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Fantasy Hockey: The necessary evils of the plus/minus rating

Dobber Hockey
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(Note: Our friends at Dobber Hockey are back for some fantasy fun. All stats are through Wednesday night's games; this feature will be found on Thursdays here on Puck Daddy.)

Last week we ranted on the PIM statistic and the silliness of having it as a positive statistic. This week we'll talk about the dartboard otherwise known as the plus/minus rating.

How difficult is this statistic to predict? Look no further than Jeff Schultz(notes), who was plus-50 last season but is currently sitting at minus-1. It's a team-driven stat, but there is no popular recognized method for adjusting it team-by-team. Unlike with PIM, we're probably stuck with this one. But we don't have to like it.

Just keep throwing the darts.

Goals (with Yahoo! percent owned)

J.P. Dumont(notes), RW, Nashville (3%)

Back from the dead, Dumont has five goals in his last two games and will probably maintain his hot stick for a couple of weeks yet. The thing with Nashville is that they have eight or nine players who take turns getting hot two at a time. Recently it was Sergei Kostitsyn(notes) and Patric Hornqvist(notes). Now it's Hornqvist and Dumont. If there was a way to fit eight Preds on your bench and activate them two at a time each week, then it would be like having two Dany Heatleys on your team. But alas, it doesn't work that way. And they don't give us advanced warning as to who is next on the hot-streak docket.

Taylor Pyatt(notes), LW, Phoenix (2%)

Let's call this the "Yandle Effect". Keith Yandle(notes) has emerged a young star in the NHL and the Coyotes are starting to design the offense around him. And in doing so, they're winning games. The net result of this is players like Shane Doan(notes), Sami Lepisto(notes), Lauri Korpikoski(notes) and Taylor Pyatt start producing above expectations either directly or indirectly because of Yandle's presence in the lineup. The 29-year-old Pyatt has five goals and two assists in his last nine games.

Assists

Brian Rolston(notes), LW, New Jersey (2%)

As soon as the Devils brought back their old ways system coach, the aging Rolston became relevant productive. With a goal and four assists in his last four games, he is also seeing more ice time then he has in months. If he keeps this up, and 238 more forwards back out of the All-Star Game, we could very well see Mr. Rolston in Raleigh on January 30.

Mats Zuccarello(notes), LW/RW, N.Y. Rangers (2%)

With four assists and seven points in his last eight games, MZA is in a great position to build on things with the Brandon Dubinsky(notes) injury. When he was put on a line with Derek Stepan(notes) and Wojtek Wolski(notes) in recent games, things really took off.

Plus/Minus

Niklas Hjalmarsson(notes), D, Chicago (4%)

His plus-8 on the season is fairly modest, but the Blackhawks are winning games now on the strength of improved goal scoring and non-Marty Turco(notes) goaltending. Most Hawks are upping their plus/minus stat, but Hjalmarsson is making the biggest waves, with his plus-10 rating over the last six contests.

Lauri Korpikoski, LW, Phoenix (2%)

Although he sees absolutely no power-play time, Korpikoski has settled in nicely as a contributing third-line center. The Yandle Effect has dominoed to him as well and instead of settling in as a 30-point, plus-5 player he is more of a 45-point plus-15 player. In his last six games he has seven points and is plus-5. For the time being, he is seeing second-line ice time whilst Kyle Turris(notes) and Eric Belanger(notes) struggle and Vernon Fiddler(notes) is on the shelf. I'm guessing this is the only time you have read a hockey column with the word 'whilst' in it.

SOG

Milan Michalek(notes) 5%

Roto-leaguers would be interested in the fact that Milan Michalek has 12 shots in his last three games and 41 in his last 14. Since he also has four points in his last four contests, he'll probably chip in on some of the other categories for you as well. Hear that, Sens fans? Forget your one win in 10 games -- Michalek is doing really really good in fantasy hockey!

PIM

Adam McQuaid(notes), D, Boston (1%)

It's a little surprising that McQuaid is only owned in one percent of leagues, given that his career chart throughout all levels of hockey showed some lofty numbers in this stat. Oh, and he's 6-5, 210. Now that McQuaid is getting 14/15 minutes per game, he has more opportunity to drop the gloves. In the last 16 games he has 33 penalty minutes, six points and is plus-10. Read those impressive numbers again and let's bump that one percent up. Along with Steve Kampfer(notes), Boston has been pulling these defensive gems out of a hat lately.

Goalies

Henrik Karlsson(notes), G, Calgary (1%)

Relax poolies. Don't grab this guy yet. Just keep your finger near the submit button is all. It's a long shot, but in most leagues isn't that all that's available on the wire for goalies? He's the best backup that the Flames have had in years and is really starting to show it. He has stopped 65 of the last 69 shots that he's faced, while Miikka Kiprusoff(notes) has saved just 62 of the last 75. What you could see is a gradual cannibalization of Kipper's minutes as Karlsson slowly Corey Crawford's(notes) him to the bench.

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

I Matt D'Agostini(notes) has been lighting it up for me over the past two weeks, with 10 points in his last 10 games. I'm keeping him active this week and riding the wave!

Whatever, Jack. With T.J. Oshie(notes) back in the lineup Tuesday, D'Agostini saw his lowest number of minutes in the last 12 games. He was a temporary top sixer but will probably find himself back on the third line very soon.

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Dobber's Clown of the Week

For teasing poolies with your 20 points in 18 games and actually making some of us believers ... and just when your ownership rate inched up to 12% of all leagues, you go pointless in five and snap us back to reality.

For that, Sergei Kostitsyn, you're a clown.

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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