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POSTED ON Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 2:19 AM

By Sergei J. Feldman -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Stewart showing scoring touch

The Chris Stewart of the previous two seasons and the one from this year have been two entirely different players.

In each of the past two seasons, Stewart has collected 28 goals. This year? He was on pace for 12.

In each of the past two seasons, Stewart has collected at least 53 point. This year? He was on pace for 29.

Then Monday night happened and the 6-foot-2, 232-pound right wing collected a pair of goals en route to an impressive 5-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. Included in those two goals was a power play tally. He also ended the night with seven shots thrown on the cage.

In short, the 24-year-old showed flashes of the 25-plus goal-scoring threat he's been in prior campaigns. In fact, the flash started two games ago when Stewart scored a goal and threw another seven shots on net. It's that kind of night in, night out effort that's been missing from Stewart for the better part of the season. For players who've shown they can score consistently at the NHL level, often times it takes just the slightest hot streak before consistent productivity occurs.

Still, even with his strong play of late, on the whole, Stewart has been a disappointment for fantasy owners, so caution should be taken when thinking about adding him to your squads.

However, it's equally as important to consider taking a risk on a player who has proven to be successful in consecutive seasons and has show that he may be on his way for number three. 
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POSTED ON Friday, 12.23.2011 / 3:45 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: B's second-liners paying dividends



While Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron may operate on the second line of the defending champion Boston Bruins, there's nothing secondary about their production as of late.

Marchand (15 G, 14 A, plus-25, 58 PIM, 3 PPP, 78 SOG) and Bergeron (7 G, 21 A, plus-21, 12 PIM, 7 PPP, 86 SOG) were a two-man wrecking crew on Friday night, combining for eight points and a plus-7 rating in the Bruins' 8-0 rout of the
Patrice Bergeron
Center - BOS
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 28
SOG: 86 | +/-: 21
Southeast division-leading Florida Panthers. Marchand notched a shorthanded goal and ultimately his first career hat trick, while Bergeron tallied two points on the power-play and three overall to keep the Bruins rolling into the holiday break.

With Boston sporting a 20-2-1 mark in its last 23 games, the team's secondary unit continues to make an impact in a number of different areas on a regular basis. Both Marchand and Bergeron are among the League's top-10 in plus-minus and rank second and third, respectively, on the team in points. On Wednesday, Bergeron (3:00 PP ice time per game) and Marchand (2:36) even produced on special teams.

Marchand (owned in 76 percent of leagues) and Bergeron (67 percent), despite their place in the League's deepest lineup, are proving to be premier all-around options with the Bruins surging over the last two months.
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POSTED ON Friday, 12.23.2011 / 3:27 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Carter finally breaks out for Jackets


Despite another late lead gone to waste for the Columbus Blue Jackets, Jeff Carter delivered the club's most promising individual effort of the season.

Carter notched a first period hat trick in Tuesday's 6-5 road loss to the Nashville Predators.  With a streak of three-straight 30-plus goal, 60-plus point campaigns on the line, the 26-year-old forward has finally reassured panicking fantasy owners by scoring seven goals in his last seven games.

Jeff Carter
Center - CBJ
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 16
SOG: 78 | +/-: -9
While Carter is playing for a team that is currently last in the League standings, he picked up steam as a power-play threat against the Predators. Carter has averaged 3:54 of power-play ice time this season, and finally broke through with a pair of goals on the man advantage on Thursday.

Operating on Columbus' top line with Rick Nash and Vinny Prospal, Carter has seen his team's struggles take a toll on his fantasy showing through 23 games this season. His minus-9 rating is evidence of that.  But despite missing time due to injury this season, Carter is beginning to show chemistry with Nash, who assisted on two of his three goals on Thursday.

Carter (owned in 94 percent of Yahoo! leagues) appears to be turning the corner after a slow start in Columbus, so the time has finally come for his fantasy owners to ride the wave of success.
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 1:58 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Time is now to act on Giroux

Reports state that Claude Giroux could return to the Philadelphia Flyers' lineup on Wednesday. For his fantasy owners, this should be enough of a cue to take action.

Claude Giroux
Right Wing - PHI
GOALS: 16 | ASST: 23 | PTS: 39
SOG: 81 | +/-: 7
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said Giroux has made "positive strides," which is a reason in itself for fantasy owners to remove him from Injured Reserve immediately and make room on their rosters. When dealing with Giroux (concussion) who is tied for the League lead in points, despite missing his team's last four games, the reward outweighs the risk.

