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Five games play past regulation on Fantasy Saturday

by Matt Cubeta

The end is near, folks. Almost all head-to-head leagues are either already in their finals or will be entering them on Monday. If you're in a rotisserie league, then it's possible you're still fighting for a title. Either way, if you've made it that far then I suggest you pay close attention to matchups for the week, considering that some teams may give players a little rest if they've already locked up a playoff berth. Others will be playing their aces a little more if they're fighting to get in, so be aware.

This Saturday featured 11 games, so I'm sure most of you were able to put together a full starting roster. Good luck to all of you for the remainder of the fantasy season, as this will be my last edition of Saturday's Fantasy Roundup. Hope it's been helpful:

GAME STAR: Sidney Crosby
3 assists, +2, 2 SOG
For the second consecutive Saturday, Sid the Kid recorded three assists leading the Penguins to a victory. Last week it was Crosby's first multi-point game in nine contests; well, since then he's had 2 goals and 3 assists in his previous three games. I guess he's gearing up for the playoffs. Johan Hedberg made his first start in three games for the Thrashers as they remain in the hunt for the playoffs -- he stopped 31 shots in what may have been his last start of the season (Atlanta seems to be riding the hotter goalie lately, Ondrej Pavelec, who has a 1.75 GAA in his last four games). Jordan Leopold netted his first goal since joining the Penguins 16 games ago -- he has 8 goals and 15 assists on the season and probably shouldn't be owned in most leagues. Evgeni Malkin, who missed seven of his last eight games due to a foot injury, returned to the lineup and chipped in a goal and an assist while skating on a line with Bill Guerin and Alexei Ponikarovsky -- activate him with confidence in the final week.

NYI 4, OTT 1
John Tavares
1 goal, 1 assist, +3, 2 SOG, 2 PIMs
John Tavares extended his point-scoring streak to four games after putting up a goal and an assist against the Sens. With 49 points on the season, it's possible Tavares will be a Rookie of the Year contender, although it won't be easy with competition like Buffalo's Tyler Myers, Colorado's Matt Duchene, and Detroit goaltender Jimmy Howard. Make no mistake though, Tavares is a superstar in the making (don't forget what happened with Steven Stamkos, and look at him this season). Despite being held pointless on Saturday, Jason Spezza still has 3 goals and 8 assists in his previous five games. Remember when the Ottawa center was having a brutal start to his season? Well after all is said and done, Spezza will be right around his usual point-per-game stats (54 points in 57 games so far). After putting together back-to-back two-goal games, Islanders forward Blake Comeau notched two assists. Comeau could be useful in the final week as he's playing on a line with Tavares and the undervalued Sean Bergenheim.

NSH 4, DET 3 (OT)
Ryan Suter
1 goal, 1 assist, +2, 3 SOG
Defenseman Ryan Suter scored the overtime winner, his fourth goal of the season, and added an assist -- he has 32 helpers on the year and should be looked at as a borderline No. 2 defenseman heading into next year's fantasy season. Pekka Rinne turned aside 28 of 31 shots, earning his second consecutive win. Nashville clinched a playoff berth with the win, so it's possible coach Barry Trotz will give Rinne a break next week -- meaning Dan Ellis may see some action. Keep a close eye on how the situation unfolds -- and consider that Nashville is the only club with just two games in the final week of the season; half of the League plays four times. Tomas Holmstrom recorded his second three-point game of the season by setting up all three goals for the Wings. With 42 points in 64 games, the Detroit power forward has had a pretty solid season in addition to being a major asset on the team's top power play unit. In his previous four seasons, Pavel Datsyuk has recorded 87, 87, 97 and 97 points respectively -- after notching a goal and an assist on Saturday, Datsyuk has just 68 points. It's safe to say this season has been a bit of a disappointment for the perennial Lady Byng winner, even though he's been hot down the stretch.

