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Fantasy Hockey: Eyes on Langenbrunner, Stalock; Flames heat up

Dobber Hockey
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Being in the fantasy hockey biz, I love how non-fantasy people - professional hockey analysts - try, but fail miserably, to get into the fantasy hockey spirit. Be it major networks running a "fantasy hockey league" for viewers, or doing a Top 100 preseason fantasy draft.

It's not fantasy hockey if you're competing with a hundred thousand other people - and the skill/fun of fantasy hockey drafts are the players who come after the Top 100.

And Justin Bourne tweeted it best, speaking of Friday's ASG Draft: "I'm annoyed by people calling yesterday's draft a ‘fantasy draft.' IT WAS REAL. Players *actually* got drafted to play in an *actual* game."

Network bigwigs will never understand, unless they partake in a fantasy hockey league.

And then there are the dozens of upstart websites encouraging you to pick your fantasy team for one night of games. Fantasy hockey that lasts one night. Gambling, but without the legal ramifications of calling it gambling.

Yes, the term "fantasy sports" is bandied about too easily these days, but commercialism is the price of growing popularity.

Goals (with Yahoo! percent owned)

David Moss(notes), RW, Calgary Flames (2%)

Recommending a Calgary player for the goals category these days may be like recommending buying stock in Blockbuster, but Moss has actually been doing pretty well. Eight of his 12 goals on the season have come in the last 13 games and he's averaging nearly three shots per game in that span. His plus/minus won't hurt you and three of those eight goals have come on the power play. Moss is a notoriously streaky player, so scoop him up while you can.

Dustin Jeffrey(notes), C, Pittsburgh Penguins (0%)

With Sidney Crosby(notes), Evgeni Malkin(notes) and Mark Letestu(notes) all on the shelf, the youngster Jeffrey is finally getting a big opportunity with the Penguins. He saw over 19 minutes of ice time last game (thanks to Jordan Staal(notes) getting a game misconduct, over and above the aforementioned injuries) and he has scored in two of the last three NHL games he has played in. Naturally, this is a short-term suggestion, but he'll give you one good week.

Assists

Jamie Langenbrunner(notes), RW, Dallas Stars (32%)

Now that he's settling into his new team, Langenbrunner is starting to post points at his usual 55-point rate. At least, that was his usual rate prior to clicking with Zach Parise(notes) these last couple of years. He has a goal and three assists in his last six games and given his 17 minutes per game, that's a pace that he should be able to keep up. Dallas wants to keep Jamie Benn(notes) at center, which has opened up a full-time gig for Langenbrunner on the right side with Mike Ribeiro(notes).

Shots on Goal

Cal Clutterbuck(notes), RW, Minnesota Wild (10%)

It's not the greatest last name in hockey history, but try telling Cal that and he'll plaster you into the boards. His 227 hits lead the league by a good 10 percent over the next guy. He already has a career high in goals (14) and should flirt with 25 before it's all said and done. He's been shooting more, too, averaging about 3.5 shots per game in his last nine. One category that he's not adding to that is surprising is penalty minutes. He was a PIM machine in Oshawa (OHL), but his NHL totals in that statistic have actually been declining. I would have expected 70 or 80 this year, but he's on pace for just 49.

Plus/Minus

David Legwand(notes), C, Nashville Predators (2%)

Nashville isn't a team that gets blown out of the water. Adding a Nashville player will rarely hurt your plus/minus and that makes Legwand a safe pick. But you need "safe" about as badly as the Leafs need to lock up Mike Brown(notes) ASAP to a long-term deal. That's where Legwand comes in - he's been solid in this category since returning from injury in December, going plus-9 in 15 games.

Power-Play Points

Brendan Morrison(notes), C, Calgary Flames (7%)

Damn, another Calgary recommendation. But this is a team that has won five games in a row, so there are bound to be some hot players on the roster and Morrison is another one. The 35-year-old has points in all five of those games, six overall in that span including two on the power play. He's playing with Jarome Iginla(notes) and Alex Tanguay(notes), and when the team is winning the lines aren't going to be tinkered with. So Morrison stays and for the short-term he will help your roster as a No. 4 center (where he would probably be on most NHL teams).

PIM

Adam Burish(notes), RW, Dallas Stars (1%)

The 28-year-old Burish will earn a minor penalty here and a minor penalty there, but every once in awhile he'll pop up like a Peter Forsberg comeback story. Three times this season he has had 14 or more penalty minutes in a game, which breaks down to once every 17 games. But if you're desperate and your roto league is a deep one, he could be your best available option. He has five points in his last eight games, so he's hot enough where he'll chip in some other categories while you wait for that next ‘pop'.

Goalies

Alex Stalock(notes), G, San Jose Sharks (0%)

As Antero Niittymaki(notes) struggles - yet again - with an injury to the "lower body", the Sharks are struggling just to get comfortably into a playoff position. Antti Niemi(notes) is playing very well over the last two weeks, but that's the thing about him - he plays well in two-week spurts. Stalock has had a stellar last two AHL seasons and looked great in stealing the win Tuesday. Another showing like that and the Sharks will start turning to him. It could be another case of ‘play until you lose', this time in San Jose. Add him as your third or fourth goalie now, and see how this situation pans out over the next two weeks. You may just drop him again in two weeks, but then again you may have found that gem you've been dying to find to save your season.

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Middle-of-the-Pack Jack says ...

"Michael Frolik - zero goals in 20 games now. I'm bailing on him."

Whoa, Jack - keeping him that long is akin to the Lamoriello/MacLean situation all over again. Hopefully he was on the bench for much of the last three or four weeks. But...since you hung onto him this long, you may as well hang in there for another week. Sure, he was pointless in 11 games prior to Tuesday, but a five-day break usually makes the hot/cold trends useless fodder. Witness his assist in Tuesday's game against the Leafs. Frolik is extremely streaky, so look for a nice little run now.

Dobber can be criticized and ridiculed over at his own site, as well as at TheHockeyNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@DobberHockey), but only if you like cool tidbits on player trends.

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