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Turn Left Here: Ovi underachieving for fantasy owners

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.

After a two-week hiatus from's 'Turn Left Here' update, there's plenty to talk about regarding our left wings.

Daniel Sedin is still the top ranked left wing in our rankings and he's the top-rated Yahoo! left wing. Thomas Vanek has continued to score at an unworldly rate for the Sabres (11 goals and 12 assists in 18 games). Kris Versteeg and Joffrey Lupul (both LW and RW eligible) haven't slowed down a bit this season and their ownership has steadily increased -- 78 percent and 84 percent respectively. Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Bobby Ryan, Zach Parise and many other proven stars are still looking to find their game.

Alex Ovechkin
Left Wing - WSH
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 14
SOG: 54 | +/-: -3
Meanwhile, the biggest fantasy story surrounds Alex Ovechkin. Our No. 1 overall fantasy player coming into the 2011-12 season is also still struggling. The Capitals captain has 14 points in 16 games (which isn't bad for any player other than Ovechkin), but fantasy owners have simply come to expect far more from Ovi. Ovechkin failed to score for the fifth time in his last seven games on Tuesday night and his seven goals on the season are his lowest scoring total through 16 games since he entered the League in 2005-06.

Part of the reason he's had such difficulty scoring is simply because teams are bearing down on the Russian sniper. Ovechkin has 54 shots on goal (3.4 shots per game -- down from 4.6 last season), but 39 others have been blocked and 27 more have missed the net.

What does this all mean to you if you have Ovechkin on your fantasy team?

Ovechkin is Ovechkin. While his 32-goal, 85-point campaign from last season was the worst of his career, he's still a four-time 106-plus point player that's had four 50-plus goal seasons for Washington. Ovechkin has led the NHL in shots on goal by a large margin in every year since joining the League back in 2005-06.

We have to assume at some point that Ovechkin's will to score will take over. The guy is just too used to scoring goals for a living. His chances will continue to come and eventually he'll start finding the back of the net. The return of Mike Green should help the Capitals out offensively and with Ovi's four minutes of power play ice time per game, it's only a matter of time before Ovechkin and this lethal offense starts scoring more frequently.



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: Shane Doan, Gabriel Landeskog
Zach Parise -- While his numbers are clearly less than dazzling, if you watched last night's Devils game you'd know just how talented Parise is. He was easily the best player on the ice and contributed a shorthanded goal in New Jersey's 5-3 win over the Sabres. While Parise has just 6 goals and 5 assists in 17 games, you should definitely see a spike in production in the near future. Parise has been reunited on the team's top line with Ilya Kovalchuk (who's production should also increase) and rookie Adam Henrique -- expect Parise's season turnaround to happen very soon.

Max Pacioretty -- Not too many people expected this kind of start from Max-Pac (8 G, 7 A, plus-4, 12 PIMs, 2 PPP, 67 SOG in 18 games), but we should have seen it coming after his 24 point season in just 37 games last year. His line with Erik Cole and David Desharnais has been a spark plug for the Canadiens and they are their most reliable source of offense. Among left wings, Pacioretty is second only to James Neal in shots on goal and the fact that he's seeing 3:14 of power play ice time per game bodes well for him going forward.

Tomas Fleischmann -- Rated 25th in Yahoo! Leagues among all players, Fleischmann has struck gold in his new digs in Florida. Joined by Kris Versteeg and Stephen Weiss on the team's top line, Fleischmann has posted 7 goals and 10 assists in 17 games to go along with an outstanding plus-13 rating (best among all LWs). When healthy, Fleischmann has been a relatively productive player in recent years -- he had 21 points in 22 games with the Avalanche prior to getting hurt last year and he had 51 points in 69 games for the Capitals in 2009-10. The talent is there and so far things are clicking for he and his new teammates. Start him regularly for the time being.


Taylor Hall -- It appears Hall is experiencing a sophomore slump through his first 16 games this season. After posting 3 goals and 5 assists in his first eight games, the talented winger has no goals and just one assist in his last six games and has had a minus-1 rating in each of the last five games. Hall is still teamed up with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and now they have playmaker Ales Hemsky lining up on their right wing, but so far the newly formed line is struggling. However, Hall is streaky, so with the bad should come the good -- and you can expect to see Hall move back up in the ranks soon enough.

Alexandre Burrows -- Usually a fixture on Vancouver's top line with the Sedin brothers, Burrows currently resides on the second unit with Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins. Burrows has really struggled recently with no points in his last three games and the fact that he's only seeing 2:34 of power play ice time per game definitely doesn't help his value. Burrows plays the agitator role very well, but with Jannik Hansen stepping into his place alongside the Sedins, Burrows' fantasy value definitely takes a hit.

Gabriel Landeskog -- After getting off to a solid start in his rookie campaign, Landeskog seems to have hit a road block since the start of November. The 18-year-old has just 1 goal and no assists in his seven games since the month changed and has been a minus-3 during that time. While he does have 63 shots on goal (tops among all NHL rookies), he has slipped to just 2.9 per game during the rough patch. With Landeskog skating on a line with Daniel Winnik and Ryan O'Reilly, we probably should have expected a cold streak at some point. Hopefully he'll snap out of the skid sooner rather than later, but for now, stash him on your bench.


Erik Cole -- Eligible at both left and right wing in Yahoo! Leagues, Cole has started to come alive for the Canadiens. He has points in each of his last three contests (1 G, 3 A), with two of them coming on the power play. On the season he has 4 goals and 5 assists in 18 games, but playing on a line with Pacioretty and Desharnais seems to be increasing his fantasy value. Cole only receives 15:20 of ice time per game, but nearly three minutes of that is coming on the power play. Expect him to finish with at least 20 goals and around 50 points, similar to what he posted last season in Carolina.
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