Now that most fantasy league trade deadlines are officially behind us, owners can begin to shift their focus to making the playoffs. I hope you all addressed whatever needs you may have had and didn't sacrifice much. From positional breakdowns to balanced scoring, make sure your roster is exactly how you want it as you make a run at the title.
This Saturday featured just nine NHL games on the schedule, so most of us probably didn't have to make too many managerial decisions. Let's get to it:
Chris Pronger scored with just 2.1 seconds remaining in the game to give the Flyers the win. The goal was Pronger's first since Jan. 23 against Carolina. The veteran defenseman now has 9 goals and 40 assists on the season -- his 49 points rank fourth among NHL defenseman. Michael Leighton was outstanding in his 13th consecutive start for Philly (expect Boucher to start on Sunday) -- he stopped 39 of 41 shots. The always-streaky Kris Versteeg scored his third goal in his last four games; he could be in line for a hot streak. Cristobal Huet started for Chicago and turned aside 31 shots -- he is still currently second on the depth chart behind Antti Niemi, but this can change if Niemi struggles in any of his upcoming starts.
Bryan Allen capped a three-goal comeback with his overtime winner against the Sharks. Allen also added an assist, making it his first multi-point game since March 6, 2008, against the Penguins. Ryane Clowe tallied a goal and an assist for the Sharks -- the goal was his first in eight games. Clowe now has 45 points, seven away from his career high of 52, set last season. Thomas Greiss started his 10th game for San Jose -- he stopped just 25 of 28 shots and took his fifth loss of the season. After going six games without a win, Florida goaltender Tomas Vokoun won his fourth in his last five starts -- you can start him with confidence again as he appears to be out of his slump.
Phil Kessel continues to succeed in Toronto despite the lack of talent around him. The 22-year-old winger chipped in two power-play goals and added an assist in the Maple Leafs' 6-4 win. One player who has emerged for the Leafs since all their trades is Tyler Bozak. The Regina-native scored his sixth goal of the season and added a pair of assists, giving him 2 goals and 3 helpers in his last two games. Keep an eye on Bozak, as he seems to have found some chemistry on Kessel's line. The Leafs weren't the only team to produce a three-point performer: Edmonton's Dustin Penner tallied a goal and two helpers for his first three-plus-point effort since Dec. 11. Penner still has 52 points on the campaign, but has slowed markedly after a fast start.
Sergei Kostitsyn was a star in the making? Well, between his off-ice issues and being juggled around between the minors and the big leagues, little brother Kostitsyn has done nothing but disappoint in the NHL. While he did up his goal total from three to five on the season Saturday night, Kostitsyn has just 15 points and should clearly not be owned in any fantasy leagues. Blake Wheeler got his third goal in four games and Milan Lucic scored his seventh of the season for the B's. Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov notched a power-play goal and an assist, giving him a stellar 27 points in 33 games.
Dwayne Roloson shined between the pipes for the Islanders, as his 38 saves outdueled Devils backup Yann Danis, who stopped just 25 of 29 shots. Despite three potential starting goalies on Long Island (Martin Biron and Rick DiPietro), Roloson clearly has the No. 1 job. Ilya Kovalchuk could finally be getting comfortable with the Devils -- he netted his second goal in as many games. New York defenseman Mark Streit, who was pretty much the lone bright spot for the Isles last season, scored his 10th goal of the season. He got off to a slow start this season, and while he won't reach the 56 points from last campaign, he looks like a lock to reach 40-45.
Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 29 shots for his NHL-leading eighth shutout of the season -- this guy is legit and should be a high draft pick next season. Lee Stempniak scored twice in the first period for Phoenix and now has 5 goals and an assist since joining the Coyotes. He could be worth a pickup as the 'Yotes continue to push toward their first playoff appearance since 2002. Martin Hanzal also joined Stempniak with two goals on the night for Phoenix. Most people may think Hanzal is useless in the fantasy community with just 10 goals and 31 points on the season, but most people also don't know that he has a whopping 90 penalty minutes. If you're in need of some PIMs, give the 6-foot-6 forward a shot. While no one on Carolina did anything fantasy relevant, I'll bet you can't guess who leads the 'Canes in goals and is tied for the team-lead in points? Nope, it's not Eric Staal or veteran Ray Whitney. Try Jussi Jokinen -- who was left off of Finland's Olympic Team for some bizarre reason. Jokinen has 27 goals and 54 points (actually tied with Staal).
