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Blue Line Buzz: D-Men of the Week

Jason Chen

Consistently fires muffins. Blue Line Buzz on Mondays, Daily Puck and DFS on Sundays.

This space is all about defensemen, so naturally we get a little defensive when something like this happens:

Upon a second viewing, it looks like Gustav Nyquistís stick does hit the glass before he spears Jared Spurgeon in the face, but thereís two things to note ó first, that cross-check from the 5-foot-9 Spurgeon was more of a small shove. And secondly, itís never okay to use your stick like that.

Nyquist received a double-minor for bloodying Spurgeon, who seemed to suffer no other ill effects and returned to the game, but Nyquist has been offered an in-person hearing and will likely face suspension. The Wild did get the last laugh in the end, winning 6-3.

Last weekís BLB questioned Detroitís decision to waive Alexey Marchenko, who was later claimed by Toronto, and they couldíve used him against Minnesota. With Jonathan Ericsson out for the season, Xavier Ouellet and Nick Jensen stepped up and combined for three assists. Keep in mind the Red Wings are on the outside looking in, and barring some kind of significant improvement will likely miss the playoffs, so this would be a good time for them to give their youngsters some playing time. Robbie Russo (27 points and team-leading plus-14) and rookie Joey Hicketts (18 points in 45 games) have been very good for Grand Rapids in the AHL, so weíll likely see them once or twice before the season is over.

At the other end of the spectrum, thereís this:

Zdeno Chara found the Fountain of Youth by scoring his first shorthanded goal in five seasons ó against the hated Habs, no less ó by turning Alexander Radulov into a turnstile, making Carey Price look mortal and then celebrated with his giant mouth so wide-open itís further proof he consumes entire planets for breakfast.

Speaking of the Habs, itís been a disconcerting two weeks for Michel Therrienís squad, having lost six of their past seven games, including three shutout losses (one to the lowly Avalanche). With Claude Julien recently made available by the Bruins, you wonder if Marc Bergevin is thinking about giving Julien another go as the Habsí bench boss, though the word is that Montreal is looking to make a change to its roster rather than its coaching staff. Nikita Nesterov, picked up from the Lightning a couple weeks ago, has played six games for the Habs but has averaged just 14:48 ó nearly two full minutes less than his ice time with Tampa ó so itís clear heís not the answer.

Studs of the Week:

Brent Burns, Sharks
Ė Did you see those two goals against the Devils? Itís almost as if he can just will those shots into the net even if they hit the post, and heís now just six shy of hitting the 30-goal mark. Dare I say it, though? With 25 games left to go heís 16 away from 40, and while itís a pretty lofty goal, itís not impossible, either. Heís still not the best in his own zone, but Burnsí offensive production wipes away any of his shortcomings on defense.

P.K. Subban, Predators Ė Heís yet to score a goal in 11 games since his return, but he had a productive week with four assists and 11 PIM, registering his second fighting major of the year against Vincent Trocheck. With just 22 points in 40 games for the Preds, Subban hasnít quite lived up to the billing due to injuries, and itís the second straight year heís been forced to miss an extended amount of time after missing just seven contests in his previous four seasons.

Roman Josi, Predators Ė He did his best Burns impression by sniping his way through the week, scoring in three straight games to finish with four goals and two assists. The Predatorsí blue line is starting to get healthy again even if their play has been a little uneven. Without Shea Weber, Josiís the new top dog, and he has to consistently play like one for the team to succeed. That said, heís one of the many defensemen this year that hasnít quite lived up to the billing.

Alexander Edler, Canucks Ė He has scored a point in four straight games, as the Canucks have gone 2-2 four games into their six-game road trip. With just 13 points and a minus-10 rating on the season, heís no longer relevant in fantasy, but continues to log big minutes, skating at least 22 minutes a night during his scoring streak. Heís still an effective player, but one who never quite reached his full potential as a No. 1 defender.

Nikita Zaitsev, Maple Leafs Ė Heís having a very good rookie season even though no one seems to notice, picking up a goal and four points with a league-leading 19 hits this past week, including nine against Buffalo on Saturday. Heís handled himself well on a very young blue line, and should end up being the teamís best Russian defenseman since Dmitri Yushkevich.

