Off to the Races (2011)

Ryan Ma




The start of the 2011-2012 NHL season is well and truly underway. There have been a few pleasant surprises, as well as few "red alert" moments involving key injuries. The main thing that you need to keep in mind is that the season is still young and there's still seven months of quality hockey remaining. Similar to last season, I'll provide you with weekly updates so that you have access to the latest news that's been happening from the Western Conference front.



After splitting their overseas games last week, the Ducks are now heading back to North America with an even record. What poolies need to keep in mind is that Anaheim is traditionally a very, very slow starting team. Since 2007, the Ducks have started 1-3-1, 2-2-1, 1-4-0 and 1-3-1 respectively, so their current one goals for per game average is kind of the norm. Now might be a good time to try to "lowball" a panicky Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry-owner just to see if you can pry the two stars off their hands. Another positive for Duck fans is that goalie Jonas Hiller looks healthy after dealing with a bout of vertigo late last season. Statistically speaking, Hiller's career .921 save percentage is one of the best amongst his active peers, if he can manage to maintain those numbers the Ducks should be in good shape come April.



It's been a rocky road for the Flames during the early part of 2011-12. Their defense has been atrocious while giving up 10 goals in two games. Combine that with being the worst offensive team (18.5 SOG per contest) in the league and things aren't looking too rosy in Cow Town. The good thing is that it's only two down and 80 left, but is there an outside possibility that the Flames finish last in the league this year? Calgarians tear me apart! Matt Stajan is getting the early season shaft as he's averaging just 10:18 per contest, which is a sharp drop from the 14:13 that he averaged last campaign. His days in Calgary are numbered. Roman Horak is starting to garner more attention from the prospect front. He was a late fifth round draft pick by the Rangers back in 2009, but has shown plenty of gusto in the first two games of the season. The Flames will probably give him the nine-game stint then return him to the juniors, but he's probably worth monitoring in deep keeper leagues. As I mentioned during last week's column, Miikka Kiprusoff is a notoriously slow starter. His career October numbers (2.96 goals against average and .896 save percentage) are a night and day difference compared to his numbers for the rest of the months. If you are in a ROTO league, it might not be a bad idea to bench Kipper for October and save those value starts for later on in the year.



The Hawks split their early season series against the Stars. Coach Quenneville has been exper