We are only two weeks into the new NHL season, and there is already significant line juggling on pretty much every team. In some cases, it is because of injury and in others it is because of futility. Let’s go for a ride, shall we.
Jordan Staal has forever been cursed as being the third line center in Pittsburgh. There have been numerous attempts to allow him to play in the top six group, but have not been thoroughly tried out. However, recent reports out of Pittsburgh are saying that the Staal-in-the-top-six experiment is back on. He spent moments on Thursday with Evgeni Malkin on the 1B line. The two are again going to be spending some time together on the same line tonight versus the Leafs.
Fantastically, this is great news for Staal owners or Staal seekers. Even if he spends even half of his ice time with Malkin, it gives him a much better chance to put up a point in that game. His ability to score shorthanded should not be overlooked. If Staal can put up a few points early with Malkin, expect him to see more ice time with him, working towards a permanent role with him.
Johan Franzen is out for four months with a torn ACL. When I heard this, I almost ran my car through Mississauga-Toronto traffic, which I was stuck in for two hours. Franzen is a guy who I kept and had high hopes of 40 goals for this season.
I wonder if Ken Holland has given Jiri Hudler a call? Seriously, the Red Wings are now desperate for goals. Tonight, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom will be joined by Henrik Zetterberg on the first line. On the second line, Valterri Filpulla, Danny Cleary and Ville Leino will try and supplement for the lost offense.
Fantastically, the biggest winner here is Leino, who sneaks into the top six group. He is a scoring machine and has to prove it at the NHL level. If Holmstrom is still available, snag him. Filpulla and Cleary have a chance to occasionally play on the top line with Datsyuk, so keep them close to the top of your watch list.
Claude Giroux has gotten off to a slow start. He has a single assist so far. He is also only playing roughly eleven minutes per game on the third line. However, James van Riemsdyk, who has stolen powerplay minutes from Giroux, has gone down with a concussion, and this is good news for Giroux owners.
Unlike the Red Wings, the Flyers are not desperate for offense, but they are looking for a boost from Giroux. Tonight, Giroux will play on the top line with Mike Richards and Simon Gagne. This is a huge opportunity for Giroux and this is where all fantasy owners want to see him play. The second line remains in tact (Briere – Carter – Hartnell), while the third line inherits Mike Pyorala. If you are looking for a breakout game for Giroux, tonight is the night.
Fantastically, I have not played Giroux all season, but I am tonight.
Anze Kopitar has finally found someone to play with. Who knew Ryan Smyth would be that guy. Justin Williams is the other guy. Suddenly, those two other guys become fantasy worthy options. Kopitar has all the tools to be a point per game player, and I think it will be this year he reaches that plateau. The Kings are getting good goaltending from Jon Quick, and Kopitar is proving that he ca handle the offensive load.
Fantastically, Kopitar has eight points in three games, Smyth has six and Williams has four. These three are looking to hand found a bond. Give Smyth one more game and see how he does. If he pouts up another point or two tonight, snag him up, or else someone else will.
Ryan Smyth and Anze Kopitar are finding chemsitry. Justin Williams is in there too.