Down the Stretch They Come
Most teams have about 10 games left in the push for the playoffs, and the players listed in today's report are the ones that might be able to help lift your fantasy squad to a championship.
Eric Fehr is pointless in 13 games. Instead of being demoted he's been seen skating on the Caps second line with Mike Ribeiro and Troy Brouwer. Obviously a bump in ice-time with talented linemates is a plus, but over his last 119 games Fehr has only lit the lamp 18 times with a total of 35 points. An offensive dynamo he is not.
Johan Franzen has only four goals in his last 14 games but he has dished out nine helpers while providing a +5 rating. He's also taken a nifty 52 shots on net in that time. Looks like he's just never going to break through from being very good to elite.
Mikael Granlund was recalled from the minors by the Wild and he had an assist in his first game back. Granlund has only one goal and seven points on the season (21 games), but he could be given a prime offensive role with the Wild now that Dany Heatley is out of action after shoulder surgery.
Scott Hartnell was elevated to the Flyers top line at practice on Monday. Hartnell will skated with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek and that should be the tonic he needs to return to offensive effectiveness after scoring just three times in his last 16 games. The loser in this setup will be Matt Read who will drop to the second unit with Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds.
David Jones scored 27 goals in 2010 and 20 goals in 2011. He has three goals in 28 games this season. Part of the blame lies at the feet of his .055 shooting percentage which is roughly a third of his career average (.150).
Rick Nash has scored in three straight games and has five goals in five contests. That gives him 17 markers in 35 games, an 82 game pace of 40 goals which is a level he last reached in 2008.
Dustin Penner is likely to return from a lower body injury that has kept him out of action since March 31st on Tuesday. A chronic underachiever, Penner is likely to be placed on the second line with scoring star Jeff Carter and all-around talent Mike Richards. If Penner can't make a go of it on this line, what use is he? A frequent scratch this season, Penner has a meager 11 points in 25 games.
Tyler Seguin was shifted to center after the acquisition of Jaromir Jagr and the injury to Patrice Bergeron, but he just couldn’t find his way and he is back on the wing. “It just wasn't good work in our own zone. We were kind of running around a bit.” Chris Kelly, who had missed time with a broken tibia, returned to the lineup to take the spot in the middle of the ice. Seguin has been very effective with 125 shots on net an a +21 rating, though many are likely a bit disappointed that he has only 12 goals in 38 games. Gregory Campbell also moved up the pecking order to skate with Jagr and Brad Marchand Monday. Campbell had two assists in the game and could be a sneaky pick up if he earns top-6 minutes after spending most of his time on the 4th line this season.
Patrick Sharp last played on March 6th as he's been sidelined by a shoulder injury. He will be back on the ice Tuesday for the Blackhawks. Sharp should return to being the strong performer he was before injury when he recorded 18 points with a +7 mark in 24 contests.
Craig Smith just hasn't gotten it done for the Predators this season. He's a (-11) skater with three measly assists the past month.
Jonas Brodin has been quite the fantasy performer over the past month for the Wild. Not only does he have two goals and six points but he's also been an impressive +9 skater. He's also thrown in 22 blocked shots for good measure.
Stop the presses, there has been a Mike Green sighting. On the ice. Seriously. We also just saw Bigfoot run down the street. Well, at least we saw Green on the ice, and he's been a monster like we remember him being back before injuries derailed his career the past couple of years as the past five games Green has lit the lamp four times and dealt one out helper. I know, he's actually been productive. No one knows how long it will last, but for now he and the streaking Capitals are playing some nice hockey.
Michal Rozsival has somehow recorded four points in his last five games to give him 11 points in 22 games. He's also a +17 skater for the Blackhawks on the year. The last time he recorded 25 points was back in 2008 and he's gone 22 games this season without a goal and has lit the lamp one time in his last 76 games.
The last month there is one skater in the NHL who has blocked 35 shots, made 35 hits and taken 35 shots on net. Any idea who that blue liner is? Try Dennis Seidenberg of the Bruins who has been very effective this season even though his total of 13 points in 36 games is far from ideal.
He only has one point the last month, but he's also +3 skater with 28 blocked shots. Who am I talking about? It's Tyson Strachan of the Panthers. I left the best part for last though. He's racked up 53 hits in that time while skating more than 22 minutes per game.
No skater in the NHL has blocked more shots the last month than Mike Weber who leads the way with 43. He's almost matched that mark in the hit column with 39.
The last two weeks two blue liners have taken 24 shots in net, the highest total in the league for rearguards. They are Roman Josi and Christian Ehrhoff. However, only one skater has been worth a darn in fantasy. Josi has one assist and is a (-1) skater while Ehrhoff has two points an is a +6 performer.
The Blues have been searching all season for a netminder to call their #1. It looks like Brian Elliott is now that man. Elliott was named the NHL's Second Star last week after going 3-0 with a 1.45 GAA. His overall numbers stink (3.14 GAA, .879 save percentage), but he's streaking right when the team, and his owners, need him.
Ray Emery will likely make a third straight start for the Blackhawks Tuesday. Corey Crawford has been great for the Blackhawks going 15-4-4 with a 2.01 GAA, but Emery has been spectacular going 14-1-0 with a 2.02 GAA. No matter who the 'Hawks use expect them to give up two goals a game and have an inordinately high chance of emerging with a “W.”
Evgeni Nabokov is 37 years old, but if the Islanders are to make the playoffs they will need the veteran to come through. Word out of New York is that Nabby might play every game the rest of the way, hardly a stretch for a guy who is currently tied for 4th in the NHL in games played by a keeper (33). Evgeni has allowed only four goals over his last three games and he's 10-4-2 since the start of March.
Michal Neuvirth will start for a second straight game Tuesday for the Caps. He's only 3-5-1 on the year but Braden Holtby has had a rough go of it of late despite looking good on the surface (Holtby has won four of his last give starts even though he's allowed an average of roughly 3.75 goals a game during that stretch). You still have to think that Holtby will get the majority of starts the rest of the way for the surging Caps.
Tuukka Rask had a 2.05 GAA and .929 save percentage last season as he backed up Tim Thomas. With Thomas no longer with the organization and spending time away from the game in a year long imposed time off, Rask was given the mantle as lead dog in net for the Bruins. He's performed, well, exactly the same as he did last season. Rask has a 1.95 GAA and .928 save percentage.
Semyon Varlamov has a hip injury that caused him to miss the Avalanche's game Monday, and he also won't travel with the team to California for two games. It's unknown how much time he will miss, but the club has called up Sami Aittokallio to back up J.S. Giguere, who is almost certainly going to be the starter for at least the next two games. Giguere recently called out his teammates for being more concerned about their end of the season plans to have a party in Vegas than being interested in winning games, so it will be mighty interesting to see how this whole situation plays itself out. J-S has only started nine games this season, and though his GAA is high at 2.84 he still has a solid save percentage of .911.
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.