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Friday's Face-Off: Garon-teed Victory

Ray Flowers

Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: M-F at 5-8 PM EDT), Ray Flowers has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. You can follow Ray on Twitter (@BaseballGuys), he never sleeps, and you can also find more of his musings at BaseballGuys.com.

It's Friday, so it's time to send you off to a weekend of fun and games with a review of some of the most important stories from the frozen pond.

LINE NOTES

Patrik Berglund was seen centering the Blues' second line at practice Thursday (between Chris Stewart and David Perron). Berglund has only 20 points in 49 games, but he did score two goals in his last game to snap a seven game scoreless streak.

It took Brent Burns a while to get used to things with the Sharks, but maybe he's finally starting to settle in to a groove. Burns has three points and is a +3 skater in his last two games. He still has only 20 points on the year, but at least he is a +13 skater to give him some value.

Ryan Clowe was back on the ice for the Sharks Thursday. He had missed time with a facial injury, but he returned to score a goal for Team Teal. He brings a nice combination of points (27) and tough stuff (56 PIMs), though his season to this point would have to be considered a let down.

Phil Kessel has only two goals and three points in his last 10 games for the Leafs. I hate to say it, but it was bound to happen at some point. Kessel still has 51 points in 51 games, he's never had 65 in a season, and with 26 goals he's on pace to hit 40 for the first time (36 goals is his career best).

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder) is set to return to the Oilers lineup Saturday. He has 35 points in 38 games and last played on January 2nd.

Patrick Sharp (wrist) may not be at 100 percent, but he's back at it for the Blackhawks. He scored two goals in his second game back on the ice as he fired seven shots on net. If you haven't activated him yet, get on it.

Eric Staal is back to being a productive offensive player. Over his last 15 games he has 18 points, but even with that strong run of points he still has a mere 38 points in 53 games.

KEEPER CORNER

Word on the street was that Niklas Backstrom was getting perilously close to losing his starting gig with the Wild. For 7-straight outings Backstrom had allowed at least three goals before stopping 24 of 26 shots on January 24th. He upped the ante Thursday when he stopped all 37 shots that were thrown his way by the Av's on his way to his third shutout of the year. So much for that slump. On the year Niklas has a 2.35 GAA and .924 save percentage, and those are elite numbers despite his wretched stretch.

Scott Clemmensen continues to play a role for the Panthers. With Jose Theodore still dealing with a wonky knee, he could be strong enough to return to action this weekend, Clemmensen ha allowed a total of nine goals in his last four starts. Clemmensen has improved after a slow start to the year, and he's pushed his save percentage up to .915. If the Panthers deal him at the deadline, play attention to where he ends up.

Devan Dubnyk has seemingly taken over in net for the Oilers. He's started 4-straight games for the Oilers and he's recorded at least 33 saves in each of those four outings, three of which have resulted in an Oilers' win. Over those four games he's allowed just nine goals to drop his year long mark down to 2.89.

Mathieu Garon has won four of his last five starts for the Lightning. In that time his GAA has been 2.16, pretty good for a guy who may be on your waiver-wire. With Dwayne Roloson looking washed up, Garon is in line to run with the job in net for the Bolts.

Jimmy Howard is on pace to be the first keeper in league history to win 50 goals in a single season. However, he has a broken finger that could cause him to miss a couple of games, something he can't afford if he's intent on making history.

Cam Ward is back on the case. His season long numbers aren't great, he's 19-18-8 with a 2.80 GAA, but he's really picked up his play recently, no more so than Thursday when he picked up a 47 save shutout against the mighty Bruins in one of the better goaltending efforts of the season. Since the calendar flipped to 2012 Ward has gone just 6-3-3 but you can't blame him for that given that he's posted a 1.65 GAA and .951 save percentage. Yeah, he's been phenomenal of late.

YOU GOTSTA KNOW

He was a first round draft pick in 2007.

He scored between 13 and 16 goals each of his first four years in the league.

He recorded between 41 and 49 points each of his first four seasons in the league (including 41, 41 and 42 points the past three years).

He never quite lived up to expectations with the Oilers.

That all changed Thursday night.

Sam Gagner, about as nondescript a player that anyone would consider for a fantasy roster, had one of the best nights anyone who has ever laced them up ever had. He was a +6 skater. That turned his night into a wondrous one. Gagner also scored four times for the Oilers to turn his night magical. When he also dished out four assists, his night became epic.

Gagner became the third Oiler ever to have eight points in a game (Paul Coffey and Wayne Gretzky). The record is 10 points by Darryl Sittler.

Gagner became the first skater to record eight points since Mario Lemieux hit that mark in 1989.

He scored more points than NHL penalty minute leader Zenon Konopka has all season (159 PIMs, five points).

He leaped 110 spots in the NHL point scoring standings in one night.

Should he leap into your fantasy hearts? Probably not. He's just not a top shelf scoring option, and when the season is over, if you take this one game out of the mix, the numbers are likely to be the same as they always are.

By the way, two other Oilers' skaters recorded a goal, dished out three helpers, and were a +4 Thursday; Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall.

THE NUMBERS GAME

0: The number of points that the Ducks' top line has in it's last three games meaning Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan have all produced goose eggs. It's been a rough season for that trio as Perry has 39 points, Getzlaf 34 and Ryan 31 in 50 games with for the Ducks.

1: The number of goals that David Clarkson needs for his first 20-goal effort. He is also just 12 hits away from a 20-100-100-100 effort (goals, shots, hits, penalty minutes). He's one of those under the radar guys who simply do a little bit of everything making him a terrific fantasy addition to any club.

1.07: The number of points-per-game that David Desharnais has produced in his last 14 contests for the Canadiens. Double D's has 15 points in that time. Going back a bit further, DD's has 23 points in his last 26 games making him a solid addition if he's floating around on the waiver-wire.

3: The number of goals that Zach Parise has recorded in his last two games, that after going five games without lighting the lamp. Also, in his last 11 games he has recorded two points four times to give him 12 points in 11 contests for the Devils. Will he be dealt since the team can't seem to come to terms with him on a long-term deal?

8: Kyle Wellwood continues to produce. He has eight points in his last eight games for the Jets. He can't keep it up, but he's rolling right now.

9: Justin Williams has a point in 9-straight games for the Kings (11 points total). That's what happens when you skate on a line with talented mates like Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. Now if Williams can just stay healthy.

30: The number of assists for Kimmo Timonen this season for the Flyers. It's not a huge total, but it is one that he has reached in each of the past nine seasons, and that's pretty impressive (he had 29 helpers in 2001).


Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, and Saturday's from 3-4 PM he hosts the SiriusXM Fantasy Hockey Show. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.To email Ray a question for next week's piece, drop him a line at fantasyfandom@yahoo.com.

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