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NHL Barometer: Keeping Father Time Away

Jan Levine

Levine covers baseball, basketball and hockey for RotoWire. In addition to his column writing, he's the master of the MLB and NHL cheatsheets. In his spare time, he roots for the Mets.

This week's article includes an injury prone center healthy, for the moment, and producing, it's Ryder not wrong in Big D, a d-man picking up the slack for Pronger in Philly, the likely Rookie of the Year out a month and a 2011 Calder finalist struggling to light the lamp this year.

First Liners (Risers)

Tim Connolly, C, TOR -
Connolly, who avoided discipline for his elbow to Steve Downie on Tuesday, notched a goal and assist Thursday. He seems to be finding a bit of a groove with snipers Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul and now has 20 points in 27 games. Connolly is always an injury risk, but he has shown that when healthy, he can score; so ride him while healthy.

David Krejci, C, Bos -
Krejci had a goal and two assists in Boston's 9-0 whitewash of Calgary on Thursday, extending his point streak to seven games during which he has scored 1o points. Krejci now has nine goals and 19 assists in 34 games, but if you eliminate his first eight games, he has 27 points in the next 26 games. Given how hot Boston and Krejci's line has been, it would not be surprising if he come close to or exceeds the 62 points he tallied last year.

Michael Ryder, RW, DAL -
Ryder had two goals in a losing effort Tuesday against the Wings. Ryder was brought in to replace some of the scoring lost by Brad Richards' departure, and to date he has done just that. His 17 goals not only lead the team, but he's just one short of his output from each of the last two seasons. Ryder burst onto the scene several years ago, but he has never broken 60 points or consistently produced. Skating alongside Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson might be the tonic for him to do both this year.

Martin St. Louis, LW, TB -
St. Louis had his eight-game scoring streak, in which he tallied 11 points, snapped Thursday by the Senators in a 4-1 loss. He rattled one off the posts early in the third but it stayed out. The streak stretched for six games since his return from injury and two prior. St. Louis has 31 points in 34 games and has shown no signs of slippage at 36.

Daniel Alfredsson, RW, OTT -
I profiled Alfredsson a month ago, but his solid performance warrants another mention. Alfredsson had a goal and two assists Thursday against Tampa Bay, giving him 31 points in 35 games, but that is not the full story. Alfredsson is not showing signs of his age with six goals since Dec. 14 and has 22 of his 31 points since Nov. 29. If for some reason he is still out there in your league after his early season slump, jump on the bandwagon now.

Dennis Wideman, D, WAS -
Wideman scored in the second period of Washington's 3-1 win over Calgary on Tuesday. The goal was Wideman's seventh on the season and his second in as many games. He has 19 assists so far this year and has gotten at least one point in five of his last seven games. Wideman helped pick up the slack with Mike Green out. Now that Green is back, it will be interesting to see if Wideman plays across from him on the PP or if the Capitals use John Carlson there.

Matt Carle, D, PHI -
Carle is not a sexy pick, nor did he get a lot of publicity, but he has been an excellent fantasy contributor the last two seasons, notching 39 and 29 assists, respectively, and he has been productive as well this year. Carle tallied an assist for the third time in four games in Monday's NHL Winter Classic. He has just one goal since Nov. 9 but is seeing the assists roll in given his expanded role in Chris Pronger's absence. He has 10 assists in the last 11 games and should continue factoring into Philadelphia's attack.

Craig Anderson, G, OTT -
Up, down, up, down; such is the life with owning Anderson, but he is on an upswing now. Anderson defeated Tampa Bay, 4-1, on Thursday and has emerged with the "W" in each of his last four games. He's permitted just five goals in those four games, inching his save percentage up to .900, a number that clearly needs to continue to improve. Ottawa is one of the surprising teams in the NHL, and Anderson should get every chance to continue his current run.

Pekka Rinne, G, NAS -
Rinne lost, 4-1, to Dallas on Thursday, but that is likely just a mild speed bump given how well he has played lately. Rinne had won his last three starts and nine of his last 11 appearances for the surging Predators prior to Thursday's defeat. As expected, he has been one of the better keepers in the league, though his goals-against average and save percentage need to come down a bit for him to be considered elite.

Others include Vincent Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos, Mikhail Grabovski, Jamie Benn, Mike Ribeiro, Jason Spezzz (All-Star starter), Brad Richards (flair for the dramatic), John Tavares, Valterri Filppula, Lars Eller (four goals in a game deserves a mention), Patrice Bergeron, Ryan O'Reilly, Curtis Glencross, Blake Wheeler, T.J. Oshie, Dustin Brown, Kyle Okposo, Matt Moulson, Jiri Hudler, Joffrey Lupul, Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, Scott Hartnell, David Clarkson, Erik Cole, Chris Kunitz, Jordan Eberle, Pavel Kubina, Corey Potter, Dion Phaneuf, Jordan Leopold, Trevor Daley, Erik Karlsson, Kevin Bieksa, Ian White, Alex Pietrangelo, Antti Niemi, Scott Clemmensen, Martin Brodeur, Evgeni Nabokov, Sergei Bobrovsky, Jonathan Quick, Roberto Luongo, Tuukka Rask, Tomas Vokoun, Jaroslav Halak and Henrik Lundqvist.

