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The Real Spiel: Devils' trio more than 1-2-3 punch

by Sergei J. Feldman /
Given the complex, never-steady landscape of fantasy hockey, each week, 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.

DEVILS IN DETAILS: The Real Spiel on New Jersey’s Trio

Zach Parise
Left Wing - NJD
GOALS: 11 | ASST: 16 | PTS: 27
SOG: 121 | +/-: -3
The New Jersey Devils have their share of marquee names. Ever heard of Martin Brodeur? How about Zach Parise? Or Ilya Kovalchuk? While the future Hall-of-Fame netminder hasn’t dazzled in 2011-12, Parise, Kovalchuk and youngster Adam Henrique certainly have. In the past five games, the aforementioned trio has combined for 7 goals, 13 assists and 20 points. Sometimes the production of line combinations can be misleading, particularly when one player has a dominant stretch of play. Not the case here. Parise, Kovalchuk and Henrique, individually, are fantasy hockey threats. Parise has 11 goals, 16 assists, 27 points and ranks third in the NHL with 121 shots. Of late, he has goals in three of his past four games, including eight points. Kovalchuk's 10 goals, 15 assists, 25 points and 98 shots make him a valuable players, as does his stretch of three straight two-point nights. How about Henrique? The 2008 third-round selection has 25 points and is a plus-7. Of late, he has 2 goals, three assists in his past five games. It may be a risk to rely on a trio, but the reward can be greater.

SPEZZA DELIVERY: The Real Spiel on Jason Spezza

Jason Spezza
Center - OTT
GOALS: 12 | ASST: 24 | PTS: 36
SOG: 101 | +/-: -4
If you've heard it once, you've heard it one hundred times: when healthy, Jason Spezza is among the League's best players. When healthy. That's been the toughest part for the Ottawa Senators center throughout his NHL career, particularly the last two campaigns, in which he missed at least 20 games in each. Fortunately, 2011-12 has treated the talented playmaker well. So far, the Senators have played 33 games and so has Spezza. The result? Top-notch contribution. On the season, the 6-foot-3, 216-pound center has 12 goals, 24 assists, 36 points and 101 shots. He ranks fourth in the NHL in both assists and points and hovers within the Top-25 group in shots. What's more, he’s playing some of his best hockey now, as he's riding a five-game point streak and has points in seven of his past eight outings. Fantasy owners should love that kind of production. Point-per-game players are few and far between. And while Spezza's history of injuries could be a justifiable cause for concern, his point-per-game rate should be more than enough to rely on. In 559 career games, the 28-year-old has 568 points. Year in, year out, his point totals closely resemble his games total. If he plays 82 this year… you get the point. So get Spezza.

GOOD TO BE MAL-KING: The Real Spiel on Evgeni Malkin

Evgeni Malkin
Center - PIT
GOALS: 15 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 36
SOG: 124 | +/-: 4
With Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal and Kris Letang out of the lineup, the Pittsburgh Penguins have relied upon the services of Evgeni Malkin. Fortunately for the club and certain fantasy team owners, Malkin has taken the responsibility in stride. Coming off a five-point night against Buffalo, a game in which the gifted center netted a hat trick, Malkin seems poised to chase down Phil Kessel as the leading scorer in the NHL. He currently ranks fourth in points (36), ninth in goals (15) and second in shots (124). Despite the club's troubles on the ice of late, Malkin has been a consistent force, collecting 12 points in his past five games. It's tempting to conclude that when the Penguins get healthy, Malkin's contributions could only improve, but the 25-year-old center has proven that he's most productive when he's the go-to guy. Enjoy the ride of success with Malkin while the team deals with their injuries.

STOP! STAMMER TIME: The Real Spiel on Steven Stamkos

Steven Stamkos
Center - TBL
GOALS: 20 | ASST: 17 | PTS: 37
SOG: 114 | +/-: 12
Remember Steven Stamkos' recent five-game goalless drought? No? Figures. The Tampa Bay Lightning superstar has put his troubles aside to the tune of a three-game goal scoring streak, in which he's tickled the twine four times. In that same time, No. 91 is finding his teammates, too, as he has three assists in his past three games. Seven points in three games? Not bad for your fantasy hockey clubs. Stamkos is a perfect example of the importance of relying on pure talent to compensate for slumps. The 21-year-old started the season without scoring a goal in his first three games. He had another three-game scoreless stretch later in the year. Still, Stamkos' name appears at the top of the League's goal scorer's category (20). And if you don't need him for goals, his 17 assists, 37 points and 114 shots certainly don't hurt. Any way you slice it, Stamkos is a must have.

SURFING THE WEB-ER: The Real Spiel on Shea Weber

Shea Weber
Defense - NSH
GOALS: 8 | ASST: 16 | PTS: 24
SOG: 99 | +/-: 15
There's nothing like a fantasy player who can do a little bit of everything, which means that there's nobody like Shea Weber. The Nashville Predators blueliner ranks second in the NHL in points (24) and goals (8) among defensemen. Throw in 99 shots, 24 PIMs and a plus-15 rating and you've got yourself a more-than-serviceable force for your fantasy squads. Weber has played well all year long, but recently, his game has really come to life. The rugged defenseman has points in four of his past five games, including a two-goal night against the Detroit Red Wings. In that span, he put up 15 shots, too. Whether you're reviewing his recent play, performance this season or production throughout his career, the verdict is clear: he is among the best fantasy blueliners and should be a force to be reckoned with.

Author: Sergei J. Feldman, Staff Writer

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