Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Neutral Zone Wrap: Leaders of the pack

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

One month to go. You can almost taste the end of the NHL regular season. Well, that along with whatever you didn't digest for dinner. But enough about what you shouldn't have eaten last night.

Your league is either winding down the schedule or has started its playoff format. So what can you do to hold on to a lead or pull back into contention? If your postseason has begun and you're not one of the select few who advanced, then you need not worry. And whether you're gunning for the next level or fighting off the pack, there are a few tips that can help achieve either goal.

Team improvement becomes the obvious task, but fulfilling this proves to be more difficult with fewer resources. We're going to assume all leagues' trade deadlines have come and gone, so that avenue is closed. The free-agent market has been mentioned numerous times in this column as a great way to boost your squad, so we'll leave that aside. Let's turn our attention to roster maintenance.

Several factors go into whom you should start on a weekly basis. And while an increased number of games may tilt the favor for one player over another, this basic formula does not always work. Favorable matchups, better skills, and improved health also come into play. Maybe insert the guy who happens to go up against three soft defensive lineups and has been riding a five-game point streak over the slightly-injured fading star that may or may not be ready for any or all of the four contests.

(I should've taken the latter piece of advice last week, as Kris Versteeg stuck me with nothing while Patric Hornqvist excelled on my bench. Fortunately, that didn't cost me a playoff berth. Stubbornly, I retained Versteeg in the starting lineup for this period's wild-card battle while Hornqvist continues to laugh at me from the scoresheet. Let's see how hard this will hurt me come Sunday night.)

And now that we've displayed the silverware, we can now direct you to our select choice of items. Please choose carefully. And don't forget to tip your server:

If you would've announced in early November that St. Louis (then sitting at six wins and seven losses) would be leading the Western Conference by the beginning of March, then many would have gladly turned you in at the nearest government-approved relaxation facility. Andy McDonald missed so much time (four months, to be exact), but is clearly making up for it (seven points in six games, including five goals). Jason Arnott (three power-play points in five) is taking advantage of his elite power-play role. Baby steps for Chris Stewart (four in 14) in his quest to reclaim his role among the league's top power forwards. As Alex Pietrangelo (six in five, including a whopping five power-play assists) emerges back into prominence, Carlo Colaiacovo (two in 10, minus-2) gets shoved out of the picture.

Maybe Montreal's woes on the ice have made locals forget about that whole head coach-isn't-a-francophone deal. No, wait, maybe that was the problem all along. Suuuuuure. Or can we blame the skaters? Let's face it: Erik Cole (three in nine) isn't the same as he used to be. Rene Bourque (six in 23 since arriving from Calgary) wasn't the player the Habs thought he was. And Lars Eller (three in 11) is not the four-goal scorer he revealed himself one night in January. Life isn't all tough in La Belle Province, since P.K. Subban (seven in 12, with five PPPs) has briefly awoken from a two-month nap. And Tomas Kaberle (six in nine, including four PPAs) is not too bad either. Although Yannick Weber (two in 10, minus-8) has slowed down considerably after a few spurts of promise.

Philadelphia has managed to hang on, even when their skaters are dropping like flies at both ends. Don't expect James van Riemsdyk (broken foot) to be available before the playoffs. After getting decked Tuesday, Jakub Voracek (probably concussion) may be slow to recover. Father Time has done laps around Jaromir Jagr (groin problems, now it's his hip), but don't tell that to his hands (44 in 56 is very impressive for someone who belongs in a retirement home). Wayne Simmonds (13 in 16, plenty of special-team minutes) remains far from being a secret. Neither is rookie Matt Read (six in 10), who is playing well above his experience. While still without Andrej Meszaros (dreaded lower-body malady) and now missing Pavel Kubina (sporting an upper-body wound), Matt Carle (four in 14) once again gets the hesitant fantasy thumbs-up due to seniority.

