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Fantasy Friday: Analyzing Crosby, other slow starters

by Matt Cubeta / NHL.com

In the previous edition of Fantasy Friday, I looked at some of the biggest surprises in fantasy hockey and whether I believed they could carry their fast starts for the remainder of the season. This week, I'll look at the opposite, the biggest disappointments to this point.

However, instead of being 16 days into the season, we're now 23 days into it. Looking back at last season, players like Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche, Sean Monahan of the Calgary Flames and Tomas Tatar of the Detroit Red Wings had been struggling 23 days into their seasons. Some players are able to shake off their early-season slumps, like Monahan and Tatar, while others carry those struggles throughout the season and never quite fully recover, like MacKinnon. Even Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin only had five goals and one assist through his first nine games, but we all know how his season turned out.

This season seems to have more superstars coming out of the gate slowly than in the past, but the question is, can they recover?

Here's a look at some of the most notable disappointments of the young 2015-16 season and whether I believe they can turn things around for fantasy owners.

Ryan Getzlaf, C, and Corey Perry, RW, Anaheim Ducks

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If we're talking about disappointments, we have to start with the usually dynamic duo in Anaheim, who have unfortunately left their fantasy owners completely befuddled to this point. Both Getzlaf and Perry were likely off the board on draft day before round two concluded, and right now, Getzlaf is outside the top 500 overall fantasy players in Yahoo leagues and Perry ranks 365th. Getzlaf, who will miss the next 4-12 days because of an appendectomy, had no goals and one assist with a minus-5 rating in his first eight games. Perry, a five-time 30-plus goal scorer, has no goals and three assists with a minus-4 rating in his first 10 games. There is definitely reason to be alarmed if you have either on your team, but nothing leads me to believe these slumps will carry on for the full season. Each is 30 years old and still in the prime of his career. Each comes off a strong season in 2014-15. And if we dive into their advanced metrics a little bit, you'll notice things should turn around at some point.

Getzlaf had 139 SATF (shot attempts for) through his eight games, or 17.4 per game. Perry has 150 SATF through his 10 games, or 15.0 per game. Last season Getzlaf had 1,048 SATF, which translates to 13.6 per game, and Perry had 887 SATF in his 67 games, which comes to be 13.2 per game. Their SATF is actually higher this season on a per game basis. They're generating more scoring chances than last season, but have essentially nothing to show for it. At some point we have to expect their luck to level out and for both players -- assuming Getzlaf comes back healthy -- to figure things out and turn their seasons around. Target them in trades now before it's too late.

Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins

Crosby has been held without a point in eight of 10 games. Yes, you read that correctly. His five points this season (and 12 of his 30 shots on goal) came in two games. He's currently ranked 137th among all players. Crosby started the season centering a line with newcomer Phil Kessel and veteran Chris Kunitz on his wings, but because of their early struggles they were broken up. Now Crosby has Patric Hornqvist and Pascal Dupuis on his wings. So far it hasn't made much of a difference (although he did have two assists on Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres).

Sidney Crosby
Center - PIT
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 3
PIM: 0 | SOG: 27 | +/-: -1
But this is Sidney Crosby we're talking about. He was selected on average with the second pick in Yahoo fantasy drafts. There's a reason, and it probably has to do with the fact he averages 1.35 points per game over the course of his career, significantly more than any other player during that time. He's one of, if not the best player in the world. Have patience. The one thing you have to know about Crosby is he's streaky. In the 2012-13 season his 17 multipoint games during the shortened season were second most in the NHL; in the 2013-14 season his 30 multipoint games were far and away the most in the NHL; and even last season, his 22 multipoint games were eighth most in the NHL. His points come in bunches. And at some point, they'll start to come this season. He'll be fine.

Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Columbus Blue Jackets

Bobrovsky's struggles are well-documented. He started the season 0-6-0, allowing at least four goals against in five of those six starts (three goals against in the other). But there are signs of improvement. With John Tortorella now coach, Bobrovsky has earned a win in each of his past two starts, allowing a combined four goals against on 58 shots. And there's more. Over the course of Bobrovsky's career, his 3.00 goals-against average and .900 save percentage in 35 starts during the month of October are the second-worst marks of any month. He's a typically slow-starting goalie. While this season has been substantially worse than in the past, it might be a good time to buy low on Bobrovsky. Based on his history, his past two performances and the fact the Blue Jackets are simply a better team that's been doomed by bad early-season luck, I believe Bobrovsky will turn his season around and finish as a top 15-20 fantasy goalie.

Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton, D, Calgary Flames

Mark Giordano
Defense - CGY
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 4
PIM: 10 | SOG: 27 | +/-: -4
Coming into this season, Giordano was the fourth defenseman off the board on average in Yahoo leagues. Hamilton was 22nd. Right now, Giordano ranks 358th among all players and 44th among defensemen, while Hamilton is ranked 548th overall and 110th among defensemen. They've appeared in 10 games each and have combined for six points (and much like in Crosby's case, Giordano had one big game with three points against the Red Wings on Oct. 23). Hamilton is minus-10 and Giordano is minius-4. They have one power-play point combined despite seeing plenty of man-advantage ice time (Giordano averages 2:16 per game and Hamilton 1:52). They have yet to find their game, which could be understandable for Hamilton, who might still be adjusting to his new team and system. But if I own either player, I would be a bit alarmed. The Flames will get TJ Brodie back soon and that could help solidify their blue line, but as many pundits predicted, the Flames appear to be taking a step back this season. And this could result in players like Giordano and Hamilton having disappointing fantasy seasons. It wouldn't shock me if Giordano was outside the top 25 fantasy defensemen by season's end and Hamilton was outside the top 40. They'll improve, of course, but I don't believe they'll live up to their draft expectations.

Other notable players that have struggled that I believe will bounce back: Phil Kessel (Pittsburgh Penguins), Rick Nash (New York Rangers), Jakub Voracek (Philadelphia Flyers), Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles Kings), Shea Weber (Nashville Predators)

Other notable players that have struggled that I believe may continue to struggle this season: Nick Foligno (Columbus Blue Jackets), Tuukka Rask (Boston Bruins), David Backes (St. Louis Blues), Tomas Tatar (Detroit Red Wings), Matt Duchene (Colorado Avalanche)

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