Even if Giroux does not end up playing Wednesday against the Dallas Stars, it's simply a more logical move to have him in your lineup. Wednesday is only a six-game night, so your team doesn't have to worry about losing production from elsewhere as you would by benching a healthy player on a 13-game night. If you elect to leave one of the game's most potent point-producers in the IR slot of your lineup, you could potentially miss out on an impactful performance.  A recent example was Taylor Hall's two-goal night upon his return from injury on Dec. 15 against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Plus, taking a casual approach and waiting another day or two could cost your team precious goals or assists during a shortened fantasy week. Since there are no NHL games scheduled for Dec. 24 and Dec. 25, any points that Giroux provides could go a long way in helping you win your matchup this week.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 2:30 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Stars aligning for Morrow



The concern surrounding Brenden Morrow is diminishing by the day, as the Dallas Stars' captain has returned to his goal-scoring ways.

Since returning to the lineup from an upper-body injury on Dec. 8, Morrow has compiled 4 goals and 3 assists in six games. Despite a minus-2 rating during that stretch, the 32-year-old winger has excelled on the man advantage with 3 power-play points, while racking up 17 shots on goal and 6 PIMs as well during that span.

Brenden Morrow
Left Wing - DAL
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 16
SOG: 42 | +/-: -1
But, beyond his stellar production, Morrow has shown tremendous chemistry on the Stars' secondary line with Mike Ribeiro and Steve Ott. That trio was in full swing Monday night with two of the team's first three goals, as Morrow's linemates assisted on his opening goal before he returned the favor on Ribeiro's strike early in the second period en route to a 5-3 win against Anaheim.

For a guy who seemed on pace for an underachieving season when he went down with an injury on Nov. 21, this recent development is huge for fantasy owners who stuck with Dallas' captain, and is also relevant for owners seeking an experienced forward on the free agent wire.

Morrow, in his 12th NHL season, has never posted a 40-goal season, but set a career high with 33 goals last year. Despite missing six games due to his injury this season, Morrow's recent stretch indicates he could still be in position to build off his 2010-11 campaign. While he may not be available in deeper pools, he is owned in only 64 percent of Yahoo! leagues and could be a timely fantasy squad addition for a team in need of goal-scoring help.
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POSTED ON Friday, 12.16.2011 / 2:10 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Adequate Pronger replacement

Fantasy owners of Chris Pronger are searching for answers after news broke Thursday that the Philadelphia Flyers' defenseman will miss the rest of the season due to post-concussion syndrome.

While there's no doubt that the news comes as a road block to fantasy owners who hoped this elite blueliner would be a significant piece to their championship puzzle, Pronger's teammate, Matt Carle, has proved he can be an adequate replacement for any fantasy lineup.

Carle (4 G, 14 A, plus-8, 18 PIM, 3 PPP, 46 SOG, 14 hits) may not match the point-per-game production of Pronger this season (1 G, 11 A, 8 PPP in 13 games), but the 27-year-old blueliner could step in for the Flyers' captain and emerge as a factor on the power play. With three power-play goals already this season, there could be more on the way in that department.

His average of just over three minutes per game on the man advantage should increase, and his superb plus-minus only adds to his upside. His recent stretch of a goal and six assists in his last four games is certainly noteworthy production from a fantasy standpoint.

Philadelphia has won seven straight games to kick off the month of December, and Carle registered a season-high three-point outing (all assists) with a plus-2 rating in the Flyers' 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday. Owned in only 41 percent of Yahoo! leagues, Carle will quickly become a commodity in leagues around the world.
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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.15.2011 / 12:22 AM

By Sergei J. Feldman -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Emery continues stretch of hot play

Ray Emery has been on four clubs since 2007-08.

It seems as if he's found a home in Chicago, as the Blackhawks backup to Corey Crawford has done nothing but dazzle between the pipes this season when called upon.

Ray Emery
Goalie - CHI
RECORD: 7-1-2
GAA: 2.70 | SVP: 0.904
Anyone can step in and have a good night or two, but Emery has been a consistent stabilizing force in his 11 appearances so far. Consider the numbers: the 29-year-old has a 7-1-2 record with a 2.70 GAA and .904 save percentage. While the latter two statistics aren't mind-boggling, his record certainly is.

Emery can be the perfect complement to your fantasy squad's goaltending crop, if only because the Blackhawks are among the stronger clubs in the NHL and the likelihood of a victory is strong.

Also consider the reason for the seemingly high goals against average: he allowed more than three goals in a game three times in his first five outings. Since then? He did it just once.

As you consider your options between the pipes, don't lose sight of a perfectly nice option in Emery.
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POSTED ON Sunday, 12.11.2011 / 2:16 AM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Elliott emerging as dominant goaltender



While he was not viewed as a fantasy difference-maker coming into the season, Brian Elliott has become the hottest commodity on the goaltending market.

