The Montreal Canadiens couldn’t be happier that the All-Star Break is this week. Not because they are hosting the event, but because the few days off will be needed to rest several key players with lingering injuries. Captain Saku Koivu hasn’t played in over a month with a high ankle sprain, but could be back by the end of January. Alex Tanguay hopes to return by mid-February from his shoulder injury. Goaltender Carey Price’s ankle injury has kept him from the Habs lineup for all of January so far. Andrei Kostitsyn has picked up some of the slack left by the injured forwards, posting 11 points over a current 7 game point streak after starting the season off slowly. Robert Lang also has 11 over that span. Both should be starting in mid to deep pools. With Price out, Jaroslav Halak has stepped in between the pipes. While he hasn’t dropped our jaws, he’s been solid, and definitely worthy of being a fantasy starter during Price’s absence, especially on a strong team like the Canadiens.
Like the Habs, the Boston Bruins’ offensive threats have been dropping like flies in recent weeks. Phil Kessel is out a month with mononucleosis. Marco Sturm will miss the rest of the season after having knee surgery. Patrice Bergeron, who is beginning to gain a reputation as an oft-injured Peter Forsberg/Martin Havlat type, has missed 13 straight games after suffering his second concussion in just over a year. Even the hulking Milan Lucic has missed 5 straight with an undisclosed upper body injury. With these useful fantasy players out of the lineup, Marc Savard and David Krejci become that much more valuable and have seen their ice-time increase. Michael Ryder is another good fantasy option, and should be started against all NHL teams right now, while Blake Wheeler can be started against weaker teams. Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez are splitting games right now, so make sure your player is starting in a particular game before using him.
The Calgary Flames’ Todd Bertuzzi, who has delighted fantasy owners who took a late-round risk on him, has missed his last 5 games with a hip flexor. At his age and with his injury reputation over the last few years, be wary of him right now. Currently, he has some value and is only listed as day-to-day, and you may be able to trade him for someone healthy. The Flames other significant offseason acquisition, Michael Cammalleri, has stepped his game up with 6 goals and 2 assists in Bertuzzi’s 5 game absence. LW Rene Bourque has also played well as of late, and could be worthy of a pickup if you are looking for help in every category across the board (16G/15A/ 31P/+12/62 PIM through 45 games).