With the second month of the NHL season just about over it is interesting to see where teams are going, what certain players are doing (and not doing), and whether you can harness this knowledge to make fantasy adjustments. Are you catching any trends? Did you notice anything special?
Did you notice a surge in Boston players lately? While Boston has struggled to score powerplay goals, they are doing fairly well at even strength. Check this out...in the last month: Marc Savard plus-10, Denis Wideman plus-8, P.J. Axelsson plus-8, Zdeno Chara plus-8, and is Marco Sturm plus-7. Marc Savard is the key to this team and when he does well the team does well. In the last month he has 4 goals, 17 assists. This means good news for Glen Murray owners too.
While Detroit is an impressive 16-6-2 did you notice that four of their losses have come from the same team? The Chicago Blackhawks. Expect the Blackhwacks to have continued success in December for many reasons. First of all, they will play nine home games and only two on the road. Secondly, the dangerous Martin Havlat just returned to action last night and scored two goals. If he stays healthy this team has some serious scoring capabilities. His scoring touch will have a positive impact on their power play as well as key players like Robert Lang. As is, the team is getting great production from superstar rookies Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Furthermore, in the last month Patrick Sharp has come out of nowhere and scored nine goals and a pair of assists. Amazingly five of those goals have come while shorthanded.
Did Anaheim make a mistake? Since joining the Phoenix Coyotes Illya Bryzgalov has started and won four straight games. In those games Phoenix has outscored their opponent 14-5 and outshot their opponent 147-109. Bryzgalov may suddenly give this team the necessary confidence and support they have been missing. With goaltending a non-issue, expect their offense (Radim Vrbata, Martin Hanzal, Peter Mueller, and Daniel Carcillo) to continue to improve and put up more points.
Who stole Jason Blake’s mojo? This guy completely lost his scoring touch. In November he had an impressive 64 shots, but no goals, four assists, and is plus-1. Didn’t we all think he would flourish on the offensively talented Maple Leafs? Especially with Sundin doing so well! Last season on the futile Islanders for the month of November he had eight goals, nine assists and was plus-7. Maybe Blake was better off on Long Island.
While the Devils did get a nice new arena did you notice it’s in Newark, NJ…hahaha just kidding! Certainly the long road schedule to start the season did not help the Devils. Up to this point they have only played seven home games and 14 away. Compare that with the leading Ottawa Senators who have played 14 home games and only eight away. As of late the Devils have had resurgence. While more home games will help, part of that resurgence can be attributed to the return of Jamie Langenbrunner. Since his return to the lineup he has two goals and seven assists in seven games. The Devils have won five of their last six games (four of which were on the road).
Goalie Henrik Lundqvist has been stellar. Defensively the New York Rangers have done well, while offensively they have struggled. The Rangers have the fewest amount of goals and assists in the NHL. Ranger captain Jaromir Jagr scored only three goals and four assists in the month of November. In the same month last season he had nine goals and 10 assists. Recently Marty Straka has returned to the lineup after breaking his finger earlier this season. The Rangers will continue to experiment with Jagr, Straka and Drury on the top line. Jagr and Straka have always played well together.
The Dallas Stars have had a great November. They were 8-2-2 with a good balance of offense and defense. Everyone seems to know their role. Jussi Jokinen, Mike Modano, and Brendan Morrow are playing very strong offensively. Defenseman Sergei Zubov has been an assist machine. And even in terms of doing the dirty work and standing up for teammates, guys like Steve Ott have stepped up. This enforcer has racked up an impressive 28 PIM in the last month.
While November has been an interesting month with some worthy notables, December historically has been a key month for players. Do you remember last season? Zetterberg and Alfredsson were struggling early on and turned it all around in December and stayed hot for the rest of the season. The same was true with Martin St. Louis two seasons prior. Keep an eye on players starting to crank their game up a notch.