This week's article includes Kessel on fire, a D-man in Tampa moving into top-tier status, making Sweden look foolish for leaving him off their Olympic team, possible big-time injuries for Washington and Tampa and a pair of scoring Swedes in major slumps.
First Liners (Risers)
Cody Hodgson, C, BUF - Hodgson scored two goals in Buffalo's 5-4 overtime loss to the Capitals on Tuesday. If you can deal with the fact that Hodgson is going to have more than a few games like Monday's (zero points, minus-3), there's plenty of fantasy value to be found here, as the young centerman has 10 points -- including six goals -- in nine games since returning from a finger injury. He has 14 goals and 15 assists in 42 goals and should easily surpass his career-high of 34 points in 48 games set last year.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, EDM - Nugent-Hopkins continued his fine play lately, adding two assists Wednesday. RNH has 11 points in his last 12 games, giving him 15 goals and 27 assists in 54 games, close to the pace he had when he scored 52 points in 64 games as a rookie. Edmonton has won three in a row, but they still lag the pace in the Western Conference, going 18-32-6 contributing to Nuge's minus-12 rating. If you can live with that, Nugent-Hopkins is a solid option at center.
Lauri Korpikoski, LW, PHX - Korpikoski, who the Coyotes stole from the Rangers for Enver Lisin, picked up an assist Tuesday in a Phoenix, now to be called Arizona, win over the Kings. It was his fifth straight game with an assist and he was plus-2 in the game. Korpikoski's hot streak gives him 13 assists to go with seven goals on the season. Korpikoski's biggest role for the Coyotes is as a penalty killer and defensive stalwart, but he is flashing his offensive chops right now
Phil Kessel, RW, TOR - Last week, James van Riemsdyk got his name bolded, this week it's Kessel's turn. Kessel had two assists Thursday, giving him at least one point in 10 of the last 11 games with seven goals and 12 assists. Kessel remains absolutely on fire and entrenched in the NHL's top 10 scorers with 57 points in 56 games. He has an outside shot at besting the career-high of 82 points he scored in 2011-12 and will be one of Team USA's main weapons in Sochi.
Chris Higgins, LW, VAN - Higgins potted his 15th goal of the season Wednesday's against Chicago. Higgins has done well since being bumped up to the top line, tallying six points (3G 3A) in his last six games. He has 31 points in 54 games and is currently on pace for his best offensive season since 2007-08 when he scored 52 points. With some key injuries in the lineup, Higgins should continue to put up solid totals in a top-six role, which looked unlikely when he slumped last season.
Alex Goligoski, D, DAL - Goligoski supplied two more assists in Monday's game against the Avalanche, extending his point streak to four games in which he has scored seven points. The defenseman, who now has 24 points in 52 games, was widely owned in deeper formats before his impressive run of production, but he's beginning to warrant more lineup consideration in shallow formats as well. Of course, unfortunately for Goligoski, no matter how well he plays, he will always be remembered for coming to Dallas for James Neal and Matt Niskanen.
Victor Hedman, D, TB - Hedman registered his second straight three-assist game Saturday against over Colorado. His 32 points at the time moved him into the league's list of top-10 scorers from the blue line. Hedman, who many believed would take that next step this season has certainly done so, added another goal and an assist Thursday giving him 11 goals and 23 assists in 47 games. Remind me again why Sweden left him off their Olympic team?
Darcy Kuemper, G, MIN - Kuemper drew his ninth consecutive start in goal, establishing a new rookie record for a Wild netminder, Thursday against the Avalanche. The streak has been well deserved for Kuemper, who has posted an excellent 6-3-1 record, 2.26 GAA and .924 save percentage over 11 outings on the season. His strong performance has helped keep the Wild in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race while Josh Harding (multiple sclerosis) has been sidelined and Niklas Bakcstrom was either sidelined by injury or struggled.
Frederik Andersen, G, ANA - The Ducks have been one of the better stories in the NHL this year and much of the reason for that has been the play of their netminders. Much of the focus rightly is on Jonas Hiller, but Andersen has stepped in for the injured Viktor Fasth as the team's back up, seamlessly filling that role. Andersen has been highly impressive in limited work for Anaheim, going 13-2-0 with a 1.87 GAA and .933 save percentage. Those numbers make him more than worthy of a spot start whenever he goes if he's still available on the waiver wire
Others include Joe Pavelski (offensive onslaught continues), Riley Sheahan (filling gap down the middle for Detroit), Brock Nelson (scored No. 10 for the Islanders on Wednesday), Antoine Vermette (had a monster week last week), Ryan O'Reilly (No. 20 Thursday), Patrice Bergeron (had six-game, point-streak end Tuesday), Eric Staal (back on the beam), Derek Stepan (three goals, five assists last six games), David Krejci (on a hot streak), Tyler Seguin (52 points in 52 games, seven in last four), Jason Spezza (six points last five games), Craig Smith (four points last four games), Ryan Kesler (signs of life lately), Patrick Sharp (six points last six games), Taylor Hall/Jordan Eberle (each hot in Edmonton), Tyler Ennis (heating up again), Blake Wheeler (scored 21st goal Tuesday, has six goals and 11 points in his last eight games), Reilly Smith (the man from the University of Miami (Ohio) still hot), Lee Stempniak (seven points last five games), Ondrej Palat (no signs of slowing), Mikkel Boedker (on pace for 50 points), Marian Hossa (points in eight of his last 10 games), Rick Nash (sniper sniping), Scott Hartnell (better production lately), Brandon Saad (17 goals, 22 assists, and a plus-22 rating through 56 games, not bad for a 21-year old), Justin Schultz (producing better lately), Erik Karlsson (still racking up points), T.J. Brodie (batter lately), James Wisniewski (slight dip but still scoring), Tom Gilbert (candidate to be traded based on how he played this year for Florida), Matt Niskanen (roll continues), Semyon Varlamov (26-9-5 record with a 2.43 GAA and .925 save percentage and now a five-year, $29.5 million extension), Jonathan Bernier (14th start in 18 games Thursday), Ben Scrivens (59-save shutout deserves a mention), Kari Lehtonen (on fire, reeling off shutouts), Henrik Lundqvist (still hot), Roberto Luongo (solid lately for Vancouver) and Cory Schneider (the clear No. 1 in New Jersey).
