This week's article includes a resurgence for the top center in Colorado, a few lesser-known wingers having solid campaigns, the top goalie out in TB and several rookies struggling as the season moves into the home stretch.
First Liners (Risers)
Michael Cammalleri, C, CGY – Cammalleri picked up two assists in Calgary's loss to Dallas on Monday, giving him seven points – all assists – in his last four games. He spent the bulk of his time Monday at even strength skating with Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla, though he is usually on a line with Curtis Glencross and Lee Stempniak. Cammalleri is now up to nine goals and 13 assists in 24 games
Matt Duchene, C, COL – Duchene hit the 30-point mark on the season with two assists Saturday against Minnesota and added an assist Monday. He has five points (one goal, three assists) in his last four games. The misery of last season is long gone. It had taken him 58 games to his 28 points last season and he did it in 25 this year. Now his 31 points has him approaching the list of top-10 scorers league-wide. Enjoy the fine stats if you own him.
Blake Wheeler, RW, WPG – Wheeler scored the game-tying goal and an empty-net goal in Phoenix's 3-1 win over the Bruins on Tuesday. The performance by Wheeler gives him 14 goals on the season and six in his last six games to go with 12 assists in 30 games. Wheeler is the hottest Jet on the ice, so you're obliged to keep him in your lineup.
Jannik Hansen, RW, VAN – Hansen scored another goal Wednesday against the Blues. Hansen has been on a tear in March, totaling 10 points (5G, 5A) in 10 games. While we don't expect Hansen to keep piling up points at the rate he has this month, the 27-year-old winger has a good chance to continue averaging more than 0.5 points per game, making him viable in deeper leagues.
Gabriel Bourque, RW, NAS – Bourque scored in his third straight game on Friday and then added a fourth in five games Wednesday. Bourque has been a welcomed addition to Nashville's stable of forwards, as he potted his team-leading 10th goal of the season Wednesday. He doesn't shoot much and he has a mere two assists while seeing little power play time – though that number has spiked a bit lately - on a sub-par offensive team, but he's been hot lately.
Sergei Gonchar, D, OTT – Someone had to step up when Erik Karlsson went down for the year, and lately, it's been Gonchar. Gonchar scored a goal and two assists and went plus-5 in Ottawa's win over the Isles on Tuesday, pushing his point streak to eight games. All the points in the streak before the goal had been assists, as the marker was actually his first since Jan. 29. Even when he's not finding twine, Gonchar's been plenty productive this year, posting his best scoring rate since 2009-10.
Matt Irwin, D, SJ – Irwin scored for the fourth straight game Monday, notching a goal in the third period of a loss to Anaheim. He was shut out Wednesday, but Irwin has quietly posted four goals and two assists in his last sevensix games. Unfortunately, he's also minus-6 on the year. If he keeps up the offense and the Sharks start playing well enough to boost his plus-minus, he could be a sneaky fantasy pickup. Plus, his value could spike if the Sharks move Dan Boyle, as has been rumored.
Marc-Andre Fleury, G, PIT – The Flower was profiled a few weeks ago, but his fine performance of late warrants another mention. Fleury led the Pens to a 2-1 victory over Washington on Tuesday, stopping 28 of 29 shots for his NHL-leading 16th win. He's won 14 of 17 decisions since the beginning of February. The preseason mantra of a 55-45 split between Fleury and backup Tomas Vokoun seems kind of silly at this point.
Niklas Backstrom, G, MIN – Backstrom won his fourth game in a row and sixth in his last seven starts, stopping 36 shots in a win over the Red Wings on Wednesday. On pace to improve his goals-against average for the third consecutive season (2.32), Backstrom has quietly picked up 15 wins as the Wild's primary netminder despite the fact that he does not have a shutout to this point.
