LUONGO GOOD TO GO
Hockey head coaches have a lot of goofy go-to protocols - most of which I disagree with to at least some extent - but it’s hard to disagree with “playing the hot hand” after a guy gets a shutout.
(One of my least favorite coaching tendencies: clinging to a slim lead desperately instead of trying to build on it. Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault seems to subscribe to both of the old coaching wives’ tales discussed in this section, by the way.)
As far as I can tell, it sounds like that’s going to hold true in Vancouver: Roberto Luongo seems primed to start tonight in an always-intriguing matchup against his best buds, the Chicago Blackhawks.
It makes perfect sense, really; Cory Schneider has been a little wobbly to start off and more quality starts just highlights Bobby Lou’s value to potential trade partners. Of course, it could continue to be frustrating for fantasy owners and Canucks fans tired of hearing about this story for the simple fact that GM Mike Gillis already seems set on getting a high price for the pricey netminder to begin with.
A WAVE OF REDEMPTIONS
Just like with unusually hot runs, it’s important to hold your breath and not overreact to slow starts and slumps. Still, there were a few wins that had to make some baffling teams feel a little better on Thursday.
Calgary to the rescue - The Colorado Avalanche finally showed some life, pummeling the Flames 6-3. Sure, it’s the Flames, but it was great to see Matt Duchene (two assist) and P.A. Parenteau (two goals, one assist) continue stealthily solid work. Paul Stastny finally got his due (as discussed with some resignation here) by scoring two goals including the GWG, yet he still managed a -2. One guy you shouldn’t count on much going forward is John Mitchell, despite his quick early start with four tallies.
Pavelec pays off (for the Panthers) - Sure you can “yeah, but” Florida’s 6-3 win against Winnipeg because it came against Ondrej Pavelec (who is often useless on the road), yet the struggling Panthers aren’t going to complain. They won’t go 3-for-6 on the PP every game, but it’s heartening to see Kris Versteeg’s top line trio look strong again. In fact, if Versteeg is on your waiver wire, now is a great time to scoop up an underrated fellow with a phenomenal mustache (and previously some great, borderline Hulk Hogan hair).
The battle of the disappointments - While the Nashville Predators still seem content - or only capable - of barely eking out a win in a lower scoring game, they finally came out on the winning end of a shootout by beating the Kings 2-1 (SO). Pekka Rinne finally notched a W, but Shea Weber is still without a point and Nashville only fired a pathetic 14 shots on Jonathan Quick. Not exactly a winning formula for the struggling Central Division team, who are likely to look up at Chicago and St. Louis (at best) this season, thus likely relegating them to scratching and clawing for a low seed. If they can even manage that.
INJURY NOTES (full list) and QUICK HITS
Tomas Vokoun got a 28-save shutout, so don’t be surprised if he takes another start. He’s one of the most valuable backups in fantasy, and if you ask the right person, maybe he should actually be the guy in Pittsburgh … Jiri Hudler could be a guy to watch in Calgary. He had three points last night and is looking solid in his first two games with the Flames … Sounds like Mike Smith should be good to go tonight … Adam Henrique is back for the New Jersey Devils. He could be quite relevant considering their limited array of offensive options … Shawn Horcoff is day-to-day with a neck injury … Dustin Byfuglien appears to be day-to-day with a mystery issue … Keep an eye out for late scratches as players are sporadically dealing with the flu (Henrik Zetterberg is among the latest) … Want some buy-low candidates? Daniel Briere looks to be on the top line with Claude Giroux for a while and Phil Kessel is primed for some bounces. Amazingly, Kessel hasn’t scored a goal despite 33 shots. There’s just no way the gifted sniper is going to keep having such horrible luck all season long, so perhaps it’s time to prey on a frustrated Kessel owner or three … Brad Boyes is an interesting contract year dark horse, with one goal and one assist last night. Still, I like him more for a bargain Islanders signing than I do as a regular fantasy contributor. For now, especially … Devan Dubnyk is really starting to prove himself as a No. 1 netminder. I haven’t always been his strongest proponent, but he’s starting to sway me with his recent strong work.