Elliott (12-2-0, 1.45, .947, 4 SO) tied Jonathan Quick for the League lead in shutouts on Saturday as the St. Louis Blues beat the San Jose Sharks 1-0 on Saturday night. With just two losses on the season, Elliott is proving to be much more than a temporary addition to a fantasy lineup. His ownership in Yahoo! leagues has escalated from 55 to 75 percent over the last three weeks, as Elliott has proved to be the most complete goaltender in the League this season.

Leading the League in both goals-against-average and save percentage, this 26-year-old has allowed more than two goals only once in 15 outings. Coach Ken Hitchcock -- who is 11-2-3 since taking over for Davis Payne in St. Louis -- has given each of his goaltenders eight starts apiece under the new regime. While both Elliott (7-1-0) and Jaroslav Halak (4-1-3) have risen to the occasion in that span, Elliott's body of work this season is the most impressive in the League by far.

While it's not likely that St. Louis will continue its unconscious stretch, Elliott is taking steps toward earning the No. 1 goaltending role with the Blues. Hitchcock will likely continue to utilize both of his options while both are playing well, but Elliott's value should not be underestimated. He has simply separated himself from the "add/drop" discussion, and will likely be fixated in fantasy lineups around the world over the next several days -- if he hasn't been already.
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POSTED ON Sunday, 12.11.2011 / 2:11 AM

By Deborah Francisco -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Iginla picking up steam for Flames



When Jarome Iginla heats up, there’s no stopping the 6-foot-1, 210-pound right wing. Calgary's captain has scored at least 30 goals in each of his last 10 seasons and the recent roll he’s been on could help him make it 11.

In 29 games this season, Iginla has 11 goals and 10 assists, but a majority of those 21 points have been earned since the start of December. So far this month, Iginla has notched four goals and nine points in just five games. Prior to this streak, Iginla seemed to be struggling to score consistently just notching a point here and there save for a three-point game on Nov. 3. The good news for fantasy owners, though, is that history is in Iginla’s favor.

Iginla scored a point in every game in last December except for one. That’s a point in 13 out of 14 games. Not too shabby for a 34-year-old playing on one of the oldest teams in the NHL.

With two goals against the Oilers on Saturday night, Iginla finishes the fantasy week with two goals, five assists, a plus- 4 rating, two PIMs, 2 power-play goals, 1 game winning goal and an impressive 18 shots. Iginla is an elite player who is stepping up his game yet again.
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POSTED ON Friday, 12.09.2011 / 7:15 PM

By Pete Jensen -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Kaberle gets fresh start with Habs



While the perception surrounding Tomas Kaberle is far from high in the fantasy world these days, a fresh start in Montreal could be just what the doctor ordered.

The Canadiens acquired the 33-year-old defenseman Friday in exchange for Jaroslav Spacek -- in the hope that Kaberle (0 G, 9 A, minus-12, 2 PIM, 4 PPP, 38 SOG) can inject some life into their offense. With Montreal outside of the top eight in the Eastern Conference standings through 29 games, this puck-moving defenseman brings a wealth of experience to the table that could potentially help the Habs turn their season around.

From a fantasy standpoint, Kaberle certainly has value as he's projected to be Montreal's new power-play quarterback. With Andrei Markov still experiencing setbacks in his recovery from knee surgery and Yannick Weber in the midst of a 10-game goal drought skid, Kaberle will be put in a position to shine on the man advantage. If Markov returns, Kaberle gives the team added depth on the blue line with P.K. Subban (1 G, 10 A, plus-4, 37 PIM, 2 PPP, 77 SOG, 36 hits) experiencing a sophomore slump in offensive production.
 
Tomas Kaberle
Defense - MTL
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 9
SOG: 38 | +/-: -12
Kaberle sports a passable assist total and power-play point output this season, but his plus-minus in Carolina was subpar to say the least. On top of Eric Staal and Cam Ward having rough fantasy seasons for the Hurricanes, Kaberle never found his rhythm with Joni Pitkanen, who has missed a total of nine games this season.

While it's impossible to predict whether Kaberle will break out of his shell and excel on the power play, he will get a clean slate in what has been a forgettable season. At the very least, Kaberle's plus-minus should improve and his healthy presence will benefit an offensive unit ranked near the bottom of the League in both goals per game (2.45) and power-play percentage (11.4).

Basically, Kaberle (owned in 39 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) is worth adding in a deep league for defensive depth on your roster. You may not like what you see after five or so games, but the bottom line is that there is little risk involved in this move. If Kaberle is up to challenge and ultimately returns to form, your fantasy squad could reap the benefits.

Because, after all, this eight-time 40-plus point scorer will have at least a chance to rediscover his rhythm after a change in scenery.
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