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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
Dan Ellis
Panthers Start Ellis On Sunday
Dan Ellis, G, FLA
12:59 AM
News: Dan Ellis is slated to start Sunday's game against the Senators, George Richards of the Miami Herald reports.
Analysis: Per the report, coach Gerard Gallant indicated that Roberto Luongo is a little sore in the wake of Saturday's game against Montreal and will thus give way to Dan Ellis (who last started on March 17) on Sunday.

Joakim Andersson
Wings' Andersson Grabs Game Winner Saturday
Joakim Andersson, C, DET
12:57 AM
News: Joakim Andersson tallied the game-winning goal in Saturday's 4-0 triumph over the Lightning.
Analysis: It's just the second goal and seventh point of the season for Joakim Andersson, who doesn't see many scoring chances as a bottom-six forward. Andersson's fantasy value is further limited by the lack of PIM and hits he provides relative to many of his peers on the third and fourth line.

Ryan Murphy
Canes' Murphy Gets Assist, Goes Plus-2 Saturday
Ryan Murphy, D, CAR
12:54 AM
News: Ryan Murphy picked up an assist and went plus-2 in Saturday's win over the Devils.
Analysis: Ryan Murphy has begun to carve out some utility in very deep formats lately, providing two goals, an assist, and six shots on goal over his last four games. He'll need to keep that run of scoring going to enjoy broader fantasy appeal, but if nothing else, he's making a strong case for a top-four spot on defense with the Hurricanes in 2015-16-.

Jaroslav Halak
Islanders Turn To Halak On Sunday
Jaroslav Halak, G, NYI
12:30 AM
News: Jaroslav Halak will start Sunday's game against the Red Wings.
Analysis: Jaroslav Halak, who gave way to Michal Neuvirth in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Ducks, will return to the Isles' net on Sunday, with the team looking to snap a three-game slide at home.

Cam Ward
Ward Guide 'Canes To Win Column
Cam Ward, G, CAR
12:25 AM
News: Cam Ward turned away 21 of 22 shots in Saturday's win over the Devils.
Analysis: In a game between two the league's weakest scoring attacks, there predictably wasn't much offense to be found as the teams combined for four goals and 54 shot attempts. Cam Ward was just a bit sharper than opposing netminder Keith Kinkaid, earning the Carolina goalie his second win in two starts since returning from a bout with the flu. Coach Bill Peters is set to go with Anton Khudobin as the starter Sunday versus the Bruins, but Ward's solid showings his last two times out might put him on the inside track to finish the year as the Hurricanes' No. 1 netminder.

Alexander Semin
Semin Back In Carolina Lineup Sunday
Alexander Semin, RW, CAR
12:19 AM
News: Alexander Semin (hamstring) is slated to play Sunday against the Bruins, Michael Smith of the Hurricanes' official site reports.
Analysis: With Alexander Semin, who missed Saturday's game, back in the lineup, Brad Malone looks like the odd man out for Carolina up front on Sunday.

Roberto Luongo
Cats' Luongo Takes OT Loss Saturday
Roberto Luongo, G, FLA
12:17 AM
News: Roberto Luongo stopped 22 shots but let in three goals in the Panthers' overtime loss to the Canadiens on Saturday.
Analysis: The defeat was a pretty big setback to the Panthers' playoff odds, but with the team still in the thick of the race, Roberto Luongo figures to draw the starting assignment again Sunday versus the Senators. Luongo is 3-1-1 in his five games since returning from a shoulder injury March 19.

Brian Elliott
Blues Turn To Elliott On Monday
Brian Elliott, G, STL
12:12 AM
News: Brian Elliott is slated to start Monday's game against the Canucks, NHL.com's Lou Korac reports.
Analysis: Brian Elliott stopped only 13 of 16 shots Saturday against the Blue Jackets to take his third straight loss. He'll look to turn things around Monday against a Vancouver squad that has dropped two straight games by a combined tally of 8-4.

Mark Stone
Sens' Stone Says Hot Saturday
Mark Stone, RW, OTT
12:10 AM
News: Mark Stone netted his 19th goal of the season in Saturday's loss to the Maple Leafs.
Analysis: Mark Stone's goal gave the Sens an early 1-0 lead and the forward his 13th point in as many contests. The 22-year-old will finish the season with somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 points, and there's a good chance that may only represent the low end of his production in future years.

Anton Khudobin
Carolina Turns To Khudobin On Sunday
Anton Khudobin, G, CAR
12:03 AM
News: Anton Khudobin is slated to start Sunday's game against the Bruins, Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer reports.
Analysis: Anton Khudobin, who gave way to Cam Ward in the team's last two games, will take aim Sunday against his former squad, the Bruins, who are coming off a key 4-2 win over the Rangers on Saturday.

 
 
 
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