GAME STAR: Miroslav Satan
2 goals, +2, 3 SOG
Miroslav Satan recorded his first two-goal game since Nov. 6, 2008. With just 8 goals and 6 assists in 34 games, Satan is mostly useless in fantasy leagues at this point. Tuukka Rask earned his 20th win of the season, stopping 27 shots in the overtime victory -- he should be used with confidence. Dion Phaneuf tallied just his eighth point (all assists) in 22 games with the Maple Leafs -- so far that deal has clearly not worked out (at least offensively) for the Alberta native, but a bounce back is definitely possible next season. Toronto netminder Jonas Gustavsson allowed just two goals on 30 shots -- it seems like the Leafs are going with a straight split with Gustavsson and Jean-Sebastien Giguere between the pipes. David Krejci set up both goals, giving him 5 goals and 11 assists in his previous 13 contests.

GAME STAR: Jaroslav Halak
Win - shutout, 29 saves
Fighting for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference, the Canadiens got some unlikely support on Saturday: Ryan O'Byrne netted his first goal of the season and Tom Pyatt buried his second (Sergei Kostitsyn scored Montreal's other goal, his seventh of the season). The story for the Habs was the outstanding goaltending of Jaroslav Halak, who has been red-hot lately and should be trusted in all formats. Halak stopped 29 shots en route to his second shutout in as many nights. Assuming he stays hot, he is likely to start in all of the Canadiens' remaining games from here on out. Ryan Miller wasn't too shabby between the pipes either; he turned aside 35 of 38 shots in a losing effort.

GAME STAR: Martin Brodeur
Win - shutout, 26 saves
Martin Brodeur earned his eighth shutout of the season (109th overall!) by stopping 26 Hurricanes shots. Ilya Kovalchuk chipped in two assists, giving him 301 in his career (pretty remarkable for a guy who also has 337 goals in 617 career games). Regardless of taking the loss and allowing three goals on 28 shots, Carolina netminder Cam Ward should be started with confidence. He should be in net for most of his team's remaining games and still has the raw talent to put up stellar numbers despite playing for a losing team. New Jersey forwards David Clarkson, Patrik Elias, Zach Parise and Dainius Zubrus each had a goal and an assist. Clarkson is underrated in a lot of leagues as he provides a decent amount of points (10 goals, 13 assists in 42 games) and PIMs (76) -- give him a shot if you need a depth forward. Zubrus, like Clarkson also missed time due to injury, but still has 9 goals and 14 assists in 47 contests this season. The other two should obviously be owned in all leagues.


GAME STAR: Marian Gaborik
1 goal, 1 assist, +3, 8 SOG
Could Rangers head coach John Tortorella finally be settled in with his lines? With the Rangers playing winning hockey, Torts has stuck with these top two lines: Erik Christensen-Marian Gaborik-Brandon Dubinsky and Olli Jokinen-Vaclav Prospal-PA Parenteau. Parenteau and Erik Christensen are by far the least-owned players, and they each could be worth a look down the stretch. Rangers D-man Marc Staal could be an interesting pick up as well -- he has scored a goal in three straight games and is clearly picking up his play as New York continues to battle for a playoff berth. After recording a 36-save shutout against the Bruins on Thursday, Scott Clemmensen made his second consecutive start and allowed three goals on 26 shots. "I'm not putting a rotation in," coach Peter DeBoer said. "We're just going to put in there whoever can win us a game." If you own starter Tomas Vokoun, be aware as Clemmensen could definitely get a few more starts considering Florida is all but eliminated from playoff contention.

GAME STAR: Jose Theodore
Win, 34 saves
While he won't match his 31-goal total from last season, Mike Green scored his defenseman-leading 19th goal of the season. He is the only blueliner worth a look in the first round of next year's fantasy drafts. The never-ending goaltending debacle continued for Columbus on Saturday. Mathieu Garon started but didn't last long -- he stopped two of four shots before being replaced by Steve Mason -- who held his own, stopping 22 of 23 shots, though the one he missed cost him the loss. It's pretty obvious: no Blue Jacket goalie is a safe play from here on out. Tomas Fleischmann continues to build on his breakout season -- he scored his 22nd goal and now has 50 points in 66 games after having 37 last season. Columbus forward Antoine Vermette scored his 26th and 27th goals and has clearly found a home in his second season with the Jackets -- he has a career-high 65 points.

