This week’s article includes a slightly lesser known winger who is hot out West, an Ottawa defenseman excelling, Ovie on the sidelines and a goalie struggling in the Sunshine State.
First Liners (Risers)
Nathan Gerbe, C, BUF – After scoring both goals in Buffalo’s win over Montreal Tuesday, Gerbe now has 13 on the season and 12 in the last 32 games. While his recent stretch is impressive, those numbers do come with a sense of caution. Gerbe is still not a top-6 forward yet and only saw 13:06 of ice time Tuesday. In addition, he is also receiving barely any power play time, with an average of just eight seconds per over his last seven games. Still, the former Boston College superstar is starting to take the next step, and the Sabres are counting on him more and more as they try to solidify a playoff spot.
Matt Duchene, C, COL – A few weeks ago Duchene was a ‘Faller,’ but now, he is back on the ‘Riser’ side of the ledger. Duchene continued his recent tear last week, dropping two goals on the Blue Jackets Tuesday and tallying another one Thursday. That outburst extended his point streak to six, which includes a two-point effort in three straight contests. Take note of this because late season outbursts help fantasy owners win championships.
Joe Pavelski, LW, SJ – Pavelski assisted on two goals Wednesday in helping the Sharks to a 6-3 win against the Flames. That performance came on the heels of Pavelski being named the NHL’s First Star for the prior week, during which he had three goals and eight assists in four games. Pavelski now has 59 points, which ties his career-best set two years ago. At his current rate, it should not take him long to break the tie.
Ryan Callahan, RW, NYR – Callahan's assist in the Rangers' win over Florida gave him 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his last eight games. Callahan is leading a late-season surge by the Rangers, winners of seven of those eight games. Not only has Callahan developed into a good secondary scorer (23 G, 24 A, 10 PPG, 5 GW), he is also among best forwards in terms of hits (203) and blocks (66). Callahan’s play and leadership of late are two reasons why many feel he will be the Blueshirts’ future captain.
Teemu Selanne, RW, ANA – Selanne scored twice in Anaheim’s 5-4 loss to Nashville Thursday, giving him goals in three straight games. Selanne now has 25 goals, to go along with his 45 assists, in 65 games, a tremendous pace for anyone, let alone a 40-year old, His PPG Sunday moved him up to eighth all-time in power play goals and was his 12th on the man advantage this season. Selanne is having his best offensive season since 2006-07, so it will be interesting to see if he comes back for one more year at age 41.
Erik Karlsson, D, OTT – Karlsson saw his point streak end at three Thursday, but he played the hero for Ottawa, scoring the lone shootout goal to help the Senators defeat the Rangers 2-1. Despite the end of the streak, Karlsson still has 11 points in his last 11 games, and 44 on the season. Karlsson is in the top 12 in scoring from the blue line – and he's still just 20. The one negative is his minus-31 rating, but in the month of March, he has been even. Even with the plus-minus risk, Karlsson is a keeper leaguer’s dream.
Matthew Carle, D, PHI – Carle set up Philadelphia’s lone goal Thursday to continue his hot month of March. He has nine assists in 11 games this month, including helpers in four straight. Carle hasn't scored a goal since December 5 (his only tally this season), and only two of his 37 points have come on the power play, but his plus-minus is outstanding (plus-25). Almost all of Carle’s production has come at even strength, and he's clearly an effective defensive player.
James Reimer, G, TOR – I profiled Reimer five weeks ago, but his play of late warrants another mention. Reimer stopped 25 of 28 shots to defeat Colorado 4-3 Thursday and improve to 17-7-4 on the year. He has five wins in his last six and his strong play has helped Toronto remain in the playoff hunt. Ride him down the stretch.
Craig Anderson, G, OTT – A change of scenery is many times viewed as a positive in sports. It allows an athlete to gain a new perspective or leave a situation where he or she was struggling. That adage has held true in Anderson’s move from Colorado to Ottawa. Anderson got off to a brilliant start with Ottawa but then struggled in his next two before being sidelined for three games with a lower body injury. Ottawa thought so much of his play since the trade that they signed him to a four-year, $12.75 million deal. Anderson made the deal look good in his first game since the signing, stoning the Rangers 2-1 in a shootout win. He will be the Senators’ netminder for the foreseeable future.
