Tuukka Rask has been a real roll as the Bruins’ backup netminder.
The words “at press time” are always used in time-sensitive posts. Think of how close the end of 2011 is, hockey fans. The NHL takes two days off as we are officially at the midway point of the Fantasy hockey season. Eleven weeks are done and 11 are left.
There are different ways to look at this Fantasy season because of the high volume and high profile nature of the injuries that have occurred. While some owners have sunk in the face of adversity, others have actually flourished. If you do not adapt, playing it safe is death, basically.
We want our readers to take these two days and spend them with their families. That being said, it is good to remember which players off the waiver wire have really fulfilled our wishes this holiday season. Please remember Part One of our wishlist from last week, ladies and gentlemen. Now for a little short reading this week, here is the conclusion.
Wish No. 1: If only there was a rookie that could come out of nowhere…
Adam Henrique, C, New Jersey Devils: Henrique continues to produce and now has the entire NHL on notice. If you really want some concrete proof, look at TSN’s player rankings for rookie impact from Scott Cullen. The centre now ranks ahead of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Think about this for a second, RNH won the first two NHL Rookie Of The Month awards, people. Yet, this kid from New Jersey, who was down in the AHL for most of October, has stepped up and parlayed his success into a potential Calder Trophy run. Henrique has nine goals, 17 assists and 26 points on the season with the best maybe yet to come. Fantasy players have been served.
Wish No. 2: I just need a backup that will be a good No. 3 goalie in my Fantasy league…
Tuukka Rask, G, Boston Bruins: Remember when Rask could never get an ounce of goal support? Since the Bruins have gone on a 20-2-1 run, those days have vanished. Rask started out 0-3 early in the season, but has gone 7-1-1 in his last nine decisions. So, for someone who is only expected to play in about 20-to-30 games, Rask is the perfect No. 3 goalie for your Fantasy team. His 1.65 GAA, .944 save percentage, and two shutouts are too good to pass up. Sure Brian Elliott has been tearing it up for St. Louis, but realistically he is at the platoon level for Fantasy goalies. Rask is not. It is that easy.
Wish No. 3: I need a defenseman who bursts out of nowhere with unexpected firepower…
Brian Campbell, D, Florida Panthers: Campbell signed with Florida in the offseason and was considered to be overpaid a bit, to be honest. Fantasy-wise nobody really knew what to expect, but maybe a slight bounce back from his 27 points in 65 games with Chicago last season. All of a sudden, Campbell started tallying assists on the power play. Before anyone knew it, he had 15 assists on the man advantage on his way to a 27-point campaign in 35 games so far. Campbell also is a +8 with 61 shots on goal (on pace for 150 shots). Will these numbers hold up? They just might.
- Is there anyone hotter than Marian Gaborik right now? He’s scored goals in four straight games, totalling six over that stretch, to become the pace setter for the Rocket Richard trophy as the NHL’s leading goal scorer with 21. We expected Gaborik to be a top 10 right winger this season, and despite his pedestrian assist total, he’s on his way to proving us right. There’s no reason the Czech winger — who is just one shy of matching his goal total from last season already — can’t continue to tear it up in the second half.
- Is Alex Ovechkin showing signs of life? Last week, he had back-to-back seven-shot games and then picked up an assist Friday while seeing a ton of ice time. We’re grasping at straws, perhaps, but he’s already matched his goal total from November, Baby steps? Maybe when OV takes over the lead in goals on his own team we’ll begin to believe he’s starting to get back on track. We expected Ovechkin to be the second most valuable LW in Fantasy hockey this season, but right now, he’s battling for a spot in the top 25. Ugh.
- Who’s hotter than Gaborik? Try Evgeni Malkin, who has taken his game to a new level for the Penguins ever since Sidney Crosby went down again. On Friday, Malkin picked up his 25th assist of the season while going +2 and extending his point-scoring streak to seven games. Over that run, all he’s done is pot six goals and add nine assists for 15 points with a +4 ranking. It’ll do. With 15 goals and 40 points already, Malkin has been the most valuable forward in the NHL so far. Not too shabby for a dude we only thought would be the fourth-best centre in the game this season.
That is it for this week. On behalf of myself, I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and, just think, the 2012 World Junior Championships start on Monday. The Wire Troll will be back next weekend as we head into 2012. Bye bye for now.
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