Line combinations of interest from the NHL's first week...
The return of the NHL season has fantasy general managers scratching their heads. A nine-day week produced and the schedule produced some insanely high fantasy totals not seen since the 2005-06 season. This week is seven days and it is time to go “Between The Lines” once again.
Andrew Cogliano-Saku Koivu-Daniel Winnik (Anaheim) -- Welcome back Saku Koivu to fantasy relevance if just for one week. This is the third line for Anaheim mind you and yet they produced a whopping 14 points. Daniel Winnik had five goals alone. It will be interesting to see how opponents treat this “scoring line” in the second week. Something tells me a regression is likely but depth-wise this line offers tertiary scoring at the least.
Marian Gaborik-Brad Richards-Rick Nash (NY Rangers) -- The Rangers were going to have to put all their eggs in one basket but the 12 points this week shows that they are a formidable line combination. It is odd that against Atlantic Division teams, these players did nothing but against the Boston Bruins, Marian Gaborik had a hat trick and four points. Rick Nash breaks down coverage and Brad Richards can still make a play with the best of them. There are only four back to backs for them ahead. Be afraid.
Patrick Marleau-Joe Pavelski-Joe Thornton (San Jose) -- Marleau scored an amazing nine goals in five games with 13 points in all. Both Pavelski and Thornton are over 10 points already. While this is not likely to continue, can anyone in the West really slow this line down enough? That answer is unknown right now because no one really has. The schedule is fairly kind to the Sharks so the second week looks bullish or at least it should.
Cody Hodgson-Thomas Vanek-Jason Pominville (Buffalo) -- Sunday was a tough one as Buffalo lost to Washington 3-1 but it is clear than Vanek and Pominville make Buffalo go. Thomas Vanek had nine points in all this week but an injury makes his week two in doubt at least a little bit. Jason Pominville was very consistent all week long and is the one Sabre capable of creating his own offense. Cody Hodgson is the one to watch to see if he can keep it together, especially if Vanek is out a bit longer. Give them a yellow light for now.
Mikhail Grabovski-James Van Riemsdyk-Nikolai Kulemin (Toronto) -- Plan the fantasy parade! That may be a bit premature but Phil Kessel has done nothing for Toronto right now. How long will the second line be the first line? It may last for awhile considering Joffrey Lupul is out with a broken forearm for at least six weeks. This trio played at a team high 37.1% at even strength but very little on the second power play unit. That could change very soon so monitor their production with a watchful eye.
Lead Us Defenders……
Dustin Byfuglien-Tobias Enstrom (Winnipeg) -- People may want to get used to these guys leading the way on this side of the ledger. They had nine points in all together and honestly it could have been more. Both players had five points each then added a few more on Sunday night for good measure. Defensively they may have shortcomings but points are points and this duo on the man advantage can be downright lethal with the playmaker setting up the blast. Start them!
Raphael Diaz-Andrei Markov (Montreal) -- This is the feel good story of the year at least early on. Markov torched the NHL for four power play goals this week much to the surprise of many fantasy pundits. He still has the shot and is logging big minutes for the Habs. The pleasant rise of Raphael Diaz gives Markov the freedom to do what he does best and that is shoot. Diaz had a five point week and his two way play gives fantasy players hope that this can at least continue as long as Markov stays healthy. That will always be the question.
Marc Staal-Michael Del Zotto (NY Rangers) -- Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo would have gone here if they had scored a bit more together but Del Zotto and Staal combined for six points mostly as beneficiaries of the Nash-Gaborik-Richards outbursts. New York media was quick to hop on this pairing when it suited them but backed off after the third period in Saturday’s 5-2 win over Toronto. While the power play has been a sore spot, just imagine if it gets going. This pairing could really take off and in a shortened season, that can be paramount to unexpected success.
As always you can follow @ChrisWasselTHW and fire away those questions. Good luck this week.