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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
Braden Holtby
Caps Roll With Holtby
Braden Holtby, G, WAS
12:50 AM
News: Braden Holtby is in line to start Wednesday's Game 4 against the Rangers.
Analysis: It's a virtual lock that barring an injury, Braden Holtby -- who stopped all 30 of the shots that he saw in Monday's Game 3 win over the Rangers -- will start all of the Caps' postseason contests, with the same assumption also applicable to New York's Henrik Lundqvist.

Tyler Johnson
Bolts' Johnson Nets Winner
Tyler Johnson, C, TB
5/6/2015
News: Tyler Johnson scored the game-winning goal Wednesday with 1.1 seconds remaining to lift the Lightning to a 2-1 victory over the Canadiens. Tampa now has a 3-0 series lead.
Analysis: It was his eighth goal of the postseason and 11th point in 10 games. And those eight markers lead all skaters in the NHL playoffs. MVP (so far)? Yup.

Ben Bishop
Bolts' Bishop: 30 Saves In Game 3 Win
Ben Bishop, G, TB
5/6/2015
News: Ben Bishop made 30 saves in Wednesday's 2-1 win over the Canadiens.
Analysis: It might have been his best game of the postseason. The Habs maintained consistent pressure throughout the game, but Big Ben kept them at bay. It was his fifth consecutive win, a span where he has allowed just six goals.

Carey Price
Canadiens' Price To Start Game 3
Carey Price, G, MON
5/6/2015
News: Carey Price will draw the start Wednesday for Game 3 against Tampa Bay.
Analysis: Carey Price struggled mightily in Game 2 against Tampa Bay, allowing six goals on 24 shots faced. He'll remain in net for Game 3 and will need a much better performance to help the Canadiens avoid an 0-3 deficit in the series.

John Persson
Isles' Persson Signs To Play In Sweden
John Persson, LW, NYI
5/6/2015
News: John Persson has signed a two-year deal to play in Sweden, according to Newsday's Arthur Staple.
Analysis: Person did play 10 games with the Islanders but has mainly been an organizational depth player and will not be missed.

Cedric Paquette
Lightning's Pacquette (Undisclosed) Not Warming Up
Cedric Paquette, C, TB
5/6/2015
News: Pacquette (undisclosed) is not on the ice for pre-game warmups and is unlikely to play Wednesday in Game 3 against Montreal, Stephen Whyno of The Canadian Press reports.
Analysis: Pacquette was listed as a game-time decision as of Wednesday morning, but as warm-ups have commenced, it doesn't look like he'll be available for Game 3. Whyno reports that Jonathan Drouin could be active if Pacquette is scratched.

Marek Mazanec
Preds Re-Sign Mazanec
Marek Mazanec, G, NSH
5/6/2015
News: Marek Mazanec signed a one-year two-way contract with the Predators Wednesday.
Analysis: Marek Mazanec spent the 2014-15 season within the Predators organization, posting a 2.76 GAA and .900 save percentage in 48 games with AHL Milwaukee. With Pekka Rinne signed long-term, it's unlikely Mazanec would amount to anything more than a backup option with the parent club next season.

Henrik Lundqvist
Rangers Go With Lundqvist Wednesday
Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR
5/6/2015
News: Henrik Lundqvist is slated to get the Game 4 start against the Capitals on Wednesday, NorthJersey.com reports.
Analysis: Wednesday will be Henrik Lundqvist's 100th consecutive postseason start for the Rangers, as he'll look to even up the series. He surrendered just one goal in Monday's Game 3, but was on the losing end as Braden Holtby was perfect on the other end. He's had a strong playoffs so far and will look to continue it Wednesday.

Kris Versteeg
Hawks' Versteeg (Lower Body) Ready To Play
Kris Versteeg, RW, CHI
5/6/2015
News: Kris Versteeg is no longer suffering from a lower-body injury, but in advance of Thursday's Game 4, it's unclear whether he will rejoin the lineup or be a healthy scratch, Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Analysis: Kris Versteeg continues to be a borderline healthy scratch regardless of his health, so it wouldn't be surprising if he sits out Thursday's Game 4, in any case. However, he will be available for the Blackhawks if needed.

Simon Despres
Ducks' Despres Collects Two Helpers
Simon Despres, D, ANA
5/6/2015
News: Simon Despres notched two assists in Tuesday's Game 3 loss to the Flames.
Analysis: Simon Despres continues to shine in his first playoff run with Anaheim. He now has five points -- all assists -- in his seven postseason games thus far. Despres had failed to tally any points in his meager six games of playoff experience with the Penguins. While his role on the Ducks may be limited playing behind the likes of Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm, Despres should continue to see regular ice and could become a valuable fantasy producer in the coming seasons.

 
 
 
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