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Neutral Zone Wrap: Bad Intentions

Evan Berofsky

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The road to fantasy success is rarely paved with good intentions. You might not want to hurt someone else's team, but that's the price you pay for wanting to do well. So you improve your squad while taking away a key piece or two from a non-contender. Don't worry about it. Just think if the situations were reversed; your roster would be gutted worse than a turkey before Thanksgiving. There is no remorse in Roto. Well, only when you have the chance to strike and you fail to pull the trigger. Now that's something that could haunt you down the line.

So go ahead and take the initiative. Be ruthless. Make that move now. Yes, now. Don't delay. C'mon, time is wasting. After all, being proactive worked for a few NHL clubs. Like, perhaps, one or more of the following:

You would expect a team to struggle after moving across the continent and enduring ridiculous travel schedules. But the Winnipeg Jets have been able to defy the odds to become a respectable outfit (10-4-1 since mid-November). Reason #1 for their success would be their #1 man in net. Ondrej Pavelec (3.11 GAA, .903 SV%) has exceeded expectations by standing on his head most nights (top-5 in shots). Right behind him in importance are the trio of Evander Kane, Bryan Little, and Blake Wheeler (43 combined points in 13 contests). After a blistering beginning (nine points in nine games), Alex Burmistrov has fallen off the map (two in 10 and a minor injury to boot). Will Antti Miettinen (a double-digit goal scorer in each of his six full seasons) be able to add some offense? Tobias Enstrom (fractured collarbone) is still out, but Zach Bogosian (six points in 10 games, 23 PIM) has been able to carry a bit of the load. Ron Hainsey (back from consecutive maladies) can also add some stats if he feels like it.

The Blues are proving a coaching change and an awful power-play can spur anyone to greatness. (OK, maybe not the latter. But they've promised to improve. And we should take their word for it.) The dynamic duo of T.J. Oshie and Alex Steen top the charts (with 19 apiece). Poolies and hockey fans alike have cheered the return of David Perron (three points in four games). Grab Jason Arnott if you need someone who is only useful in one area (half of his 14 points have come on the man-advantage). Meanwhile, Chris Stewart (four-game point streak ended last week) is struggling less than usual. A similar state for Patrik Berglund (also had a four-game run halted), a perennial favorite of this column. Another player mentioned often here, Kris Russell, has surprised at times since coming from Columbus (although one point in nine games sounds more like the old Kris). And when will Brian Elliott (with a Parent-like 12-2 mark, 1.46 GAA, .947 SV%, and four shutouts) finally show weakness?

Good to see Dallas still up in the standings, even with a couple notable absences. When Kari Lehtonen (groin injury, probably gone until 2012) went down, many thought Andrew Raycroft (3.53 GAA, .897 SV% in nine) would be the one to step in but no one believed Richard Bachman (one goal allowed in three appearances) would turn it into overdrive. Brenden Morrow (three in three) is back again from his latest training room sabbatical. No worries about Jamie Benn and his mini-slump (one in seven, minus-5). Michael Ryder has made a marked improvement (12 in 18) after a slow start (five in October). Steve Ott will still earn you enough assorted goodies (68 PIM and 90 hits expected, 12 points added bonus). And where did all those goals from, Eric Nystrom (tied for team lead with 10)? Sheldon Souray (scoreless in 15) has been trending downwards for weeks, but Trevor Daley (three in two, more special-teams minutes) deserves an uptick for his recent efforts.

Why can't Buffalo stay consistent (currently at two wins in seven)? Does Sabre life mainly revolve around Ryan Miller (team was 3-5-2 while he recovered)? Is Tyler Myers (broken wrist, close to practicing again) that big an influence? Can Ville Leino's undisclosed, potentially long-term injury be considered catastrophic if he was underperforming (10 in 29, minus-7)? Many questions remain, but there still is hope. Tyler Ennis (three in five after being out a month and a bit) and Drew Stafford (three in four) have the opportunities and tools to produce. Zack Kassian (five in nine) looks to be developing into a nice all-around winger. Without Myers, the blueline hasn't filled in adequately. Jordan Leopold isn't faring too poorly (four in eight will do), although Marc-Andre Gragnani (three in 13) could be contributing a lot more.

And, hey, congrats to Detroit on completing our team tour this season! It's a shame there isn't more we could discuss, but they need more notables injured - or at least rotate a couple different players in the lineup now and then. It's hard to ignore Todd Bertuzzi slotted on the top line (eight points in nine games), although it's easier to discount his mediocrity (still out there between 13-14 minutes a night). Someone has lit a fire under Jiri Hudler (six in four) and Danny Cleary (five in five). The same spark may have transferred to Darren Helm (five in eight), but it was extinguished before reaching Justin Abdelkader. And no need to mention Ian White, right (five PPAs, top-10 in league with plus-17)?