You can read about the game here and find the box score in a thousand places. Here are the key fantasy nuggets:
1. Flyers starting goalie Martin Biron may now be the official backup, with Antero Niittymaki taking over. After yielding three Bruins goals in the first period, two of which were save-able, Biron (15-11-5, .905, 2.89) was pulled from the game in favor of Niittymaki (11-4-4, .917, 2.59). The Flyers trailed 3-1 at the time. Niittymaki shut out the Bruins the rest of the way, earning the win by stopping 22 shots in the final two periods and overtime.
Addressing reporters after the game, Flyers coach John Stevens refused to endorse Biron as the future starter. “I don’t think I can do that after a game like this,” he said.
Can you blame Stevens? Niittymaki is 4-1 in his last five games with a 2.10 GAA and .938 save percentage. Biron, who only stopped 12 of 15 shots in the first period, might be on the outs anyway, according to Puck Daddy.
If your squad needs help in the net, Niittymaki (15 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues, 31.7 percent ESPN) is yours for the taking. Biron (75 percent Yahoo!, 70.7 percent ESPN) still has his loyalists, but that might change if Stevens is no longer one of them.
We’ll learn more about this situation soon enough; the Flyers play Sunday afternoon in Atlanta.
2. Flyers defenseman Randy Jones, who scored the game-winning goal, was limping (right leg) after the game. The thing is, I only noticed the limp after Jones finished talking to reporters and made his way (hobbling) back to the locker room. Which means that neither I — nor any of the other reporters — had the chance to ask him about it.
Jones’ fantasy viability could diminish, depending on the severity of his injury. Don’t be surprised if Jones is limited tomorrow at Atlanta.
Of course, since Jones missed the first 30 games this season with a hip injury, he’s not on many fantasy rosters anyway (two percent owned in Yahoo! leagues, one percent in ESPN). But those numbers belie Jones’ fantasy significance, since he often helms the point on Philadelphia’s No. 2 ranked power play.
Also, Jones has been on fire of late. Including today’s goal, Jones has scored three times in his last five games. If he is healthy, you should waste no time picking him up as a No. 4 defenseman.
3. Time to drop Bruins right wing Michael Ryder (fractured facial bone). He’s out “indefinitely,” according to the Bruins. Reading between the lines, I’m guessing “indefinitely” means at least two weeks. In pregame comments, Bruins coach Claude Julien did not rule out surgery for Ryder. While Ryder (95.3 percent owned in ESPN, 75 percent in Yahoo!) has been a terrific fantasy right wing (19 goals, 17 assists, +24), he is not worth the spot on your bench.
That’s not denigrating his season; it’s only saying you will not harm your squad if you drop Ryder and replace him with teammate Blake Wheeler (15 goals, 18 assists, +32). Though Wheeler’s stats are close to Ryder’s, Wheeler is vastly under-owned: 39 percent in Yahoo!, 36 percent in ESPN. Moreover, Wheeler stands to gain more ice time at right wing in Ryder’s absence.
Then again, Wheeler only logged 7:30 in Saturday’s 4-3 OT loss. You can read about Wheeler’s reaction to his de facto benching in Matt Kalman’s Bruins Blog.
Regardless, the larger point here is you should drop Ryder for a right wing who can actually help your team. Ryder can’t help you while he’s hurt.
photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons