AlexSemin



This week the Eastern Edge looks at players who should have a happy new year.




Over the next two weeks, I'll take a look at players from each Eastern Conference team who have caught my eye at nearly the halfway point this season.

 

I'll admit that I completely missed the boat on Reilly Smith this year. The Bruins second leading scorer has played extremely well and has 14 goals and 30 points on the season. He has 13 points over his last 11 games and has played less than his average time on ice (14:12) only twice during that stretch. He's getting more ice time of late; production tends to do that. Over his last 10 games, the throw in on the Tyler Seguin for Loui Eriksson deal has played 89 per cent of his even-strength shifts with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Although he receives only the 10th most average man advantage minutes, he sits tied for third with eight power play points with Zdeno Chara, behind only David Krejci and Torey Krug.



In addition to being one of my favourite NHL names, Zemgus Girgensons has been getting lots of love from Head Coach Ted Nolan of late. Girgensons has been rewarding his coach's faith in him by producing a modest seven points in his last 11 games. In his last 10 games, he has lined up beside Tyler Ennis and Matt Moulson for over 75 per cent of his even-strength shifts. The soon to be 20-year-old from Latvia is owned in only one per cent of Yahoo! leagues and is C/LW eligible. In his last three games, he hasn't played less than 17:27 minutes of ice time. It is worth noting that Nolan is the Head Coach of the Latvian national team on which Girgensons played at last year's World Championship tournament.



Alexander Semin sat out a dozen games with a concussion this year. When he came back, he was held off the scoresheet in his first two contests back, but since has five points in his last five games. The slick Russian is scheduled to make $7-million dollars per season for the next five years, so you know that he's going to be given every opportunity to earn that huge outlay of cash. When Semin was with the Caps, he recorded seasons of 34 goals and 79 points in only 62 games (2008-09) and 40 goals and 84 points in 73 games. Last year, he recorded 44 points in 44 games. When he plays, he scores, but there is always an injury risk with him. He currently sits seventh on the Hurricanes in points with 14 in 27 games, but he receives top power play minutes and only Eric Staal gets more ice time per game amongst forwards on the team. Look for a second half surge from Semin.



Over his first 30 games this year, Jack Johnson recorded a paltry five points. Over his last nine games, he has five points. Last year, he was on pace for a 35 point season and in the years preceding that, he recorded seasons of 38, 42 and 36 points. The 26-year-old now plays in all situations; he leads the Blue Jackets in overall ice time, averaging 23:18 minutes per game, 2:34 (fifth on the team) on the power play and 2:48 (second on the team) on the penalty kill. He is no longer the riverboat gambler, but a valuable member of the team in all facets of the game. That said, if your league factors in plus/minus, you may want to think twice; JJ has never finished an NHL season as a plus player and is currently minus-100 in his career. Ouch!



Old man Daniel Alfredsson is looking like he could play for another couple of years in the NHL. The 41-year-old is the Red Wings third leading scorer with 29 points in 35 games, only two points behind both Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Alfredsson has been relatively consistent this season, recording 11 points in 13 October games, eight points in nine November matches and 10 points in 13 December contests. In his last full NHL season, he recorded 59 points. This year, he is on pace to finish with 64 points.



The Panther's Aleksander Barkov won't even turn 19 until next season. He recorded 21 goals and 48 points in 53 games last year in Finland's top circuit. Last year's second overall selection at the entry draft has seven goals and 18 points in 40 games so far this year, but eight of those points have come in his last nine games. Over his last 10 games, Barkov's most popular even-strength linemates have been fellow Finn Sean Bergenheim and veteran Brad Boyes. My money says Barkov finishes the year strong.



For those of you who don't yet know, I am an unabashed Carey Price fan. It started at the 2007 World Junior Championship where Price was named the Top Goaltender and Most Valuable Player and played a huge role on Canada's gold medal winning team. His goals-against average was 1.14 and he had a 0.961 save percentage. He was unflappable. Other notable goaltenders at that tournament included Semyon Varlamov, Ondrej Pavelec and Tuukka Rask. Price followed up that feat with a Calder Cup winning performance in the AHL and was named the Playoff MVP at the tender age of 19. The now 26-year-old is having his best NHL season to date, sporting a 2.06 goals-against average and 0.932 save percentage and is about to star in goal for Team Canada at the Olympics.


Hate to say I told ya so (not really), but I just had a feeling that Martin Brodeur and Cory Schneider would end up splitting games this year, with Brodeur maybe playing more than his heir apparent. New Jersey has the highest number of back to back games in the league this year as well. Brodeur has started 22 games and Schneider 18 games with the latter having better numbers everywhere except in the Wins column. The old vet is too proud to go down without a fight. Here are the numbers broken down by month:

 

October

GP

W

L

OTL

GAA

SV%

Brodeur

6

2

2

2

2.94

0.879

Schneider

6

1

3

2

2.14

0.915

 

November

GP

W

L

OTL

GAA

SV%

Brodeur

9

5

4

0

1.68

0.932

Schneider

6

3

2

1

1.31

0.941



December

GP

W

L

OTL

GAA

SV%

Brodeur

7

4

2

1

2.54

0.897

Schneider

6

1

3

2

2.96

0.892

 

What does all this mean for the second half of the season? Likely more of the same, although I could see Schneider earning more starts as the season wears on. That said, neither of these two goaltenders is in an ideal situation for fantasy hockey owners.



Next week, we will cover New York to Washington. Until then, enjoy responsibly and happy New Year!


Recently from Eastern Edge:

ZZZ Top 
Skinner Surging 
Patches and a Pair of Blue Jackets 

 



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