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.
The Washington Capitals are 9-0-1 in their last 10 games and are the hottest team in the NHL. There isn't any mystery as to the catalyst - Alexander Ovechkin. His line, be it on the power play or at even strength, has combined for 33 points in the last two weeks. Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks are 8-1-1, but they have such scoring depth that none of their lines crack the Top 20. Everybody's contributing.
Here is a snippet of the top scoring lines since the trade deadline (not including Wednesday night), courtesy of Frozen Pool.
Line combos with four players indicate a power-play unit.
These fellas are wielding a hot stick. Take that into consideration when you go after them in trade talks...
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers (27-10-24-34, even, 10 PIM, 85 SOG) – Giroux and the Flyers took 16 games to get warmed up. Since then, the team has gone 13-11-3, which is a pace that gets them into the dance. So yeah, everything's back to normal now. Giroux's a 90-point player and the Flyers are a playoff team. Too bad it happened too late.
Bryan Little, Winnipeg Jets (4-1-6-7, plus-4, 0 PIM, 7 SOG) – This is why we love poking our eyes with a stick fantasy hockey. When a player can go six games without a point and post a minus-8…and get dropped by most owners, only to turn it around with a four-game run like this one.
Brenden Morrow, Pittsburgh Penguins (4-5-3-8, plus-6, 11 PIM, 9 SOG, 2 PPPts) – Morrow has six points with Sidney Crosby, James Neal and Evgeni Malkin out of the lineup. Without looking it up, I can safely say that those three gobbled up a combined 3000+ minutes of PP time per game. Now that time is available for players such as Morrow.
James Reimer, Toronto Maple Leafs (4-0-1, 1.38 GAA, 0.956 SV%, 1 SO) – Reimer's next game will be the 100th of his career. He is 51-29-14 between the pipes behind what has often been a weak team. Also, for the last two years I've had this song play in my head every time I hear his name:
Somebody wake these guys up – their fantasy owners are counting on them...
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens (0-4-0, 6.43 GAA, 0.813 SV%) – A goalie putting up four weak performances in a row in mid-April generally means that he's been itching to play golf. While he works out the kinks in his game before the postseason kicks off, keep him on the bench.
Francois Beauchemin, Anaheim Ducks (9-0-1-1, even, 4 PIM, 14 SOG) – Beauchemin was arguably one of the five best defensemen in the league this season heading into April. But now Leaf fans can rest easy - his numbers are starting to come down to earth.
Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers (6-0-0-0, minus-8, 10 PIM, 14 SOG) – Six consecutive games as a "minus" player and five straight games with a minor penalty - when he only has eight minors all year. Just doing his part in helping his team get that precious first overall pick, per Steve Tambellini's instructions. (Psst - Jordan, check your voicemail)
David Perron, St. Louis Blues (16-0-4-4, even, 16 PIM, 23 SOG) – After putting up 19 points in 23 games to start the season, Perron began to notice Ken Hitchcock's icy glare every time he looked over his shoulder. He immediately fell in line and his numbers are now a better reflection of the Hitchcock system.
Last week I had the magic touch, recommending Alex Chiasson, Vernon Fiddler, Jack Hillen, Alex Galchenyuk and Richard Bachman for your waiver scoop. All would have provided pretty big boosts over the weekend. Let's see if I can keep the ball rolling. Mostly short-term grabs here, but as always some potential steals...
Lars Eller, Montreal Canadiens (7-2-5-7, plus-2, 17 PIM, 11 SOG) – Eller's steady increase in his points-per-game average, year over year, bodes well for a breakout in 2013-14 (his fourth NHL campaign). After 0.22 points per game as a rookie, he followed it up with 0.35 and now 0.59.
Frans Nielsen, New York Islanders (8-1-6-7, plus-3, 2 PIM, 15 SOG) – You can take Nielsen's numbers to the bank. Year-over-year, he's steady as she goes:
2008-09 - 0.56 points per game
2009-10 - 0.50
2010-11 - 0.62
2011-12 - 0.57
2012-13 - 0.58
Kevin Porter, Buffalo Sabres (8-4-3-7, plus-7, 2 PIM, 14 SOG) – The 2008 Hobey Baker winner has had a difficult time finding his way at the NHL level. But he's seeing significant minutes in Buffalo's last minute charge at a playoff spot.
T.J. Brodie, Calgary Flames (4-0-3-3, plus-1, 0 PIM, 5 SOG, 2 PPPts) – This is kind of a lame one, meant for those of you with a need for a depth blueliner. Brodie's ice time is through the roof now that Jay Bouwmeester is gone, and that has occasionally translated into points.
Sven Baertschi, Calgary Flames (3-2-2-4, plus-3, 0 PIM, 5 SOG) – The Flames replaced Max Reinhart with Mikael Backlund as Baertschi's centerman and the move has been paying dividends. Backlund has four points in four games (13 shots).
Brandon Dubinsky, Columbus Blue Jackets (4-0-4-4, plus-4, 27 PIM, 7 SOG) – Judging by the penalty minutes, Dubinsky's a little cranky from the bout of the flu that he suffered through just over a week ago.
Benoit Pouliot, Tampa Bay Lightning (6-2-3-5, plus-5, 4 PIM, 12 SOG) – Between his healthy scratches and lengthy benchings, Pouliot is still managing to put up the points and plus/minus numbers. A risk, given the minimal ice time, but still worth considering.
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:
Matt Niskanen, Pittsburgh; Brendan Smith, Detroit; Dustin Brown, Los Angeles; Charlie Coyle, Minnesota; Mats Zuccarello, N.Y. Rangers; Erik Gustafsson, Philadelphia; Martin Erat, Washington; Mikhail Grabovski, Toronto;