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Center Stage: Elias, Malkin among most consistent

Wednesday, 02.08.2012 / 12:35 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

By Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Center Stage: Elias, Malkin among most consistent
With at least a point in all but 12 games this season, Patrik Elias is giving his fantasy owners production they can rely on consistently.
Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy centers in our weekly segment: "Center Stage." From updated center rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy center expert all season long.

Let's talk about consistency. Despite this piece usually being about fantasy hockey's centers, today we're going to discuss all the forwards and what it means to be a consistent performer. How important is it to fantasy owners for a player to be consistent? Do we care if they rack up four points one night and then go three straight games without a point, or would we rather see them post a point in each of the four games?

There are many ways to gauge how talented a player is, but his ability to perform at the same level night in and night out is one of the best ways to tell what kind of value that player carries. When some third or fourth-liner has a career night with three points, do we automatically assume he's going to perform like that for the rest of the season? Of course not. Odds are that night will be the lone time he posts three or more points all season long.

Consistency is what separates the elite from the good. A good player might break out for a big night, but he also might dig himself into a cold streak that lasts over a week -- and that's never a good thing for fantasy owners. We want our players to perform exactly how we hoped they would: If I draft Jonathan Toews in the first round, I want him to perform like a first-round player. If I select Tyler Bozak in the late rounds, I don't expect him to put up 80-plus points. It's just logic. Bozak might erupt with three or four points in one game, but it's just about a guarantee that he'll finish the season with more pointless nights than Toews -- and that's what we expect.

Let's take a look at which forwards have been the most consistent this year -- to do this, we went and figured out which players have had the most games with at least one point. Tomorrow, we'll take a look at which players have dominated the field of multi-point efforts.

TOP 40 FANTASY CENTERS

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. (NR means not ranked in previous rankings). Note: Positions are dictated by how they're labeled in Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues.
*dual position eligibility in Yahoo! Leagues
** was listed on IR in last week's rankings

Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Mikhail Grabovski, Ryan O'Reilly, Rich Peverley

Players on IR: Sidney Crosby, Nicklas Backstrom, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (DTD), Matt Duchene, Mikko Koivu, Jordan Staal, Alexander Steen
Patrik Elias -- No player has had more games with at least one point than Elias, who has done it in 40 of his 52 games this season.

Steven Stamkos -- Stamkos hasn't let his owners down this season, recording at least one point in 39 of his 52 games.

Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul -- The dynamic duo in Toronto is tied for second in the NHL with at least a point in 39 of their 54 games.

Henrik Sedin -- Despite just 11 goals, Sedin has posted at least one point in 37 out of 53 tries.

Evgeni Malkin -- To no one's surprise, Malkin's ratio is actually the best of any player, recording at least a point in 36 of his 47 games.

Marian Hossa -- 36 of his 53 games with at least one point.

James Neal -- 36 of his 54 games with at least one point.

Jason Pominville -- 35 of his 52 games with at least one point.

Pavel Datsyuk -- 35 of his 53 games with at least one point.

Anze Kopitar -- 35 of his 54 games with at least one point.

TRENDING UPWARD

Ryan Kesler -- Thanks to a six-game point-scoring streak, Kesler finds himself moving up three spots in our center rankings. Kesler has scored a goal in each of the last four games and has also recorded four shots on goal in each of the last five games -- now that's consistent! With 17 goals, 37 points, a plus-12 rating, 36 penalty minutes, 15 power play points and 136 shots on goal, Kesler has again proven to be one of the most well-rounded fantasy players.

Patrick Marleau -- Marleau jumps ahead of the three Bruins forwards in this week's rankings thanks to a hot streak that's seen him post 3 goals and 2 assists in his last three games for the Sharks. Marleau might not reach his totals from last season (37 goals, 73 points), but he should still be good for over 30 goals and around 70 points. You'll also notice Marleau wasn't the only Shark to move up in the rankings -- Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton have all been performing well lately and should be very useful down the stretch in your fantasy league.

Paul Stastny -- It feels like forever since Stastny's monster 79-point season in 2009-10. While we can't expect him to return to that form, he is still just 26 years old and has picked up his play lately with 3 points in his last two games and 11 in his previous 10. Stastny now has 13 goals and 34 points in 52 games for the Avalanche. He averages 2:31 of power-play ice time per game, which has resulted in a solid 14 power-play points. You should expect the Avalanche to ride their playmaking center for their playoff push, which is a good thing for Stastny's fantasy owners.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

John Tavares -- We warned you about his streakiness. Since his January eruption (22 points in 13 games), Tavares has been held pointless in his last three games. In fact, Tavares falls into the category of players that are not typically consistent -- he's extremely streaky and gets his points in bunches. In his 52 games this season, he's actually had 22 games without recording a single point. He's still extremely valuable for fantasy owners, but be aware of his cold and hot streaks.

Brad Richards -- Richards finds himself on the "Trending Downward" list for the second time in the last three weeks. With just 1 assist (on an empty-net goal) in his last four games and him being a part of John Tortorella's daily line-shuffling, Richards is clearly losing value by the day. Fantasy owners have to be worried at this point, and while it's possible Richards goes on a hot streak, it's definitely a smart decision to leave him on your bench until he snaps out of this slump.

Stephen Weiss -- The Florida center has gone three games without a point and has been a minus-3 during that time, seeing his fantasy value drop significantly since November. Weiss has just 2 goals over his last 23 games and cannot be relied on for consistent production going forward. The Panthers need him to return to his playmaking abilities if they're going to make the playoffs, so we'll see if Weiss has what it takes to become a "clutch" performer.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Mike Fisher
Center - NSH
GOALS: 16 | ASST: 16 | PTS: 32
SOG: 105 | +/-: 1
Mike Fisher -- Owned in 25 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, Fisher has been red-hot for the Predators and his fantasy owners. He has recorded at least a point in seven of his last eight games and has 8 goals and 1 assist during that time. He now has 16 goals (leads the team) and 16 assists in 46 games to go along with a plus-1 rating, 21 penalty minutes, 9 power-play points and 105 shots on goal. He is definitely worth adding if you have roster space and he could end up surpassing his career-best in both goals and points (25 and 53 respectively back in 2009-10 with the Senators).
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