This week, the Eastern Edge gets some inspiration from the big screen. There were some great performances during this past week, none greater than Florida’s back up goaltender.
A big salute goes out to Panther’s goalie Craig Anderson for his back-to-back 1-0 road shutouts earlier this week. The match-up wasn’t exactly expected to be Luongo versus Brodeur, but between Dubielewicz and Anderson they stopped 82 of 83 shots. Anderson blocked 53 shots against the Islanders last Sunday, including an incredible 29 saves in the second period alone. It would take Dominik Hasek four periods to see 29 shots! In Hasek’s 32 starts, he’s faced 29 shots or more on only four occasions, averaging a mere 22 shots against per game.
Anderson followed up his 53 save shutout with a 40 save shutout against the Bruins on Tuesday. Last night, the Penguins broke Anderson’s shutout string, but it was the Panthers that walked away with the victory. Florida plays eight of their last twelve games at home. While that might seem great, prior to last night’s victory, the Panthers were the only team in the Eastern Conference with a losing record at home (13-13-7 after last night).
Two Panthers who may be available in your fantasy leagues are left winger David Booth and centre Brett McLean. Both have 14 points in their last 17 games. Booth has recently been getting over 20 minutes of ice time, while lining up with Nathan Horton and Stephen Weiss. McLean, who has been playing with Olli Jokinen (ten shots on goal last night!) and Rostislav Olesz of late, is averaging nearly 20 minutes a game.
Jay Bouwmeester isn’t exactly ripping it up in the second half. Over the last two seasons, he’s been a second half monster. Not this year. He had 19 points in 51 pre-All-Star break games, a 30 point pace. In the 19 games since, he’s scored nine points in 19 games, a 39 point pace. That’s disappointing after recording back to back 46 and 42 point seasons.
As expected, Jeff Carter’s increased ice time has led to an increase in points. In his last seven games, Carter has nine points and 37 shots on goal. Since coming over from Tampa, Vaclav Prospal has only one goal on nine shots and is averaging almost 18:00 of ice time. That’s a couple of minutes less than with the Lightning. Hopefully he and Danny Briere (when healthy) will find some chemistry together – Vinny HAS to hit 80 points this year! On Tuesday, the Flyers lost their first game since acquiring Prospal. Mike Knuble has 17 points in his last 19 games, including eight in his last six games.
The Rangers are 8-0-3 in their last eleven games. Gomez owners should be a very happy bunch. Not counting a brutal October, he’s scored 63 points in 57 games and had at least one point in 46 of those games. The only player that puts up less zeros in the points column is some kid in Pittsburgh named Crosby. Since returning from a five game absence, Brendan Shanahan has scored five goals and four assists in nine games. I thought Shanny was still injured!
March of the Penguins
In Sidney Crosby’s first game back, the Pens won 2-0. Marc-Andre Fleury looked very good in posting a 35 save 2-0 shutout. Last night he was pulled after giving up three goals on 19 shots. If his current owner is still unsure about him, now might be the perfect time to get him. The Pens are about to embark on what should be a very nice stretch run. I can’t wait to see Hossa in the line up with Crosby and Malkin on what should be a very potent power play. Aside from his offensive prowess, Hossa is a complete player, meaning he doesn’t leave his defensive responsibilities in search of greater offensive totals. Great acquisition by the Pens. Once everyone is healthy, this will be a team to be reckoned with come the playoffs.
In the Canadiens last 21 games, Alexei Kovalev has 29 points. Andrei Markov, Mark Streit and Tomas Plekanec all have 21 points. Even young Andrei Kostitsyn has 17 points in those 21 games. Montreal’s offence no longer revolves around Saku Koivu, who is still contributing to the offence with 17 points over that same 21 game period.
Grumpy Old Men
Toronto’s Mats Sundin is on a seven game, 13 point run. In that period, he’s a plus-7 and has received 22 penalty minutes. Go figure, just when everyone seems to want the team to tank it, Mats has to go out and play like this? Bryan McCabe has been putting up some pretty nice numbers of late. In 27 games before his injury, McCabe had 12 points and was minus-4. In the 14 games since his return, he’s scored nine points and is plus-6.
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