Dose: Vanek's slow start

James O'Brien
The Power Play Report looks at the hotness of the Red Wings and Predators with the man-advantage

Red Wings and Preds Hot

The Power Play Report looks at the hotness of the Red Wings and Predators with the man-advantage

With eight games on the docket on Tuesday - including the debut of Thomas Vanek - it seems prudent to just jump into the game summaries feet-first today. So here we go.


-- Thomas Vanek didn't have a great debut with the Islanders, registering a single SOG and two hits without a point. The ice time was delightful, however, as he came in at just under 20 minutes total with 3:43 PP TOI. You'd expect a high-volume shooter like Vanek to figure things out; maybe it will just take some time. It's easy to forget that Vanek played his entire career in Buffalo.

-- John Tavares was more active on Tuesday, despite going pointless as well. The best part was that he threw in a game misconduct and roughing penalty at the final whistle, giving fantasy owners 12 PIM on a night when he failed to score a point.

-- With Carl Hagelin back in action, it looks like the pre-Ryan Callahan dynamic duos are: Chris Kreider - Derek Stepan, Hagelin - Brad Richards and Brian Boyle - Derick Brassard. Richards is playing like a guy in a virtual contract year (he is), Stepan is producing like a guy who's disappointed by the shabby contract he received as an RFA (seven assists, zero goals in 11 GP with just 20 SOG), and Kreider seems solid if unspectacular so far.

-- As far as Hagelin's return goes, he registered an assist, zero shots and four PIM in 17:15 time on ice. His PP time was tepid at 1:45 (cue John Tortorella quote about Hagelin stinking on the power play).

-- Can Cam Talbot steal more starts? Maybe, although I'd only be truly confident about Talbot getting a start on the Rangers' next back-to-back (Nov. 6 and 7). It’s a wait-and-see thing for now.

-- If the Islanders are really serious about making a push, why trust Evgeni Nabokov at 38? He's basically the definition of mediocre (4-3-3, .906 save percentage and 2.84 GAA).

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-- Jonathan Toews is officially on fire after a slow start to 2013-14. His hat trick (plus assist) from last night gives him a five-game point streak (five goals, four assists for nine of his 13 points this season).

-- Corey Crawford got a relief win as Nikolai Khabibulin continues to be lousy. Are the Blackhawks really going to allow themselves to be one Crawford injury away from risking a possible repeat? It baffles me how much teams disregard the value of a good backup (though Chicago's certainly paying "The Bulin Wall" to fail to do the part).

-- It looks like Bobby Ryan might roll with Jason Spezza a bit again. Really, it seems like Spezza, Ryan and even Kyle Turris can produce in either setup. The biggest winner of that possible swap could be Milan Michalek, who's having a weak start, which shouldn't be surprising considering his knee issues.

-- With three straight losses for Craig Anderson, I'd keep an eye on how often Ottawa leans on Robin Lehner. They're definitely high on him long-term.


-- How, in the world, does Jaromir Jagr still do this? His five-game point streak gives him 10 points in 12 games so far this season. While his decent SOG are the only really enticing peripheral (aside from PPP, which I'd argue aren't even peripheral stats), he's clearly a focal point of the Devils offense. He's only owned in 39 percent of Yahoo leagues.

-- Martin Brodeur gets a very Martin Brodeur win: he only needed to stop 16 out of 17 feeble Lightning shots (who managed such a small total despite four power plays). Any thoughts about Cory Schneider get mostly buried by the fact that the Devils have two back-to-backs sets in their next four games. It's almost certain that the two will split those starts.

-- Michael Ryder's output has been a little disappointing, but at least three of his five points have come in the last five contests. His weak peripherals make it clear that he's best added on hot streaks and dropped when he's cold.

-- Steve Stamkos (ninth goal last night) is on the short list of players who can keep pace with a healthy Sidney Crosby.


-- It's almost as if Phil Kessel still thinks he's in a contract year. His puck luck has really turned around during a four-game goal (and point) scoring streak. Counting last night's dazzling duo of goals, Kessel has seven tallies (plus three assists) in the past four contests. Before this streak began on Oct. 22, he only had two goals.

-- The bigger news for fantasy owners might be Nazem Kadri's work with Kessel and James van Riemsdyk in Tyler Bozak (day-to-day)'s absence. He had a goal and three assists last night to push his point total to 12 in 13 games. Not bad considering that Randy Carlyle's basically burying him in the lineup as if his last name was Grabovski.

