There is only approximately one month left in the Fantasy Hockey regular season. At this point is where tough decisions need to be made, especially with those players who are currently injured. Is it really worth holding onto a player who isn’t expected to return for another week or two? Counting this current week, there are at most four weeks left in your Fantasy season, and there could be as few as three if you played it safe and didn’t count the last week. If you need to win now, and most of us do to either advance in the playoffs or to qualify for them, then what’s the point of worrying about someone who isn’t back until the second-to-last week of the regular season? You can worry about that problem if and when you make it that far.
The player that most comes to mind under the scenario listed above is Henrik Lundqvist. He suffered a hip injury late last week that will keep him out of action for the next two to three weeks. That means in the best case scenario he will return to action during the second to last week of the regular season, the worst case being the last week. Should he still be on your roster? Yes, if you have the room and don’t need the spot. No, if you need an extra forward or defenseman.
The Rangers are for all intents and purposes locked into the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. They have very little to play for down the stretch. The Rangers are four points behind Columbus for third place in the Metropolitan Division, but the Blue Jackets have two games in hand. The Rangers are also 13 points ahead of the Islanders who are currently in the second wild card spot, so there is almost zero chance they will finish eighth. Plus, if the Rangers were to catch the Jackets that would line them up to either play Washington or Pittsburgh in the first round of the playoffs. If they stay where they are, that puts them up against Montreal or Ottawa. Which choice would you make? The Rangers won’t be in any rush to do anything with Lundqvist other than to make sure he is healthy and ready to go for the NHL playoffs. Antti Raanta, he of the 2.29 GAA and .921 save percentage, is now a must-add
There are several backup goaltenders who could play prominent roles down the stretch. James Reimer has taken over for Roberto Luongo, who is out with a lower body injury. Jonathan Bernier is in for John Gibson, who has suffered his second lower body injury in a month. Craig Anderson is also out of the lineup with, guess what? A lower body injury, thus putting Mike Condon back in play.
Luongo’s situation was always a dicey one. Luongo admitted that the original timetable, one week, was a shot in the dark, as he had no idea when he would be back. He tried to practice late last week but that didn’t go well and it’s not really known at this point as to when he will return. Florida has not played all that well since returning from their west coast road trip, but if you need a goaltender, you could do worse than Reimer.
Gibson returned from a lower body injury Saturday in a loss to St. Louis and promptly re-injured himself. The Ducks are saying it’s a different injury, but that doesn’t really matter. Either way, he is out of the lineup once again with no clear return date. Bernier is a capable backup with respectable numbers, but isn’t quite the net minder that Gibson is. Still, he will keep you in games (hasn’t given up more than three goals in a game since 1/21). You could do worse than starting Bernier on a team that prides itself on defense.
Anderson’s injury is a new one. The good news is that his absence has nothing to do with his wife’s cancer and we certainly hope that is going well. His malady is also of the lower body variety and was still being evaluated at the time of this writing. Condon proved to be more than capable as a starting goaltender in Anderson’s absence since being acquired from Pittsburgh, but his play has slipped of late as a backup. Now, we don’t know if Condon will be needed for a game, a week, or a month so it’s hard to say he is a must grab, but if you have a dead spot on your roster or if you just want to keep him away from a team that needs a goaltender, he should be a claim for you.
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