Merry Christmas to you all and a happy new year! I hope your week was filled with wicked presents, boozy nostalgic family events and all of that good stuff. I also hope the short four day fantasy week didn’t screw your team over too badly (speaking in particular to those of you in head-to-head leagues).
We’re at the point in the season where injuries are beginning to seriously pile up. Islanders captain John Tavares didn’t play on Sunday and neither did Jason Spezza or Zdeno Chara in Saturday night’s tilt between the Senators and the Bruins. Chara’s frequent defense partner Dennis Seidenberg will be shutdown for the year, Wild forward Zach Parise has been placed on injured reserve, and while Blues forward Alexander Steen is out indefinitely with a concussion his teammate David Backes sustained an upper-body injury on Saturday…
Injuries can obviously cripple your fantasy team if you let them, or you can see it as an opportunity and go trawling for guys like Brock Nelson, or Dmitrij Jaskin who may well provide you with significant short-term value in the absence of their star teammates. Do the latter!
Jaskin, I might mention, has been a pretty impressive player in very limited NHL appearances over the years (he played his fourth career game on Saturday). He’s been stellar in the American Hockey League this year and is generally just a big forward with skill. I suspect he’ll fill the net at the NHL level, but even if he doesn’t develop into an offensive dynamo he’s going to win a lot of puck battles. Just what St. Louis needs more of, eh?
Jaskin scored his first career NHL goal on Saturday night, by the way.
The Blues managed to defeat their primary central division rival the Chicago Blackhawks 6-5 in a shootout thriller on Saturday night. The Blues managed to erase three distinct two goal deficits in the comeback win. In other words, it was the type of contest that last season’s Blues (or the 2011-12 Blues) would have lost.
The emergence of Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko has changed that arithmatic somewhat. All of a sudden the Blues have the firepower to rally when, say, Brent Seabrook floats one by Brian Elliott to put Chicago up two early in the third period…
Boston could be in tough if they’re without both Seidenberg (who as we mentioned previously is out for the year) and Chara (who is out for an undisclosed length of time with an undisclosed injury) for any length of time. Unfortunately for fantasy owners Claude Julien decided to replace his top-pair by committee on Saturday night. Matt Bartkowski led the team in ice-time, while all of Torey Krug, Johnny Boychuk, David Warofsky and Adam McQuaid played over 18 minutes.
Bartkowski in particular could be a pretty intriguing short-term option as he handled his minutes burden well on Saturday. The “should’ve been” Calgary Flames defenseman managed three shots on goal and five hits while coming out even (in shot attempts and goals) at five-on-five.
Interestingly enough, however, I think the increased ice-time might hurt Krug’s fantasy value slightly. Krug has been laying waste in a prescribed role, but he’s also been producing efficiently in extremely sheltered minutes. Whenver a blue-liner’s ice-time goes up, by necessity they’re also going to be counted on to face tougher matchups and I’m not sure Krug is well suited to that, frankly. The productive American defenseman was a -3 in over 19 minutes on Saturday and got buried by the underlying data…
I’m beginning to get seriously impressed with Senators defenseman Cody Ceci. Ceci’s ice-