Crashing the Net: Johnson, A.O. off to hot starts

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Crashing the Net takes you around the league you almost forgot about and all of the fantasy ins and outs, ups and downs.

Erik Johnson, Blues

Pegged as one of the breakout stars in the league this year after missing last season because of a knee injury suffered while riding a golf cart, Johnson has burst out of the gate with two points and a +4 rating, the latter figure being tied for the league lead, through two games. The first overall selection in the 2006 Entry Draft, Erik rehabbed diligently and showed up to camp in great physical shape this season, as so far those good feelings have extended to game action. As a result there is little reason to think he won't be able to better his point total from his rookie season (5g, 28a) in 2009-10.

Alexander Ovechkin, Capitals


Given the First Star of the week award by the NHL, AO has three goals and three assists in just two games played. He is also a +4, has a game winner, and has taken 10 shots on goal. Just another week at the office for this luminous star.

Brooks Laich, Capitals

What a start for a player on many pundits' radars at the start of the campaign. Laich, skating amongst the club's top-six forwards after back-to-back 20-goal campaigns, has opened up the year on fire (like so many of his teammates). After scoring two goals and adding an assist in game one (both markers were on the power-play), Laich scored another goal and added an assist in Game 2. If he continues to skate on one of the top two lines, while picking up time on the power-play, it would be a shock if he didn't better his career best point total of 53 set last season.

Wojtek Wolski, Avalanche

Helping the Av's to their first 2-0 start since 2001, Wolski is loving life skating on the club's first line along side point-per-game performer Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk. Coming off a career worst season of just 14 goals, Wolski ended the year on an extremely low note given that he closed out the year with a 19-game goalless streak. Well, he's already thrown that slump in the garbage as he has scored three goals, an added an assist, in his first two games this season. Back to his natural wing position, Wolski is looking to return at least to the level that saw him record 22 goals and 50 points during his rookie season of 2006.

Francois Beauchemin, Leafs

Things were supposed to start out better than this for the Leafs new rearguard. "I have to be better; we have to be better," Beauchemin said. Really Sherlock? Through his first five periods as a Leaf, Beauchemin was a (-5) before he ended his first two games with the pitiful (-4) mark. He does have an assist, and he did pump eight shots on goal in the two contests, but he simply must be more defensively responsible. That should come with time, and if he sees as much time on the power-play as expected, he could be a nice source of points from the blue line despite the rough opening.

Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings

Two games without a point constitutes a slump when you are the only man in the game who has recorded at least 87 points with a +26 or better rating in each of the past four years. But that last statement is key -- there is now one in the game who can match his level of consistency an outright production. You have nothing to worry about with this Russian born centerman, a player considered by some to be the most complete hockey player in the game today.

Nikita Filatov, Blue Jackets

The youngster, who spent only eight games with the Blue Jackets last season despite scoring four goals in that time, is thought of as one of the future stars of this league. Unfortunately things didn't go so well in his first outing of the year as he failed to generate any offense whatsoever (he didn't even register a shot on goal). He was also benched in the third period of the game after taking two shifts (he barely skated nine minutes overall). It could be an up and down campaign for the offensive wizard if he doesn't play a responsible game for coach Ken Hitchcock, but once the offensive production starts flowing, he should be fine.

Matt Carle, Flyers

One of the most skilled blue liners in the game, Carle has yet to find his place in the NHL game. Sure he scored 42 points as a rookie with the Sharks back in 2006, but after scoring 11 times in that season he has lit the lamp only eight times, for three teams, over his last 140 games. However, perhaps that is ready to change. Through two games he has a goal and an assist, is a +3, and has averaged 23:09 of ice-time. If he can continue to hold on to the pairing with Chris Pronger on the blue line good things will certainly be in store for the Anchorage Alaska native.

Brandon Dubinsky, Rangers

Brandon angered HC John Tortorella in the preseason when he stayed away from the team while his contract was being worked out. Well, his play in the early going has likely made that a moot point as Dubinsky has clearly taken to skating on the top line with the Rangers centering Vaclav Prospal and superstar wanna be Marian Gaborik. Through two games Prospal has a goal, Gaborik has two goals and is a +3 and Dubinsky, the youngest man on the line, has two goals, two assists and is a +4. After back-to-back seasons of 40 and 41 points Dubinsky should blow past that total if he stays on the first line and Gaborik maintains his health -- hardly a given.

Craig Anderson, Avalanche

One of my personal favorites heading into the season, things couldn't have started much better for the Avalanche this season. Joe Sakic had his number retired and the Av's smoked the Sharks on opening night, rookie Matt Duchene looked terrific in two games despite only one assist, and Craig Anderson has been a rock in net going 2-0 with a 1.00 GAA and a .973 save percentage leading to the NHL's Second Star of the first week of the season. Anderson has made at least 35 saves in both his starts and last time out he helped to shut out the Canucks. Dating back to the start of the 2006 season Anderson has appeared in 55 games going 26-14-7 with a 2.46 GAA and a superlative .930 save percentage which leads all keepers who have appeared in at least 50 games. He's the real deal.

Ray Emery, Flyers

The question with this guy isn't whether or not he has the game, he certainly does (2-0, .963 SV percentage with only two goals allowed), the question revolves around whether or not he will be able to keep his often volcanic personality under control. After spending a year in Siberia -- well almost as he played in the KHL -- perhaps Emery has learned his lesson. He'll backstop a strong squad in Philly and could emerge as one of the better draft day bargains if everything breaks just right.

Roberto Luongo, Panthers

No need to worry here. When all is said and done if Luongo isn't one of the top-5 goalies in the game something has gone horribly wrong. This slow start (0-2, 3.53 GAA, .857 SV percentage) isn't a huge surprise given that his career record is a decidedly poor 31-39-6. Keep your chin up Luongo owners, this will likely be the low point of his campaign.

Cam Ward, Hurricanes

No player has ever signed a huge money deal (6-years, $37.8 million) and then struggled a bit have they (0-2, 4.04 GAA, .891 SV percentage)? Of course not. It's gotta be tough to realize that you could literally use dollar bills as toilet paper the rest of your life and never run out. Not that I would recommend doing that mind you as it might cause some chaffing. Ward will play upwards of 70-games this season and he is coming off the best season of his career (39 wins, 2.44 GAA, .916 SV percentage with six shutouts) so remain steadfast with the 'Canes tender.

• Only one team plays four games this week: Anaheim.

• Eleven teams play only two games this week: Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Colorado, Detroit, Florida, Nashville, NY Islanders, St. Louis and Toronto.