Crashing the Net takes you around the league touching on hot and cold players, battles for ice-time and what’s going on in net.
Andy McDonald, Blues
Frequently injured in recent seasons, McDonald is a nice source of points when healthy. Over the last three seasons he has 140 points in 170 games, a pace that would net about 68 points over an 82 game season. McDonald has been streaking the past 10 days with eight points in his last five games (including four goals). Moreover, since returning from his latest bought with inactivity Andy has nine goals and 13 helpers in 20 games for the Blues. You know you are going to get points with this guy – it’s just a matter of how often he can drag his body onto the ice.
Andrej Sekera, Sabres
With three goals, 22 assists and a +3 rating on the year, I’d venture that Andrej is likely on waivers in about 90 percent of leagues. However, his pedestrian season totals mask what has a been a fantastic month of March that has seem him produce as if he was a top-10 defensemen. In addition to a +5 rating on the month, Sekera has 11 points in just eight games. Hell, Andrej has scored at least two points in six of his last nine games. It can’t possibly continue, but hitch a ride to Sekera’s wagon as he his hauling fantasy squads to victory.
Jason Spezza, Senators
As has been his trend in recent seasons, Spezza shifts from invisibility to brilliantly glowing almost as easily as The Invisible Woman and the Human Torch from Fantastic 4 fame. Spezza scored twice while dishing out two assists in his last game and that gives him seven points in his last five contests. Stretching things back over his last 16 games Jason has six goals and 13 assists for the Senators. The only negative is his (-5) plus/minus mark in that time as the Senators continue to limp to the finish line as they try desperately to avoid being the worst team in the Eastern Conference.
Patric Hornqvist, Thrashers
This right winger exploded on the scene last year lighting the lamp 30 times in his first full season. Not surprisingly he has found the going a bit tougher this time around with 18 goals on the year. Patric has also found the going particularly tough of late as he hasn’t scored a goals in four games and has just one marker in 13 games. To pile on, Honrqvist isn’t exactly a passer extraordinaire as he has a mere 16 helpers on the year, and he hasn’t setup a teammate for a goal since February 19th, a span of 10 games. Look for your points elsewhere down the stretch
Rick Nash, Blue Jackets
Nash is a star who is one goal from a 4th straight season of 30 goals. He’s also seven points from a 4th straight effort of at least 67 points. Overall he has been just what his owner’s hoped for. However, he has been a disaster of late in the goal scoring department. Though he has four assists in his last four games, Nash hasn’t lit the lamp since February 22nd, a span of nine games. It’s only a matter of time before the red light starts flashing again, but his goal scoring drought comes at a tough time in the fantasy game with playoff matchups starting.
Henrik Zetterberg, Wings
It’s odd to list Z here given that he has 69 points in 69 games this season but he has been, to put it kindly, a wasteland of late. Henrik has suited up for six games in March and the results make him look like a 4th liner struggling to hold on to a roster spot: zero goals, zero assists and a (-3) rating. Going back a bit further, Zetterberg has scored only five times in 31 games while recording a (-9) in the plus/minus category. You can’t bench him (duh) but his effort has been pretty rough of late.
MOVIN’ ON UP
Marcus Johansson, Capitals
Nicklas Backstrom is currently sidelined with a thumb injury that is making it very difficult for him to control his stick. In fact, he has a cast on the thumb and he really can’t do much of anything at the moment. Into the first line void has stepped Johansson who now gets to ride shotgun to Alexander Ovechkin. Johansson has only 22 points in 57 games this season, but he has been producing points of late with a 3-game point scoring streak and four points in five games. His role will diminish substantially when Backstrom returns, but until then Johansson is worth an add in deep leagues.
Corey Crawford, Blackhawks
An out of nowhere star this year (26 wins, 2.30 GAA), Corey has hit a speed bump of late. After winning 8-straight games, Crawford has lost in his last three appearances, and in his last four games he has allowed three or more goals each time. In fact, his GAA in six appearances in March is more than a goal above his season long mark at 3.48. Luckily Marty Turco continues to struggle as he has allowed three or more goals in four of his last five outings. Crawford is still the starter but you have to wonder – have we seen the best we are going to see this season from the youngster?
Braden Holtby, Capitals
Semyon Varlamov continues to be sidelined with a knee injury, and though Michal Neuvirth is over the issue that plagued his eye, the Caps will continue to ride the scalding hot play of Holtby… for the moment. Holtby is insanely hot with a 1.95 GAA and .931 save percentage in 12 appearances and those numbers pale in comparison to what he has done in four appearances in March (4-0, 1.05 GAA, .965 SV%). It’s far from certain that he will hold on to the role the rest of the season, but for now he is a must start and shouldn’t be on waivers in any league. By the way, the Caps are the first team in NHL history to have three difference keepers, all under 23 years of age, win at least seven games in the same season.
Antti Niemi, Sharks
The best keeper in the NHL since the All-Star break? That might sound far fetched, but a look at the numbers that this workhorse has posted for the Sharks over his last 19 starts tell the story: 13-3-2, 1.95 GAA, .928 save percentage and three shutouts. Dynamite is right. Antero Niittymaki is finally back and healthy after a protracted injury layoff, but the Sharks’ bus is being driven by Antti, and he figures to start the overwhelming majority of the games the rest of the way for the surging Sharks.
Carey Price, Canadians
Finally living up to expectations, Price is tied with Jimmy Howard for the NHL lead with 33 wins, and he is second in the league with eight shutouts. Price has also stopped 1,684 pucks, the second highest save total in the game (Cam Ward with 1,795) and his .924 save percentage is fifth in the NHL. The Habs almost let him go, but the organization, and the fans, finally have their star in net in Price.
* Eight teams play four games this week: Columbus, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, Phoenix, San Jose and Toronto.
* Two teams play only two games this week: Edmonton and Pittsburgh.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive, 5-8 PM Eastern, on Sirius 211 and XM 147.