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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
Ondrej Palat
Bolts' Palat Scores Seventh Goal In Game 7 Win
Ondrej Palat, LW, TB
3:50 AM
News: Ondrej Palat scored his seventh goal of the postseason in Friday's Game 7 win over the Rangers.
Analysis: The Bolts are heading to the Stanley Cup Finals and Ondrej Palat is a big reason why. The 24-year-old scored four times in the Eastern Conference Finals and has racked up 15 points this postseason -- 12th most in the NHL. While he doesn't shoot often, he makes his shots count, scoring an NHL-best four power-play goals and sporting a scary 25.9 shooting percentage. Look for the sniper, along with linemates Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov, to continue their offensive success against whichever team emerges out of the West.

Alex Killorn
Bolts' Killorn Scores Game-Winning Goal In Game 7
Alex Killorn, C, TB
3:21 AM
News: Alex Killorn scored the game-winning goal Friday in Game 7 against the Rangers.
Analysis: A massive goal for Alex Killorn, who helped the Lightning punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals. The 25-year-old has now scored seven goals this postseason -- sixth most in the NHL. The first-liner continues to be a lethal offensive threat every night in these playoffs, firing 52 shots on goal and racking up 16 points. Look for his unit with Steve Stamkos and Valtteri Filppula to continue to produce points against either the Ducks or Blackhawks.

Ben Bishop
Bolts' Bishop Pitches 22-Save Shutout In Game 7
Ben Bishop, G, TB
3:03 AM
News: Ben Bishop stopped all 22 shots he faced in Friday's Game 7 win over the Rangers.
Analysis: What an outstanding bounce-back performance from Ben Bishop, who was burned for five goals in Game 6. The 28-year-old has now recorded two Game 7 shutouts this postseason and is a big reason why the Bolts are advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals. While his .920 save percentage isn't mind-blowing, he leads the league with three postseason shutouts and has played more minutes than any other goalie. Whether the Lightning face the Ducks or the Blackhawks, look for Bishop to be a difference maker in the finals.

Henrik Lundqvist
Rangers' Lundqvist Makes 23 Saves In Game 7 Loss
Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR
2:49 AM
News: Henrik Lundqvist stopped 23 of 25 shots in Friday's Game 7 loss to the Lightning.
Analysis: A tough end to the season for Henrik Lundqvist, who got zero goal support in the loss. The 33-year-old finishes the postseason 11-8-1 with a .928 save percentage and 2.11 GAA. While he's still searching for his first Stanley Cup, the King is a world-class goaltender who put on another spectacular showing in the 2015 postseason. Look for him to be a top fantasy pick once again in 2015-16.

Antoine Roussel
Roussel Leads World Championships In Penalties
Antoine Roussel, LW, DAL
5/29/2015
News: Antoine Roussel led the World Championships in penalty minutes with 34 -- as well as one game misconduct -- through seven games.
Analysis: Antoine Roussel, unsurprisingly, led the tournament in penalty minutes despite Team France only playing seven of a possible 10 games. Roussel's tournament wasn't great, though a big part of that was Team France being outmatched. He finished with two assists and three shots on goal through seven games.

John Klingberg
Klingberg Impresses At World Championships
John Klingberg, D, DAL
5/29/2015
News: John Klingberg had a plus-9 rating at the World Championships for Team Sweden, the best plus/minus of any player who doesn't play for Team Canada.
Analysis: John Klingberg finished the tournament with two goals and four assists, along with 15 shots. Klingberg had a solid tournament, but didn't manage to bring home a medal with Team Canada outmatching everyone.

Brent Burns
Sharks' Burns Named Best Defenseman At Worlds
Brent Burns, D, SJ
5/29/2015
News: Brent Burns was named the 2015 World Championships' best defenseman, taking home that honor in addition to a gold medal.
Analysis: Brent Burns finished tied for seventh in overall points and second among defensemen in the tournament, with two goals and nine assists. Only Oliver Ekman-Larsson had more assists in the tournament. He also finished with a plus-10 rating.

Tyler Seguin
Seguin Leads Team Canada In Goals At Worlds
Tyler Seguin, C, DAL
5/29/2015
News: Tyler Seguin posted nine goals at the 2015 World Championships, leading the entire tournament.
Analysis: Tyler Seguin brought home gold on a team loaded with superstars, outmatched other teams by a huge margin. Nonetheless, Seguin was the superstar we know him to be, leading the tournament in goals and power-play goals (5), while being second overall in shots at 36. The only blemish in his stats was that he failed to add even a single assist to his nine goals.

Jason Spezza
Spezza Solid In Worlds
Jason Spezza, C, DAL
5/29/2015
News: Jason Spezza led all players in points at the World Championship in the Czech Republic, posting six goals and eight assists in 10 games.
Analysis: Jason Spezza took home a gold medal and no small amount of pride after being a clear leader for Team Canada. His production was incredible and it offers hope for his production next season, with the caveat that Canada was head and shoulders above most of the competition in the tournament.

Philippe Desrosiers
Desrosiers Exits Memorial Cup
Philippe Desrosiers, G, DAL
5/29/2015
News: Philippe Desrosiers and Rimouski Oceanic exited the Memorial Cup on Thursday, losing 5-2 to Quebec.
Analysis: Philippe Desrosiers had a solid season, posting a .901 save percentage for Rimouski, a solid number in the QMJHL. The 19-year-old goaltender will be 20 at the start of the season and will be back at Stars camp. Despite goaltending issues in Dallas, the 2013 second round pick is unlikely to see NHL time next season.

 
 
 
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