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On the 'D'-fence: Giordano marvelous in March

Tuesday, 03.20.2012 / 12:56 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

By Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

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On the 'D'-fence: Giordano marvelous in March
Mark Giordano's strong play has been part of the Calgary Flames' rise up the Western Conference standings.
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.

The National Hockey League season is a long one, stretching from October to June, when the Stanley Cup is awarded. We spend those eight months filling our collective craniums with statistics, insights and sleepers in hopes of gaining a competitive advantage in our various fantasy leagues.

Occasionally our readers send in questions or grab our crew on Twitter looking for advice on who to drop or who to pick up, and we try to provide the best answer at that moment. Many times the answers are sound, and the people take our advice and live happily ever after, but there are times when the advice crashes and burns, which happened March 7 when "On the 'D'-Fence" suggested to a Twitter user that dropping Mark Giordano rather than James Wisniewski in favor of Andrei Markov was the best plan.

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.)
One only can assume that Giordano got wind of the tweet, as he promptly put together one of his finest stretches of the season. The 28-year-old has been a big part of his team's 6-2-2 surge over their past 10 games, which has moved them within two points of a playoff spot entering Tuesday's play, chipping in 3 goals and 5 assists.

Giordano's production shouldn't shock anyone, as he put together his finest season as a professional in 2010-11, with 8 goals, 35 assists, 25 power-play points and 165 shots on goal, but he had just 4 goals and 4 assists in 23 games before an injury knocked him out of the lineup in November.

He returned Jan. 12, but collected just 1 goal and 6 assists in 19 games through Feb. 27 and didn't look as if he would be a huge offensive contributor this season. Then came March.

It is worth noting that March also was the finest month last season for the Toronto native, as he posted 3 goals, 9 assists, 10-power play points and 29 shots on goal in 14 games. With seven more March games on tap for the Flames, Giordano should surpass that total this season.

Giordano's hot streak has seen him push his season totals to 8 goals, 15 assists, 99 shots on goal, 8 power-play points and a plus-3 rating. He is playing more than 20 minutes per night and gets plenty of extra-man time.

Though he has produced 0.75 points per game over his last 12 games that likely will come down to a level more in line with last season's production, which saw him scoring 0.52 points per game. At that rate he would be good for roughly 5 points over the Flames' final nine games of the season, but with the way he has been rolling it could be even more. He is a classic low-risk, high-reward play right now.

Giordano is owned in just 57 percent of Yahoo! Standard leagues and could be a great source of production over the final few weeks of the season. Trust us when we say grab him now.

TRENDING UPWARD

Johnny Oduya -- In our trade deadline wrap-up, we suggested that Oduya could be a nice source of production after joining the Blackhawks, especially in deeper leagues. He finally is validating that thinking by totaling a goal and 3 assists in his last five games. Oduya also has a plus-5 rating and 17 shots on goal since joining the Hawks. He is surrounded by a ton of talent in the Blackhawks' lineup, and his mobile, puck-moving style meshes beautifully with coach Joel Quenneville's system. If you need some production on the back end, Oduya could be your man, as he is owned in just 1 percent of Yahoo! Standard leagues.

Travis Hamonic -- Hamonic had owners excited heading into this season, especially after he had 26 points, 118 shots on goal and 103 penalty minutes in just 62 games last season. This season, though, he had just 9 points through Dec. 31 and many owners dropped him. Now, though, he is trying to reward those who were patient with some fine restoration work, with a goal, 5 assists, eight shots on goal and 12 penalty minutes in his last four games. He is owned in just 31 percent of Yahoo! Standard leagues and could provide some stretch drive punch.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson --
Though Erik Karlsson is the first name many think of when talking about break-out stars this season, another young Swede has been making a name for himself in the desert.  Ekman-Larsson has started to show the skill, skating ability and offensive upside that made him the sixth pick of the 2009 Entry Draft. He has 11 goals, 18 assists, 8 power-play points and 128 shots on goal through 73 games this season. He's been particularly effective lately with 3 goals, 2 assists, 13 shots on goal and a plus-1 rating in his last four games. He is owned in just 26 percent of Yahoo! Standard leagues and could add some punch to the back-end of a playoff-bound fantasy squad.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

Jared Spurgeon -- Speaking of break-out defensemen, Spurgeon was one of the most talked-about earlier this season. Unfortunately, the Wild have struggled mightily in the second half and have been beaten up by injuries, which limited Spurgeon's production. He has plenty of value in keeper or dynasty formats, but there are better options for the stretch drive and the playoffs of your single-year leagues. Spurgeon has just 1 assist in his last nine games and is a minus-6 in the last two months.

Ian White -- How valuable do you think Nicklas Lidstrom is to the Detroit Red Wings? If the Wings' record during his absence, combined with the production of regular partner Ian White is any indication, the answer is "very valuable." Not only has the team limped to a 3-6-1 record without their captain, but White's production has gone from 0.47 points per game to 0.10, or 1 goal and 1 assist in the 10 games Lidstrom has missed. While Lidstrom has begun skating, it would be wise to look elsewhere for production until he is back in the lineup.

Jamie McBain -- McBain burst onto the scene last season with 30 points in 76 games as a rookie, which left many thinking he would be a great source for production this season. Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to live up to the hype. Yes, he feasibly could match his point total if all goes well over the final couple of weeks, but we had hoped for a step forward. He has just 2 assists in his last 10 games and will need 5 points over his team's final nine if he wants to match the 30 he scored last season.

KEEP AN EYE ON ...

Matt Greene -- Greene isn't a name that comes up often in fantasy circles, but he could have some value in deeper leagues down the stretch. He is the kind of player that can chip in on a number of categories for your team. He has 1 goal, 3 assists, six shots on goal, eight penalty minutes and a plus-2 rating in his past 10 games. If you are in need of some support in any of those categories, Greene could be good for a spot start or two.

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