Duds of the Week:

Erik Karlsson, Senators
Ė He didnít have to score much in Craig Andersonís return to the lineup, but in back-to-back shutout losses to the Blues and Sabres, Karlsson finished with a combined minus-4 rating. He has just one assist in his past four games and nine shots during that span. His offense has come in spurts and hasnít been as consistently dangerous as heís been in the past. Part of itís because Guy Boucher has asked him to defend a little more, and the other part is Burns making everyone else look bad.

Dustin Byfuglien, Jets Ė His stretch of mediocre play this past week is opening the door for Jacob Trouba to play more, especially after a horrendous performance against Chicago where he was on the ice for all five goals against. Buff has scored just seven goals this season despite his booming shot.

Mark Giordano, Flames Ė The Flames have won four of their past six, including against Minnesota and Pittsburgh, but Gioís point drought is now at 10 games and counting. He played just 17:17 in a 5-1 blowout win against Minnesota, but otherwise continues to be a big minute-muncher.

Jake Muzzin, Kings Ė Muzzin was a combined minus-6 in back-to-back shutout losses and is now pointless in his last four games. Heís not a fantasy stud because he doesnít score a lot, but certainly adds a lot of value with his hits and blocked shots. However, Muzzin is minus-15 on the season, and if he finishes in negative territory itíll be just the second time heís done so since becoming a full-time NHLer.

Danny DeKeyser, Red Wings Ė The hype surrounding DK65 when he left Western Michigan was that he could step into the pros and excel right away because of his skating and decision-making ability, but he has struggled a lot in his fourth season, and finished the week with a minus-5 rating. With eight points in 56 games, heís also on pace to set career lows across the board.

Recommended Pickup:

Nick Leddy, Islanders
Ė The Islanders are flying under new head coach Doug Weight and Leddy has been a big reason why. Challenged by Weight to be the teamís second best player (behind John Tavares, of course), Leddy has scored a goal and three assists in his past four games, and ó with 31 points in 53 games ó will likely improve on last yearís career-high 40 points. The 25-year-old is finally hitting his stride and will be a clear-cut No. 1 defenseman in short order. He has 16 points in his past 18 games and is owned is just 50 percent of Yahoo leagues.

The Big Board:

^ = stock rising
˅ = stock dropping

1 Brent Burns, SJS 24* 35 17 28 228* 53 98 24:56
2 Erik Karlsson, OTT 8 37* -1 18 128 47 142 26:53
3 Victor Hedman, TBL ^ 8 36 1 35 104 60 88 24:25
4 Dustin Byfuglien, WPG˅ 7 28 -6 74 173 137 97 27:26*
5 Shea Weber, MTL 13 19 13 18 136 102 120 25:30
6 Duncan Keith, CHI ^ 5 35 9 14 126 21 74 25:54
7 Kevin Shattenkirk, STL 11 28 -10 35 108 68 63 19:57
8 Justin Schultz, PIT 9 30 29 18 96 43 74 19:26
9 Drew Doughty, LAK 8 24 13 34 123 96 80 27:12
10 Rasmus Ristolainen, BUF 4 28 -4 25 128 144 128 27:08
11 Dougie Hamilton, CGY˅ 8 25 -3 44 159 59 72 19:36
12 Torey Krug, BOS 5 31 -11 16 160 41 47 22:07
13 Ryan Suter, MIN 7 23 30 22 107 58 76 27:16
14 Cam Fowler, ANA ^ 11 19 3 16 129 23 90 24:49
15 Matt Niskanen, WSH 4 28 19 26 108 101 72 22:33
16 Ryan McDonagh, NYR 2 30 15 31 99 55 107 24:20
17 Zach Werenski, CBJ˅ 8 23 13 12 129 31 61 21:16
18 John Klingberg, DAL 8 23 -3 28 90 31 80 23:27
19 Jeff Petry, MTL˅ 8 18 9 20 128 99 104 22:14
20 Alex Pietrangelo, STL 8 21 -3 20 113 30 113 24:50

Just missed the cut:

Roman Josi, NSH
John Carlson, WSH
Colton Parayko, STL
Jacob Trouba, WPG
Jared Spurgeon, MIN