I hope everyone had a great time last night to start 2012. Here's to a better year for everyone!
The Avs had a very nice December by going 10-5-0 for the month. More specifically, the past 10 games, they've gone 8-2-0. A portion of the success has come from the stabilization of the goaltending. It seemed the Semyon Varlamov wasn't going to settle down but Jean-Sebastien Giguere has done a fantastic job filling in, winning 5 of his last 6 starts. For now, it seems it's going to be a controversy between them considering Varlamov cost the Avs abit when he was traded from the Capitals and they will try to start him as much as they can despite Giguere's resurgence. Another part of their recent success has been shootouts. The Avs are second in shootout victories with 6 and second only to the Devils, who have 8 shootout victories. Finally, their victories have been helped by the fact that most were at home. Of the 10 victories from the month, only 2 were earned in enemy territory. January is going to be a real test to see if they can continue the streak since they will be playing at 3 out of the 12 games of the month and surviving injuries.
More observations after the jump...
Wild 'n out
The Wild had a tremendous start to the season but it has been hampered by a disastrous 1-6-3 for the past 10 games. The team has allowed an average of 3 goals a game while scoring only 1.6 goals per game in the past 10 games. So far this season, the defense & goaltending has done a fantastic job keeping the puck out of the net and keeping the game close. They're ranked 6th in Goals Against per Game. What has been the problem throughout the season has been their lack of scoring. This was what trading for Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi was for. They're now 29th, yes second to last in Goals For per Game. Now that the defense and goaltending has slumped, the offense simply cannot catch up. This is an ugly problem for the Wild since the offense needs to do what it needs to do and score while the defense needs to get out of it's funk and give the offense an opportunity to win. If either side cannot figure things out, this is not going to look pretty by season's end.
Christian Ehrhoff, Sabres - He suffered what is believed to be a head injury in Thursday's game against the Capitals but it's been reported as an upper-body injury. What's bad is that the timetable given in his recovery has been weeks and possibly into February and there's a small chance it could be season ending. Hopefully they IR him soon once they determine what to do.
Alex Tanguay, Flames - He's been placed on the IR with an upper-body injury and is considered week-to-week at this time. There's a rumor swirling that he may have suffered a concussion, but it's only a rumor.
Matt Duchene, Avalanche - He suffered a knee injury Thursday and was quickly placed on the IR and reported that he will be out for at least four weeks. This is a big blow to the hot Avs team.
James Wisniewski, Blue Jackets - He suffered a broken ankle due to taking on shot on Wednesday. While it will not require surgery to repair it, he still will be out for about six weeks or until mid-February. Between the suspension earlier this year and this injury, this has not been a great year for him.
Jose Theodore, Panthers - He hurt his knee in a collision in last night's game but as of right now, there's no word on how severe or how long he will be out. For those in deeper leagues, Scott Clemmensen is worth a pickup as a solid backup until more news is revealed.
Simon Gagne, Kings - He was placed on the IR list due to a head injury he suffered on Monday. What makes it worse is that he's had a long history of getting concussions so a timetable isn't the best at this time. Just reserve him and hope he returns soon.
Shea Weber, Predators - He's also a victim of the dreaded concussion he suffered last week. He has begun to skate, which is great but that still doesn't mean he's close to returning soon. Like Gagne, just be patient and hope he returns soon.
Sergei Gonchar, Senators - He's considered Day-To-Day after taking a puck to the head during Saturday's pre-game practice. He may have suffered a concussion but we will see in due time.
Victor Hedman, Lightning - He is out indefinitely due to suffering a concussion. He is resting at this time so it may be a while before we see Hedman healthy and on the ice.
John-Michael Liles, Maple Leafs - He was hit very hard last week and hasn't recovered from the blow since then. The team is saying he is suffering from concussion-like symptoms. Just like the others who are recovering from concussions, reserve him and be patient.
Dustin Byfuglien, Jets - He has been out for a couple of games due to a lower body injury and it is believed he hurt his knee. He is considered to be out for another week.
Be sure to follow us on Twitter at @FakeTeams, @MattPTurner and @StephenKaczmar. Happy 2012!