...The Tomas Vokoun signing in Washington appears now to be about as much like the Ilya Bryzgalov signing in Philadelphia as their two salaries are for 2011...which is to say "not much". Initially people compared the two with the idea being that both clubs were obtaining "top" netminders to make them legitimate cup contenders. Washington seemed to get the better deal because they signed their top guy for about $3.5 Million less (per year). But as the opening weekend continued, we saw that the Capitals decided to start Michael Neuvirth in net for their first game. I guess he could have been better in camp and the pre-season, but I can't see how Vokoun is the #1 guy (at least now) if he doesn't get the nod for the first game of the year. Maybe he is the back-up, as his contract seems to indicate.
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...Along those lines...Bruce Boudreau is to fantasy hockey owners who have his goalies what Mike Shanahan is to fantasy football owners who have his running backs...a recurring nightmare...
...After two games, the Sabres look like a force to be reckoned with in the EAST...
...Anze Kopitar appears to be completely healed from the ankle injury he suffered during last year's stretch run. I have seen some pretty lofty predictions for him this season, and with 3 goals and an assist through the first 2 games, he might be on his way to his best season yet.
...Jaromir Jagr has 1600 points in his NHL career. The 1,600th was a nice assist on a beautiful goal scored by the Flyer's "on the cusp of greatness" forward Claude Giroux. Jagr made a comment where he referred to Giroux being like "a mini-Lemieux". After seeing that goal...and the way Giroux is playing...who am I to argue with one of the greatest scorer's in the history of the NHL?
...Robert Luongo and Marc Andre Fleury share something in common...they both have a tough time with shots coming from along the goal line. While this is sometimes a difficult thing for many goalies, these two guys in particular seem prone to allowing those weird angle shots to find their way over the line. It will be interesting to see how teams approach this going forward.
...Dion Phaneuf appears to have found his mojo again. After a couple of rough years, his last in Calgary and the first half of last season, Phaneuf is once again looking more like the defenseman we saw during his first three seasons in Calgary. Since returning from injury last season and including the first 2 games this year, Phaneuf has 9 goals, 20 assists and is +14 with 161 hits. Projected over 82 games that's 13 goals, 29 assists, a +20 with 232 hits. That's not quite Norris trophy material (yet) but he definitely has moved back into the conversation when it comes to quality blueliners for fantasy hockey.
...I'm not sure what to make of the New Jersey Devils this year. After a great stretch run that showed they were a much better hockey team than they appeared to be in the first half of last season, they started this season by laying an egg Saturday against the Flyers in a 3-0 loss. Granted, the Flyers are a good team, but the Devils only mustered 20 shots on goal including a whopping 3 in the 3rd period of their home opener. Not really the kind of start I envisioned for the Devils and definitely making me wonder if my selection of Ilya Kovalchuk for my fantasy hockey team may have been a bad one (-3 so far...I drafted him because someone took Kopitar before I could get him).
...The Columbus Bluejackets might have a goaltending problem on their hands. Through two games they have given up 7 goals and Steve Mason has a .870 save percentage. While 2 games is way too soon to write a guy off, given Mason's inconsistent play over the last two seasons, this start is worrisome...especially considering the Jackets made off-season moves they thought would make them a playoff team in 2011-12.
...The Edmonton Oilers might surprise some people this year. They have some pretty talented guys in that line-up but the biggest problem is their age. It will be interesting to see if the Oilers can hang around a playoff spot into the second half of the season and how well those young guys can cope with the long haul and the pressure. If they are still within reach near the stretch run, they could squeak into a spot. After watching the game last night versus the Penguins, I know one thing for sure...if Ryan Whitney can get healthy, he's going to score a boatload of points on the Edmonton powerplay.
Thanks for reading!
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