This week's article includes the a center stepping up with Stamkos out in TB, getting Nash-ty on Broadway, a lot of injured players in Minnesota getting closer to returning and a bust of a signing in St. Louis.
First Liners (Risers)
Bryan Little, C, WPG - Last week, Marc Scheifele got the bold treatment, this week; it's Little's turn. Little collected a pair of assists in Winnipeg's 3-2 win over Anaheim on Tuesday. He's now got a five-game point streak going, and Little has racked up two goals and six assists in that time. This has been an outstanding breakout year for the centerman, whose 42 points, 40 PIM and plus-6 rating have made him a fine asset in nearly all fantasy formats and put him easily on pace to exceed his career-high of 51 points in 2008-09.
Tyler Johnson, C, TB - Johnson is tied for second in the rookie scoring race with the Rangers' Chris Kreider. He has 30 points in 50 games. He's a great little playmaker and has elite vision, and that combination has served him well as the pivot between Martin St. Louis and Ondrej Palat. He's starting to become relevant in the Calder discussion and delivers solid value in many fantasy formats. The only caveat is the uncertainty as to which line he will play on when Steven Stamkos returns.
James van Riemsdyk, LW, TOR - Van Riemsdyk scored a power-play goal -- his 20th goal of the year -- and contributed an assist Tuesday in Colorado. He's found twine five times in the last seven games, adding three assists in that span. After a hot start to the year, JVR faded in November and December, but he's coming on again here in the new year, sitting just one point behind his career-high in points set in 2010-11.
Rick Nash, LW, NYR - Remember all that consternation and hand-wringing over Nash making the Canadian Olympic Team? Boy does that look silly now. Nash staked the Rangers to a 2-0 lead with a pair of first-period goals Tuesday, giving him five in his last three games and nine in his last nine contests. Those names games have come since the Olympic Team was named. Early in the year, Nash was dealing with a concussion and was reluctant to drive to the net. Lately, he has used his size, skill and speed to get to the scoring areas, and the results readily apparent.
Brad Marchand, LW, BOS - The little ball of hate has been some kind of hot. Marchand notched two goals against the Kings on Monday, giving him six goals in his last four games, and he now has 28 points in 49 games to date. Half of those 28 points have come in the past 15 games, providing a better sense of just hot he is now and how cold he was to start the season.
James Wisniewski, D, CMB - Wisniewski logged a pair of assists Tuesday against the Kings, pushing his point streak to five games. He's handed out six assists over these five games and added a goal as well, propelling the Blue Jackets on their recent winning streak. With the fine night, Wisniewski has now reached the 30-point mark for just the third time in his career.
Andrej Meszaros, D, PHI - Meszaros scored twice in just under four minutes in the first period of Philadelphia's 6-4 victory over the Islanders on Saturday. The goals stretched his point streak to three games and five points, including three goals, but he has failed to score his last two contests. He has 10 points in his last 12 games and is as productive a fantasy defender as any right now. This scoring burst isn't normal for the lead-footed Meszaros, but he's making the very best of the opportunities given to him. Jump on him now, but be ready to get off the train if he doesn't pick it back up the next few games.
Cory Schneider, G, NJD - Schneider may be establishing a hold on the top job in New Jersey. He will start Friday, making it six times in the last eight games he has been between the pipes. In his last seven starts, Schneider, who the Devils acquired from Vancouver for the ninth overall pick last year at the draft, is 4-1-2 with a 1.11 goals-against average (GAA) and .960 save percentage (SV%). Overall, he is 8-9-2 with a 1.88 GAA and ,926 SV%.
Sergei Bobrovsky, G, CMB - The Bob is on a roll. Bobrovsky, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, was between the pipes again Thursday, taking aim at his ninth straight win while Columbus looks to build their franchise-best win streak to eight games. Although his rate statistics remain rather pedestrian (2.55 GAA, .915 save percentage), much of it stems from his early season struggles, as he's been dynamite since returning from IR in January (1.95, .938).
Others include Tyler Bozak (14 points in 12 games since returning from upper-body injury), John Tavares (scoring roll continues), Claude Giroux (wrist injury and slow start but a memory), Nick Bonino (surprising production in Anaheim), Mike Richards (after horrible slump, a goal and four assists in last three games), Joe Pavelski (sniper in San Jose), Patrice Bergeron (red-hot lately), Sean Monahan (team-leading 14th goal Wednesday), Nathan MacKinnon (up to 17 goals and 33 points), Martin Hanzal (34 points in 45 games, but dealing with LBI), Nazem Kadri (move back to second line center has suited him), Ryan O'Reilly (still hot), Evander Kane (despite injuries, 13 points last 13 games), Teddy Purcell (two goals, 11 assists last 12 games), Jiri Tlusty (back on top line in Carolina, G/A Wednesday), Henrik Zetterberg (six points last three games, including three assists Wednesday), Jussi Jokinen (six goals and 10 points in eight January tilts, including two goals Wednesday), Martin St. Louis (the beat goes on), Kyle Okposo/Thomas Vanek (top line on the Island one of the best in the league), Tomas Tatar (goal No. 1 Wednesday), Scot Hartnell (five-game point streak), Chris Kreider (utilizing power and speed to create chances), Clarke MacArthur (17 goals, 37 points and a plus-11 rating), Alexander Semin (four goals since landing back on top line), Phil Kessel (point streak at seven), Jaromir Jagr (continues to score for NJ), Michael Del Zotto (fresh slate of ice in Nashville), John Moore (moves from right back to left side after MDZ deal), Keith Yandle (five straight games with an assist), Matt Niskanen (two assists Wednesday, 15 points last 15 games), Tom Gilbert (sneaky production) Jacob Trouba (Super Trouba again), Jack Johnson (upped production lately), Dan Girardi (play has picked up recently), Braden Holtby (back in No. 1 spot in Washington net), Roberto Luongo (despite all the drama, posting a 2.19 GAA and .924 SV%), Henrik Lundqvist (the King playing like one), Ondrej Pavelec (roller-coaster on upswing, how long will it last?), Mike Smith (ranks first in the league in shots faced, saves and goals allowed) and Craig Anderson (10-2-4 with a .915 save percentage last two months).
