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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 10:44 PM

By Eric Lipschutz -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: With Nabokov sidelined grab DiPietro

The New York Islanders have ruled Evgeni Nabokov out indefinitely with a groin injury after having an MRI on Friday. According to reports, Nabokov could be sidelined for aslong as a month. Rick DiPietro will likely get the nod in net for the Isles in their next game against Boston on Saturday.

Rick DiPietro appears to be in line for an increased work load in net for the Isles with Evgeni Nabokov sidelined indefinitely. (Photo: Mike Stobe/NHLI)
DiPietro stepped in admirably for the injured Nabokov on Thursday night, stopping 24 of 27 shots against the Montreal Canadiens for his second win of the season.  With Nabokov expected to miss a stretch of games, DiPietro should have the opportunity to seize the No.1 job on the Island. 
 
Nabokov owners, or any fantasy GM in need of help in goal, should scoop up DiPietro, who is owned in just six percent of Yahoo! leagues.  DiPietro posseses plenty of talent, but an injury plagued career has prohibited him from reaching his potential. However, DiPietro is still just 30-years old and should be as motivated as ever to live up to lofty expectations and his hefty contract.  

Don't forget about Al Montoya, too, as there is always the potential DiPietro will falter or once again get bitten by the injury bug. But for now, DiPietro appears to be the goalie in line to benefit the most from Nabokov's absence. As previously noted, no Islander goalie can be considered a very strong fantasy option at this point.  However, the goalie pool is always shallow, and though DiPietro is a risky play, he could give fantasy owners some solid production, at least for the short term.
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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 12:13 AM

By Eric Lipschutz -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Potential fallout from Nabokov injury



New York Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov was forced to leave Thursday night's game against the Montreal Canadiens in the first period with a groin injury.  Nabokov did not return and will be revaluated on Friday.  Rick DiPietro replaced Nabokov and played well, making 24 saves on 27 shots for his second win of the season.

It had appeared that Nabokov had established himself as the primary starter in what has been a crowded Islander net all season long.  Nabokov, DiPietro and Al Montoya are all currently up with the club.  Despite his starting status, Nabokov's numbers have not been very impressive.  Thanks in part to a weak Isles offense, Nabokov had only recorded one win in his seven starts leading  into Thursday night's tilt.   In those starts Nabokov has posted a mediocre 2.89 GAA and .910 save percentage 

Groin injuries can be tricky, especially for goalies.  If Nabokov is forced to miss an extended amount of action, DiPietro and Montoya would see increased time in net.  As of late, DiPietro has primarily filled the role of Nabokov's backup so logic would dictate he would get the first opportunity to claim the starting gig for however long Nabokov is sidelined.  Obviously, DiPietro has had his own difficulties staying on the ice while battling a variety of injuries throughout his career, making him anything but a reliable replacement.

Meanwhile, Montoya is a journeyman who did a nice job for the Islanders last season after coming over from Phoenix in a February trade.  In fact, Montoya served as the Islanders opening night goalie this season and stated the first three games of the year for the Isles.  If given the opportunity, Montoya has proved that in spurts he can be a serviceable goalie. 

It is still way too soon to know the extent of Nabokov's injury so his owners should keep a close eye on any news coming out of the Islanders camp on Friday.  In deeper leagues with limited goalie options, it might be wise to be proactive and go out and grab DiPietro for insurance, especially if you have the roster flexibility to do so. 

Be sure to keep Montoya in the back of your mind as well since there is potential for him to see time in net as the situation develops.  Unfortunately, no matter which goalie emerges as the No. 1, it is unlikely that they will be able to offer fantasy GMs the production they are looking for.  Any of the three Islanders goalies should be used with caution going forward.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 4:39 PM

By Eric Lipschutz -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Ott returns to Stars lineup on Friday

The Dallas Stars have activated center Steve Ott from injured reserve. Ott was put on IR on November 10 (retroactive to October 29) and has missed the last six games due to a lower-body injury, but he will be back in the Stars' lineup Friday night when Dallas visits Colorado.

Steve Ott's high PIMS and hits totals make him a viable fantasy option. (Photo: Jamie Sabau/NHLI)
Ott's return should provide a big boost for his owners who could use some help in the PIMS and hits departments. The rugged center led the Stars last season with 183 PIMS and 252 hits, and in just 11 games this season, Ott has already compiled 25 PIMs to go along with a whopping 42 hits. Ott's game is more than just grit, however. Last season he reached double digits in goals with 12, and had scored twice this year before getting hurt.