Training Room (Injuries)

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, EDM -
Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder) is expected to miss the next 3-4 weeks. The shoulder is most likely separated, though the Oilers have not confirmed that diagnosis. He suffered the injury while falling into the boards, a non-contact play, just bad luck for the rookie and the Oilers. This injury could also keep Nugent-Hopkins, who has 35 points in 38 games but had slowed recently, away from the All-Star game and the festivities that come with it.

Jaromir Jagr, RW, PHI -
Jagr is expected to miss 7-to-10 days with a mild left groin strain aggravated in the Winter Classic. Jagr was first injured the game before but really tweaked the groin splitting the defense in the second period Monday. Jaromir missed some time earlier in the year with a groin injury, so look for Philly to give him as much time as he needs to make sure he is fully healed. Matt Read is getting the first chance at filling Jar's spot alongside Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux.

Tyler Myers, D, BUF -
Myers, who last played Nov. 19 due to a broken wrist, is expected to return to the lineup Friday. Myers had a brilliant rookie campaign but regressed last year and struggled this season prior to being ignored. He is still worth scooping up by those looking to add some blue line depth, as he's very capable of a point-every-other game scoring clip, especially with Christian Ehrhoff sidelined.

Joni Pitkanen, D, CAR -
Pitkanen, who has been sidelined since Dec. 6 with a concussion, underwent knee surgery Tuesday and will be sidelined four weeks. Hopefully when healed from the surgery, the concussion symptoms will also be gone. The big question, though, is for how long will he be a Hurricane? With Carolina in the throes of a horrible season and Jamie McBain the future on its blue line, Pitkanen might be a nice acquisition for a contender, assuming he is healthy.

Others include Tyler Ennis (ankle, setback, no longer DTD), Rene Bourque (five-game suspension for elbow to Nicklas Backstrom's head, lucky I wasn't longer), Devin Setoguchi (knee, activated off IR this week), James Wisniewski (broken ankle, out six weeks), Marc Staal (concussion, returned to action in Winter Classic), Andrei Markov (knee, out until after All-Star break), Dustin Byfuglien (knee, out a few more games), Ehrhoff (UBI, out several weeks), Victor Hedman (concussion, no timeframe for return), Shea Weber (concussion, cleared to play), Kris Letang (concussion, not yet skating but making progress), Dustin Byfuglien (LBI, out a week) and Mike Smith (groin, off IR this week).

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Tomas Plekanec, C, MTL -
Plekanec, who was averaging nearly 21 minutes per game, has seen his minutes drop under interim head coach Randy Cunneyworth. We shouldn't be concerned that Plekanec will become an irrelevant fantasy player, but he's been getting less ice time on the man advantage the last two games and has played less than 20 minutes several times the last six games. He now finds himself skating on the third line with the streaky Andrei Kostitsyn and grinder Travis Moen. Cunneyworth says it's about finding chemistry, but whatever the reason, Plekanec has been minus-7 in the last eight games and overall is minus-nine on the year.

Michael Grabner, RW, NYI -
Grabner has gone six games without scoring a goal for the Isles. This streak sort of coincides with the groin injury he suffered against Dallas in early December. Grabner may not have that burst of speed he needs to get by opposing defenders. He is way off the pace he set last season with 34 goals, as he has just 10 so far this season, but that has mainly been because of his lack of scoring on breakaways this year.

Marc-Andre Bergeron, D, TB -
Bergeron scored his first goal since Nov. 9 on Dec. 31. That was also his first point since Dec. 10, snapping a seven-game scoreless streak, but he has gone scoreless in three straight since. Bergeron collected three goals and 13 assists in the first 15 games of the season, but then his scoring fell off a cliff. The good news is he's healthy and still sees a nice share of power-play time every game. As long as he stays on the ice, he could easily approach 50 points for the season, though that is looking less likely daily.

Ondrej Pavelec, G, WPG -
Goalies at times can make you pull your hair out of your head with their inconsistency and Pavelec is no different. While Pavelec certainly has shown flashes of brilliance this season, his inconsistency makes him difficult to rely on in any fantasy format. The Czech netminder tends to turn in strong performances when the Jets play at home, so don't entirely remove him from your radar just yet, but sit him when on the road.

Others include Henrik Zetterberg (showing some signs of life lately but just eight goals on the year), Josh Bailey (a year to forget, could he be moved like Blake Comeau?), Luke Adam (hot start more than a faded memory), Milan Hejduk (lit lamp in just one game out of last 15 contests), Zack Kassian (in danger of being demoted to AHL), Shane Doan (veteran could be winding down as has just nine goals in 40 games), Johnny Oduya (just three points in December), Dimitry Kulikov (overshadowed by other blueline options in the Sunshine State), Erik Johnson (scoreless in last seven gamest), Nikolai Khabilulin (the Wall has lots of holes in it) and Carey Price (just two wins in last seven starts).