Others include: Torrey Mitchell, David Legwand (16 points last 14 games), Artem Anisimov, Jordan Staal, Vincent Lecavalier, David Backes, Ryan Kesler, David Krejci, Tyler Ennis, Milan Lucic, Blake Wheeler, Chris Kunitz, Mike Knuble, Sergei Samsonov, Blake Geoffrion, Matt D’Agostini, Tyler Kennedy, Tuomo Ruutu, Radim Vrbata, Corey Perry, Nikolai Kulemin, Erik Cole, Ray Whitney, Martin Erat, Daniel Cleary, Dustin Brown, P.K. Subban, Cam Fowler, Tyler Myers, Brent Seabrook, Dan Boyle, Ryan Suter, Zdeno Chara, Christian Ehrhoff, Lubomir Visnovsky, John Carlson, Pekka Rinne, Al Montoya, Antti Niemi, Henrik Lundqvist, Jonathan Quick, Michal Neuvirth, Ilya Bryzgalov and Roberto Luongo.
Training Room (Injuries)
Jason Arnott, C, WAS – Arnott, out since March 13 with what is believed to be a groin injury, skated laps for about 10 minutes prior to the start of Monday's practice. Coach Bruce Boudreau said last Saturday that he expected Arnott -- who skated "rather gingerly" Monday -- to miss at least seven to 10 days and possibly more with the injury. Plus, with Nicklas Backstrom now back and Marcus Johansson playing well, Arnott could lose his spot as the second center.
Justin Williams, RW, LA – Williams, who left Monday's game against Calgary with an upper body injury, got the bad news Tuesday that he will be sidelined the remainder of the regular season with a dislocated shoulder. After three injury-shortened seasons, Williams had remained healthy – at least until Monday – scoring 57 points with a plus-14 rating in 73 games. The injury removes a top-six forward from the Kings lineup as they try and stay in the playoff hunt. Oscar Moller will take Williams’ spot on the top line.
Patrick Sharp, RW, CHI – Sharp suffered a knee injury Sunday on a knee-to-knee collision with Phoenix’s Rotislav Klesla that will sideline him for two weeks. Coach Joel Quenneville said that the team is hoping to have Sharp back before the last regular season game on April 10. For the team this is a relief. If you have Sharp on your fantasy roster this is not good news since he has been such a nice surprise this season. Sharp has a career-high 68 points - 34 goals and 34 assists - which is two points higher than his former career-high, set just last season.
Alexander Ovechkin, LW, WAS – Ovechkin, dealing with what is being described as a nagging, undisclosed ailment, will be sidelined for about 7-10 days. Ovie missed the March 22 game against the Flyers, and based on that timeline, could be back for the team’s March 29 game against Carolina. If not, he should return for either the March 31 game against Columbus or April 2 contest versus Buffalo. The absence does his fantasy owners no good, but it should help Ovie get healthy for the playoffs.
Zach Parise, RW, NJ – While I highlighted Parise, who had surgery to repair a meniscus tear on November 2, last week, I felt the update on his status was worth another mention. Parise had been skating on his own for about three weeks and participated in a full practice Thursday. GM Lou Lamoriello said that he believes Parise will play sometime this year. No word has been given as to when that will occur, but if you held onto Parise hoping for a return before the end of the season, it looks like you will be rewarded.
Mark Streit, D, NYI – Streit, who had surgery in early October to repair his torn rotator cuff, labrum, and dislocation of the shoulder, will miss the rest of the regular season. Streit skated during Wednesday morning's practice but was not granted medical clearance for contact and will be shut down for the remainder of the regular season. Those of you, like me, who drafted him hoping for a late-season boost, can dump him if you are in a single-year league.