Brian Rafalski continues to carry his Olympic heroics with him as the Red Wings make their playoff push -- he scored the overtime winner and now has 2 goals and 4 assists in seven games since the break. Looking for some decent production and loads of shots in your free agency pool? Check out Buffalo's Jochen Hecht, who scored twice on Saturday (16 G, 19 A on the season) and also has 200 shots this season. Most fantasy owners probably spent at least a second-round pick on Pavel Datsyuk and have been a bit disappointed. After scoring on Saturday, he now has 4 goals in his last five games and 20 points in his previous 17 -- he's starting to play the way we all expected him to. With a pair of assists, Buffalo's Tim Connolly continues to build on his career-year. He now has 60 points in 67 games, which is the most games he's had since he played in 80 back in '02-'03. Connolly is an extremely gifted player and it has definitely paid off if you grabbed him from waivers early on this season.
Andy McDonald led the way for the Blues with his 21stt goal and two helpers. Despite no longer being a reliable point-per-game player, McDonald is still a decent overall contributor. Another solid depth forward like the aforementioned Hecht is St. Louis' Alex Steen. The former first-round draft choice chipped in his 19th goal (sixth PPG) and added his 18th assist of the season. Steve Mason got his first start in goal in the last three contests for Columbus but didn't fare well, as he surrendered four goals on 35 shots. Mathieu Garon had performed pretty well in the two games with Mason on the bench, and it appears Mason may be slipping in the depth charts in Columbus. Neither goaltender should be trusted in any fantasy league.
Mikael Samuelsson has quietly put together an outstanding season in his first year with Vancouver. He scored his 29th and 30th goals and assisted on Sami Salo's goal as he continues to build on his career-high 52 points. The Swedish winger has thrived in the Canucks system, and with a solid plus-14 rating, 206 shots on goal and 52 PIMs, Samuelsson contributes in every fantasy category. Another Vancouver standout this season has been shorthanded specialist Alexandre Burrows, who tallied his 31st goal -- and his fifth shorty, which ties him for the NHL lead with Chicago's Marian Hossa. Jason Spezza scored his first goal in six contests -- he now has 16 goals and 22 assists in 47 games. Daniel Sedin extended his point-scoring streak to nine games with a goal and an assist -- he has 2 goals and 12 helpers during the streak.
Get used to it hockey fans, Sundays are loaded with games from here on out. With 10 matchups on the schedule, most fantasy owners should have a full roster. Here are a few suggestions if you have the space to add a player for the day:
Pascal Dupuis, LW, PIT -- He's riding a four-game points streak (2 G, 3 A) and is getting some playing time with Sid the Kid; he's worth a shot.
Peter Mueller, C/RW, COL -- Mueller has thrived since joining the Avs. His playing time has increased and as a result, his production has picked up. The talent is there, and with 2 goals and 5 helpers in five games since being acquired, Mueller is worth owning right now.
Cam Barker, D, MIN -- When he was with the Hawks, he was averaging just 13:06 of ice time per game; since joining the Wild he's averaged 21:21. While he only has a goal and 2 assists in seven contests with Minnesota, Barker is a former first-round draft choice and has a good amount of potential.
SUNDAY'S PROJECTED GOALIES:
Washington (Semyon Varlamov) at Chicago (Antti Niemi), 12:30 p.m. ET
Philadelphia (Brian Boucher) at NY Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist), 3 p.m. ET
Colorado (Craig Anderson) at Dallas (Marty Turco), 3 p.m. ET
Nashville (Pekka Rinne) at Los Angeles (Jonathan Quick), 3 p.m. ET
Toronto (Jean-Sebastien Giguere) at NY Islanders (Martin Biron), 5 p.m. ET
Phoenix (Jason LaBarbera) at Atlanta (Johan Hedberg), 5 p.m. ET
Pittsburgh (Marc-Andre Fleury) at Tampa Bay (Antero Niittymaki) 5 p.m. ET
St. Louis (Ty Conklin) at Minnesota (Josh Harding) 6 p.m. ET
San Jose (Evgeni Nabokov) at Anaheim (Jonas Hiller), 8 p.m. ET
Calgary (Miikka Kiprusoff) at Vancouver (Andrew Raycroft), 10 p.m. ET
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