Others include Logan Couture, Nazem Kadri, Tyler Toffoli, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, Patrik Berglund, Eric Staal, Anze Kopitar, Tyler Johnson, Derick Brassard, Tomas Plekanec, Patrick Marleau, Scott Gomez, Steven Stamkos (No. 200), John Tavares, Beau Bennett, Andrew Ladd, Ilya Kovalchuk, Teddy Purcell, Patrick Kane, Justin Williams, Jakob Silfverberg, Dustin Brown, Viktor Stalberg, Max Pacioretty, Devin Setoguchi, Chris Stewart, Phil Kessel, Alexander Semin, Martin St. Louis, Shea Weber, Patrick Wiercioch, Jake Gardiner, Brent Burns (seeing time at forward), Nick Leddy, Marek Zidlicky, P.K. Subban, T.J. Brennan, Francois Beauchemin, Jake Muzzin, Paul Martin, Ryan Suter, Dustin Byfuglien, Jonas Hiller, Carey Price, Ondrej Pavelec, Sergei Bobrovsky, Jake Allen, Jimmy Howard, Ray Emery, Jonathan Quick, Braden Holtby, Jacob Markstrom and Jonathan Bernier.
Training Room (Injuries)
Evgeni Malkin, C, PIT – Malkin is still not 100 percent after suffering a shoulder injury more than a week ago in Toronto. He won't play Friday, but he should be back in the lineup shortly.
Joe Corvo, D, CAR – Corvo, who left Saturday's game in the second period because of an lower-body injury, was placed on IR. After an offseason with Boston last year, Corvo had re-emerged as an option in deeper formats, with 11 points in 23 games to date. With Corvo and Justin Faulk out, the Hurricanes are now a bit short-handed on the blue line.
Anders Lindback, G, TB – Lindback, who recently hot gotten hit between the pipes, is now out indefinitely with a right ankle sprain. Lindback suffered the injury Wednesday and will be placed on IR. Mathieu Garon should see most of the playing time between the pipes for the Lightning.
Others include Vincent Lecavalier (minor foot fracture, out indefinitely), Joffrey Lupul (broken forearm, returned to action this week, scored a goal, received a two-game suspension for a check on to Victor Hedman), Milan Michalek (arthroscopic knee surgery, out indefinitely), Vladimir Tarasenko (concussion, returned to action Wednesday), Thomas Vanek (LBI, DTD), Marian Hossa (UBI, DTD), Patric Hornqvist (UBI, no timetable for return), Zack Kassian (back, DTD), David Booth (high ankle sprain, out six weeks), Tobias Enstrom (shoulder, out since Feb. 15, close to return), Justin Faulk (sprained knee, out 2-to-4 weeks), Dan Ellis (cut leg, DTD) and Martin Brodeur (back, returned Tuesday and started Thursday).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Alex Galchenyuk, C, MTL – Galchenyuk had seven points his first seven games but just seven in his next 23 contests. Despite his struggles, he will not be returned to the junior leagues despite the slump. Galchenyuk, who is third on the Canadiens at plus-9, will continue to skate on a line with Lars Eller and Gabriel Dumont
Sergei Kostitsyn, LW, NAS – Kostitsyn was a healthy scratch Tuesday against Columbus, but the benching lasted only a game as he was back in the lineup Thursday. The scratch came after Kostitsyn headed for a line change Sunday that created a two-on-one rush, resulting in an Oilers goal. Kostitsyn has struggled this year with just 11 points in 29 games, so even though he is back in the lineup, that doesn't mean he warrants a fantasy roster spot.
Matthew Carle, D, TB – Carle snapped a 12-game point drought with an assist Saturday against the Carolina but then failed to score in his next two games. He's logging heavy minutes, but we can't help but think the Bolts expected a few more points from him by now given their six-year, $33 million investment in him. We know fantasy owners sure did.
Viktor Fasth, G, ANA – Fasth started 9-1-1 with a 2.08 goals-against average, riding his fine play while taking advantage of Hiller's struggles to see most of the playing time in Anaheim. Lately, the tide has turned, and it's been Fasth riding the pine while Hiller re-established himself as the top dog for the Ducks. Fasth is still a solid back up but his days of being the No. 1 goalie appear over.
Others include Mikhail Grigorenko (like Galchenyuk, struggled in majors, but Buffalo, unlike Montreal, sent him down), Saku Koivu (scoring pace has predictably slowed), Ryane Clowe (struggles continues and rumored to be on trade block), Damien Brunner (no goals in 10 games), Marian Gaborik (first goal in eight games Thursday, trade rumors swirl), Dougie Hamilton (in a bit of a scoring slump), Justin Schultz (like Hamilton, in a bit of a scoring slump), Antti Niemi (at least three goals allowed in each of his last seven starts) and Brian Elliott (may be released).