Crashing the Net: Hot and Cold
David Clarkson owners can breath a sigh of relief. The “injury” he was dealing with is nothing more than some back stiffness that he says he should be able to play through without missing any time. He's been a fantasy monster in the early going with 10 goals (five on the power-play), 16 points and 67 shots on goal in 16 games.
Matt Duchene was a scoring star on the rise his first two seasons averaging 0.76 points per contest. Last season he recorded a mere 28 points in 58 games, obviously less than half a point a game. Determined to right those wrongs, Matt has come out blazing this year for the Avalanche with 17 points in 14 games. Hopefully you didn't miss a chance to buy him on the cheap on draft day.
Patrik Elias has been blazing hot. The veteran of more than 1,000 contests has put up 19 points with a +10 rating in 16 games this season. He's also been a power-play monster with nine points with the man advantage. Coming off a 78 point season Patrik has 30 goals and 97 points in his last 97 games.
The Jarome Iginla Watch --- one goal in 14 games. He's been a MASSIVE disappointment but now is still the time to pounce. The smart money is on him having a furious stretch at some point. He's just too talented to continue along this path (his shooting percentage is .021 less than a sixth of his career .131 mark).
Maxim Kadri has finally started to pay dividends for the Leafs. After being taken 7th overall in 2009 it's taken a while for the lefty to find his spot in the every day lineup, but it's all coming together this season. In 16 games he's netted 14 points and is a +5 skater. He's also been very effective on the power-play with four goals with the man advantage.
Gabriel Landeskog isn't back yet but he did skate with his teammates Tuesday for the first time since suffering his head injury in late January. Hopefully he'll be back in action by the end of the week for the Avs.
Mikael Samuelson is back off the injured list and he will be asked to help out the Red Wings on the first power-play unit. That means he'll be feeding the puck to guys like Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall. What that also means is that now is the time to pick up Samuelson if he's still floating around on waivers.
Eric Staal's point streak ended at 11 games. He had eight goals and nine helpers in that time. Brother and teammate Jordan Staal has only two goals in 14 games but he has 12 points in 14 contests though he has only one point in his last three forays onto the ice.
Jiri Tlusty was named the NHL's Third Star of the just completed week after putting up four goals and two assists in three games. Jiri has nine points in 14 games to go along with a +9 rating. He's never been able to live up to the first round billing he received though he is coming off his most productive season with 17g, 19a in 79 games last season.
Jakub Voracek dished out four helpers in the Flyers' 7-0 dismantling of the Islanders Monday. The 7th overall selection in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, Jakub has scored 50, 46 and 49 points the past three years and not once has he reached 20 goals. The big game Monday moved him to 15 points in 17 games, but it would be wise to think that the one impressive game will suddenly vault him into must own status in fantasy hockey.
Francois Beauchemin not only has seven points but he's also a +14 skater, the best mark in the NHL (one point ahead of teammate Sheldon Souray). A veteran in his 9th season, Francois was a (-14) skater last season and is (-25) for his career. He's been a fantastic pick up thus far.
Brian Campbell was likely over drafted this season in your league. Coming off a 53 points season people probably overlooked the fact that he scored only four goals, that he took only 131 shots, that he had only eight penalty minutes and was a (-9) skater. Hopefully you aren't one of those folks. Campbell has been very productive offensively with four power-play goals (one off a career best) and eight points in 15 games. However, he's only got eight PIMs, has totaled just eight hits, and he's already a (-9) for the Panthers. High price to pay for some points from the blue line.
Christian Ehrhoff signed a whopper of a contract to come to Buffalo and in his first season he was a massive disappointment (he recorded 14 goals and 50 points his his last season in Vancouver before slumping to five goals and 32 points last season). This year he's eating up copious amounts of ice-time (top-25 in the league) while providing a solid all-around game: 2g, 8a, +6 in 15 contests.
Tobias Enstrom is still second at the position with 13 points in 13 games. He's also failed to put 10 shots on net with just nine. The next highest point producer from the blue line with less than 10 shots on goal is Jonathan Ericsson who has six points but only seven shots for the Red Wings.
Mike Green is being listed as day to day with a lower body injury. How frustrating is it to own this guy? After back-to-back seasons of 70 points in 2008-09 he appeared in a total of 81 games the past two years while scoring a mere 31 points. This season he's gotten off to a passable start with seven points in 14 games but here is that injury thing all over again. Ugh.
P.K. Subban has hit the ground running for the Habs after finally agreeing to a contract with six points in nine games, though he recorded four of those points in his first four games. He's dealing with a case of the flu but should be fine before long.
Viktor Fasth is a superstar. Everyone knew that would be a valid statement to make two months ago. In a remarkable start to his big league career, they 30 year old rookie, who doesn't exactly exhibit textbook form, has been killing it for the Ducks. In nine games, eight starts, the Swedish native hasn't lost a game. Not one (he's 8-0-0). He's also allowed a total of 16 goals leading to a 1.78 GAA thanks to a sparkling .933 save percentage. Jonas Hiller is over his injury, and he too has had success going 4-2-1, but how in the world are the Ducks not going to ride Fasth as long as he performs like this?
Remember when there was all that foolish talk that Tomas Vokoun might take over in net for the Penguins? Yeah, not happening. Marc-Andre Fleury is tied for the league lead with eight wins including emerging with a victory in six of his last seven starts.
The Predators still have both Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider on the roster, and to the surprise of some (not this scribe), the better performer has been Luongo who is currently third in the NHL with a 1.63 GAA (Schneider is way off the pace at 2.62). I still can't believe how many people were ready to write off Luongo this season thinking he was somehow going to recede into the woodwork and fail to impress (did you really think he would wallow on the Canucks' bench if they didn't deal him?). Um, the last time this guy had a GAA off 2.60 was 2005, and only once since then has that mark been above 2.41 (it was 2.57 in 2009). He's still an elite netminder. He figures to see the majority of starts for the Canucks, but Schneider will obviously be on the ice plenty as well.
Well look who leads the NHL in GAA --- it's Pekka Rinne at 1.58. Get this though – he's got a losing record on the year at 6-3-4. Not just that, he's won just two of his last five outings despite permitting a total of five goals. Yeah, that's damn hard to do. His only two wins in that span are shutouts.
Ben Scrivens has been thrust into a bigger role with the Leafs because of the injury to James Reimer (the sprained MCL of Reimer could have him out about 10-14 days). Not only has Scrivens performed admirably, he's been a godsend. In his last two outings he's tossed up shutouts, and those two white-washings have upped his save percentage to .939. Anyone this hot is a must start no matter what else is going on. Could we have another Brian Boucher situation on our hands (in 2004 Boucher had a shutout streak of more than 5-straight games - 332:01 worth)?
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday at 5 PM EDT. Ray's analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.