GAME STAR: Chris Mason
Win, 24 saves
With both the Blues and Stars all but out of playoff contention, Chris Mason outdueled Kari Lehtonen by stopping 24 of 25 shots in a 2-1 victory. Mason has been stellar lately, allowing just eight goals while going 4-1-0 in five games. However, it wouldn't surprise me if St. Louis decided to give backup Ty Conklin a start in one or two of their remaining games. On the other hand, expect Lehtonen to continue to see the bulk of the workload for Dallas as they are trying to decide what to do with veteran Marty Turco for next season. Lehtonen has started four of the last five games, earning a win in two of them -- I wouldn't trust him if you're looking to grab a goalie off waivers. T.J. Oshie scored his 17th goal, and while most people predicted better numbers from the youngster, 46 points in his second NHL season isn't too bad.

GAME STAR: Keith Yandle
2 assists, +1, 5 SOG
The Coyotes have easily been the biggest surprise in the NHL this season, and they have several breakout performers to thank for it: Matthew Lombardi (who scored his 17th goal on Saturday and the lone shootout goal in the eighth round) has a career-high 51 points; defenseman Keith Yandle (who had two assists on Saturday) has a career-high 39 points; Wojtek Wolski (who had an assist on Saturday) has a career-high 61 points (14 in 15 games for Phoenix since the trade deadline); Lee Stempniak has 46 points (16 in 15 games for Phoenix since the deadline) -- his most since his second NHL season back in '06-'07 (52 points). That's four major contributors for the 'Yotes, and all of them should be owned for the rest of the way. Dustin Penner continues to be the lone bright spot for Edmonton -- he scored his 29th goal, tying a career high from back in '06-'07 when he was with the Ducks. After putting together an outstanding 45-point campaign last season, defenseman Tom Gilbert notched just his 18th and 19th assists -- he has 23 points. Gilbert certainly has some playmaking abilities, but there aren't too many players for him to dish the puck to in Edmonton.

GAME STAR: Saku Koivu
1 PPG, even, 1 SOG
After having the last two games off, Jonathan Quick was back in goal for the Kings -- he stopped 32 of 33 shots in the shootout loss. Don't forget L.A.'s other Jonathan, as in Jonathan Bernier. Even though he was sent back to the AHL for the time being, Bernier is a superstar goaltender in the making and more than held his own in recent games for the Kings. While it appears L.A. plans on riding Quick down the stretch and into the playoffs, Bernier could end up stealing the starting job next spring or forcing some sort of trade. Saku Koivu scored his 19th goal (and then put home the shootout winner), giving him 4 goals and 4 assists in his last three contests. Kings defenseman Jack Johnson has finally proven his talent this season -- he scored his seventh goal and now has 34 points. He will be a valuable asset to any fantasy squad next fall. With Jonas Hiller sidelined due to back spasms, Ducks backup Curtis McElhinney made his fifth straight start and made 28 saves for the win. If you're desperate for some additional saves, McElhinney can help; other then that, stay away from the inexperienced goaltender.
There are just four games on the NHL schedule on Sunday; these games could be crucial if you're in a head-to-head matchup, so be sure to grab one of these guys for additional production:

Rob Blake, D, SJS -- Blake has one goal and 7 assists in the last five games that he's suited up for. The Sharks are playing the slumping Avs, and with 177 shots on goal on the season, Blake could be in line for a productive game.

Michael Grabner, RW, VAN --
The Canucks' rookie recorded his first career hat trick on Friday night and has six points in his last six games. He's a former first-round draft pick and the talent is certainly there. Give him a shot against the out-of-the-playoffs Wild.

Todd Bertuzzi, LW, DET -- The big winger has seen his playing time increase recently, and while he didn't have any points on Saturday, he did put eight shots on goal. With 205 shots on the season, Bertuzzi will at worst be good for a few of those -- not to mention that Sunday's game at Philadelphia figures to be a physical contest, so Big Bert could give you some penalty minutes.


Detroit (Chris Osgood) at Philadelphia (Brian Boucher) 12:30 p.m. ET
Calgary (Miikka Kiprusoff) at Chicago (Antti Niemi), 3 p.m. ET
San Jose (Evgeni Nabokov) at Colorado (Craig Anderson), 8 p.m. ET
Minnesota (Niklas Backstrom) at Vancouver (Roberto Luongo), 10 p.m. ET


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