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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
Jason Garrison
Bolts' Garrison Exits Early Saturday
Jason Garrison, D, TB
11:38 AM
News: Jason Garrison left Saturday's game against the Red Wings in the first period after crashing into the boards, Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Analysis: Jason Garrison was able to skate off the ice under his own power, but was sent to the locker room immediately. He hasn't been ruled out of Saturday's game just yet, and should be viewed as day-to-day until the team issues an update on his condition.

Tom Gilbert
Habs' Gilbert Out Saturday
Tom Gilbert, D, MON
11:27 AM
News: Tom Gilbert (face) will not play Saturday against the Panthers, Jessica Rusnak of TSN Radio 690 reports.
Analysis: Tom Gilbert was able to skate on his own Saturday morning, but his lack of involvement in team work suggests he'll sit for a third straight game. Nathan Beaulieu will be able to remain in the lineup with Gilbert still unavailable.

Ondrej Pavelec
Jets To Start Red-Hot Pavelec On Sunday
Ondrej Pavelec, G, WPG
11:21 AM
News: Ondrej Pavelec will be between the pipes for Sunday's tilt with the Blackhawks, Brian Munz of TSN 1290 reports.
Analysis: Despite Ondrej Pavelec's horrid career numbers against the Blackhawks (0-3-2, 4.61 GAA, .867 save percentage in five outings), the Jets will stick with the goalie while he enjoys his most productive run of play this season. He's won six straight starts while yielding only seven goals during that stretch.

Riley Sheahan
Wings' Sheahan To Travel With Team
Riley Sheahan, C, DET
11:13 AM
News: Riley Sheahan (upper body) will travel with the Red Wings to New York for Sunday's game against the Islanders, MLive.com's Ansar Khan reports.
Analysis: Though Riley Sheahan will miss his first game of the season Saturday against the Lightning, it doesn't appear that the center will be unavailable for very long. General manager Ken Holland said before Saturday's game that Sheahan has reported improvement with his condition and is being viewed as day-to-day. It's possible that he might suit up for Sunday's game, though it's probably more likely that the team will give him some additional time off to recover.

Anders Lindback
Sabres' Lindback To Start Saturday
Anders Lindback, G, BUF
11:10 AM
News: Anders Lindback has been confirmed as the starter in goal for Saturday's tilt with the Avalanche, John Vogl of the Buffalo News reports.
Analysis: Anders Lindback has alternated starts with Matt Hackett over the last few games, but he still appears in line to handle the majority of the turns in goal the rest of the way for Sabres. That won't exactly amount to much, as the team has barely been able to remain competitive most nights. Over nine appearances (eight starts) with the Sabres, Lindback is 1-5-2 with a 2.67 GAA and .926 save percentage.

Alexander Semin
Canes' Semin Expected To Sit With Hamstring Issue
Alexander Semin, RW, CAR
11:04 AM
News: Alexander Semin is expected to miss Saturday's game against the Devils due to a hamstring injury, Chantel McCabe of FOX Sports Florida reports.
Analysis: Alexander Semin missed the Hurricanes' morning skate Saturday to receive further evaluation on the injury, so it appears safe to count him out for at least one game. Patrick Dwyer is expected to reenter the lineup in Semin's stead.

Erik Johnson
Avs' Johnson May Be In Saturday
Erik Johnson, D, COL
10:58 AM
News: Erik Johnson (knee) participated during the Avs' morning skate and could be back in the lineup Saturday against the Sabres, Terry Frei of the Denver Post reports.
Analysis: The Avalanche are still listing Erik Johnson on injured reserve, but that could change over the afternoon if team doctors determine he's now sufficiently recovered from the knee injury. The blueliner has been skating with the team for a week, and even if his return doesn't come Saturday, it looks like the Avalanche will get him back within the next few days. The All-Star has been sidelined since late January.

Pavel Datsyuk
Red Wings' Datsyuk Looks To Be In
Pavel Datsyuk, C, DET
10:55 AM
News: Pavel Datsyuk (lower body) is participating in pregame warmups and looks to be back in the lineup Saturday against the Lightning, MLive.com's Ansar Khan reports.
Analysis: The Red Wings didn't appear to be skating any extra forwards in warmups, so it looks safe to count Pavel Datsyuk after the forward missed the past five games. Staying healthy has been a bit of an issue for Datsyuk this season, but he's managed to deliver elite production when healthy. He has compiled 23 goals, 35 assists, and a plus-11 rating over his 57 games.

T.J. Oshie
Blues' Oshie Feeling Ill Saturday
T.J. Oshie, RW, STL
10:44 AM
News: T.J. Oshie missed the Blues' morning skate with an illness, but is expected to play later in the evening Saturday against the Blue Jackets, NHL.com's Lou Korac reports.
Analysis: Coach Ken Hitchcock didn't seem to think that T.J. Oshie's illness was particularly severe, so the winger will rest up over the afternoon with the hope that it will allow him to suit up later in the evening. His availability or potential absence should be confirmed based on pregame warmups, which will be conducted about a half hour prior to the 8:00 ET puck drop.

Clarke MacArthur
Sens' MacArthur Will Play Saturday
Clarke MacArthur, LW, OTT
10:42 AM
News: Clarke MacArthur will be in the lineup for Saturday's game against the Maple Leafs, Mark Masters of TSN reports.
Analysis: As was expected after the team cleared him to play Friday, Clarke MacArthur will skate on the Sens' second line in his first game since leaving a Feb. 16 contest with the head injury. The timing for MacArthur's return is quite fortunate for the Senators, as the team lost another top-six winger in Milan Michalek to a concussion last weekend.

 
 
 
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