Training Room (Injuries)
Mikko Koivu, C, MIN - Initially ruled out four weeks after undergoing surgery Jan. 6, Koivu was off crutches just a week later and looks like he could beat his projected timetable for a return by a full week if he checks out fine during practices beginning next week. The Wild have managed to stay hot without Zach Parise, their top winger, and Koivu, their top center, in the lineup, but the impending return of both players would do wonders for the team's hopes of solidifying a playoff spot.
Daniel Alfredsson, LW, DET - Alfredsson, who hasn't played since January 9 due to back spasms, was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, but is eligible to be activated at any time. The move was made to free up a roster spot for the team to activate Jonas Gustavsson, who is returning from a groin injury. Alfredsson practiced Tuesday, so he should be back in the lineup in the short-term.
Josh Harding, G, MIN - Although coach Mike Yeo hasn't provided an update on Harding's (illness) status, the belief is that the goalie won't be able to return until after the NHL breaks for the Winter Olympics. Harding has not been practicing the last couple of days after hitting a hiccup in his recovery from an adjustment to his treatment for multiple sclerosis. While an official timetable for his return has not been announced, it sounds like Harding will require some extended time off as the team looks to ensure everything is good on the health front. The illness has forced Harding to miss extensive chunks of each of the past two campaigns, but it's been especially troubling during a season in which he's posted an 18-7-3 record, 1.65 GAA and .933 save percentage. Darcy Kuemper and Niklas Backstrom will hold down the fort between the pipes for Minnesota.
Others include Steven Stamkos (leg, practicing with team), Aleksander Barkov (LBI, DTD), Henrik Sedin (ribs/finger, missing second straight game Thursday), Michael Cammalleri (concussion, skated Thursday), Johan Franzen (concussion took part in an optional practice Thursday, stating it was his first "non-foggy" session), Zach Parise (fractured foot, participated in full-contact practiced with team Wednesday and will play Thursday), David Clarkson (elbow, out another week), Ales Hemsky (bone bruise in ankle, missed three games, practiced Wednesday), Alex Tanguay (knee, scheduled to be activated Friday), Ryan Stanton (ankle, activated Thursday), Jimmy Howard (left knee, out a week ... at least) and Jonas Gustavsson (groin, activated off IR starting in goal while Howard is out).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Derek Roy, C, STL - Roy, who has just one assist his last six games and no goals since December 12, was a healthy scratch Thursday against the Rangers. Roy struggled in 2011-12 to regain his quickness following a leg injury that ended his 2010-11 season early, clashed with team management as the season wore on and was traded to the Stars over that summer. He put up 28 points in 42 games between Dallas and Vancouver last year and signed a one-year deal with St. Louis this offseason to be their second line center. So far, that signing has been a bust for the Blues.
Brian Boyle, LW, NYR - Boyle has gone eight games without registering a point. While it should come as no surprise to you that Boyle, whose 21 goals in 2010-11 were a major aberration, has been held off the scorer's sheet, the fourth line center has shown tremendous defensive spark for the team over the last four weeks. While he will occasionally go through spurts of offensive contribution (10 points), only fantasy owners searching for penalty minutes, hits and a solid face-off percentage in the deepest of leagues should consider Boyle's services
Andrew MacDonald, D, NYI - MacDonald is having a solid, not great year. He has 23 points in 52 games, but seven of them came in a five-game span, meaning he has just 16 points in his other 47 games. MacDonald continues to see three-plus minutes on the PP, notching 11 of his 23 points on the man advantage, but just one in his last eight games, which is the only point he has notched in that stretch.
Martin Jones, G, LA - Jones allowed five goals on 34 shots in Los Angeles' loss to Columbus on Tuesday. This spot start -- his first since back on Jan. 2 -- turned out to be Jones' worst game of the year. He's now dropped four straight and has had a pair of total meltdowns in that span. Jones, who was so good when Jonathan Quick was out only to get sent down when he returned, was called back up when Ben Scrivens was dealt to Edmonton. If there ever was any question - which there really wasn't - if Jones could steal some time from Quick due to his hot streak, his recent performance has provided us the answer.
Others include Brooks Laich (eight points in 36 games, second line center in name only), Jason Spezza (parting of the ways with Ottawa may be the best for all parties), James Sheppard (consistent scratch), Chris Stewart (slumping and has seen time on ice drop), Dustin Penner (three points last 16 games), Valeri Nichushkin (slumping), Tomas Fleischmann (off power-play point), Colin Wilson (broke six-game pointless streak with an assist Monday), Radim Vrbata (no goals last 13 games), Justin Faulk (two points since December 29), Philipp Grubauer (sent to AHL) and Ray Emery/Steve Mason (back to a platoon in Phi?).