-- There's more word of Dion Phaneuf contract talks, but fantasy owners wouldn't mind his contract year to continue. He's strong in many areas, aside from pedestrian SOG (18 in 13 GP).

-- James Reimer's 43-save shutout just perpetuates the "Leafs luck" storyline. We'll see if he can elbow in on more starts.

-- Sam Gagner returned ... and registered a -4 rating that was almost as ghastly as the photo of his broken jaw. At least he got plenty of ice time (22:01), highlighting how generally weird Dallas Eakins is. Nail Yakupov also had a -4, along with identical PIM (two) and SOG (three) numbers as Gagner.

-- Maybe Jason LaBarbera should sweat Richard Bachman, but Devan Dubnyk's greatest threat is a goalie trade. And his own defense.

After the jump: four more game summaries plus injury bits.


-- It's inane that Claude Giroux doesn't have a goal, but then again, he barely has more than two shots per game (23 in 11 GP). Aside from 2011-12 (242 in 77 GP) and to some extent last season, he's been a guy who doesn't shoot an absolute ton. People talk about him trying to do too much, but maybe throw a little more rubber at the net? All that aside, the points are starting to come, so this might be a good buy-low time.

-- Are Wayne Simmonds (two assists, two PIM) and Scott Hartnell (seven SOG, two hits) starting to show some life? It certainly would be nice, as not a lot's going well except Steve Mason's surprisingly competent play and Vincent Lecavalier (one goal, four SOG) fitting in well.

-- Teemu Selanne lost some teeth from a high stick last night. Wouldn't be shocked if he sits out a game or two.


-- Alexander Steen continues to play like a legitimate star, scoring the power-play game-winner on a wicked little backhander for his 11th goal of the season. Injuries are a concern with him, but it's tough to deny what he's doing right now.

-- Jets defensemen Dustin Byfuglien (zero goals, 48 SOG) and Zach Bogosian (zero goals, 33 SOG) are ridiculously snake-bitten right now. Byfuglien remains a unique fantasy fixture - he also has 20 PIM - so I'd dangle a buy-low trade for the one-of-a-kind defenseman if you think his owner is getting impatient. The nine assists probably indicate that it will be a tough sell, though.

-- Andrew Ladd is one of the Rodney Dangerfields of fantasy. He quietly chugs along, as his two assists from Tuesday give him 10 points in 14 games. It's nice to see that he's producing even with so-so puck luck (three goals on 34 SOG). He's a reliable 25-30 goal guy now that he's in Winnipeg.

-- Brenden Morrow looks like a shell of a shell of himself, but kudos to him for a feisty night (one goal, four PIM in just 8:05 TOI). Derek Roy seems surprisingly useless in St. Louis, too.


-- Radim Vrbata is somehow available in almost half of Yahoo leagues (53 percent owned) despite averaging nearly a point per game (12 in 13) and a whopping 52 SOG. Much of Phoenix's offense comes from its D, but Vrbata's quietly plays like a borderline star while most fixate on Shane Doan.

-- Mike Smith hasn't lost in regulation since Oct. 8, although his team definitely bailed him out in a wild contest against the Kings on Oct. 24. Still, Smith is providing fantasy owners with nice work, whether you attribute some of his success to the 'Yotes system or not.

-- Dustin Brown is obviously struggling to produce, but he had respectable SOG (three) and nice hits (four) last night. It seems like things just won't come easily to the Kings in the regular season.


-- Tomas Plekanec remains red-hot, collecting nine points in his last seven games.

-- Team Canada shouldn't ignore Carey Price. Sure, his 6-5-0 record isn't compelling, but he has a .939 save percentage in 11 GP. He's one of their best options, in my opinion.

-- It's hard for me to justify Erik Cole getting top line treatment in Dallas. He's had a strangely tepid career when he hasn't been riding shotgun with Eric Staal.

INJURIES (full list)

Mark Giordano’s out six-to-eight weeks. I’d say just drop him and then add the steady blueliner when he’s returning … Chuck Kobasew (lower body) is out three-to-four weeks … Saku Koivu seems like he's still in the evaluation stage ... Uh oh, Johan Franzen lower-body injury watch has begun. Hey, he almost made it a month ... It does appear that Cory Schneider has a lower-body injury, but probably not one that will keep him from sharing duty with Brodeur this coming weekend ... Paul Postma is out indefinitely with a blood clot. Scary stuff.

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