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Blue Line Buzz: Making the moves

by | Rotowire.com
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Dan Boyle is wheeling and dealing for the red-hot Sharks. San Jose is flying toward the playoffs for what, we assume, will be another year of woeful underachievement prompting the seemingly annual debate as to whether the team's "window is closing."

Boyle has three goals and two assists through the last seven games, including a Scott Niedermayer-esque end-to-end rush against Minnesota from Wednesday. Boyle picked up the puck following a Wild clear and proceeded to blaze a path through a defense with more aplomb than Davy Crockett. Boyle has always been a consistent scorer, but he's currently three goals away from cracking double digits, a feat he hasn't achieved since the 2009-10 season. The goals are even more impressive considering this year is a shortened season. One of these years, Boyle's numbers will fall. Until then, he'll be one of the steadiest options for your blue line after the elite defenders are gone.

Boyle isn't the only defender producing regularly for the Sharks, although Brent Burns is basically a defender in name only right now. Burns has been skating at forward the last few weeks and been infinitely more productive at wing that he was in the several games he played on the blue line, giving owners forward production from a defenseman spot in their lineup; most leagues still have Burns listed a blue liner.

Since moving to forward on March 12, Burns has 13 points through 13 games with three goals and four assists over the last seven contests. Burns likely will be moved back to the blue line next season, one can assume, but he's been a great value for owners that snagged him late in drafts while he was still on injured reserve.

Back To The Future In DC

A quick glance at the recent statistics put up by Washington's highest-paid players will make Fantasy owners believe that it's 2010 again (when the Caps were Eastern Conference Regular Season Champions). The Caps saw themselves in the news this past week for dealing uber-prospect Filip Forsberg to Nashville for Martin Erat, a trade they'll surely regret (although Forsberg might not be as valuable in Nashville's system). Forsberg had the skills to be a top pick last June, but he slipped. ( Erat left Saturday's win over Florida with a lower-body injury in the first period and did not return)

The Forsberg folly aside, Washington is flying up the Eastern Conference standings, sitting atop the Southeast Division with 40 points. While technically tied with Winnipeg, the Caps have played two fewer games than the Thrashers Jets, thus have the tiebreaker. The Jets, however, are sitting in ninth place, two points behind the Islanders and Rangers, looking likely that the Southeast will get just one team in the playoffs again.

While Alexander Ovechkin has 13 goals in the last 11 games and Nicklas Backstrom is sitting third in the league with 33 assists (a goal and eight helpers in the last five contests), our old friend Mike Green, the most enigmatic Canadian player ever, has five goals and seven points in the last five contests. That's as many points as Green registered in 32 games during last season's injury-riddled, remarkably inconsistent campaign. Green and the Caps appear to be adjusting quite nicely to new coach Adam Oates' system, something that should play right into the talents of Green, Ovechkin and Backstrom.

Still In Phoenix

Much like the Phoenix Coyotes themselves, Keith Yandle has been enduring rumors about leaving the Desert. His name, however, was not called during Wednesday's trade deadline, leaving him with the ‘Yotes, at least for now. Yandle's been usurped on the ice by Oliver Ekman-Larsson but he's still delivering some production with eight points in the last nine contests, including four in the past three. As has been the case with most of Yandle's production this season, it's been concentrated. His 23 points have him sitting in eighth in the defensemen scoring race.

Yes, General Burkhalter

Even though he is not a defenseman, Phoenix winger Rob Klinkhammer has one of the best hockey names since Lucien Deblois. Klinkhammer is making an impact in his small sample size of NHL action, with four goals and four assists over 13 games, six of which have come in the last seven games. Phoenix are one of a host of Western Conference teams battling for a playoff spot and Klinkhammer is going to be a player for them in the season's final three weeks, provided he can find time while threatening to send Schultz to the Russian front.

-Since Paul Martin left the lineup with a broken wrist, Matt Niskanen has no points in those four games, despite seeing boatloads of power-play time (more than 3 minutes in two contests and 5:47 in another). With Kris Letang due back in the lineup soon, Niskanen's rate of production likely will stay similar to what it's been.

-Toronto Maple Leaf defender Mark Fraser is still making an impact in terms of plus-minus, sitting at a plus-14 with seven points, including a primary assist on Leo Kamorov's goal in Saturday's win over New Jersey, Fraser's former team.

-Edmonton's Justin Schultz has points in just two of his last 12 games, with an eight-game drought in that span. Early last week, Schutlz grabbed four points over two games, with a goal and two helpers in a win over Calgary. One can hope Schutlz will be more consistent next season, just don't pay too high of a price for his services.

-Jay Bouwmeester has adapted nicely to St. Louis in his first two games with the Blues, notching three assists over that span. He's currently playing alongside budding star Alex Pietrangelo, so that's a bit of an upgrade from his teammates in Calgary. Odds are Bouwmeester won't rake in the points for St. Louis, but he'll be a steady player on one of the deepest group of defensemen in the NHL. (Seriously, their third pairing is Roman Polak and Barrett Jackman).

-Vancouver's Dan Hamhuis continues to be steady, albeit unspectacular. The veteran has points in three of the last four games including a goal in Saturday's win over Vancouver.

-Your weekly P.K. Subban update finds the Toronto native rolling in points for the Habs (assisted on both Montreal goals Saturday). He has 32 points in 32 games and is the only NHL defenseman with double digit goals (10). He's making the contract he signed back in early February look like a pittance for what he'll see in two years. Subban is making a clear case to be the first defender taken next year over Erik Karlsson.

