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Fantasy Puck: No Red Light District

TSN.ca Talent Blog
11/7/2008 3:27:27 PM
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Some players that are of interest to fantasy owners have yet to light the lamp a month into the season.  Here's a breakdown of the more notable goalless NHL forwards.

Jonathan Toews, C, Chicago (0-7-7, minus-1, 36 shots in 12 GP)
He still leads Blackhawks forwards in ice time and he's getting more shots per game than he did as a rookie last season, so Toews will break through soon enough.

Nicklas Backstrom, C, Washington (0-4-4, plus-1, 28 shots in 12 GP)
Another sophomore slumper, Backstrom's ice time and shots per game remain high, so it would figure that he would start scoring soon, but with the Capitals turning to an All-Russian (Alexander Ovechkin, Sergei Fedorov, Alexander Semin) number one line Thursday night, that left Backstrom with Viktor Kozlov and Brooks Laich.

David Perron, LW, St. Louis (0-8-8, plus-1, 15 shots in 11 GP)
While Perron's production isn't too bad, he has been a healthy scratch once already and has yet to find the back of the net.  Perron had been getting more ice time this season, but was limited to just over 10 minutes against San Jose Thursday night, which is hardly ideal when Paul Kariya is already out of the lineup.  

Sam Gagner, RW, Edmonton (0-2-2, minus-2, 27 shots in 12 GP)
The Oilers have started to lose patience, as Gagner now has five shots on goal in his last five games, and his last three games are the first games this season in which Gagner has received less than 15 minutes of ice time.   Not promising.

Brendan Morrison, C, Anaheim (0-1-1, minus-8, 16 shots in 15 GP)
Similarly, Morrison's ice time has started to dwindle lately, averaging less than 13 minutes per game in the last three as it's become apparent that he's not back to full speed coming off last season's knee surgery.

Maxim Afinogenov, RW, Buffalo (0-7-7, minus-1, 21 shots in 12 GP)
Enigmatic talent who played just eight minutes against New Jersey on Monday.  As he gets further and further from 2006-2007 (when he had 61 points in 56 games), it seems less and less likely that Afinogenov will recapture that form.

Erik Christensen, C, Atlanta (0-5-5, minus-6, 33 shots in 12 GP)
Getting unprecedented ice time on the top line and is starting to get on the scoresheet lately, though only assists.  If he stays with Kovalchuk and keeps shooting the puck, Christensen will break through.

Sergei Samsonov, LW, Carolina (0-2-2, minus-5, 24 shots in 13 GP)
Notched his first two points of the year in the home-and-home against Toronto, so Samsonov could be turning the corner but, even with ample quality ice time early in the year, the production hasn't followed.

Dave Bolland, C, Chicago (0-6-6, plus-3, 15 shots in 12 GP)
Had a chance to emerge offensively when Robert Lang was traded, but Bolland has settled into a third-line role along with Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien.  While the line has started to produce, Bolland's upside is going to be limited.

James Sheppard, C, Minnesota (0-2-2, minus-6, 13 shots in 12 GP)
Expected to play a big role in his second season, Sheppard hasn't been able to pick up a goal yet this year, though injuries have once again provided an opportunity for more quality ice time.

Injury News
- Sharks G Evgeni Nabokov is day-to-day with a lower body injury, according to the San Jose Mercury News, and it appeared to be a groin injury suffered during the shootout win over St. Louis Thursday night.  In the meantime, Brian Boucher -- who has two shutouts in his two starts this year -- becomes an attractive option.

- Wild D Brent Burns is nursing an upper body injury, which opens up additional PP time for Wild blueliners Kim Johnsson, Marc-Andre Bergeron and Marek Zidlicky.

- Bruins RW Chuck Kobasew should be close to returning from a broken leg, but it may be another game or two before he's ready to jump back into the lineup.

- Ducks D Mathieu Schneider is on the IR with a hip flexor injury, which will allow Tobias Enstrom to get more quality ice time on the blueline.  It also means the Thrashers have room for Boris Valabik -- a potential source of PIMs -- on the blueline.

- Avalanche C Joe Sakic is out with a sore back, so T.J. Hensick got the call from Lake Erie.  Hensick is a talented player and the Avs should be looking to shake things up anyway, so he may get an opportunity to produce.

- Blue Jackets rookie G Steve Mason is getting his second consecutive start tonight against Montreal.  If he can survive that, he could be a nice pickup while Pascal Leclaire is out.

- With injuries to Cory Stillman and Rostislav Olesz, the Panthers have moved rookie Michael Frolik up the depth chart, giving him power play time in L.A. Thursday night.

- Blues LW Paul Kariya is out with a lower body injury, so Brad Boyes played with Andy McDonald and Keith Tkachuk on the first line, while Lee Stempniak, Patrick Berglund and David Perron made up the second line.

Scott Cullen can be reached at scullen@tsn.ca



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