Training Room (Injuries)
Mike Santorelli, C, VAN - Santorelli underwent season-ending surgery this week to repair a torn labrum. The injury will require five-to-six months of recovery time, putting Santorelli on track to be ready for training camp, but likely costing him a big payday in the process. He'll be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason and may be forced to settle for a short-term deal to reestablish some value. He was in the midst of a breakout season with 10 goals and 18 assists over 49 games
Johan Franzen, C, DET - Franzen, who was out with concussion symptoms from December 15 returned to action on January 26. Unfortunately, that return was short-lived, as Franzen landed back on injured reserve two days later with the same symptoms. That injury will not allow Franzen to play for Team Sweden in the upcoming Winter Olympics,
Mike Green, D, WAS - Green went to the Capitals locker room after a heavy fit along the boards from Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner on Thursday. The nature and severity of the injury are unknown, but Green's head appeared to make contact with the boards as Jenner was following through with the hit. Green has a history of concussions, most notably a 20 game absence during the 2010-2011 NHL season. The situation is certainly worth monitoring closely. Green has seven goals and 23 assists in 50 games this season.
Ben Bishop, G, TB - Bishop left Thursday's game against the Senators with an apparent head injury, after taking a knee to the back of the head. Bishop allowed a goal in the first period and it was on that attempt that he sustained the injury. It appeared to be a serious injury, but he was able to leave the ice with some assistance. Anders Lindback replaced him in goal and Bishop's status will likely be updated as more information becomes available.
Others include Steven Stamkos (leg, inching closer to return), Henrik Sedin (ribs, DTD), Aleksander Barkov (LBI, probable Saturday), Logan Couture (hand, expected back next week), Valtteri Filppula (left Thursday's game with an LBI), Pavel Datsyuk (groin, practiced Thursday, close to retuning), Mikhail Grabovski (ankle, missed three straight games), Stephen Weiss (hernia surgery, likely to return after the Olympics), Michael Cammalleri (concussion, close to returning), Evander Kane (hand infection, out till after the Olympics, lost season for him), David Clarkson (stitches in elbow removed, but no timeframe for return), Henrik Zetterberg (UBI, probable for Friday), Drew Stafford (UBI, placed on IR on Thursday), Tomas Hertl (knee surgery, "infant stages of recovery"), Shea Weber (UBI, DTD), Cam Ward (LBI, activated off IR, sent to Charlotte in AHL for conditioning stint) and Jimmy Howard (LBI, will start Friday).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Nicklas Backstrom, C, WAS - Backstrom was held off the score sheet on Thursday and now has just two points in his last 10 games and one goal in his last 16 contests. This is a major rough patch for the talented Swedish centerman, but despite the slump he still has 50 points in 54 games. Backstrom has a few games before the Olympics to re-find his game, but if he doesn't do it in the US, look for it to happen in Sochi.
Daniel Sedin, LW, VAN - Sedin failed to register on the scoresheet Wednesday against Chicago, marking the eighth time in nine games the 33-year-old hasn't collected a point. Sedin is struggling miserably right now, having gone 14 straight games without scoring a goal. Daniel is on pace for 60 points, which would be his lowest full-season total in a decade. His shooting percentage is currently at a career-low 7.6 percent, a far-cry from 15.4 percent, his total when he won the Art Ross Trophy in 2010-11. He is still tied with currently injured brother Henrik Sedin (ribs/finger) for the team lead in scoring with 40 points, but many wonder if Daniel's days as an elite offensive player in the NHL are over.
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
Jason Garrison, D, VAN - After going on a recent three-game scoring streak in early January, Garrison has just one point in his last nine games. There are inconsistent defensemen in fantasy hockey, and then there's Garrison. Despite his inconsistencies, Garrison has still managed to put up 27 points in 55 games this season -- a solid total, but his streaking and slumping tendencies make him tough to deal with, especially in head-to-head formats. It would also be nice to see more goals from Garrison, as he has only scored five times in those 55 contests.
Martin Brodeur, G, NJD - Brodeur let up six goals on 21 shots in a loss to the Rangers on Sunday at Yankee Stadium; he was pulled after two periods. Brodeur got the call for the big spectacle of the outdoor game, and it did not work out for anybody except the Rangers. His save percentage has now dropped to .899 on the season, while going just 13-11-2 with a 2.52 goals-against average. Brodeur has played just five games in January with one win and there is speculation, as crazy as this sounds, that he could end up getting delat before the trade deadline while retiring at the end of the year also is a strong possibility.
Others include Travis Zajac (inconsistent production), Olli Jokinen (that hot streak now over as he has failed to score a point in six straight), Tomas Plekanec (first point in six games Thursday), Todd Bertuzzi (healthy scratch), P.A. Parenteau (healthy but not scratched even though he is capable of playing), Troy Brouwer (one goal in past month), Mikeal Samuelsson (placed on waivers), Alexandre Burrows (yet to register a point in six games since returning from a jaw injury), Tuomo Ruutu (third-or-fourth line minutes), Ryan Murphy (sent to AHL for the Olympic break), Reto Berra (one win in past five weeks heading into Thursday's game) and Ilya Bryzgalov (second string in Edmonton?).