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Neutral Zone Wrap: It's time to flex your muscle

by | Rotowire.com
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The road to Fantasy success is rarely paved with good intentions.

You might not want to hurt someone else's team, but that's the price you pay for wanting to do well. So you improve your squad while taking away a key piece or two from a non-contender. Don't worry about it. Just think if the situations were reversed: Your roster would be gutted worse than a turkey before Thanksgiving.

There is no remorse in Roto.

Well, only when you have the chance to strike and you fail to pull the trigger. Now that's something that could haunt you down the line.

So go ahead and take the initiative. Be ruthless. Make that move now. Yes, now. Don't delay. C'mon, time is wasting. After all, being proactive worked for a few NHL clubs. Like, perhaps, one or more of the following:

You would expect a team to struggle after moving across the continent and enduring ridiculous travel schedules. But the Winnipeg Jets have been able to defy the odds to become a respectable outfit (10-4-1 since mid-November). Reason No. 1 for their success would be their top man in net. Ondrej Pavelec (3.11 goals-against average, .903 save percentage) has exceeded expectations by standing on his head most nights (top 5 in shots). Right behind him in importance are the trio of Evander Kane, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler (43 combined points in 13 contests). After a blistering beginning (nine points in nine games) Alex Burmistrov has fallen off the map (two in 10 and a minor injury to boot). Will Antti Miettinen (a double-digit goal scorer in each of his six full seasons) be able to add some offense? Tobias Enstrom (fractured collarbone) is still out, but Zach Bogosian (six points in 10 games, 23 PIM) has been able to carry a bit of the load. Ron Hainsey (back from consecutive maladies) can also add some stats if he feels like it.

The Blues are proving a coaching change and an awful power-play can spur anyone to greatness. (OK, maybe not the latter. But they've promised to improve. And we should take their word for it.) The dynamic duo of T.J. Oshie and Alexander Steen top the charts (with 19 each). Poolies and hockey fans alike have cheered the return of David Perron (three points in four games). Grab Jason Arnott if you need someone who is only useful in one area (half of his 14 points have come on the man-advantage). Meanwhile, Chris Stewart (four-game point streak ended last week) is struggling less than usual. A similar state exists for Patrik Berglund (also had a four-game run halted), a perennial favorite of this column. Another player mentioned often here, Kris Russell, has surprised at times since coming from Columbus (although one point in nine games sounds more like the old Kris). And when will Brian Elliott (with a Parent-like 12-2 mark, 1.46 goals-against average, .947 save percentage and four shutouts) finally show weakness?

It’s good to see Dallas still up in the standings, even with a couple notable absences. When Kari Lehtonen (groin injury, probably gone until 2012) went down, many thought Andrew Raycroft (3.53 goals-against average, .897 save percentage in nine) would be the one to step in, but no one believed Richard Bachman (one goal allowed in three appearances) would turn it into overdrive. Brenden Morrow is back again from his latest training room sabbatical. No worries about Jamie Benn and his mini-slump (one in seven, minus-5). Michael Ryder has made a marked improvement after a slow start. Steve Ott will still earn you enough assorted goodies (68 PIM and 90 hits expected, 12 points added bonus). And where did all those goals from, Eric Nystrom (tied for team lead with 10)? Sheldon Souray (scoreless in 15) has been trending downward for weeks, but Trevor Daley (three in two, more special-teams minutes) deserves an uptick for his recent efforts.

Why can't Buffalo stay consistent (currently at two wins in seven)? Does Sabre life mainly revolve around Ryan Miller (team was 3-5-2 while he recovered)? Is Tyler Myers (broken wrist, close to practicing again) that big an influence? Can Ville Leino's undisclosed, potentially long-term injury be considered catastrophic if he was underperforming (10 in 29, minus-7)? Many questions remain, but there still is hope. Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford have the opportunities and tools to produce. Zack Kassian looks to be developing into a nice all-around winger. Without Myers, the blue line hasn't filled in adequately. Jordan Leopold isn't faring too poorly, although Marc-Andre Gragnani (three in 13) could be contributing a lot more.

And, hey, congrats to Detroit on completing our team tour this season. It's a shame there isn't more we could discuss, but they need more notables injured -- or at least rotate a couple different players in the lineup now and then. It's difficult to ignore Todd Bertuzzi slotted on the top line, although it's easier to discount his mediocrity (still out there between 13-14 minutes a night). Someone has lit a fire under Jiri Hudler (six in four) and Danny Cleary (five in five). The same spark may have transferred to Darren Helm (five in eight), but it was extinguished before reaching Justin Abdelkader. And with five power-play assists and a top-10 rating of plus-17, there’s no need to mention Ian White, right?

