We all know that a team coached by Jacques Martin is defensively responsible. It’s no dream vacation owning players on defensive-minded teams, unless it’s a goaltender.
Jacques the GM has done a great job of signing key guys on this team to long term contracts. Olli Jokinen, Ruslan Salei and Mike Van Ryn are signed through the 2009-10 season. Tomas Vokoun is signed through 2010-11, Bryan Allen through 2011-12 and Horton and Weiss are under contract through 2012-13. Two important pieces of the future become Restricted Free Agents at the end of this year; Bouwmeester and Olesz. Look for Florida to sign one or both before the offer sheet season begins.
Q1. While Chicago has scored an incredible 11 short-handed goals, Florida is one of only two teams yet to score one this season. Who is the other one? Hint: They are a top three NHL team in goals scored.
Q2. There is only one team that hasn’t had a short-handed goal scored on them yet this year. Who are they? Hint: It’s not Florida, but they are a top Eastern Conference team.
Prior to Thursday night’s games, the Panthers are 25th in goals scored per game. They average 29.6 shots per game (11th), but give up a league worst (tied with the Flyers) average of 32.7 shots against per game. Give credit to their goaltending because they are 12th in goals against average.
Florida sports the fifth ranked power play in the NHL at 21 per cent. Of their 34 games, 56 per cent have been one goal games (19). They are getting timely contributions from many different players. Let’s take a quick look at some key fantasy players, excluding multi-category fantasy stud Olli Jokinen:
Many of you are disappointed with Nathan Horton this season. He is on pace for 19 goals, 53 points and 104 penalty minutes. The 22-year-old is only one goal and two points behind where he was last year after 34 games. He’ll be in the 60-65 point range at the end of the season.
Let’s face it; Jay Bouwmeester is more valuable in real life than on your fantasy squad. He averages over 27 minutes a game, behind only Pronger, Lidstrom, Beauchemin and Phaneuf. Only the surprising Paul Ranger averages more even strength ice time (20:00) than Bouwmeester (19:30). With Cory Murphy injured, Bouwmeester’s getting about the same number of minutes on the power play as last season and is only four points off last year’s pace. Look for the increased second half scoring trend to continue. Grab him now.
Q3. Only three teams haven’t been shutout yet this season. Florida is one. Who are the other two? Hint: They are both original six franchises.
Q4. Which team has been shutout the most this season? How many times? This Eastern Conference team likely won’t surprise you.
Stephen Weiss is scoring at the same pace as last year, but we’re still disappointed as more offense was expected from the 24 year old this season. I don’t see more than 50 points this year. He might be worth a flyer if you have unlimited keepers, but on the Panthers, he’ll be lucky to top 70 points.
Two guys have seen their ice time go up in the two games since the Peltonen injury. Rusty Olesz has played 19:57 and 21:58 in the last two games. The 21 year old just might be ready to assume a larger role in the offence.
The other player is Jozef Stumpel. It looks like Stumpel is going to get a shot with Jokinen on the top line. If Stumpel can seize this opportunity, he may be a useful fantasy player as he has a history of coming on in the second half.
The last key fantasy Panther is this week’s Beast from the East:
He was expected to come in and replace what Florida gave away in Roberto Luongo. After a rough start, Tomas Vokoun has turned it around. Over his last 14 games, he has a 9-4-1 record and two shutouts. In that period, he has a stellar 1.80 goals against average and 0.949 save percentage while seeing an average of 33.6 shots against per game.
It’s safe to call Vokoun a franchise goalie again. Thanks to Florida’s low profile, you just might be able to pry him from an unsuspecting owner. He will reward you handsomely with some very nice numbers if your pool counts goals against average and save percentage.
A1. Carolina is the other team without a short-handed goal this year.
A2. Ottawa hasn’t allowed a short-handed goal against so far.
A3. Detroit and Toronto haven’t been shutout yet.
A4. New Jersey has been shutout seven times already this season.