As is often the case with non-contenders late in the season, Columbus has upped their game after their fan base essentially lost interest. Derick Brassard (nine in nine, cemented role centering Rick Nash) has been scorching the ice of late. Veterans Vinny Prospal (seven in seven) and R.J. Umberger (five in eight) are playing as if they were much younger. Due to the multiple defections up front, Mark Letestu (only three points since February 1st) has been given the key to the second line but hasn't yet taken advantage. Jack Johnson (three in two after scoreless in the first three) fits in very well with his new surroundings, while second-year surprise Nikita Nikitin (four in seven) should receive a boost with Fedor Tyutin (crushed hand) presumably done for the season.

Colorado has fought so hard possessing so little, but in the end all their effort may go for nothing. The latest blow has fallen upon Matt Duchene (twisted ankle), who only recently returned from a different (knee) injury. That should open the door for San Jose transfer Jamie McGinn (five in five with nine PIM) to grab some better looks. While not the most consistent, David Jones (seven in eight) has a knack for potting some points. Peter Mueller (three in six) hasn't quite found his pre-concussion form (that 20 in 15 to end 2009-10). And Milan Hejduk (one in nine) isn't approaching anywhere near his usual numbers. For someone as talented as Erik Johnson, he sure isn't using his skills to his benefit (nothing in six). NOTE: The Stefan Elliott experiment (two in 11) may be close to shutting down for the year.

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Steven Stamkos
Bolts' Stamkos Stays Hot In Game 4 Loss
Steven Stamkos, C, TB
1:11 AM
News: Steven Stamkos stayed hot Friday, scoring for the third straight game in a Game 4 loss to the Rangers.
Analysis: While it was another strong performance from Steven Stamkos, the Bolts fell 5-1 to the Rangers in the game, bringing their best-of-seven series to a 2-2 tie. The 25-year-old has now scored in five of his last six games and is up to 15 points in the playoffs -- fifth most in the NHL. He's fired four shots on goal in back-to-back outings and is the first Lightning player to score in 3 straight playoff games since Sean Bergenheim did so in 2011. While Stammer had a slow start to the postseason, he's in full throttle now and will play a key part in determining whether Tampa Bay can advance onto the Stanley Cup Final.

Michael Keranen
Wild, Keranen Agree To One-Year Deal
Michael Keranen, LW, MIN
12:21 AM
News: Karanen agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the Wild on Friday, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: Michael Keranen appeared in 70 games for AHL Iowa this season, registering 10 goals and 27 assists to go with a minus-12 rating. He'll look to crack the Wild's roster at some point in 2015-16.

Kevin Klein
Rangers' Klein Assists Twice In Game 4 Win
Kevin Klein, D, NYR
5/22/2015
News: Kevin Klein dished out two helpers, went plus-2, collected two PIM, blocked two shots and laid four hits in Friday's Game 4 victory over the Lightning.
Analysis: That's a lot of work for just 17:43 on the ice. It's Kevin Klein's first multi-point game of these playoffs, which started on a delay for him due to a broken arm. We've yet to see Klein find twine in the postseason after he did so nine times in 65 regular-season games, but he's been getting involved with the offense regularly, so it wouldn't be a surprise if the veteran were to find his way onto the scoresheet again soon.

Ben Bishop
Bishop Tagged For Five As Bolts Drop Game 4
Ben Bishop, G, TB
5/22/2015
News: Ben Bishop gave up five goals on just 24 shots Friday, leaving him with a series-tying Game-4 loss to the Rangers.
Analysis: A rough one for Ben Bishop, who saw his teammates fire 39 shots on opposing netminder Henrik Lundqvist, but this time they only got through the Rangers' goalie once. For all that Lundqvist had been criticized for giving up six goals in consecutive games, Bishop has been no stud himself in this series, as he's now allowed five goals twice in a row. He'll try to right the ship in Game 5 at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.

