Dan Boyle is wheeling and dealing for the red-hot Sharks. San Jose is flying toward the playoffs for what, we assume, will be another year of woeful underachievement prompting the seemingly annual debate as to whether the team's "window is closing."
Boyle has three goals and two assists through the last seven games, including a Scott Niedermayer-esque end-to-end rush against Minnesota from Wednesday. Boyle picked up the puck following a Wild clear and proceeded to blaze a path through a defense with more aplomb than Davy Crockett. Boyle has always been a consistent scorer, but he's currently three goals away from cracking double digits, a feat he hasn't achieved since the 2009-10 season. The goals are even more impressive considering this year is a shortened season. One of these years, Boyle's numbers will fall. Until then, he'll be one of the steadiest options for your blue line after the elite defenders are gone.
Boyle isn't the only defender producing regularly for the Sharks, although Brent Burns is basically a defender in name only right now. Burns has been skating at forward the last few weeks and been infinitely more productive at wing that he was in the several games he played on the blue line, giving owners forward production from a defenseman spot in their lineup; most leagues still have Burns listed a blue liner.
Since moving to forward on March 12, Burns has 13 points through 13 games with three goals and four assists over the last seven contests. Burns likely will be moved back to the blue line next season, one can assume, but he's been a great value for owners that snagged him late in drafts while he was still on injured reserve.
Back To The Future In DC
A quick glance at the recent statistics put up by Washington's highest-paid players will make fantasy owners believe that it's 2010 again (when the Caps were Eastern Conference Regular Season Champions). The Caps saw themselves in the news this past week for dealing uber-prospect Filip Forsberg to Nashville for Martin Erat, a trade they'll surely regret (although Forsberg might not be as valuable in Nashville's system). Forsberg had the skills to be a top pick last June, but he slipped. (Erat left Saturday's win over Florida with a lower-body injury in the first period and did not return)
The Forsberg folly aside, Washington is flying up the Eastern Conference standings, sitting atop the Southeast Division with 40 points. While technically tied with Winnipeg, the Caps have played two fewer games than the
Thrashers Jets, thus have the tiebreaker. The Jets, however, are sitting in ninth place, two points behind the Islanders and Rangers, looking likely that the Southeast will get just one team in the playoffs again.
While Alexander Ovechkin has 13 goals in the last 11 games and Nicklas Backstrom is sitting third in the league with 33 assists (a goal and eight helpers in the last five contests), our old friend Mike Green, the most enigmatic Canadian player ever, has five goals and seven points in the last five contests. That's as many points as Green registered in 32 games during last season's injury-riddled, remarkably inconsistent campaign. Green and the Caps appear to be adjusting quite nicely to new coach Adam Oates' system, something that should play right into the talents of Green, Ovechkin and Backstrom.
Still In Phoenix
Much like the Phoenix Coyotes themselves, Keith Yandle has been enduring rumors about leaving the Desert. His name, however, was not called during Wednesday's trade deadline, leaving him with the 'Yotes, at least for now. Yandle's been usurped on the ice by Oliver Ekman-Larsson but he's still delivering some production with eight points in the last nine contests, including four in the past three. As has been the case with most of Yandle's production this season, it's been concentrated. His 23 points have him sitting in eighth in the defensemen scoring race.
Yes, General Burkhalter
Even though he is not a defenseman, Phoenix winger Rob Klinkhammer has one of the best hockey names since Lucien Deblois. Klinkhammer is making an impact in his small sample size of NHL action, with four goals and four assists over 13 games, six of which have come in the last seven games. Phoenix are one of a host of Western Conference teams battling for a playoff spot and Klinkhammer is going to be a player for them in the season's final three weeks, provided he can find time while threatening to send Schultz to the Russian front.
-Since Paul Martin left the lineup with a broken wrist, Matt Niskanen has no points in those four games, despite seeing boatloads of power-play time (more than 3 minutes in two contests and 5:47 in another). With Kris Letang due back in the lineup soon, Niskanen's rate of production likely will stay similar to what it's been.
-Toronto Maple Leaf defender Mark Fraser is still making an impact in terms of plus-minus, sitting at a plus-14 with seven points, including a primary assist on Leo Kamorov's goal in Saturday's win over New Jersey, Fraser's former team.
-Edmonton's Justin Schultz has points in just two of his last 12 games, with an eight-game drought in that span. Early last week, Schutlz grabbed four points over two games, with a goal and two helpers in a win over Calgary. One can hope Schutlz will be more consistent next season, just don't pay too high of a price for his services.
-Jay Bouwmeester has adapted nicely to St. Louis in his first two games with the Blues, notching three assists over that span. He's currently playing alongside budding star Alex Pietrangelo, so that's a bit of an upgrade from his teammates in Calgary. Odds are Bouwmeester won't rake in the points for St. Louis, but he'll be a steady player on one of the deepest group of defensemen in the NHL. (Seriously, their third pairing is Roman Polak and Barrett Jackman).
-Vancouver's Dan Hamhuis continues to be steady, albeit unspectacular. The veteran has points in three of the last four games including a goal in Saturday's win over Vancouver.
-Your weekly P.K. Subban update finds the Toronto native rolling in points for the Habs (assisted on both Montreal goals Saturday). He has 32 points in 32 games and is the only NHL defenseman with double digit goals (10). He's making the contract he signed back in early February look like a pittance for what he'll see in two years. Subban is making a clear case to be the first defender taken next year over Erik Karlsson.
Question of the Week: Who makes the playoffs? Who gets squeezed out?
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