, I’ve found myself scrambling recently to field a complete lineup.  I have to think these sorts of things don’t happen to people who draft Martin St. Louis, Patrick Marleau or the Sedin Twins.   

Well, it took an injury to Evgeni Nabokov combined with some poor results from Rick DiPietro, but Al Montoya finally got his shot to start in back-to-back games against the Devils over the weekend and he delivered with one win and a combined three goals against on 49 shots over the two starts.  Now fully recovered from a hamstring ailment that cost him some time earlier in the month, I see no reason why he shouldn’t be the Islanders’ primary netminder for the foreseeable future.  Wins may be hard to come by given the team’s inability to score goals, but he could be a useful number two fantasy goaltender.  

As James O’Brien discussed in Monday’s Daily Dose, the injury sustained by Kari Lehtonen is a potentially crippling one for the Stars, as backup Andrew Raycroft is likely to be a pretty significant step down production-wise.  If Dallas does suffer from through a cold spell as many are predicting with Lehtonen on the shelf, those of you relying on Stars players in rotisserie formats should realize this could have a trickle-down effect on the plus/minus ratings of many players.  While it’s unusual for an injury to one player to have such a dramatic effect, this is the rare situation where it needs to be considered.  

Unfortunately, I don’t have any great insight into what we should expect from Washington players once new head coach Dale Hunter installs his system, but I do agree with the opinion that a change of any kind should be seen as a positive for both Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, at least in the short-term. I recently traded for Semin in one of my leagues and I’m hopeful that the coaching change will light a fire under the enigmatic winger.  

As for Kirk Muller replacing Paul Maurice behind the Hurricanes’ bench, I agree with the popular opinion that Eric Staal will see a short-term bump in production even if his struggles weren’t really Maurice’s fault to begin with.  If Carolina can somehow get the ship moving in the right direction again, Cam Ward stands to be another big beneficiary.  

Due to the lack of attention paid to hockey in South Florida, this story hasn’t been garnering the type of attention it deserves, but it’s nearly impossible not to notice the production of the Panthers’ top line this season.  The trio of Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg and Tomas Fleischman has amassed 71 points in 23 games and each member of the unit has scored at least 22, which is a drastic leap from what these players were expected to do prior to the season.  Thanks to the ice time each is receiving, I think much of the production can be sustained, although I’d be shocked if any of them finished the season above a point-per-game pace.  

To this point, I haven’t offered an opinion on the struggles of Zach Parise and that’s mainly because I can’t figure the situation out for myself.  On one hand, I note that his shooting percentage of 7.8 percent suggests he’s been somewhat unlucky in the goal scoring department and with the premium ice time he receives, it seems clear he must improve on his total of two points with the man advantage. Having said that, his recovery from knee surgery and looming unrestricted free agency are also justifiable reasons for his struggles.  Based on what I’ve seen, I have lowered my expectations from those I formed prior to the season, but I do still think there’s a hot streak coming soon.  Since he’ll be able to pick his destination after the season and he’ll be one more year removed from a major injury, those of you in keeper leagues shouldn’t hesitate to target him in trades.              



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