I want to start off this week by talking about a player that I don’t think gets enough recognition in fantasy circles. Ryan Miller has seven wins in nine games, including two shutouts. His 1.62 goals-against-average leads the league and his 0.942 save percentage is second only to the never say die guy, Tim Thomas.
Since becoming the Sabres full-time starter, Miller’s games played has risen from 48 to 63 to last year’s 76 games. Over those three seasons, he has a 2.65 goals-against-average, a 0.910 save percentage and averaged 35 wins.
Miller is only 28-years-old and in his fourth full season. Goaltenders traditionally take longer to become dominant fantasy players. Miller followed up his worst outing of the season, a five-goal shellacking from the Lightning, by posting back-to-back shutouts.
There is only one trend that may cause some concern. In each of his last three seasons, his numbers have fallen off after the All-Star game. That is the reason the Sabres made sure that they signed a legitimate back-up to properly spell Miller (hint: M-I-L-L-E-R) during the season, so as not to overwork him. All the signs point to a breakout season from Miller.
Department of Edge-u-cation
Sticking with the goaltending theme; over Tim Thomas’ last four games, he’s only allowed four goals against and has a save percentage of 0.970. There is no goaltending controversy in Beantown. Rodney Dangerfield gets more respect than Thomas.
What’s My Line? According to the depth chart, Jeff Carter (11-9-3-12) was listed as the third line centre. Carter has averaged an amazing 21-plus minutes per game, which was the second most on the team.
The Marc Savard of two seasons ago has returned. After back-to-back seasons of 97 and 96 points, last year’s 78 points were a disappointment. The feisty center is off to a great start this year with 15 points in 12 games and the 24 penalty minutes are a bonus.
Mike Van Ryn isn’t getting top power play ice time, but has eight points in 12 games. He is finally healthy and does have a couple of 37 point seasons in his past, so 35-40 points is possible.
The fog has cleared. It’s great to see Simon Gagne and Patrice Bergeron back and performing well since returning from serious head injuries. Gagne has eight goals and 14 points in only ten games and Bergeron has eight points in 12 games.
Johnny Oduya isn’t a good bet to repeat his plus-27 of last year. Oh sure, he’s plus-8 already this year, but with Brodeur gone for the bulk of the season, every Devil is going to have scars after this season.
I am finding myself doing something I never thought I would…rooting for the Leafs! How can you not cheer for a team that works so hard? The comeback kids indeed! Toskala is a great goalie for this team; he can consistently make key saves to keep them in games. Ninth place!
After going pointless in his first seven games, Mikhail Grabovski has scored seven points in his last six games. Nikolai Kulemin has four assists in his last two contests. Niklas Hagman has scored nine points in his last seven games after recording only one point in his first six games.
Filip Kuba is getting an opportunity to play some significant minutes on the power play. He’s averaging almost six minutes per game on the power play. In 12 games, Kuba has 13 assists, eight of which have come with the man advantage. Just keep in mind that his career high is only 37 points. Ten goals and 40 assists is a very real possibility for the 31-year-old.
Inside Edge Picks for Next Week
Montreal plays four games in the week starting this Friday. Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn have started slowly for the Canadiens, but this coming week might be just what the doctor ordered. Last year, against the four teams they will be playing this week, Plekanec scored 22 poin