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On the 'D'-fence: PP points can power you to victory

Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 12:08 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

By Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Tuesday during the season, NHL.com Correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy defensemen in our weekly segment: "On the 'D'-fence." From updated defensemen rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Metzer will be your fantasy d-man expert all season long.

Power-play points may not be included in all scoring formats that you are participating in, but they have earned a spot alongside goals, assists, plus/minus, penalty minutes, and shots on goal in Yahoo! standard leagues. Some leagues even break it down further giving you credit for each power-play goal or assist your players earn. This makes it a pretty valuable stat, and it can tilt many a tightly-contested scoring period in your direction if you have the right players on your roster.

We are all familiar with the likes of Erik Karlsson, Zdeno Chara, Kris Letang and Shea Weber, as they provide the most bang for your fantasy buck across almost every scoring category. However, you may be surprised to find out that these aren't exactly the names that are going to win the power-play points category for you on a weekly basis.

Karlsson, the League's leading defensive scorer, has picked up just 41 percent of his 46 points on the power play, Weber has notched 42 percent, Chara 44 percent and Letang 48 percent. All are respectable totals and add to their multi-category value, but there are some specialists that should be on your radar who can really super-charge your power-play totals.

TOP 60 FANTASY DEFENSEMEN

These modified re-rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward (including injuries). The plus or minus for each player is movement based on our most recent rankings from last week. (NR means not ranked in previous rankings.)
Mark Streit is the League leader in scoring a hefty 65 percent of his points with the extra man. Though the Islanders have had their ups and downs this season, Streit, when healthy, has been their power-play quarterback. His plus/minus rating is a bit tough to swallow, but the fact that he has notched 17 of 26 points with the extra man earns him a spot on our roster. It is also worth noting that he has posted 7 points and a manageable minus-2 over his last eight games.

Corey Potter, who has taken advantage of injuries in Edmonton to earn regular work in the League, has scored 60 percent of his points while his team is up a man. Sure, he has only posted 15 points to this stage on the season, but he has done that in just 34 games.

The Panthers, Flyers and Canucks have all given fantasy owners reasons to celebrate this season and they provide us with the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-best power-play producers in Brian Campbell (56 percent), Kimmo Timonen (53 percent) and Alexander Edler (53 percent). All three players also provide punch in other categories and should be rostered in every league.

Many have been down on Lubomir Visnovsky this season, but he is quietly rounding into form and has produced 7 points over his last eight games, 5 of which have come with the extra man. The Slovakian native has picked up 53 percent of his points on the power play and has gotten his plus-minus under control, posting a plus-5 for the month of January.

Jared Spurgeon and Erik Johnson are a couple more guys who could provide a spark, as each has scored 53 percent of their points with the extra man. Spurgeon is easier to make a case for, as he is carrying an even plus-minus rating, while Johnson is sitting at minus-11. It is worth noting, though, that Johnson is even for January.

Though you may be using some of the above for just spot starts, they can definitely make an impact in anywhere from one to three categories in your head-to-head leagues, so do not underestimate the importance of power-play scoring from the blue line.

TRENDING UPWARD

Christian Ehrhoff -- Ehrhoff, who has been out since Dec. 30 with a rib injury, is finally set to rejoin the Sabres this evening as they take on the Devils. Though he hasn't had quite the same success that he had while playing alongside the Sedin twins on the Canucks' No. 1 power-play unit, he is still a valuable commodity and should help the Sabres and fantasy teams alike.

Jay Bouwmeester -- Don't look now, but Bouwmeester, who has been more of a stay-at-home type of defenseman since joining the Flames is popping up on fantasy radars around the league. He recently broke the 20 point plateau and has picked up 7 points over his last seven games. His plus-minus has been underwhelming at best this season, but he is certainly showing some of the skill that helped him notch 42 points (15G-27A) during his final season in Florida.

Alex Pietrangelo -- Pietrangelo, who had just 11 points as the calendar flipped from December to January, has had himself a pretty impressive 2012 to this point. The youngster recently saw a nine-game scoring streak snapped, but has scored 13 points (3G-10A) over his last 10 games. He is averaging over three shots a game and has registered a plus-6 over that span.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

Matt Niskanen -- Niskanen really helped the Penguins stop the bleeding as Kris Letang recovered from a concussion, but now that Letang has rejoined the team his role has diminished. He is currently skating on the Penguins' third pairing alongside Deryk Engelland and has seen his minutes fall in each of the three games that Letang has been back, with a low water mark of 11:52 Sunday against the Capitals. Niskanen has just 1 assist to show for January and should only be used in the deepest leagues at this point.
 
Marc Staal -- Staal is back and playing a big role for the Rangers; however, the offense has been slow to come. He has appeared in 10 games for the team since returning for the Winter Classic and has yet to post a point. He has just 15 shots on goal and a minus-4 on the stat sheet, so be careful before rushing out to add him.

Marek Zidlicky -- Ah, Marek, what happened? We had such high hopes when the season began. Unfortunately those hopes have been dashed as you have been injured and performing well below the expected levels. It is worth noting that your name is starting to swirl in trade rumors and you have recently been a healthy scratch. We will advise people to keep an eye out for a move, but for now they should probably look elsewhere for their fantasy production.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Francois Beauchemin -- We usually like to reserve this spot for a young up-and-comer, but today we go with a wily veteran. Beauchemin's value has fluctuated this season, but he has been doing some great work for the Ducks in posting 7 points (2G-5A), a plus-10, and 15 shots on goal over 10 January games. If you need some short-term productivity, take a look in this direction.

TOP 100 FANTASY FORWARDS

RANK TEAM PLAYER
1. Sidney crosby
2. Steven Stamkos
3. Corey Perry
4. Alex Ovechkin
5. Evgeni Malkin

CUBETA'S COMPLETE TOP 100 FORWARD RANKS