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.
CROS-BY ALL YOU CAN BE: The Real Spiel on Sidney Crosby
Center - PIT
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 10 | PTS: 12
SOG: 31 | +/-: 7
When the Pittsburgh Penguins
revealed that Sidney Crosby
was cleared for contact, speculation of his return grew rampant. It was thought that he might return when the Penguins hosted the Boston Bruins
Sunday afternoon, but the team captain ruled himself out and said he wanted to take advantage of more physical practice sessions between games. While no official return date is set, Thursday night at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers
remains a possibility. Either way, one of the League's most dominant players could be back soon enough to alter the fantasy hockey landscape as the playoffs near.
In his first return from concussion symptoms earlier this season, Crosby collected four points in his first game and added four more in five games that followed before suffering from more symptoms. He looked his old self, creating chances and being an across-the-board asset that filled the fantasy stat sheet. With the Penguins rolling and looking to catch the Rangers for the Atlantic Division title, it's safe to believe Crosby would perform at a similar level this go-around. Still, his potential return could have adverse impact on some other key fantasy contributors, such as Evgeni Malkin
, James Neal
and Chris Kunitz
. Malkin is in the midst of an MVP season and his wingers, Neal and Kunitz, have been the beneficiaries. Typically, Crosby has played alongside Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis
The question remains: Will coach Dan Bylsma
break up Malkin's line and join Kunitz with Crosby? If so, fantasy owners should wonder about the production of the aforementioned players. It's possible that the 1-2 punch down the middle will make the Penguins more potent and, as a result, all will benefit. On the other hand, however, breaking up a line that’s been dominant for months could be costly.