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Fantasy Hockey: Why Evgeni Malkin is a stud, Patrice Bergeron is a dud

Dobber Hockey
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Dobber checks in every Thursday to force-feed you the latest fantasy hockey trends. The founder of DobberHockey.com and a columnist for The Hockey News website, he long ago immersed himself into this rollercoaster world and is unable to escape.

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Chris Kunitz is having an okay season. Not ridiculous-good like the performance he gave us in 2012-13, but good enough to put him on track for the second-best of his career in terms of offense (he's tracking for just over 70 points). But would it surprise you to learn that in rotisserie leagues that count hits instead of penalty minutes, Kunitz is the No.1 player this season?

Using a report from Frozen Pool, here are the top players in fantasy hockey using categories G, A, +/-, PPPts, SOG and Hits (before Wednesday's games):

Dustin Penner sneaks onto the list thanks to his league-leading plus/minus, while Tommy Wingels gets in because of a nice mix of plus/minus, hits and goals. And despite five points in his last 14 games, Jarome Iginla is finding other ways to get it done. He's shooting the puck, throwing checks and as a member of the Bruins he gets an automatic plus-10.

Studs...

These fellas are wielding a hot stick. Take that into consideration when you go after them in trade talks...

Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins (6-3-9-12, plus-5, 4 PIM, 22 SOG, and 4 PPPts) - And just like that, Geno has gone from 'disappointing' to 'Art Ross contender'. See how quickly fortunes can turn in fantasy hockey?

Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings (4-1-6-7, plus-4, 2 PIM, 12 SOG, and 4 PPPts) - For some inexplicable reason, the Red Wings signed Dan Cleary in the offseason when they were already carrying too many forwards. As a result, the team sent Gustav Nyquist back to the AHL, since he was the only one who didn't have to clear waivers. This despite the fact that he's one of the team's best offensive forwards. The Red Wings then have difficulty scoring early on, despite Cleary's torrid nine-point pace. So they recall Nyquist four games ago, plunk him on Zetterberg's line, and the rest is history.

John Carlson, Washington Capitals (7-3-4-7, plus-6, 2 PIM, 28 SOG) - Carlson has taken the PP duties from Mike Green and has done well with it. Still just 73% owned, but it's looking like this could be the Carlson we've waited five years on.

Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (5GP 3-1-1, 1.38 GAA, 0.957 SV%) - Lost in his mediocre win/loss numbers this season is the fact that Price is on pace for career bests in both goals against and save percentage.

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Duds

Somebody wake these guys up – their fantasy owners are counting on them...

Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins (6-0-0-0, minus-1, 0 PIM, 12 SOG) - I have a hard time believing that Bergeron will fail to reach 60 points this season, but he'll need close to 50 points in 55 games to get it done now. And I just can't see that number out of him. A conundrum? A conundrum.

Tomas Fleischmann, Florida Panthers (11-0-1-1, minus-2, 0 PIM, 17 SOG) - With another year left on his contract at $4.5 million per, Flash will continue to see top minutes and ideal power-play time. More than enough for him to shake this funk. There's too much cash for the Flash to crash.

Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks (5-0-0-0, plus-1, 6 PIM, 11 SOG) - The 37-year-old is still above last year's pace, but his ice time (20:58/game) is his lowest since he was a Florida Panther (remember that? No? Okay then). It's probably fair to expect little more than 40 points this season, low penalty minutes and a negligible plus/minus.

Kevin Poulin, New York Islanders (0-4-0, 4.46 GAA, 0.854 SV%) - We're getting close to that point where Anders Nilsson gets a start, plays lights-out goaltending and everyone is scrambling to grab him off of waivers. Evgeni Nabokov is not going to be back anytime soon and Poulin is struggling (to put it politely).

The Wire...

Mostly short-term grabs here, but as always some potential steals...

Tim Kennedy, Phoenix Coyotes (6-1-3-4, plus-2, 0 PIM, 10 SOG) – For the truly desperate, as Kennedy by no means has a secure roster spot. But his ice time has crept up above 15 minutes in each of his last two games and as long as Lauri Korpikoski is sidelined, Kennedy should chip in some points.

Andre Benoit, Colorado Avalanche (4-1-3-4, minus-1, 2 PIM, 3 SOG, 1 PPPts) – Another relative unknown, but Benoit has had steady ice time and steady production. He doesn't help in any other category but assists, however if that is your need then he's worth a grab.

Mats Zuccarello, New York Rangers (17-3-11-14, plus-6, 6 PIM, 49 SOG) – So what happened 17 games ago that set off this little hot streak? He was scratched. Zuccarello is one of those players who figures it out after sitting in the press box. There is no reason to believe he can't keep it up - and no explanation why he is only owned in 8% of Yahoo leagues.

David Desharnais, Montreal Canadiens (4-2-3-5, plus-4, 0 PIM, 7 SOG) – As a frustrated Desharnais owner in one of my leagues, I naturally cling to any sign of a turnaround from this atrocity that has been Desharnais' season. Five points in four games is good enough for me. He does very well when Max Pacioretty is healthy and on his line, which is the case right now. Without Pacioretty, Desharnais seems hopeless.

Matt Cullen, Nashville Predators (6-3-6-9, plus-6, 4 PIM, 9 SOG) – The veteran Cullen always finds a way to get up around 40 points no matter what, so when he started out with just four points in 19 games you should have known that this was coming. Without ever having a 50-point season, Cullen could very well top 650 points in his career.

Eric Gelinas, New Jersey Devils (16-2-7-9, minus-1, 6 PIM, 38 SOG, and 7 PPPts) – Look at the numbers! Just 6% owned and the thing is - he's done it consistently. No hot streaks, no cold streaks. Just steady play. Before the season began I strongly felt that a newcomer would join the Devils' blue line and do pretty well. So I watched Jon Merrill and Damon Severson very closely. Turns out it should have been 2009 second rounder Gelinas who grabbed my attention.

Gabriel Bourque, Nashville Predators (7-3-4-7, plus-1, 0 PIM, 10 SOG) – This hot run could stop at any moment because hey, let's face it - it's the Predators, and their players run hot and cold throughout the lineup. But Bourque is playing with leading scorer David Legwand, so there's that.

Heating Up?

Here's where I'll 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:

Kris Letang, Pittsburgh; Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis; Mark Streit, Philadelphia; Justin Abdelkader, Detroit; Mika Zibanejad, Ottawa; Devin Setoguchi, Winnipeg.

For more fantasy hockey tips, take a gander at DobberHockey. And while you’re at it, follow Dobber’s fantasy hockey musings on Twitter.

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