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On the 'D'-fence: OEL, Yandle 'scrubbing' opposition

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On the 'D'-fence: OEL, Yandle 'scrubbing' opposition
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On the 'D'-fence: OEL, Yandle 'scrubbing' opposition

Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com Correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy defensemen in our weekly segment: "On the 'D'-fence." From updated defensemen rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Metzer will be your fantasy d-man insider all season long.


TOP 60 FANTASY DEFENSEMEN

These rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward. The plus or minus for each player is movement based on our most recent rankings -- NR means not ranked in previous rankings. They are based on a standard fantasy league with these offensive categories: G, A, plus/minus, PIMs, PPP, SOG.

It's always fun to do something that you love. It's even better to do that thing with a good friend.

That is what made John Dorian and Christopher Turk the best set of doctors to ever grace a television screen. The pair, made famous by actors Zach Braff and Donald Faison on the show "Scrubs," nearly was inseparable after meeting during medical school at the College of William and Mary.

They would go on to get jobs at the fictitious hospital Sacred Heart, which allowed them to work together on most days and have a ton of fun while doing so.

It didn't matter if JD was being berated by the always entertaining Doctor Cox, played by John C. McGinley, or if Turk was upset about having to listen to Erasure's "A Little Respect" in the operating room; they were always there for one another.

It is hard not to envision "JD" and Turk when looking at the fantasy duo that currently is patrolling the blue line for the Phoenix Coyotes . They aren't paired together often during 5-on-5 situations, but they play on the power play together and form one of the most productive tandems in the League.

Though Keith Yandle isn't lifting Oliver Ekman-Larsson over his head and skating down the ice while the latter yells "Eagle!" they are collecting points at a breakneck pace that has hit fantasy owners like a ton of bricks very similar to the one that once hit Dorian during one of his famous inner monologues.

Yandle and Ekman-Larsson have combined for 19 points in 13 games; 12 of those points have come on the power play.

The number gets a bit more stunning when you consider that Yandle posted one assist in his first seven games and Ekman-Larsson three points in his first six. Since that time they have settled into the season and have exploded for 14 points in their past six games.

Though both players are rostered in almost every fantasy league, it is Ekman-Larsson who probably is going to be the bigger scorer this season. He is just 22 years old and has seen his points per game rise each of his four seasons from 0.23 to 0.39 to 0.50 to its current 0.77 this season.

His 10 points are tied for third in the defensive scoring race with Alex Pietrangelo .

That isn't to say that Yandle isn't going to pull his fantasy weight, as he currently is tied for fifth in the defensive scoring race with nine points. He has been one of the most consistent offensive producers among defensemen during the past five seasons and has posted 0.53 points per game during his career.

You won't find either player on the waiver wire in your league, but hopefully you can acquire one of them so that you can pull a Dr. Kelso and say, "Who's got two thumbs and is riding his highly productive blue line to a fantasy championship? THIS GUY!"

TRENDING UPWARD

Kris Letang , Pittsburgh Penguins -- It took almost a month but Letang is back in the Penguins' lineup. It took him a game to get his legs under him, but he already is logging his customary 25-plus minutes per night. He scored his first goal of the season last Saturday in Toronto and should see his totals rise rapidly this season as he gets to skate often with Sidney Crosby , Evgeni Malkin and a host of others that make points a lot easier to come by.

James Wisniewski , Columbus Blue Jackets -- Wisniewski fought through some flu-like symptoms to have himself a pretty effective week. He has one goal and five assists in his past four games, giving him nine points in 11 games, and he looks like he'll be able to add to it as he is healthy for the first time in a long time.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

Justin Faulk , Carolina Hurricanes -- Faulk, like many of his teammates, is dealing with an offensive slump. He has five points -- all assists -- in 12 games, and four of those came during his team's first four games. Since then he has one point in eight games and just 13 shots on goal in that span. It is hard to say this, but it may be time to explore other options in standard Yahoo fantasy hockey leagues.

Jack Johnson , Columbus Blue Jackets -- Johnson's offense has been in decline since his breakout 42-point season in 2010-11. Since then he has seen his fantasy value stay sort of consistent as people wait for him to put together a bounce-back season. Unfortunately that doesn't look like it will happen in 2013-14 as he has two goals and one assist in 11 games, and has gone seven games without a point.

KEEP AN EYE ON ...

Nate Schmidt , Washington Capitals -- Schmidt signed with the Capitals as a free agent out of the University of Minnesota last spring. He has since made his NHL debut and took a little while to get his legs under him, but it looks like his game could be rounding into form. Schmidt had 12 goals and 73 points in 83 games in his final two collegiate seasons, has points in back-to-back games. He now has two assists, 14 shots on goal and is averaging 18:04 of ice time per game.

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