October 09, 2009
How do we spin the snappy 2-1 start from the Los Angeles Kings? Give me five words: "hockey as it oughta be."
The Kings got past Minnesota 6-3 on Thursday en route to that second win, and it was classic LA hockey all the way, up-and-down action, lots of scoring chances and plenty of twine tickling. We've now seen 28 goals in the three Los Angeles games and you have to wonder if this team could turn into one of those fantasy carnivals, scoring on all sides.
You can't get your hands on Anze Kopitar(notes) or Ryan Smyth(notes) in any self-respecting competitive league, but it's worth noting that they've been playing superb hockey on the top line (especially Kopitar, who single-handedly torpedoed several of my teams with a disappointing year last winter). And perhaps they're going to take the very-available Justin Williams(notes) along for the ride; Williams had a goal and two assists Thursday (the trio had nine points in all) and is freely available in 90 percent of the Yahoo! fantasy world. Right wing is a stocked position, but it isn't that stocked, is it?
The Kings also have a pair of baby blueliners worth looking at, Drew Doughty(notes) (1-3-4, 33 percent owned) and Jack Johnson(notes) (1-1-2, seven percent owned). Both kids love to shoot the puck, both players get a lot of power-play time, and both have plenty of expectations slapped on them courtesy of their draft history (Double D went second overall in 2008; JJ was the third overall pick back in 2005). You can connect the dots; there's growth potential with this group. Give them a look while the picking's good.
• Enough of this "55 percent" business tied to Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos(notes), let's get this guy the universal ownership he deserves. The super soph showed off his quick release in Thursday's shootout loss to New Jersey, beating Martin Brodeur(notes) with a pair of shots from the slot. Stamkos quietly found his stride in the second half last season (putting up 17-11-28 numbers in his final 34 games), he's stood out in every Tampa game so far this year, and obviously we're talking about a No. 1 overall selection here. It wouldn't be a shock to see him make a run at 40 or more goals this time around.
Mike Smith(notes) got the point against New Jersey but he was a little dazed and confused at the end; he allowed the game-tying score with one second left in the third period and the Devils beat him on both shootout attempts. Smith was also cut in the face after a scary crease collision late in the second period but says he's okay. "I didn't think about my head when I got hit," said Smith, who missed most of last year with a concussion issue. "It was more my upper back. Felt like it cracked every bone in my back. I'll be all right, but probably will be sore tomorrow."
Goalie Watch: Dan Ellis(notes) got his second straight start for the Preds and made good, stopping 22 of 24 shots in a win over Colorado. Pekka Rinne(notes) will get the tap Saturday against Buffalo and needs to show something in response. … Jose Theodore(notes) allowed a couple of soft Marian Gaborik(notes) goals as the Rangers took down the Caps. It's been a rough go between the pipes for Washington; Semyon Varlamov(notes) was a mess in his two starts. … Give Tim Thomas(notes) a pass for the six-goal nightmare against the Ducks. Mostly this was a case of the Boston defense not supporting Thomas at all, and the Ducks also had a couple of quirky bounces land in the net.
Yahoo's Matt Romig was at the Sharks home opener Thursday and reports that Evgeni Nabokov(notes) didn't play as well as the box indicates (24-of-27). Nabby made a couple of questionable decisions with the puck that could have easily resulted in goals. Still, a win is a win, as the Sharks chased Steve Mason(notes) on the other end of the rink (five goals on 20 shots). … Jason LaBarbera(notes) didn't get a victory for his trouble at Buffalo but he did stop 37 of 39. … Jonas Hiller(notes) weathered the early Boston storm (stopping 18 of 19 in the first period) and wasn't beaten after that. … The Red Wings were outplayed most of the night against Chicago but Chris Osgood(notes) made it a moot point, kicking out 32 of 34 shots. Ozzie really couldn't be faulted on either Chicago goal.