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Fantasy Hockey: Tracking concussions; NHL’s best-kept secret

Dobber Hockey
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I have been approached by several readers about somehow tracking the concussions of players and reporting it as a statistic. Not for the purpose of fantasy scoring, but as a means of tracking risk.

All the same, you know that it's officially a hot topic when fantasy owners start to get their dirty paws on it …

But tracking concussions, quite simply, can't be done. Not with things the way they are in the NHL. For teams, the new "C-word" is concussion. They're afraid to say it and they'll spin the English language every which way in an effort to avoid using that word. A bit of a headache; inner-ear problem; symptoms of vertigo; and of course, the much-favored term: upper-body injury.

Have the Capitals said "concussion" about Mike Green? How long did Dallas take to say "concussion" about Brad Richards?

Too much goes on reported or gets glossed over to accurately say Tom has had three concussions in his career and Jimmy has had two. So that's the end of that.

Stats are after Tuesday's games.

Goals (with percentage owned in Yahoo! Leagues)

David Desharnais, C, Montreal Canadiens (2%)

The NHL's best kept secret. The 5-7, 177-pound pivot is overcoming every obstacle thrown at him and proving 30 GMs wrong for skipping over him at the draft. Had he been 6-0, 180 as an 18-year-old, you can bet the Quebec native would have been scooped up. Desharnais has five goals in the last 13 games to go with seven assists. Go ahead and overlook him. He's used to it. In the meantime, he'll be deking goalies out of their jockstraps.

Bobby Butler, RW, Ottawa Senators (2%)

Another undrafted rookie, Butler's shortcoming was his speed, which he has worked on over the years and has become one of the better goal-scorers in Ottawa's system. So far, that seems to have translated to the NHL level. All six of his goals have come in the last 11 games. When the goal-scoring alternative on the ice is Chris Neil, you know the puck is going to Butler - so he'll continue to get his chances.

Assists

Andrej Sekera, D, Buffalo Sabres (8%)

Only in the fickle world of fantasy hockey can a defenseman with 12 points in 56 games suddenly peel off five consecutive contests with two points each. But that's exactly what Sekera did these last two weeks. So what's his secret? Tiger Blood? No — a benching. After being scratched for three games, the 24-year-old is on a mission to ensure that it doesn't happen again. His pace is obviously too furious to continue, but he should still help your fantasy team down the stretch.

David Legwand, C, Nashville Predators (2%)

The caveat here is that, well, it's David Legwand. The streakiest player this side of Kristian Huselius. But he has emerged as Nashville's top offensive threat (this month), with 12 points in his last 13 games. Eight of those points are assists. He's also firing a decent amount of shots on goal and his plus/minus should help too.

Plus/Minus

Manny Malhotra, C, Vancouver Canucks (7%)

A steady 35-point player and a stalwart at the faceoff dot, Malhotra has also been solid with his plus/minus over the last couple of campaigns. In the last two years combined, he was a plus-26. So it comes as a surprise that on one of the best teams in the NHL he was a minus-1 by early February. But things are righting themselves as he has boasted a plus-9 rating in the last 13 games. His 10 points in that span won't hurt, either.

Shots-on-Goal

Derek Stepan, C, New York Rangers (10%)

Stepan is a must-own these days if shots-on-goal are a category. With 27 shots in his last eight contests, his frequency has jumped dramatically versus the rest of his season. With his penchant for shooting a lot at the college level, as well as for Team USA at the World Juniors, three shots per game is not a blip. That's what you can expect from the rookie going forward.

Martin Erat, RW, Nashville Predators (10%)

Another Nashville player available on the waiver wire. That's what happens when the entire team rotates through three hot players every couple of weeks. As with linemate Legwand (noted above), Erat is catching fire with 18 points in his last 18 games. His 40 shots in that span represent a 50 percent increase in pace. Get him before his turn is up and the next Nashville player steps in.

Power-Play Points

Kris Russell, D, Columbus Blue Jackets (4%)

Don't look now, but that guy we expected to make his mark as a PP quarterback in 2008 — yeah, that guy — he's making his mark now. As always in fantasy circles, and I'm as guilty as the next person, we expect too much too soon. Not the Russell is suddenly Nicklas Lidstrom, but he's making better decisions with the man advantage and the result is three power-play points in his last seven games. Overall, the 23-year-old has eight points in nine games.

Mike Modano, C, Detroit Red Wings (5%)

The 40-year-old has been back from his wrist injury for five games now and he has three points in that span. Every one of them has come on the power play. In fact, since he is seeing about 11 minutes of ice time per game and two or three minutes of that is with the man advantage, it's safe to now label Mr. Modano as a "power-play specialist". Kudos to Detroit management for seeing him in such a role and signing him accordingly.

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

Andrei Kostitsyn is on fire! With this kind of run down the stretch, he's bound to bust out next season. I'm scooping him up in the draft next summer — already on my "to do" list.

We say:

He'll only break your heart. This Windex Wonder is as streaky as they come. What looks like a 90-point player this month, will be a 20-point player next. Don't fall for it, Jack!

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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