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Friday's Face-Off: Everybody Loves Raymond

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

Tyler Ennis continues to get it done for the streaking Sabres. Weighing just 165 lbs and standing a mere 5'9”, Ennis has six points in his last three games when he has also, not coincidentally, posted a plus-six rating. Pushing the pace since mid-February, Ennis has recorded 14 points in 15 games.

Mason Raymond, it's your time to come on down for the Price is Right (if you don't get that game show reference you had better be 25 and under). Raymond will be skating on the Canucks top line with the Sedin twins for the moment (Alex Burrows, the normal third piece of the top line, has been skating with Jannik Hansen and Samuel Pahlsson on the third line, and the trio has looked sharp). Raymond scored 25 goals a couple of years back but he has only eight goals and 16 points this season, so there's an exceedingly good chance he's floating around on the waiver-wire.

KEEPER CORNER

Craig Anderson (finger) has started to face shots, and there is a decent chance that he will be back in action for the Senators at some point next week.

Talk about turning a season around. After posting a 2.77 GAA prior to the All-Star Game Martin Brodeur has lowered that mark by a full goal over his last 19 starts (1.77). He's also played even better in the month of March with a 1.41 GAA in seven starts. On the year he owns a 2.36 GAA, just slightly above his 2.23 career mark.

Jonas Hiller will make his 31st straight appearance in net Friday for the Ducks. That run, a franchise record, is also the longest streak since Antti Niemi started 34-straight for the Sharks last season. In the 30 games he has started in net his GAA is 1.90 to lower his season long mark to 2.53, just one-hundredth above his career mark.

Has Mike Smith, the goalie of the month February when he went 11-0, lost his mojo in March? Not only does he have just two victories in eight starts, but he's also allowed four goals in each of his last three outings, and four times in eight games in March. Cut him some slack. He still has a 2.37 GAA and .924 save percentage on the season, but it's fair to wonder if a guy who has never appeared in more than 42 games during an NHL season might be a bit worn down from the 58 games he's played for the Coyotes.

Tim Thomas – what the hell has happened? The slide continues unabated as he allowed six goals in his last outing. That means four times in his last seven games he's permitted at least four goals, and for the month of March his GAA is 4.06. Thomas posted a 2.00 GAA in 57 games last season.

Over his last 16 games Cam Ward may only be 7-4-4 but he's tending some solid net with a 2.53 GAA and .924 save percentage. For his career he owns a 2.74 GAA and .910 save percentage, so he's playing pretty darn well down the stretch. With 25 victories he needs five more victories for a fifth 30-win season in six years.

YOU GOTSTA KNOW – CONCUSSIONS

Sidney Crosby is back. He returned to the ice Thursday, took 18 shifts, registered two assists and was a plus-three as the Penguins won their 10th straight game. Crosby, who returned from concussion woes, was joined on the power-play by Kris Letang, who also returned from a concussion in the same game. All Letang did was record an assist while posting a plus-five mark. How good can this team be with a healthy Letang and Crosby? Scary.

Nicklas Backstrom had 42 points in 38 games before he was sidelined with a concussion (he last saw game action on January 3). Backstrom, who hit the shelf with a five-game point streak, is back to skating and is said to be symptom-free for the Caps. If that is the case he would offer a huge boost for a club that is struggling to hold on to a playoff spot if he could get back on the ice quickly (it's not certain when Backstrom will return). Have you waited on him or did you let him go when the concussion woes entered their second month? Might want to check that waiver-wire.

Jonathan Toews remains sidelined with a concussion, though he has been skating the past week. Still, he last played on February 19 and there is still no timetable for when he is expected to be activated for game action.

THE NUMBERS GAME

0: The number of goals that Mike Richards has since January 14 – a span of 25 games. How is that even possible? Going further back Richards has only one goal in 35 games. That's simply putrid for a guy who is constantly seeing top-six ice time. Richards has 12 assists in his last 35 games, so his passing prowess has also dwindled to a slow trickle.

3: The number of consecutive games that winger Erik Cole has scored a goal for the Habs (he has four goals in those three games). Last season Cole had 26 goals, 52 points and 201 shots on net in Carolina. This year with the Canadiens, he has 27 goals, 52 points and 206 shots on net. Of course, Montreal still has 11 more games to play.

4: The number of goals scored in the last six games by Chad LaRose. Chad has also dished out a helper in those six contests while providing a plus-four rating. He's also been hitting the opposition frequently of late with four hits in two of the last three games.

4: The number of consecutive games that Brandon Bollig of the Blackhawks has picked up a five minute minor. Obvious the burly winger, who had 163 PIMs in 53 games with AHL Rockford, isn't afraid to mix it up with his fists.

6: The number of consecutive games in which Jarome Iginla has produced a goal (he's scored a total of seven times). With the hot streak, and by the way he's also handed out six assists during his eight-game point streak, Jarome has pushed his goal total up to 31. That marks 11-straight seasons of 30-goals for the Flames sniper (he scored 28 and 29 in 1998-99).

7: The number of goals that Jamie McGinn has scored in his last seven contests. Just one goal from 20, McGinn entered the year with 15 markers in 143 games with the Sharks, so this offensive explosion certainly has come out of nowhere.

8: The number of points Brad Richards has produced in his last three games. Go back a bit further and he has 10 points in five games (5g, 5a). He'll need to keep the full-court press on, and then some, to reach the 77 points he produced last year. Oh, who am I kidding, he has no shot at reaching that mark (he currently has 55 points).

11: The number of points Alex Tanguay has produced in March (eight games). He's lit the lamp three times and dealt out eight assists and is now three points short of his ninth 50-point season.

12: The number of points Valterri Filppula has recorded in his last nine games for the Winged Wheel. After recording between 35 and 40 points four-straight years in a row, Filppula has finally broken out this season with 22 goals and 36 assists for the Wings.

100: The distance between Martin Broduer's career win total of 651, and the second best mark in league history – 551 by Patrick Roy. Think about that. That's three seasons with 33 victories separating the duo (and yes, I'm aware that three times 33 is 99, but you get my point).

249:43: The streak of goalless minutes produced by Ilya Bryzgalov of the Flyers. Obviously that's a club record. Amazingly, that streak is less than 30 seconds longer than the 249:14 stretch of goalless play Bryzgalov offered in the 2006 playoffs when he had a Duck logo on his sweater. For March, Ilya is 7-0 with a 0.99 GAA and four shutouts. Amazingly, the all-time record is a streak of 332:01 of scoreless keeping by Brian Boucher back when he was with the Coyotes (he had five-straight shutouts).


Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, and Saturday's from 4-5 PM he hosts the SiriusXM Fantasy Hockey Show. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at 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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