For the most part. While some teams have five games under their socks and others only two, we haven’t seen anything from the Dallas Stars (but not for long). We knew it wasn’t going to be sour. So, in the spirit of what 2020-21 is already throwing at fans and fantasy managers, here are some notes and observations from across the board after the first big week of the eventful game.
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The Carolina Hurricanes have been suspended until at least next Tuesday after five players were added to the league’s COVID minutes list earlier this week. Their expected opponent, the Florida Panthers, are also inactive until Tuesday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Sit on the couch of all the victims. League managers who adjust their rosters each week can track the Hurricanes’ progress over the weekend. As we said, the earliest this will be done is Tuesday. Carolina has two Tampa Bay Lightning games next week.
No one in Columbus has more blocked shots than striker Boone Jenner with nine. The skater on the dynamic line with center Max Domi has two goals and an assist on nine shots in three games. I really like Jenner in the deeper leagues that reward more than just scoring points.
Friday. The Dallas Stars are scheduled to play their first game of the season on Friday against the Nashville Predators. A sunny view of the Stars’ late debut – they now have the games in hand. If the league is able to run these games as it sees fit, there is a potential advantage in fantasy. Managers who aren’t completely satisfied with their list at the moment should consider investing in Roope Hintz, who is in the midst of a top-level lineup with Jamie Benn. Hintz remains available in over 56% of ESPN.com leagues.
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Feeling good at the start of the season is a dream start with his new team in Detroit. Bobby Ryan scored four goals in three games, mimicking his former halcyon in Anaheim. He feels good, he looks great, and he should be active at a much higher percentage than the league quarter indicated by ESPN.com. At least until the 33-year-old calms down.
Reports from Boston indicate that David Pastrnak may resume practice as early as next week. After recovering from hip surgery, the dynamic winger should be back on the starting lineup with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron replacing Jake DeBrusk and Nick Ritchie on the power play for first down. And no, I’m not worried about the Bruins not scoring when the score is tied so far. There were three games. Wait a minute, wait a minute. Now, wait a minute.
As predicted in this preseason look for fantastic breakaway candidates, Jack Hughes has time. In addition to the two goals and four assists, the lone 19-year-old seemed exponentially more confident this season, having skated and played power plays with Kyle Palmieri and Egor Sharangovic. At this stage, there’s no chance coach Lindy Ruff will break this trio, even if Nico Hischer returns in good health. Either way, Hughes remains available in more than a quarter of ESPN.com leagues. Not for long.
Tony DeAngelo, who has remained in good health over the last two games, counts, perhaps for Friday’s game against the Penguins. Hey, relegating a healthy player to the press box before a game is one message, two meanings Coach David Quinn liked the look of his team without a rushed defender. This could bother DeAngelo’s fantasy manager all season. Adam Fox is currently the Rangers’ main asset on the blue line, with three power play passes, eight shots and eight blocked shots in three games. If Fox is somehow available, get it.
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Forward Kevin Hayes blew up the fantasy value, while Sean Couturier came out with a rib injury. The veteran center started the new season with two goals and three assists. Hay with a hot/cold tendency should be exploited here and now, except in the minor leagues. Couturier should be gone for at least two weeks.
With her work visa and subsequent mandatory quarantine period, Kasperi Kapanen is finally a game away from being the newest member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. After warming up in the final six on Tuesday, the speedy winger was scheduled to make his full-time debut on Friday, with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel scoring the most points. If all goes well, Kapanen should have a career year ahead of him in terms of production. The old Maple Leaf is pronounced in less than a third of ESPN.com leagues. Goalkeeper Tristan Jarry is also worth watching after his slow start as Rangers’ No1 on Friday. A third rock show could mean more Casey DeSmith in the near future.
Four Washington Capitals players – strikers Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, defenseman Dmitry Orlov and goalie Ilya Samsonov – are unavailable for games or practice after violating NHL COVID protocols. Follow those who break the rules until the league allows them to return, see who joins Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson at the top of the Capitals lineup, and in the meantime, consider investing in goalie Vitek Vanecek. He’ll be busy. Washington faces the Sabres on Friday and Sunday and the Islanders on Tuesday.
Devon Toews leads the Colorado defensive unit in terms of goals (two) – both scored on power plays – and blocked shots (nine) in three games. The former Islanders defender should be a treasure for a season in the leagues where goals, blocked shots and ice time are rewarded. Unlike his blue-line (and fantasy gem) partner Cale Makar, Toews remains exciting in nearly half of ESPN.com’s leagues.
If four points in three games doesn’t irritate you, maybe 14 shots will. Forward Jeff Carter is skating on a line with speedsters Andreas Athanasiou and Blake Lysotte in the first period. The 36-year-old veteran deserves a fight before he gets cold feet. It’s very common.
As promised before the season, coach Pete DeBoer is equally using his goaltenders to start the 2020-21 season. Robin Lehner and Marc-André Fleury both performed exceptionally well in the Golden Knights’ perfect 4-0 shutout. While Lehner is ready to go 24/7 in ESPN.com leagues, Fleury is not.
Striker Patrick Lane, who suffered an upper-body injury, is doubtful for Thursday’s game in Ottawa. Veteran Mathieu Perreault, who came out of the circus fantasy, has to spend a few minutes on the line again, while Paul Stastny and Kyle Connor come out of the gridiron brilliantly. Lane’s leaders can only hope he feels fit for Saturday when the Jets host the Senators.
Striker Joe Thornton is expected to be out for some time with an unspecified injury after clumsily hitting the boards on Wednesday. Look who is replacing the veteran on the front line and playing for power alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. Winger Zach Hyman has played this role mostly in the past.
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