Let’s start in Boston, where the Colorado Avalanche and netminder J.S. Giguere shutout the Boston Bruins to improve to 4-0-0.
The Avalanche are easily the biggest surprise of the 2013-14 regular season so far, racking up points against pretty good teams (the Ducks, Bruins, Maple Leafs in particular).
Colorado’s early season success is probably not sustainable – Giguere and Varlamov have combined to post a Jonathan Bernier-like .984 sv% at even-strength – but the Avalanche have a lot going for them. Varlamov and Giguere should be good enough to post an above average save-percentage, and that top-nine is just nasty.
That blue-line, however…
I used the elipsis because I want to talk about a particular Avalanche defenseman from a fantasy perspective: Andre Benoit.
Benoit is a veteran journeyman, a guy who has toiled at the NHL’s fringes for years mostly in the Montreal Canadiens organization. He’s logging major minutes for the Avalanche this season, and obviously has Roy’s trust (his minutes bumped up significantly in the third period on Thursday).
So far Benoit has been 3rd among Avalanche defenseman in even-strength and short-handed ice-time and is playing almost 4 minutes a game on the power-play. Actually because his teammate Erik Johnson is used as a forward on the Avalanche power-play, one could reasonably say that Benoit is receiving the most PP TOI among all Avs defenseman.He had a power-play assist on Ryan O’Reilly’s goal on Thursday, his first point of the season.
Benoit’s not a fantasy killer or anything, but if you’re in a deep league and need a defenseman, it’s possible that Benoit could have some upside if he continues to get this much burn from Roy.
As good as Nathan MacKinnon has been, he’s still 18-years-old and Patrick Roy has treated himself as such. On Thursday night in the third period of a one goal game, MacKinnon took only four shifts in the third period and only two (both of which lasted less than 40 seconds) in the final ten minutes.
MacKinnon still registered four shots in the game, so he had an OK outing. But I’d wager that the “MacKinnon’s minutes being curtailed substantially late in games when the Avs are narrowly leading” thing will be something of a trend this seaosn. Or, at least for the first half of this season.
Minnesota finally got off the schneid with a 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. The results haven’t been there (in part because Minnesota is shooting under 3% as a team at even-strength), but I think Minnesota might be the single most improved team in the league this season.
One othe note: Jonas Brodin scored again on Thursday night. I’m really high on Brodin as a player, but I didn’t take him in fantasy this year because I was skeptical about his offensive upside. He’s looked pretty good in the offensive end to start this season, however.
Jonathan Bernier has a .978 even-strength save-percentage through 4 appearances. That’s insane and won’t continue (whic his a really bold prediction on my part, I know).
On the other hand the Maple Leafs are 4-1-0 despite a depleted lineup, they’re only narrowly below 50% in terms of shot attempts, and their PDO sits at a somewhat sustainable 102. Yeah it’s early, but they’ve