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Turn Left Here: Nash among LW's in need of change

by Matt Cubeta
Every Thursday during the season, fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy left wings in our weekly segment: "Turn Left Here." From updated left wing rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy left wing expert all season long.

Let's get right to it. Just like Wednesday's "Center Stage", here's a look at five of the biggest left wing disappointments and their New Year's resolution for how they can turn their seasons around starting right now. On Friday, we'll finish the position assessments off with right wings.

Alex Ovechkin -- Until your recent surge (five goals in the last three games), you have really let your fantasy owners down. Despite your least productive season last year, we still believed in you and expected a return to your normal 50-goal form. While your current pace of 36 goals is better than last season, we're hoping you've finally found your game now that the New Year has arrived - we need 40-plus goals out of you.

Bobby Ryan -- After posting three straight 30-plus goal seasons and increasing your points total every year since joining the NHL, we really were expecting you to join the fantasy elite this season. Unfortunately you've struggled mightily with just 13 goals and 21 points to go along with a minus-8 rating. We're hoping your new coach Bruce Boudreau keeps you on the top line with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf and that you receive more than the two minutes of power play ice time you're currently receiving (you're too good to see that little).


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). Note: Positions are dictated by how they're labeled in Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues.
*dual position eligibility in Yahoo! Leagues

Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Jordan Staal, Alexander Steen, Pascal Dupuis

Players on IR: Matt Duchene
Rick Nash -- Could this be the first time in five seasons that you score less than 30 goals? It sure seems that way right now. Not only has the point production been down this year (12 G, 15 A), but your minus-19 rating is simply killing fantasy owners. With news that you'd be willing to agree to a trade, we're hoping for exactly that -- a trade to a contending team would do fantasy wonders for you.

Michael Cammalleri -- It's not that we expected you to be an elite left wing, but many of your owners were hoping for you to rediscover your 30-goal touch you had in Calgary. However, Montreal just hasn't really worked for you, has it? This season seems to be worse than ever with just nine goals and 22 points in 35 games as well as a minus-4 and just eight penalty minutes. We're hoping you can stay healthy and that your mini hot streak (three goals in last four games) while skating with Erik Cole and Tomas Plekanec proves to be a long-term solution going forward.

James van Riemsdyk -- After scoring seven goals in 11 playoff contests for the Flyers in last season's playoffs and looking like the goal-scorer many of us knew you could be, a lot of us were banking on a breakout season for you in 2011-12. Skating on the Flyers' third line doesn't exactly do wonders for you, but with Jagr currently sidelined, you've been slotted in on the top unit with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell. We're hoping you rediscover that scoring touch from the playoffs while skating with a playmaking wizard in Giroux, and then carry it throughout the remainder of the fantasy season regardless of which line combination you end up with.


Scott Hartnell -- Hartnell's game has really picked up since December (15 points in 13 games that month), as he's jumped all the way up to the fifth-highest-rated LW in Yahoo! Leagues. Not only is his point production tremendous while skating with Claude Giroux, but his knack for major penalties has also returned recently -- Hartnell has two majors in the past three games. Hartnell's best season came back in 2008-09 when he posted 30 goals, 30 assists, a plus-14 and 143 PIMs, but it looks like he could potentially better that in each category this season.

Taylor Hall -- Since his return from a shoulder injury Dec. 15, Hall has put up five goals and four assists in nine games for the Oilers. While he'll be without his usual running mate Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Hall is still a very skilled player that will work alongside one of this season's big breakout players in Jordan Eberle. Despite the time missed, Hall is still on pace for just less than 30 goals and should be started as a No. 1 LW in standard 10-team fantasy leagues.

Alexander Semin -- Just when we thought Semin was turning the corner he had to go and get hurt (upper-body injury). However, his return appears imminent and his fantasy owners should hope he carries the hot streak he was showing before going down. In his previous seven games, Semin notched five goals and four assists -- numbers we haven't seen in a long time from the Caps wing. Something tells us Semin might show his old self -- look for him and Alex Ovechkin to get things going for much of the second half this season.


Tomas Fleischmann -- Despite scoring three goals in his last three games, Fleischmann had a rough December with just four goals and 10 points in 15 games. While that may have been normal last season, this year, we seem to expect more out of Fleischmann thanks to his fast start. Not only has his point production dipped a bit, but Fleischmann has also only had a plus rating once in the previous nine contests. You can continue to start Fleischmann like you normally would for the time being, but let's see if he can snap out of this cold spell.

Max Pacioretty -- When your team scores seven goals in a game and you don't find your name on the scoresheet, you might think something is a bit wrong. Not only did Pacioretty not get a point in Montreal's 7-3 win against Winnipeg on Wednesday, but he was also held pointless in the Habs' 6-2 win four games ago. In fact, Pacioretty hasn't scored a goal in his last 10 games and has just one point in his previous six. He's still shooting the puck frequently (3.4 per game), but his 26 points in 37 games don't look as nice as they did earlier this season. Don't drop him just yet, but be cautious.

Alexander Steen -- Steen has missed his last three games for the Blues because of a concussion and a return date has yet to be announced. Steen had been a great surprise for his fantasy owners this season with his solid all-around production (13 G, 11 A, plus-20, 22 PIMs, 4 PPP, 113 SOG), but they'll have look elsewhere for the time being. A potential replacement: Avs rookie Gabriel Landeskog. He will put up similar overall numbers and has been hot recently (seven points in his last nine games).


Steve Downie
Right Wing - TBL
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 10 | PTS: 16
SOG: 64 | PIM: 100 | +/-: -13
Steve Downie -- Eligible in Yahoo! Leagues at both left and right wing, Downie is a sneaky-good fantasy player. Currently owned in 43 percent of leagues, Downie has done exactly what his fantasy owners need: rack up tons of penalty minutes. His 100 PIMs are third in the NHL, but what's been even more valuable are the 16 points he's also contributed this season. Downie has two goals and five assists in his last four games while skating on a line alongside superstars Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. The bottom line here is that Downie will be a major help if you need penalty minutes and he'll also chip in a few points for you here and there.
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