Given the complex, never-steady landscape of fantasy hockey, each week, NHL.com Fantasy Insider Sergei Feldman will give you The Real Spiel on some of the quirks and trends that permeated your week of fantasy hockey by way of in-depth analysis.
TIP OF THE CAPS: The Real Spiel on Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin
Left Wing - WSH
GOALS: 23 | ASST: 20 | PTS: 43
SOG: 189 | +/-: -5
The Washington Capitals
have been fighting for a lead atop the Southeast Division the whole season and, currently, they sit two points out. In turn, the typically dominating Caps are sitting outside the playoff picture. As for why, there are many factors to point to. As for whatwill get them over the hump, there are two factors to point to: Alex Ovechkin
and Alexander Semin
. The dynamic Russian duo haven’t been so dynamic in 2011-12. In fact, while Ovechkin is on pace for a career-low, Semin is on pace for his lowest output since 2007-08. Tempting as it might be to remain worried about their production the rest of the way, there are recent examples of productive play, and the two Russians may be en route to dominant final stretches. Former Hart and Art Ross
Trophy winner Ovechkin has seven points in his past five games, including three multi-point nights. In that span, he’s been a minus player just once and has collected 20 shots. For most fantasy owners, Ovechkin is still a valuable piece. After all, through 51 games, the Moscow native ranks fourth in the NHL in power play goals (10) and eighth in the League in shots (189).
Meanwhile, Semin has played well too of late. He’s got three points in two games and five points in his past five games and has been a plus player or better on every occasion in that span. As he approaches 200 NHL goals, and 200 NHL assists—he has 190 goals and 197 assists right now—Semin could be poised for a bounce-back back-end of the season. If the two continue to click, watch as you fantasy teams emerge into contenders, much like the Caps might emerge into contenders in the East.
NO F-LAME DUCKS: The Real Spiel on Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen
Right Wing - CGY
GOALS: 21 | ASST: 23 | PTS: 44
SOG: 176 | +/-: -5
captain Jarome Iginla
has averaged 87 points per season in the past five years. This year, he’s on pace for a 65-point campaign. Sounds like quite the drop-off, but if a 65-point season is a problem, it’s certainly of the good variety. Especially when you’re also collecting 176 and 30 PIMs through 55 games. (Iginla has 21 goals, 23 assists for 44 points so far this season). Despite his “struggles” this season, the Flame has been on a mission recently. The 34-year-old has points in eight of 13 games. In that span, he has collected two separate three-game point streaks. Known for his commitment to the game and passion shift in, shift out, Iginla is poised to lead his club to the playoffs amidst perennial rumors of his potential trade value. That dedication could be what propels the potential future hall-of-famer to an impressive run the rest of the season, which could bring with it an end-of-the-day point total that’s been familiar to the right wing’s resume.
And how about Olli Jokinen
? The Finnish product has been one of the hottest players in the League recently, evidenced by his five-game point streak, which features a hat-trick, four-point evening. The 33-year-old has 17 goals, 29 assists and 46 points in 55 games. In addition, he has 157 shots and 40 PIMs. Those totals have elevated Jokinen to 30th overall in standard Yahoo! leagues. That’s up from 229 at the beginning of the season. Watch out for the other Flame in Calgary.
Phoenix Uprising: The Real Spiel on Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata
Left Wing - PHX
GOALS: 16 | ASST: 34 | PTS: 50
SOG: 122 | +/-: 18
Age is but a number, right? Not if you ask Ray Whitney
. The 39-year-old veteran of 20 NHL seasons is defying the odds and is producing as though he’s in the prime of his career. Or close to it, anyway. The crafty Phoenix Coyotes
left wing is nearly a point-per-game performer. Through 55 games, “The Wizard” as 16 goals, 34 assists—good for 8th most in the League—and 50 points. Add to that a plus-18 rating on a fringe playoff contender in the Western Conference, 24 PIMs and 122 shots and you have yourself a more-than-reliable option on any night for your fantasy rosters. Whitney has been a consistent performer throughout the 2011-12 season, but his recent play should’ve caught the attention of any fantasy owner. The second-round draft selection of the San Jose Sharks
in 1991 is riding a seven-game point streak, which includes a stretch of three-straight multi-point nights. Whitney hasn’t thrown too many shots on net during that span—no more than four in 16 games—but he’ll gladly play the Mr. Opportunistic role. His name has been tossed around as a possible trade deadline acquisition, so keep an eye on Whitney if he joins a contender and continues to rack up points.
As your marvel at Whitney’s production, don’t look past teammate Radim Vrbata
. The 30-year-old winger is having a breakout campaign this year and has emerged as one of the more feared snipers in the game. Through 55 games, Vrbata has 25 goals, good for eighth most in the League. His 21 assists round out his 46 points so far, but plenty more could be forthcoming. Consider these numbers: Vrbata is riding a six-game point streak and, save for a brief three-game pointless streak, has points in 11 of 14 games. Those are All-Star numbers. Whether or not that kind of production continues remains to be seen. But even if it doesn’t, Vrbata could still be one of the surprise fantasy players of the year.