Photo by Tiffa Day
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.
Simon Gagne, Lightning
Always injured, Gagne was always an offensive force when on the ice, that is until this season. Oh he’s been injured again, he’s appeared in just 56 games, but until lately he was producing like a third line winger whose main job was shutting down the other teams top line. Finally producing points with some regularity, Gagne has scored four times in his last two games and six times in his last six contests. Toss in four assists in that time and he’s finally rounding into form as the playoffs approach.
Patrick Marleau, Sharks
Just a short while ago Marleau was having a very poor season. The numbers are still down from what he accomplished the last two years, but he has been on a feeding frenzy for the Sharks of late. Marleau has 11 goals in his last 15 games including six in his last five games to push his season total up to 33. Moreover, in his last 12 contests he has recorded 17 points for the surging Sharks. If you weathered the storm of his uneven early season play you’ve reached safe harbor in solid shape with Patrick.
Corey Perry, Ducks
Hello NHL goal scoring leader. Here are the staggering numbers Perry has posted of late: thirteen goals, five multi goal games, and four game winning goals in a meager nine games. Perry also leads the NHL with 20 third period goals, has tied a franchise record with 10 game winning goals and has also equaled the club record for tallies in a month with 13. Moreover, if you look at the totality of his game he could be the fantasy MVP this season: 44g, 41a, 100 PIMs, 254 shots on goals and 25 power-play points. What a season for the right wing who has increased his point total each of the last five seasons.
Blake Wheeler, Thrashers
As a Bruin this season be averaged 0.47 points per game, but that rate has gone up significantly since he pulled on the Thrashers’ sweater. In 16 games in his new home Blake has recorded 13 points, a rate of 0.81 points per game, as he has lit the lamp five times while dishing out eight assists. He’s also drastically pushed his shot rate up from 1.74 per context in Boston to 3.44 per game with the Thrashers. He’ll attempt to finish strong this season to assure himself a top-6 role with Atlanta next season.
David Booth, Panthers
Booth scored 31 times in 2008, but injuries limited him to just 28 games last year. This season has been one filled with health, he’s appeared in all 76 Panthers’ games, but he has just 21 goals an a pitiful (-24) mark. Recently he has gone four games without a point, has gone seven games without a goal and has only one assist in nine games.
Drew Doughty, Kings
He just never really got going this year. Oh he has 11 goals and a +14 rating, solid totals to be sure, but after a 16 goal, 59 point season in his second campaign more was expected of him this season. His production has really slowed the past little while as he has but one goal 13 games and just one helper in his last seven contests. There’s always next year.
Patrik Elias, Devils
Have the Devils run out of steam in their mad push to make the playoffs after a horrendous start to the year? Elias seems to have hit a wall of some kind as he has five games without a point. The Devils’ long time leader also has a mere three goals in 27 games. Sprinkle in a (-7) rating in the month of March and you have a veteran who is limping to the finish line.
Steven Stamkos, Lightning
He is second in the NHL with 43 goals and fourth with 86 points, but the scoring phenom has gone cold of late with just two goals in 15 games. Even worse, he’s stopped handing out helpers too having played 5-straight without being on the score sheet. Obviously it’s only a matter of time before the points come, but this slump comes at a terrible time – the fantasy hockey playoffs.
MOVIN’ ON UP
Troy Brouwer, Blackhawks
Welcome to Nirvana Mr. Brouwer. After going 17-straight games without a goal, Brouwer will get a chance to end that drought on Monday as he’ll be placed on the Blackhawks’ top line alongside Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews who is working on a rather amazing run of 11 goals in 15 games and 23 assists in 25 games. Brouwer will need a big final push to reach 20-goals for the second straight year – he currently has 17.
Oscar Moller, Kings
With Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams on the shelf for the rest of the season, the Kings nee someone to skate on the top scoring line, so they are going with a trio of Michael Handzus along with Dustin Penner and Moller. A talented skater who had 50 points in 59 games in the AHL this season, Moller has a mere 12 goals and 14 assists in 80 games in his young NHL career, but with first line minutes will come the chance for him to improve upon those lackluster scoring rates.
Ray Emery, Ducks
Jonas Hiller (vertigo) is back, but in his first action in over a month he lasted only 12 minutes before surrendering three goals. The team says that Hiller didn’t suffer any setbacks, perhaps it was just rust, but it’s unclear how much he will play down the stretch since Ray Emery is playing so well. Eleven months after having bone-graft surgery in his hip, Emery is back in the NHL and thriving for a Ducks team that is desperately trying to make the playoffs. Emery has been spectacular in his five appearances with a 4-0 record, a GAA of 1.39 and a save percentage of .952. Again, there is uncertainty about who will be in net for the club, but one thing is for sure, Emery is performing at an elite level right now.
Braden Holtby, Capitals
Holtby is the third goalie with the Caps, so it’s understandable that he would shuttle between the AHL and the NHL. However, I have a hard time understanding their use of him of late. Holtby was called up to fill in when Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth were less than 100 percent on the weekend, and all Holtby did was post a shutout. His reward? He was sent beck to the minors on Monday. I’m sorry, but when you have won 6-straight appearances and have a GAA of 1.01 in your last nine outings you simply must be on the ice for every game – period. Odd to say the least that he isn’t in net for the Caps don’t you agree?
Joey MacDonald, Ducks
Jimmy Howard has 34 wins, tied for second in the league, but his ratios are poor by current standards (2.77 GAA, .904 SV%). Still, a “W” is a “W”, and that’s why he has value in the fantasy game. However, he recently injured his shoulder, and though an MRI showed nothing significantly wrong, it is possible that he could miss a week of action (he thinks he might be able to return by the middle of the week). With Chris Osgood still dealing with groin issues, MacDonald figures to start until Howard returns. Given that Joey has a 2.05 GAA and .928 save percentage in 13 appearances this year, and that he hasn’t allowed a goal in his last three appearances, the Wings should be fine.
* Twelve teams play four games this week: Anaheim, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Tampa Bay.
* Two teams plays only two games this week: Phoenix and an Jose
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive, 5-8 PM Eastern, on Sirius 211 and XM 147.