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Blue Line Buzz: Scoring at a premium

by | Rotowire.com
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Montreal's P.K. Subban is leading NHL defensemen in scoring and has been a boon for owners in multi-category leagues. He's earning his spot as the second defenseman taken in most drafts, justifiably ahead of quite a few forwards. Through Saturday's games, Subban sits with 10 points, two more than Jason Garrison. His 26 shots on goal and 16 penalty minutes are among the leaders for defensemen as well while his plus-5 isn't too shabby, but you knew that when you drafted him.

Ditto for Erik Karlsson, who had an excellent night Thursday against New Jersey, snagging a goal and assisting on two others. Expect Karlsson, who has six points through eight games, to continue producing as the top-draft pick he is, but again, you knew that.

Matt Niskanen remains a player with some value for Pittsburgh, especially in multi-category leagues, as he is a plus-9 with 21 shots on goal. Kris Letang has been practicing but remains out with a knee injury. Letang's return seems imminent, but the Penguins are sitting pretty with a 7-1 record and probably aren't in a rush to get their star defender back in the lineup. While Letang remains out, Niskanen remains a player worth giving a look. Remember, though, Letang has been practicing for a week now and can return whenever.

Anton Volchenkov has three points on the season after assisting on New Jersey's opening goal Saturday against the Rangers. Those three assists are as many points as New Jersey's top line center, Travis Zajac, has and just one less point than Chicago's Jonathan Toews. Don't pick up Volchenkov, but it's amusing.

Speaking of the Devils, Marek Zidlicky continues to make it difficult to ignore him entirely, as much as we'd like to. Zidlicky registered two assists in Saturday's win over the Rangers, giving him seven assists in eight games. Zidlicky is the team's leader in points with seven, as he has yet to score. He lives on the power play and will see scoring chances. However, if you're going to gamble on him, be prepared for stretches of invisibility and a hit to your plus-minus; Zidlicky is highly prone to being out of position and giving the puck away. Still, seven points in eight games is hard to ignore.

Hit Me with Your Best Shot

Reiterating points that were made last week, shots on goal and power-play time are some of the better indicators when looking to add a defenseman to your roster, especially in deeper leagues.

Fans of the Rangers and the Penguins may remember the name Torrey Krug. Krug scored several key goals for the Bruins during last season's run to the Cup Final, most of the booming point shot variety. Just 22, Krug is playing 17:32 per-game through seven contests, but is seeing 3:28 on the power play, second only to Zdeno Chara. Chara is used as a forward on the power play, parking his mammoth frame in front of opposing goaltenders while Krug is blasting away from the point.

Krug has 19 shots on goal through seven games to go with a goal and two assists; two of those points have come on the power play. Krug wasn't an unknown heading into this season after his performance in the playoffs last year, but the Michigan State grad was a player who could have been had in later rounds. If he's available in your league, consider snatching him up as he's seeing significant power-play time on one of the league's best teams.  He is a rookie, so expectations need to be a bit tempered, but the scoring chances will be there for Krug.

Heading to The OC ( don't call it that), the Ducks have another rookie defenseman worth knowing. True, Cam Fowler put up 40 points as a rookie three years ago, but Fowler's struggled to say the least since then. 19-year old Hampus Lindholm is making a name for himself over his season's first five games with two assists and a healthy amount of power-play time. Lindholm was the Ducks' first round pick in 2012, sixth overall, and is a plus-9 already with two assists. He is logging 3:25 on the power play so far and has 13 shots. These are certainly favorable numbers and the fact that he won't kill your plus-minus in multi-category leagues, like Fowler did, is encouraging.

Shark Week

Dan Boyle is out for the foreseeable future in San Jose after being a victim of a controversial hit by St. Louis' Maxim Lapierre this past week. Lapierre was suspended five games for the incident which resulted in Boyle being stretchered off the ice. Boyle has returned to San Jose and is recovering. This will leave ice time to be divvied up in Silicon Valley, drawing further attention to Matt Irwin. Irwin snagged a power-play assist in Saturday's drubbing of Calgary as did Jason Demers, who sits with five assists on the season. Irwin is one of the league leaders in shots on goal among NHL defensemen with 28 and has three helpers.

Demers and Marc-Edouard Vlasic each have five assists on the season, but it's Demers who is slated to see power play time in Boyle's stead. Both Irwin and Demers have more upside than Vlasic, despite currently having more points than both of them. San Jose is scoring goals in bunches and allowing few, thus giving their stable of defensemen impressive plus-minus totals.

How the Mighty Have Fallen

Remember when Sergei Gonchar regularly posted double-digit goals during his tenures with Washington and Pittsburgh? Those halcyon days are gone for the veteran, who is now plying his trade in Dallas. Gonchar has one assist through seven games coupled with a minus-5 rating and a mere seven shots on goal. These numbers are all the more disappointing considering Gonchar is seeing 3:22 of power-play time per game, almost 90 seconds more per-game than Alex Goligoski, who is No. 2 on the Stars' man-advantage ice-time list.

For Your Entertainment

With four points through eight games, Seth Jones is showing the kind of potential most believed made him worthy of consideration as the No. 1 pick in this past June's draft. He's logging over 24 minutes per game for the Predators, most of it alongside Shea Weber. You have to believe Jones, the fourth overall pick, lucked out when going to the Predators as opposed to Florida or Colorado . Jones snagged the second goal of his career on a give-and-go with David Legwand that saw Jones dance around several Montreal defenders with a slick toe drag on Saturday, before beating Carey Price short side with less than 1:30 remaining in the game. This kid is legit.