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Player News
Alec Martinez
Kings' Martinez Back On Ice Friday
Alec Martinez, D, LA
3/7/2015
News: Alec Martinez (concussion) was back on the ice for a workout Friday, Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider reports.
Analysis: Alec Martinez was limited to passing around the puck with fellow injured teammate Tanner Pearson, but it at least serves as a sign that he's made some progress in his recovery. The defenseman is probably at least several more days away from being activated from IR.

Tanner Pearson
Kings' Pearson Back On Ice
Tanner Pearson, LW, LA
3/7/2015
News: General manager Dean Lombardi indicated that Tanner Pearson (leg) returned to the ice last week, Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider reports.
Analysis: Lombardi is in the infancy stages of his rehab process after fracturing his left fibula in mid-January. He's still experiencing some swelling with his ankle, but it shouldn't inhibit him too much in his attempt to regain conditioning. Even so, a return before the end of the regular season has been ruled out, and it doesn't like the Kings are anticipating that he'll be available at any point in the playoffs, either.

John Gibson
Ducks' Gibson To Split Goalie Duties With Andersen
John Gibson, G, ANA
3/7/2015
News: Coach Bruce Boudreau suggested after Friday's morning skate that John Gibson would split the goaltending duties with Frederik Andersen through the remainder of the season, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: The news qualifies as a positive development for John Gibson, who seemed at risk of losing out on regular action when Andersen returned from injured reserve earlier this week. However, Gibson's capable play during Andersen's absence -- highlighted by wins in six of his last seven starts -- was enough to convince the Ducks' brass to not only keep the 21-year-old with the parent club, but to also carve out a decent-sized role for him. Expect the Ducks to adopt an alternate starting pattern with their two goalies, with Gibson likely possessing strong odds to come away with the victory on any given night due to the strong complement of players around him.

Chad Johnson
Sabres' Johnson Suffers Lower-Body Injury
Chad Johnson, G, BUF
3/7/2015
News: Chad Johnson, who was previously scheduled to start Friday's game against Ottawa, is now doubtful because of a lower-body injury suffered during morning skate, John Vogl of the Buffalo News reports.
Analysis: The Sabres are playing the first game of a back-to-back, and the team called up Andrey Makarov from AHL Rochester. Either Makarov or Anders Lindback figures to start Friday's game, with the other likely getting the start Saturday against Washington.

Frederik Andersen
Ducks' Andersen To Share Load With Gibson
Frederik Andersen, G, ANA
3/7/2015
News: Frederik Andersen, who has been confirmed to start Friday's game against the Penguins, is set to split the goaltending duties with John Gibson through the remainder of the season, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: Coach Bruce Boudreau suggested after Friday's morning skate that the Ducks would adopt the timeshare in goal, with both netminders likely alternating starts. Should Boudreau stick with that plan, Frederik Andersen's rest-of-season value would take an obvious hit, as he's been a bountiful source of wins prior to missing time with an upper-body injury, going 30-8-5. With fewer opportunities for Andersen to build his counting statistics, fantasy owners may want to consider dangling him for a goalie option that stands to see more use over the final few weeks of the season.

Andrey Makarov
Sabres' Makarov Recalled From AHL
Andrey Makarov, G, BUF
3/7/2015
News: Andrey Makarov was recalled from AHL Rochester on Friday.
Analysis: According to John Vogl of the Buffalo News, Chad Johnson suffered a lower-body injury during the morning skate prior to Friday's game against Ottawa. Johnson was previously scheduled to start the first game of a back-to-back, so it's possible Andrey Makarov could make his NHL debut this weekend, unless the Sabres decide to stick with Anders Lindback for both contests. The Russian netminder has struggled for AHL Rochester this season, posting a 14-14-3 record, 3.04 GAA and .899 save percentage.

Tyler Kennedy
Isles' Kennedy Has Rejoined The Team
Tyler Kennedy, C, NYI
3/7/2015
News: Tyler Kennedy (upper body) has joined the team on their current road trip, according to Newsday.
Analysis: Tyler Kennedy had been sent back to new your to get examined but apparently all signs point to the injury not being serious. There still is no word on whether or not he will play Saturday but a return to the team should signify that he will make his Islanders debut sooner rather than later.

Thomas Greiss
Pens' Greiss Slated To Start Friday
Thomas Greiss, G, PIT
3/7/2015
News: Thomas Greiss has been confirmed as the starter in goal for Friday's game against the Ducks, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: The Penguins will kick off a back-to-back set with the little-used Thomas Greiss, leaving regular netminder Marc-Andre Fleury to man the net for Saturday's tilt with the Kings. Despite pedestrian ratios (2.82 GAA, .906 save percentage), Greiss has been the beneficiary of some strong offensive support in his starts, staking him to a 7-3-3 record on the campaign. For that reason, he normally makes for a decent streaming option on most occasions he's slated to enter the crease, but it's probably best to avoid using him against Anaheim, which leads the NHL with 91 points.

Kyle Okposo
Isles' Okposo Joins Team
Kyle Okposo, RW, NYI
3/7/2015
News: Kyle Okposo (eye) has joined the team on their current road trip, according to Newsday.
Analysis: Kyle Okposo started skating on his own Monday but is now ready to participate in team practices. He is still likely to miss the game Saturday versus the Panthers but perhaps he could return mid to late next week.

Christian Ehrhoff
Pens' Ehrhoff Set To Sit Out Friday
Christian Ehrhoff, D, PIT
3/7/2015
News: Christian Ehrhoff (concussion) didn't take part in the Pens' morning skate Friday, Sam Werner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Analysis: It appears safe to rule Christian Ehrhoff out for Friday's game against the Ducks, and he's not out of the woods yet for a longer absence after suffering a setback with his recovery from a concussion. Consider him unlikely to play in Saturday's game against the Kings, too.

 
 
 
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