Despite his well-rounded game, Ott is currently owned in just 29 percent of Yahoo! leagues. If your league counts PIMS and hits as categories Ott is a must own. In fact, Ott warrants consideration in all formats, considering he is slated for top six minutes centering a line between the rising Jame Benn and offensively-skilled Michael Ryder. Now back from injury, Ott is a safe bet to keep contributing to categories across the board going forward.

In addition to activating Ott, the Stars announced they have placed right wing Adam Burish on IR with a broken hand. He is expected to miss at least four weeks with the injury. Burish had scored three goals in 16 games while adding an impressive 32 PIMS, however, his loss will not affect most fantasy teams as Burish is owned in just two percent of Yahoo! leagues.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 2:01 AM

By Eric Lipschutz -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Hawks big four stars in win

Pick a star … any star.  If you are a fantasy owner of one of the Blackhawks' big guns, chances are you had a big fantasy night.

Marian Hossa led the way by assisting on three of Chicago's five goals in its victory against Vancouver. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp all scored for the Hawks. Kane and Toews -- both of whom fantasy guru Matt Cubeta tabbed in the top 10 of his most recent Center Stage rankings -- also added assists for good measure. Kane's goal, which was assisted by Hossa, came on the man advantage serving as an extra bonus to leagues that reward power-play points.

It looks like good times are ahead for the Blackhawks, who own the League's best record. And, after easily dispensing the talented Canucks on Wednesday night, the Hawks appear to be firing on all cylinders. If you are fortunate enough to own any of the Blackhawks' big four, sit back and enjoy the ride. 
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 10:54 PM

By Eric Lipschutz -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Kovalchuk returns with a bang

After missing five-games with a groin injury, Ilya Kovalchuk returned to the Devils lineup Wednesday night looking no worse for wear. Kovalchuk scored a highlight reel first period goal in New Jersey's 5-3 win over Buffalo. 

Prior to getting hurt, Kovalchuk was not producing his usual high level of scoring. Heading into Wednesday’s contest, Kovalchuk had recorded just two goals in 11 games while posting a mediocre minus-4. There are no glaring reasons that would point to Kovalchuk getting off to a slow start. If anything, Kovalchuk may just be adjusting to playing for his third coach in two seasons with the Devils. 

Kovalchuk owners should enjoy having their star forward back in the lineup and don’t need to worry about him getting back to his typical high standards sooner than later.

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 9:50 PM

By Eric Lipschutz -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Staal’s position change impacts Sutter

Eric Staal saw his modest two-game point streak come to an end in Carolina's 4-0 loss to Montreal on Wednesday. As reported earlier by NHL.com's Arpon Basu, this was the third game Carolina coach Paul Maurice shifted Staal from his traditional spot at center to left wing.  Maurice made the move with the hope it would help jolt his star player out of a season long-funk.
         
Eric Staal
Center - CAR
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 8
SOG: 75 | +/-: -18
At this point, Staal owners are sure to be open to any move that could spark the perennial All-Star back to his prior form.  Staal has suffered through a miserable start, scoring just four goals while posting a League worst minus-18. Should Maurice decide to stick with the Staal experiment at left wing, he would be in line for increased position eligibility, giving fantasy owners if nothing else additional roster flexibility.

Staal's shift to left wing opened up a vacancy at center on Carolina's top line, which Maurice has filled with the talented Brandon Sutter. Basu points out that to this point, Sutter has been more of a defensive specialist during his brief NHL career. However, Maurice sees offensive potential in his young center and says he is committed to giving Sutter expanded minutes to show his capability to play top-line minutes. 

In three games, Sutter has not produced any points while centering a line between Staal and Chad LaRose. However, the line has produced a handful of scoring opportunities in its brief time together and Staal has shown signs of life while playing with Sutter. Wednesday's loss in Montreal was clearly a step backward, but if Sutter and Staal can build some chemistry together, Sutter could become a fantasy waiver-wire gem.

Sutter is currently owned in just 4 percent of Yahoo leagues. Though we would caution running out and grabbing him just yet with the way Carolina has struggled, he is clearly a player to monitor.  If Maurice is committed to keeping Sutter and Staal together, the pair has the potential to click at put up points. In that reasonable scenario, Sutter's production and value would increase dramatically -- making him an attractive option in deeper leagues.
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Quote of the Day

I don't know how he does it. I don't know how he gets his body parallel with the player and pulls it through his legs like that. I know he's tried it a couple times in practice and it's never worked, so how he does it in a game, it's incredible.

— Capitals defenseman Mike Green on teammate Alex Ovechkin's highlight-reel goal against the Devils on Saturday