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Fantasy All-Access: Fire the cannons for Blue Jackets

by Matt Sitkoff

The Columbus Blue Jackets won a franchise-record eight straight games and are one of the hottest teams in the NHL. So what has that done for fantasy owners and what is expected for the Blue Jackets as they continue their first year in the Eastern Conference?

The reigning Vezina Trophy winner, Sergei Bobrovsky, fueled the streak with 10 wins in his past 11 starts. The offense has come from both the front and back line as the Blue Jackets had three or more goals in all eight games of the run.

Fantasy owners with members of the Blue Jackets on their roster reaped the benefits of their franchise-record eight-game winning streak. (Photo: Getty Images)

Although the win streak ended Saturday with a loss to the Buffalo Sabres, the Blue Jackets follow up with four games this week (@CAR, OTT, WSH, FLA), so activate all of your Columbus players and stick with them while they're hot.


Reilly Smith, Boston Bruins (owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues) -- Time to stop thinking about the 22-year-old as the throw in of the Tyler Seguin - Loui Eriksson trade with the Dallas Stars this past offseason. The former Miami University star is tied for the team lead with 16 goals and second on the team with 37 points along with a plus-11 rating, contributing four power-play goals and three game-winning goals. The Bruins have four games this week (@NYI, FLA, MTL, EDM), three of those opponents near the bottom of the League in goals against, making Smith a great own this week and beyond.

Tom Gilbert, Florida Panthers (owned in 2 percent of Yahoo leagues) -- The former Edmonton Oilers and Minnesota Wild defenseman is back contributing like it is 2007-09. Those two seasons the 6-foot-2 Gilbert combined for 18 goals and 78 points while playing for Edmonton. The 31-year-old now has three straight games with multiple assists and is back on the fantasy map, leading Florida in assists (22) and tied for the team lead in points (24). The Panthers have three road games this week (@BOS, @TOR, @CBJ), which is fine for Gilbert, who has 16 road point this season.

Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets (owned in 64 percent of Yahoo leagues) -- After going 2-6-2 in December ownership of the Jets goalie plummeted, but under new coach Paul Maurice we have seen the 26-year-old get back to his winning ways. The Czech Olympian has won five of his past six starts stopping 153 of the 165 shots he has faced. The Jets have three games this week (NSH, VAN, @MTL) and are one of the four teams playing Sunday, which could help your team finish strong.


Yankee Stadium encore -- The next 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game will be played at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders. Some players to keep an eye on for your fantasy team are Rangers forward Brad Richards, who has 37 career points in 42 games played against the Islanders. On the other side keep an eye on linemates John Tavares and his 24 points in 24 games against the Rangers, and Thomas Vanek with 11 goals in 30 games against the Blueshirts.

Derek Stepan
Center - NYR
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 25 | PTS: 35
SOG: 135 | +/-: 3
Penalty shots -- This weekend in the Stadium Series we saw one unsuccessful penalty shot (the Los Angeles Kings' Anze Kopitar) and another one converted (the Rangers' Derek Stepan). Unlike shootout goals these count for your fantasy team, so here are some useful facts about the one-on-one showdown.

Of the 49 penalty shots taken this season, 15 of them have resulted in goals. The Dallas Stars lead the League with seven penalty shots taken, including four resulting in goals. They have taken two against the Chicago Blackhawks, who lead the League with six penalty shots against but have given up only one goal. Four players have taken multiple penalty shots this season (Antoine Roussel, Dallas Stars; Valeri Nichushkin, Dallas Stars; Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers; and Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals), while Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford has faced five penalty shots this season, giving up one goal, Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks has faced three, stopping them all, and three different Wild goalies have faced penalty shots and all three have given up goals.

Hampus Lindholm
Defense - ANA
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 12 | PTS: 17
SOG: 83 | +/-: 24

Hampus Lindholm, Anaheim Ducks -- The sixth pick in the 2012 NHL Draft has made a huge impact on the Ducks' no-name defense as Anaheim rises in the standings. The 20-year-old leads all rookies with a plus-24 while playing on the team’s top unit with Francois Beauchemin. The 6-3 defenseman's pro career did not start out the way he wanted last season when he suffered two concussions in four weeks, but it ended with him being a part of the Ducks' black aces in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and after being a healthy scratch in the first two games this season Lindholm finally made his NHL debut on Oct. 6, playing over 18 minutes and never looking back. As the season goes on, expect the Swede's confidence to grow along with his point total.


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