Ice Chips: When Second Choices Attack
Jaromir Jagr, owned by 65 per cent of the players in ESPN’s fantasy hockey area, and taken on average within the top 10 picks, is sure to be disappointing some with his two assists in three games. After all, this is a player who started last season with a goal on the first shot of his first shift. What’s different? He lost his trusty centre, Michael Nylander, and has been playing with Chris Drury. Jagr is going through some growing pains, and it could be a while before things start clicking and the goals start flowing.
Scott Gomez, another key Ranger acquisition, was expected to centre Jagr, but there was little pre-season chemistry. That resulted in Gomez playing between Sean Avery, now out about four weeks with a shoulder sprain, and the always durable and consistent Brendan Shanahan. So far, Gomez, and that line, haven’t had much chemistry either. Players of that quality won’t slump forever, but if your fantasy team is already in the weeds, you might not have the luxury of patience.
Of course, if you do have the luxury of patience, people are shedding Scott “Am I Retiring” Niedermayer like crazy. If you think he might come back, you have a roster spot to burn, and you think he’ll come back in decent playing shape, he could be a way to go. Obviously, the same goes for Teemu “401-OK?” Selanne.
Who does have chemistry? Mike Comrie has been tearing it up out on Long Island, with seven points (four goals and three assists) in four games. Linemate Bill Guerin seems to have discovered a passing touch with six assists. Ruslan Fedotenko, also on their line, has two goals and four assists. Not bad for three players who were decidedly free agent afterthoughts.
Vesa Toskala, who many thought would be Toronto’s strongest goalie since Curtis Joseph, has had a rough start to the season. An opening night scratch, he went on to give up 13 goals in the next three games. Andrew Raycroft, Toskala’s backup, could regain his prime Bruins’ form and take over the starting duties, having given up five goals in two games.
Over in St. Louis, things are starting to gel with Paul Kariya, Doug Weight and Brad Boyes. The three of them have put up nine points in three games. Kariya is still without a goal, but maybe he’s just trying to make friends first.
The Week Ahead
Saturday, Calgary looks for its first win of the season, against Nashville, while the Wild look for their first powerplay goal of the season against Phoenix. Of course, when you’re 3-0 with two goals against (behind the goaltending of the ridiculously hot Niklas Backstrom), the powerplay isn’t a huge issue.
Saturday also sees the Thrashers go for their first victory of the season. Marian Hossa is expected to be back in the lineup, although groin injuries are hard to spring back from.
But perhaps the most exciting game will be Boston at San Jose, also Saturday night. There we’ll get to see if Joe Thornton is still interested in showcasing what Boston gave up by trading him away for virtually nothing. And, we’ll get to see if Boston wishes it had figured out a way to get a little bit more out of Thornton.