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by Kevin Snow / Buffalo Sabres
Mike Ribeiro (Getty Images)
After nine weeks of fantasy hockey, my team has gone into a downward spiral that would make even Lindsay Lohan jealous. My days of wine and roses atop the league standings have quickly become nights of guns and roses, and me trying to convince myself that all I need is a little patience with some of my players.

Well, that patience finally ran out two weeks ago when I decided it was time for a shakeup.

Nothing major mind you, but one that would bring some much needed offense to my struggling squad. Strange Brew welcomed in forward Mike Ribeiro and goaltender Ondrej Pavelec, and said goodbye to Peter Mueller and future fantasy stud Jonathan Quick. While I hated giving up on Mueller so early into the season, it just made sense for me to get back a steady point producer like Ribeiro, along with a goaltender in Pavelec who looks like he could easily supplant Kari Lehtonen as the number one keeper in Atlanta.

With one trade under my belt, I’ve decided that there’s probably a few more moves that for me to make before I can start making my move back to the top of the league standings. So as I am known to do at times, I decided to sit down and analyze the league stats for some trends and possible trade ideas for the coming weeks. Here are a few things that jumped out at me:

* Congratulations to all the fantasy owners who drafted Atlanta’s Rich Peverley. You are now being rewarded for your foresight with 26 points in 23 games, including a league-best, five game-winning goals. Since being claimed on waivers from Nashville last January, Peverley has quietly gone about his business with an almost point per game pace of 61 points (23+38) in 62 games.

* It should come as no surprise that Alex Ovechkin is leading the league in shots with 112. What’s most surprising is that he only has a three-shot lead on Zach Parise, and is just 12 ahead of Rick Nash and Henrik Zetterberg. Ovechkin has led the league in shots every season since the lockout, and the second place finisher has never been closer than 41 shots behind him at season’s end. Either the rest of the league is catching on to his “shoot first” mentality, or Ovi is becoming gun shy in his old age.

* While Ovechkin prefers quantity over quality, proficiency and efficiency have become the buzzwords for several other players around the league. There are six players among the top 30 scorers with shooting percentage of 20 percent or better, led by Steven Stamkos at 24.6. Tampa’s super sophomore has 17 goals on 74 shots, after scoring 23 times on 181 shots last season. Other notable names among this elite group of snipers are Dany Heatley (18/78, 23.2), Marian Gaborik (19/86, 22.1) and Patrick Marleau (17/84, 20.2). 

* Draw your own conclusions on this stat: Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk skates an average of 20:55/game, but only averages 18.5 shifts. As a comparison, Patrick Marleau averages almost 28 shifts per game, in 20:53 of ice time.

* You’d be very rich if you predicted that Dustin Penner and Sidney Crosby would be tied with 30 points heading into December. What’s more remarkable is that it took an eight-point week from Crosby last week to even get Crosby to the 30-point plateau. Penner has never come close to scoring at a point-per-game clip, maxing out at a career-high 47 points in 82 games with Anaheim in 2007-08.

* Not only is Tampa’s Vinny Lecavalier not among the league leaders in scoring, he’s only fourth on his own team with 21 points (5+16) in 24 games. He did spend a little time in Chateau Bow Wow earlier this season, but Lecavalier’s continuing decline in production should alarm some fantasy owners. After peaking with 108 points in 2006-07, he’s gone from 92 to 67 points the past two seasons.

* Keep An Eye On: David Perron, St. Louis: A 2007 first-round selection by the Blues, Perron has 16 points (9+7) in 24 games – including 10 (6+4) in his last 10 games. Perron is a notoriously streaky scorer who has six multi-point games to his credit this season.

My name is Kevin Snow, and I have a fantasy hockey problem.
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