Chris Osgood, G, DET – Osgood (hernia) has been placed on long-term IR and won't be eligible to return until April 8. If he's ready to return then, he'll have two regular season games to potentially see action before the playoffs begin. It's possible that Joey MacDonald will have to back up Jimmy Howard in the playoffs as a result of Osgood's apparent setback.
Others include: Patrik Berglund (lower-body, day-to-day), Manny Malhotra (eye, will miss the rest of the year), Steve Sullivan (groin surgery, out 4-to-6 weeks), Pavel Datsyuk (lower-body, day-to-day), Ryan Malone (abdomen, out since February 8, expected back April 1), Jamie McBain (shoulder, may be back this weekend), Chris Pronger (wrist, on target for early-April return), Kevin Bieksa (broken foot, returned to action Wednesday), Jonas Hiller (vertigo, activated Wednesday and starting Thursday).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Olli Jokinen, C, CGY – As Calgary attempts to remain in the playoff hunt, they need help from all hands on deck, but especially from their scorers. Of late, Jokinen hasn’t been pulling his weight. Jokinen found the back of the net Monday against the Kings but he has just three goals and four assists in 12 games this month. If the Flames are to sneak in as the eighth seed, Jokinen will need to get hot like he was in February.
Antoine Vermette, C, CMB – Through 64 games, Columbus was right in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, but in their past 10 games, they have gone 2-4-4 to fall into 12th, 10 points out of the eighth spot. Part of the demise has been the team’s offensive struggles, of which Vermette has been a part. In his last eight games, Vermette has just two points, and with 41 in 74 games, he will fall way short of the 65 he scored last season.
Kyle Okposo, RW, NYI – Okposo was shut out Thursday against Atlanta, the fifth time in six games he has failed to notch a point. Okposo missed the first half of the season recovering from shoulder surgery before returning in January. Since coming back, he has a respectable 17 points in 31 games despite being prone to inconsistency. He is still skating with Franz Nielsen and Michael Grabner, which should afford him some scoring chances - but for now bench him until he gets hot.
Kris Versteeg, LW, PHI – The trade from Toronto to Philadelphia has been a boon to Versteeg’s place in the standings, but it has had a deleterious effect on his offense. Versteeg was shut out again Thursday and has just one point – a goal – in his last nine games. After scoring 35 points in 53 games for the Maple Leafs, Versteeg has just six in 18 contests as a Flyer. The drop in output is not surprising since Versteeg has gone from a scoring line to a third line in the City of Brotherly Love while seeing his ice time cut by three minutes a game, including a reduction of two-plus minutes on the power play. His benefit to the Flyers will likely come when the postseason starts.
Marc-Andre Bergeron, D, TB – When Bergeron joined Tampa Bay, owners who snapped him up knew – or should have known – what they were getting. Bergeron is a defenseman who can rack up points but whose defensive liabilities can wreak havoc on a plus-minus. Bergeron did rack up points early on, scoring six in his first eight games, but since then he has been shut out and now has a minus-13 rating.
Tomas Vokoun, G, FLA – Vokoun gave up four goals on 31 shots Wednesday as the Panthers fell to the Blackhawks, 4-0. Vokoun has carried the Panthers throughout much of the season, but with just two wins in his last 11 starts, it may become harder to justify plugging him into your lineup for his peripheral stats. In addition, one has to wonder why Florida didn’t try and deal Vokoun to a contender at the deadline given that they are building for the future and Vokoun will be 35 this summer.
Others include: Stephen Weiss, Scott Gomez, Derek Stepan, Brian Rolston, Brad Boyes, Scott Hartnell, Niklas Hagman, Matt Calvert, Michael Cammalleri, Brad Marchand, Alexei Kovalev, Andrew MacDonald, Jordan Leopold, Joe Corvo, Fedor Tyutin, Brian Campbell, Braden Holtby, Dan Ellis and Ray Emery (both lose value with Hiller back), Peter Budaj, Brian Elliott, Tuukka Rask, Niklas Backstrom and Miikka Kiprusoff.