Let’s be honest here. The National Hockey League just wasn’t the same without goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Whether you found his antics dumb, funny, or annoying, Bryzgalov was always good for an interesting quote.
The Russian netminder certainly was never one to shy away from voicing his opinion and was almost impossible to figure out. Take his first three starts for the Oilers as an example. In his first start, he posts a spectacular 33 save shutout; then he gets yanked after giving up four goals to Columbus; and finally, on Sunday he goes down with an injury yet played enough (and well enough) to earn second star of the game. Trying to make sense of Bryzgalov’s play would give a jackhammer a headache.
Here’s a few guys who left little doubt where they stood last week.
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins – C – 100% Owned
Malkin had a stretch earlier this season where he went 15 games without a goal, but that now seems like a lifetime ago. Last week, Malkin had nine points in four games and went plus-5 over that span. He also added 13 shots and was solid in the face-off circle for good measure. Malkin now is in the midst of an eight-game point streak that has seen him record a whopping 17 points.
However, perhaps the most surprising part of Malkin’s week was in the PIM department as the Russian sniper chipped in with eight over the past seven days. To put that in perspective, those eight minutes accounted for almost a third of his output for the entire campaign.
James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins – LW – 98% Owned
Malkin’s strong play has seemed to light a fire under James Neal and sparked him to seven points last week. There’s so much talent on Pittsburgh that as long as you can stay healthy you should have shot at a productive season. Neal missed a month with an injury earlier in the year but seems to have it going now. His strong week was powered by a 10-shot performance against the Toronto Maple Leafs which led to a two-point night. And if you are struggling with shots on goal the squad to play is Toronto. They’re the team that keeps on giving all year round.
Ryan Johansen, Columbus Blue Jackets – C – 23% Owned
Johansen is actually someone who may still be available in your league and now would be the time to pick him up. He posted six points last week and added 15 shots, while showing a rare bit of consistency. Johansen has always had offensive talent, but has simply had issues displaying it at the NHL level on a regular basis. If you do take a risk on Johansen it will likely not benefit you for the long-term, but you may be able to get something out of him before he remembers he plays for Columbus.
Johan Franzen, Detroit Red Wings – RW – 75% Owned
Franzen had posted just six points in his last 11 games going into last week, but he has now exploded for seven points in four contests. The beauty of Franzen’s rough-and-tumble game is that he can help you in other areas besides the score sheet. In addition to the points and 11 shots, he added five hits to go along four blocks. And if your playoff pool has a ‘Sweet Beard’ category, Franzen is worth hanging onto.
Honorable Mentions: Chris Kunitz, Corey Crawford, Ben Scrivens, Daniel Alfredsson, Patrick Kane, Logan Couture, Chris Kreider, Kris Letang, Duncan Keith, David Backes, Niklas Kronwall, James van Riemsdyk, Carey Price.
The LVP (Least Valuable Player)
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars– C – 98% Owned
Seguin sat out Sunday’s game with concussion-like symptoms, but he was in the middle of a rough stretch prior to that. A couple of weeks ago, Seguin broke out for eight points in four games, however he has yet to record a point since. His lack of offensive output aside, he’s not offering much in other areas either. Seguin had just five shots last week and only two hits, while having a less than stellar performance on the draws. Hopefully for the Stars and fantasy owners he isn’t out of the lineup for a considerable amount of time.
Not last but certainly least
Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars – LW – 97% Owned
Benn’s downturn last week was no doubt related to Seguin’s lackluster production. The two players were feeding off one another for some huge games a couple of weeks ago, but now the well has run dry. Benn went pointless in three games and finished with a minus-2 rating, although he did do a good job of getting shots on goal. Benn had a respectable 16 shots over those three contests, but it would have been nice if a few of them found the back of the net.
David Clarkson, Toronto Maple Leafs – RW – 25% Owned
Clarkson’s brief time with the Toronto Maple Leafs has been, in a word, awful. A 10-game suspension to start the year has made it difficult for the forward to get on track, but by now one would think he should at least be getting in some sort of rhythm. Even the most naïve of Leaf fans couldn’t have expected a 35-goal campaign, however, it would have been realistic to think Clarkson would have some positive impact in the lineup. Last week, Clarkson went pointless in four outings with no PIM. Not to mention in his last two games he managed just one hit and three shots.
Montreal’s mayor recently criticized Canadiens’ forward David Desharnais when he was in a rut and it seemed to bring some good results. Perhaps Toronto mayor Rob Ford could do the same?
Patrik Berglund, St. Louis Blues – C – 15% Owned
Berglund did manage an assist last week, but his offensive abilities have been MIA this season. The St. Louis forward scored in the Blues’ second game of the year and hasn’t bulged the twine since. Granted, Ken Hitchcock’s system isn’t exactly free flowing and sometimes watching paint dry can be more exciting, but Berglund has redefined disappointment so far in 2013-14.
Dishonorable Mention: Jason Pominville, Roberto Luongo, Valeri Nichushkin, Jack Johnson, Wayne Simmonds, Michael Ryder, Tomas Fleischmann, Teemu Selanne, Jonathan Huberdeau.