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Player News
Mike Fisher
Preds' Fisher Notches Two Points In Loss
Mike Fisher, C, NSH
12:57 PM
News: Mike Fisher factored into all the Nashville offense Thursday, picking up a goal and an assist in a 4-2 loss to the Wild.
Analysis: Mike Fisher's been a scoresheet regular of late, with seven points in his last eight games, but that's nothing new -- he's been producing offense at a terrifically steady rate since returning from the Achilles' heel injury that kept him out of action in the season's early months.

Erik Haula
Wild's Haula Snaps Slump
Erik Haula, LW, MIN
12:54 PM
News: Erik Haula finished with a goal, an assist and a plus-2 rating in Thursday's win over the Preds.
Analysis: The Finnish forward had gone five games without a point and had just a lonely goal in his last 15 games. He's got little to no fantasy value right now, but Erik Haula has been a successful scorer at the University of Minnesota and AHL Iowa, so he does have long-term upside.

Kyle Brodziak
Wild's Brodziak Picks Up Two Points
Kyle Brodziak, C, MIN
12:50 PM
News: Kyle Brodziak notched a goal, an assist and a plus-3 rating Thursday in a win over the Predators.
Analysis: Kyle Brodziak had managed all of three points in his prior 17 games, so this qualifies as an outlier. His middling PIM and hit totals give him some value in super-deep leagues, but that's about it.

Frederik Andersen
Ducks' Andersen (Upper Body) Nearing Return
Frederik Andersen, G, ANA
9:57 AM
News: With fellow goaltender Jason LaBarbera demoted to AHL Norfolk on Friday, it can be assumed that Frederik Andersen (upper body) is healthy enough to at least serve as an emergency backup in Friday's game against the Kings, NHL.com's Curtis Zupke reports.
Analysis: Given that he's apparently at or close to full health, Frederik Andersen could very well start either Friday's game against the Kings or Sunday's game against the Stars. He hasn't played in a game since Feb. 8.

Jason LaBarbera
Ducks' LaBarbera Reassigned To AHL Norfolk
Jason LaBarbera, G, ANA
9:51 AM
News: Jason LaBarbera was reassigned to AHL Norfolk on Friday.
Analysis: Jason LaBarbera's stint with the Ducks only lasted three days, and he unsurprisingly did not make an appearance. The demotion means that Frederik Andersen (upper body) is healthy enough to at least serve as an emergency backup in Friday's game against the Kings.

Jeremy Smith
Bruins' Smith Called Up From AHL Providence
Jeremy Smith, G, BOS
9:48 AM
News: Jeremy Smith was called up from AHL Providence on Friday, Joe Haggerty of CSN reports.
Analysis: With Tuukka Rask (illness) questionable for Friday's game against the Devils, Jeremy Smith may end up serving as Niklas Svedberg's emergency backup. The Bruins have another game Saturday against the Coyotes, so there's perhaps some chance -- though not a good one -- Smith could draw a start in what figures to be a short stint with the NHL squad. While yet to make an NHL appearance in his career, the 25-year-old netminder does have excellent numbers for AHL Providence this season.

Stephane Veilleux
Wild's Veilleux Placed On Waivers
Stephane Veilleux, C, MIN
9:44 AM
News: Stephane Veilleux was placed on waivers Friday, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reports.
Analysis: The transaction should help Minnesota with roster flexibility as the trade deadline approaches. Of course, Stephane Veilleux only has two points through 12 NHL appearances this season, so he may just go unclaimed.

Tyler Ennis
Sabres' Ennis Traveling To Florida With Team
Tyler Ennis, LW, BUF
9:40 AM
News: Tyler Ennis (lower body) will make the trip to Florida for Saturday's game against the Panthers.
Analysis: Tyler Ennis is questionable for Saturday's contest, after missing Thursday's game against the Canucks. If he doesn't make it back Saturday, he would seemingly have a good shot to return for Tuesday's game in Tampa Bay.

Ryan Reaves
Blues' Reaves Picks Up Assist; Sets Career High
Ryan Reaves, RW, STL
9:28 AM
News: Ryan Reaves picked up an assist Thursday in a 2-1 shootout win over Winnipeg. He was plus-1 and added four hits on the night.
Analysis: Ryan Reaves set a new career high in points with nine. Reaves' PIM is down this year, while his shots, hits, and blocks are all up - maybe he is evolving into a different kind of player who can add more fantasy value.

Paul Stastny
Blues' Stastny Grabs Assist In Win
Paul Stastny, C, STL
9:22 AM
News: Paul Stastny picked up an assist Thursday in a 2-1 shootout win over the Jets. He was plus-1 with two shots and a hit in the contest.
Analysis: Paul Stastny broke a mini three-game slump, but he has been a different player since December 1, recording 27 of his season total 34 points in 37 games since then - a 60-point pace. While he continues to center the third line, the Blues have the depth of talent to ensure he has solid linemates and he is seeing significant time on the power play. He is the same kind of fantasy asset that he was with Colorado last year.

 
 
 
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