It's 48-game season, which means, among other things, that there is less time for market corrections. I'm implying that if the Habs are tops in the Eastern Conference at the 16-game mark, chances are good that they'll do what most hockey experts said wasn't possible - make the playoffs. The Ducks and Maple Leafs are also in the mix, while teams such as the Rangers, Flyers and defending Cup champion Kings face an uphill battle to get back in.
The same goes for fantasy hockey - if you're not even in the Top 10 now, just a month into the season, then chances are you won't win. It's not November, it's February. But if you're sitting around fifth or sixth, you still have a great shot - you just have to be on top of things. Here is the Frozen Pool report for skaters the last 14 days, based on basic Yahoo! scoring categories:
These fellas are wielding a hot stick. Take that into consideration when you go after them in trade talks...
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (3-0-0, 1.15 GAA, 0.947 SV%) – The league's leader in wins and he's kept his GAA below 2.00. I smell a Vezina.Philadelphia Flyers (15-7-6-13, even, 36 SOG) – He's playing with Claude Giroux now and after the weekend's 7-0 blowout over the Islanders in which he had three points, fantasy owners have been snapping Read up quickly. His injury Wednesday (upper body) was ill-timed, but hopefully he won't be out long.
Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks (7-0-7-7, plus-7, 19 PIM, 15 SOG) – Duncan Keith sucked. Then he fights. Then he's awesome again. Coincidence? I'll let you decide. But he had three points in 10 games before this fight, and seven points in six games after it and he's shooting a hell of a lot more. It seems to me that he pumped himself up:
Somebody wake these guys up – their fantasy owners are counting on them... RNH, Marleau, Elliott, Byfuglien
Brian Elliott, St. Louis Blues (0-3-1, 5.05 GAA, 0.791 SV%) – It looks like Elliott has run out of pixie dust. Thank goodness he secured $3.6 million while he was still flying around Neverland.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers (7-1-1-2, minus-3, 2 PIM, 17 SOG) – Somehow, linemate Taylor Hall has seven points in those seven games. Go figure. I took a look and verified that the Nuge was on the ice for six of those seven points, so it's hard to believe this slump will continue.
Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks (9-1-1-2, minus-4, 6 PIM, 23 SOG) – What? He's not going to get 70 goals after all? My hat is off to you if you suckered a fellow GM after Game 5 and made a killing moving him.
Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets (4-0-0-0, even, 2 PIM, 6 SOG) – The lack of offense is concerning, because it hints that he struggles with Tobias Enstrom out of the lineup. And we've seen this in the past. The sudden campaign for the Lady Byng is concerning because that means he's not doing anything at all for us fantasy owners.
Mostly short-term grabs here, but as always some potential steals...
Ben Scrivens, Toronto Maple Leafs (2-1-0, 1.44 GAA, 0.952 SV%, 2 SO) – James Reimer is out for at least another week and with Scrivens putting up goose eggs, he makes for a safe - and obvious - play.
Ryan Garbutt, Dallas Stars (4-2-1-3, plus-4, 12 PIM, 6 SOG) – A preseason dark horse of mine to top 90 penalty minutes, his pace is falling short of that mark. But it's not too bad (62) and he's surprisingly contributing in other categories. Careful though, his ice time still hovers in that eight/nine minutes range.
David Moss, Phoenix Coyotes (4-1-2-3, plus-3, 6 PIM, 6 SOG) – This is a short-term pickup, as Moss tends to be streaky. At least…from what I remember of him way back in 2009 when he actually played a healthy season. His ice time is decent (around 16 minutes per game), but his linemates (Raffi Torres and Boyd Gordon) leave much to be desired.
Eric Fehr, Washington Capitals (4-3-3-6, plus-5, 2 PIM, 7 SOG) – Those four games are also the four games in which he's seen the most ice time this year. His hot stick has finally given coach Adam Oates a productive third line. Now if only he could get a productive first line. And second line. (with apologies to Mr. Ribeiro)
Carl Hagelin, New York Rangers (5-5-3-8, plus-4, 2 PIM, 21 SOG) – Hagelin made a big splash last year, but then Chris Kreider came along and ruined everything. With Kreider on board, Hagelin's playoff production just barely eked past Martin Biron's. But now with players such as Kreider and Rick Nash on the sidelines (not together, silly - at different times) Hagelin is flourishing in the top six.
Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche (4-1-3-4, even, 2 PIM, 6 SOG) – The Erik Johnson injury has given Barrie an opportunity to get some quality ice time, and he's doing more with it than Johnson was. As long as EJ is out, Barrie should be a safe pickup.
Jakub Kindl, Detroit Red Wings (3-0-3-3, plus-3, 8 PIM, 3 SOG) – This one carries a risk because he has been a healthy scratch recently and his last game saw just over 11 minutes of ice time. But the Wings are so banged up they either have to play Kindl or resort to lifting the secret ban on signing the recently retired Chris Campoli.
Here's a new section in which I fire off a few names of players who may be at the very beginning of a nice little run. Just a gut feeling, but worth looking into and/or taking a chance on:
Craig Smith, Nashville; Sergei Kostitsyn, Nashville; Antoine Vermette, Phoenix; Jakob Silfverberg, Ottawa; Darcy Kuemper, Minnesota.
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