Crashing the net: Jackets' Nash scoring way out of injury troubles
Antropov said he was OK, but clearly he was limited early in the year as he was still working his way back from offseason hip surgery. It appears that his body is finally to the point where it will allow him to unleash all of his talents. Of late that has resulted in a fair amount of offensive production, with Antropov scoring a goal in his last two games, and tallying seven points (4g, 3A) over his last eight games. Hardly a product of playing alongside Ilya Kovalchuk as some thought, don't overlook the fact that Antropov scored 17 points in his 20 games last season -- without Kovalchuk in the fold.
Grabovski has only one 20-goal effort on his ledger, and just one season of more than 35 points (48 in 2008). However, he did have 35 points in 59 games last year, hinting that there might be a 50-point scorer lurking. Since the calendar flipped to November he has been that skater and more. Grabovski has recorded a point in seven of nine games, which includes a total five goals and five assists. Moreover, he has lit the lamp four times in his last five games for the Leafs. The only negative for his November is a (-4) rating, but you can put up with that for his more than a point-per-game pace.
Nash missed some time with a groin injury, and he continues to battle through it as of this writing. But you would never know it if you look at his scorecard, which reveals a skater who has recorded a point in eight-straight games (12 points). If that was all there was Nash would be a spectacular option right now, but there is more; he has scored a goal in five-straight games. Want the cherry on top of that ice cream sundae? How about the fact that he has lit the lamp six times in his last three games and eight times over those last five games. Always a streaky scorer, Nash is more than capable of posting a third 40-goal effort this season, so start him with confidence every night he is on the ice.
This blue liner started the year off incredibly cold with just two points in his first eight games, a pathetic pace for someone who netted 69 points last season. He then had a stretch of four games in which he recorded nine points before sinking back to post a -6 rating over his last nine games. He is too talented to continue to languish like this, but that won't help mollify his owners who have to be exceedingly disappointed with his work through the first quarter of the season.
Stop me if you have heard this before, but Kovalchuk has been dreadful this season. He has also lit the lamp just once in his last 11 games, and over the past six games he has all of two points. Toss in a (-10) rating for the year and you have the most disappointing player taken in the top-20 this season who hasn't been injured.
In the last four years, Pominville has recorded 68, 80, 66 and 62 points, respectively, so there was clearly an expectation of at least 60-points this season. Unfortunately, he suffered a concussion which knocked him out of action for a while, and now his line looks dreadful -- one goal, three assists and a (-8) mark through 13 games. Pominville also hasn't scored a goal in six games. History says he will start producing soon, but do you have the patience to wait out the scoring slump?
The Senators haven't been producing as hoped, so coach Cory Clouston decided to shake up the line mix. The upshot of that is Kelly has been elevated to the top line to skate alongside point-per-game forces Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson. Kelly, coming off a career-best tying season of 15 goals, has been a solid two-way player for the last two years, but he will be given a chance to flash his offensive talents alongside the Senators top two offensive weapons.
The Hawks continue to juggle their lines, and right now one of the winners of scoring line bingo is Mr. Kopecky, as he was on the second line on Saturday alongside snipers Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp. Kopecky started out the year hot with eight points in seven games before ineffectiveness set in. That is being kind as he produced one point over his next 14 games. He recorded an assist on Saturday and could be an option in deep leagues if he continues to see top-six ice time.
Teemu Selanne is sidelined with a groin injury, and though it isn't believed to be overly serious, the team had to make a roster move to fill his spot, so they called up Sexton from the AHL. Sexton's value obviously increases with his return to the league, and if he can somehow wiggle into top-six ice time, he could have some value in the short term. Adding Sexton isn't without risk; he could totally bomb or Selanne could return quickly, which might result in a demotion for Sexton, but speculators can take a shot.
Nikolai Khabibulin fell to 4-10-1 after he gave up 22 goals in four games. Putting him out of his misery, the Oilers placed him on the IR with a groin injury. The club called up 36-year-old Martin Gerber to help out in net, but it's time for second-year keeper Dubnyk to shine. He is just 5-10 with a 3.38 GAA in his brief NHL career, but the team chose to keep him over Jeff Deslauriers, so you have to figure that he will get the chance to see ample time in net to show what he can do.
J-S Giguere is sidelined with a groin injury, and though he hopes to make it back onto the ice by the weekend, The Monster has looked good of late, which may lead to more time between the pipes even when Giguere returns. Gustavsson has allowed only three goals in his last three appearances, and though he is just 2-4-1 this year he does sport a solid .919 save percentage. No matter who is in net for the Leafs, their GAA is likely to be somewhat inflated by a less than stellar supporting cast, but Jonas has still been able to post a solid 2.48 GAA.
* Fourteen teams play four games this week: Boston, Calgary, Columbus, Dallas, Florida, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, NY Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Washington.
* Four teams play only two games this week: Anaheim, NY Islanders, Phoenix and Vancouver.