Crashing The Net: Flyers' Giroux maturing into offensive centerpiece
Claude Giroux has become scoring force around which a fantasy team can be built
Jhonas Enroth has a 1.76 GAA and a 6-0-0 record in taking over for Ryan Miller
Expectations are that Sidney Crosby will return by Thanksgiving from concussion
From goal scorers to defenders to the men who keep the puck out of the net, each week we'll take a spin around the rink and touch on some of the players that are in the news.
Claude Giroux is establishing himself as an NHL star. Last year he recorded 25 goals and 76 points in 82 games, and this year he has exploded for 11 goals and 11 assists in just 17 games. He's also been a power-play force with nine points with the man advantage. The 2006 first-round draft pick is someone around whom you can build your fantasy club.
Jarome Iginla has five goals and nine points through 16 games. He also has a minus-8 plus/minus mark. Things should pickup soon for the superstar. The last time Iginla had a plus/minus mark that bad was in '02 (-10). Though he is currently on a pace for 26 goals, the last time he didn't better that number was way back when some of you were still eating Jell-O and mac-and-cheese every day (1997).
Milan Michalek is on fire with 11 goals through 18 games, an 82-game pace that would result in 50 goals. Consider Milan a realist, though. "It would be great if I scored more than 30, but I'm not thinking about it," he said. "I'm just taking it day by day and trying to be better every game." Milan has scored 20 goals four times, but he has yet to record 30 in a season.
Corey Perry is off to a terrible follow-up of his record-setting '10 effort (Perry has only six goals and 11 points through 17 games, and he's also sporting a minus-3 rating). If you can, buy low because you know the production will be there by year's end.
Beaten down by injuries for a good deal of his NHL career, T.J. Oshie is finally starting to live up to his advanced billing. He may only have five goals and 11 points in 16 games this year, but four of those goals, and two helpers, have come in his last five contests.
Derek Roy had four points in his first 11 games, including just a single goal, a fact that raised some concerns in Buffalo. Since that point Roy has taken off with a run of offense that would leave Gilbert Perreault impressed. Roy has scored five goals in his last five games and he has 10 points in his last six contests. All of a sudden he's on pace for 29 goals and 68 points, nearly exactly the numbers he posted during his last healthy season of '09 (26 goals, 69 points
There's currently a four-way tied for the point lead among blue liners with 16 points: Erik Karlsson, Alexander Edler, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Brian Campbell.
Tyler Myers was a healthy scratch on Monday. The towering defenseman regressed last season after a phenomenal rookie season, and this year the regression has continued as he has a mere four assists and is a minus-3 skater through 16 games. Buy low if you can. He's too talented to continue to struggle like this.
Aaron Rome has had a nice couple of games to start the year. Through four games this year he has three goals and two assists. "These poor suckers are going to pick him up in fantasy league now," fellow defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. Bieksa then admitted he was kidding since Rome had only two goals in his first 131 NHL games. It's a nice story, and maybe Rome keeps it going for a bit, but he's not someone you should run to the waiver-wire to add.
Looking for a burly blue liner to help you out in the non traditional categories? Ladislav Smid leads the NHL with 56 blocked shots and his total of 35 hits in 17 games is tied for 10th. Don't expect any scoring, though. He has zero points for the Oilers.
Shea Weber leads all blue liners with a plus-11 mark.
After getting trucked by Milan Lucic, in a move deemed not worthy of a suspension by the league, Ryan Miller and his concussion find himself on the sidelines as he tries to get healthy. There's no word yet on how long that might be, but it's clear that the Sabres have a more than capable option to turn to in net in Jhonas Enroth, who improved to 6-0-0 with a win on Monday night. Besides the perfect record, Enroth is sporting ratios that would make Tim Thomas blush (1.76 GAA, .942 save percentage). Miller obviously will return to being the No. 1 keeper when healthy, but for now you should have no qualms about running Enroth, and his career 15-3-2 record, out there every time he takes the ice until then.
Dwayne Roloson was pulled from action again on Monday after allowing four goals on just 22 shots. Is it possible that the 42-year-old netminder's skills have eroded to the point that consistency will elude him for the rest of his career? In 11 outings this season he's sporting a 3.29 GAA and .895 save percentage, numbers that have Mathieu Garon's value on the rise.
In October Semyon Varlamov was a star with a 2.44 GAA an a .924 save percentage. In November he's made Steve Mason look like a superstar with a 4.26 GAA and a .835 save percentage. The Avalanche remain committed to Varlamov, but if his struggles last much longer the club can turn to veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere and his 2.18 GAA and .920 save percentage over five appearances.
Cam Ward is in a whopper of a slump right now. Ward has allowed at least three goals in six-straight games and has a stomach-turning 4.46 GAA in the month of November.
The Wild are second in the NHL with a team GAA of 2.01. Josh Harding has posted a 1.78 mark in six games, while starter Niklas Backstrom has a 2.14 mark over his 12 outings. The duo has also combined for a .934 save percentage, again second in the league. Which team betters those two marks and leads the league in each? I bet you'll get this one wrong. The answer is the ... Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist (2.14 GAA, .930 save percentage) and Martin Biron (0.95 GAA, .960 save percentage) have tended some fantastic net this year.
Sean Avery skated on a line with Brad Richards and Ruslan Fedotenko at practice on Monday. Obviously, such a formation would be a massive boost to the value of Avery.
Brandon Dubinsky is the only skater in the game with more than 40 PIMs (47) who also has eight points.
Steve Downie is once again putting up a lot of penalty minutes with 49, the fourth most in the game. Unfortunately he's also sporting a horrific minus-12 mark.
Sidney Crosby (concussion) remains out. Everyone keeps saying he is close, yet we keep waiting for him to play his first game. The expectation is that he will appear before Thanksgiving, but we've thought he would return to game action now for an awfully long time, so don't put any money on a return date.
Mike Green has missed a ton of time this year with a wonky ankle, and now he's also dealing with a groin issue. He's being listed as day-to-day, but I'm here to tell you that he's the most frustrating player I own in any fantasy league. It's one thing for a guy to have a catastrophic injury that forces him out of action for six weeks, but it's another to have a guy be on the cusp of playing every day for six weeks.
Ilya Kovalchuk (lower body) could return to action on Tuesday night as he traveled with his teammates to Boston. He has had a slow start to his season with only two goals, nine points and a (-4) rating through 11 games.
Andrei Markov (knee) skated with his teammates for the first time since he injured his knee over a year ago on Monday. There is no word yet on when he will return to action, but skating for the entire practice would seem to suggest that he's getting close. A dynamic offensive performer, Markov is a must add if he's somehow floating around on waivers right now. After all, he does have 101 points in his last 130 games on the ice.
Mikael Samuelsson (groin) is skating but he's still yet to lace them up with his Florida teammates. His return to game action is likely still weeks away.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, and his NHL thoughts can be read at Rotowire.com. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account. To e-mail Ray a question for next week's piece, drop him a line at email@example.com.
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