Kevin Hayes
Rangers' Hayes Providing Steady Offense
Kevin Hayes, RW, NYR
5/22/2015
News: Kevin Hayes assisted on both of Rick Nash's goals -- one on the power play -- Friday as the Rangers took Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final from the Lightning by a 5-1 tally.
Analysis: Kevin Hayes has been providing consistent offense since Game 7 against Washington -- he scored a goal in that one, keying a run of five points in five games. The young forward has looked lost at times in these playoffs, but he generates takeaways and offense brilliantly, and the fact that he was able to help Nash wake up Friday is quite promising.

Rick Nash
Rangers' Nash Snaps Slump With Two Goals, Assist
Rick Nash, LW, NYR
5/22/2015
News: Rick Nash ended his four-game scoring drought with two goals -- one on the power play -- and an assist in Friday's Game 4 victory over Tampa Bay.
Analysis: Rick Nash's late-first-period goal, scored on a breakaway backhander past Ben Bishop, energized the Rangers and led to a big day for several guys who have been struggling of late -- in addition to Nash's bust-out, Martin St. Louis and Keith Yandle both scored their first goals of the playoffs, and Kevin Klein had his first multi-point game of the postseason. We've been waiting for Nash to get it going, and if he remains an offensive factor moving forward, he'll give the Rangers a great chance to win this series and move on to play for the Stanley Cup.

Martin St. Louis
Rangers' St. Louis Scores First Of Playoffs
Martin St. Louis, RW, NYR
5/22/2015
News: Martin St. Louis finally scored his first goal of the playoffs Friday in Game 4 against the Lightning, tallying on a third-period power play.
Analysis: The game was still very much in the balance with the Rangers leading 3-1 at the time, but Martin St. Louis gave New York a little extra cushion and really deflated the Lightning, who appeared to be in disarray for the rest of the game after his goal. These playoffs have certainly been a struggle for St. Louis, who's looking like he's coming to the end of his illustrious career, but he's at least starting to show a little more over the last few games. The Rangers will need him to provide more offense as they try to win two of the next three to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Keith Yandle
Yandle Finally Breaks Through For Rangers
Keith Yandle, D, NYR
5/22/2015
News: Keith Yandle scored his first goal of the playoffs and handed out two assists -- one on the power play -- in Friday's Game 4 victory over Tampa Bay.
Analysis: The goal was a lucky one -- he fired a shot that was headed well wide of Tampa goalie Ben Bishop, but ended up deflecting in off a Lightning defenseman and into the net. Nonetheless, it's a fitting reward for Keith Yandle's tremendously improved play over the last few games. He's got nine points in these playoffs now, with five of them (and a plus-4 rating) having come in the last two games.

Henrik Lundqvist
Lundqvist's Heroics Help Rangers Tie Series
Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR
5/22/2015
News: Henrik Lundqvist was named Game 4's first star Friday after turning aside 38 of 39 shots in a 5-1 win over Tampa Bay.
Analysis: This one was much closer than it looked on the scoreboard most of the way, but Henrik Lundqvist was able to bounce back from consecutive six-goal disasters to shut down the Tampa Bay offense -- most critically in the second period, when the Bolts fired 19 shots on goal to the Rangers' six. Lundqvist's huge saves in that period kept the Lightning from turning the tide of the game after their first (and only) goal, and then the Rangers' offense went to work. Henrik and the Rangers will be back in action Sunday for Game 5 at Madison Square Garden.

Patrick Maroon
Ducks' Maroon Tallies First Point Of Series
Patrick Maroon, LW, ANA
5/22/2015
News: Patrick Maroon scored his first goal of the Western Conference Final on Thursday, helping along a 2-1 victory over the Blackhawks in Game 3.
Analysis: Patrick Maroon had been silent in both games at the Honda Center to start the series, but wasted no time in Game 3, as he opened the scoring on a power play in the first. The goal is his fifth of the postseason, tying him with Matt Beleskey for second on the team behind Corey Perry (eight).

 
 
 
Top Videos
Rankings