It was a nasty scene in Winnipeg on Friday for Jacob Trouba, who's slated to be out indefinitely after falling awkwardly into the boards and having his head and neck bend backward.

Marc-Andre Fleury probably doesn't watch highlights from his last two playoff appearances. Characterized by soft and sometimes bizarre goals dating back to the 2012 playoffs against the Flyers, Fleury has been sketchy in terms of reliability. The goal he allowed to Alexander Edler in a shootout win over the Canucks on Saturday roused memories of Tommy Salo's laugher against Belarus in the 2002 Olympics. It's doubtful this goal will derail Fleury's career like it did to Salo. Fleury went on to secure the win Saturday, including denying all three Vancouver attempts in the shootout.

Mike Smith beat the buzzer on Saturday night to cap off Phoenix's rally over Detroit with an empty-net goal. Yes, the goaltender scored. It's pretty impressive considering Smith caught a dump-in on one knee and then fired the puck immediately, having the puck cross the line with .01 seconds remaining.

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Player News
Michael Keranen
Wild, Keranen Agree To One-Year Deal
Michael Keranen, LW, MIN
5/23/2015
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.

Patrick Maroon
Ducks' Maroon Tallies First Point In Series
Patrick Maroon, LW, ANA
12:55 PM
News: Patrick Maroon scored one of his team's two goals -- his first of the series -- in Anaheim's 2-1 victory over the Blackhawks in Thursday's 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 comes as his fifth of the postseason, tied with Matt Beleskey and trailing only Corey Perry's eight for the team lead.

Joakim Nordstrom
Nordstrom Back In For 'Hawks
Joakim Nordstrom, C, CHI
12:35 PM
News: Joakim Nordstrom made just his third appearance of the playoffs Thursday in a Game 3 loss to Anaheim, skating 7:06 and going minus-1 with a shot on goal and three hits.
Analysis: Joakim Nordstrom hasn't seen much playing time in the postseason, obviously, but he and Kris Versteeg were surprising additions to Thursday's lineup, with Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen sitting out to make room. Even if Nordstrom stays on the ice come Saturday's Game 4, he's a very low-upside fantasy option.

Kris Versteeg
Hawks' Versteeg Back In For Game 3
Kris Versteeg, RW, CHI
12:33 PM
News: Kris Versteeg was reinserted into the Chicago lineup for the first time in nearly a month Thursday. He skated 13:31 and didn't record a point in a Game 3 loss to Anaheim.
Analysis: It was his first appearance since Game 6 of the first round against Nashville, way back on April 25. Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom were surprise additions to the Hawks' lineup, with Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen sitting out. We'll see whether Chicago redeploys Versteeg in Game 4, but he's not much of a fantasy option at this point.

Ryan Getzlaf
Getzlaf's Helpers Boost Ducks Yet Again
Ryan Getzlaf, C, ANA
12:29 PM
News: Ryan Getzlaf assisted on both Anaheim goals Thursday in Game 3 against Chicago, helping out on Patrick Maroon's power-play tally and Simon Despres' game-winner.
Analysis: Ryan Getzlaf may only have two goals this postseason -- and he didn't so much as put a shot on goal Thursday -- but he's racked up 14 assists in 12 games, which is good enough to put him in a three-way tie for the second-most playoff points. No one else in these playoffs has even cracked double digits in assists.

Simon Despres
Anaheim's Despres Scores Game 3 Winner
Simon Despres, D, ANA
12:25 PM
News: Simon Despres scored his first goal of the playoffs in Game 3 on Thursday, beating Chicago's Corey Crawford with 55 seconds remaining in the second period to break a 1-1 tie, which ended up being the winning tally.
Analysis: The former Penguin has had a good time in these playoffs, with a goal and six assists in the Ducks' dozen playoff game so far. That's an improved scoring rate over what Simon Despres was able to do in the regular season, as even after coming over to Anaheim, he recorded only a modest six points in 16 contests. The Quebec native's got significant long-term offensive upside, and the experience he's gaining here in his first deep NHL playoff run will serve him well in the future.

Corey Crawford
Crawford, 'Hawks Take Tough Game 3 Loss
Corey Crawford, G, CHI
12:19 PM
News: Corey Crawford allowed just two goals on 27 shots, but took the loss in Thursday's Game 3 against Anaheim.
Analysis: Frederik Andersen was one better on the other end, with Simon Despres' late-second-period goal against Corey Crawford holding up as the winner. After Crawford put up a bit of a clunker in Game 1, he's been terrifically sharp in the last two games, but the 'Hawks still face a 2-1 series deficit heading into Game 4 in Chicago.

Frederik Andersen
Andersen's 27 Stops Carry Ducks To Series Lead
Frederik Andersen, G, ANA
12:16 PM
News: Frederik Andersen turned aside 27 of 28 shots Thursday, leading the way to a 2-1 win in Game 3 against the Blackhawks.
Analysis: Several of those saves came during the frantic final minutes, with Chicago trying desperately to tie the game and Frederik Andersen making heroic stops. Over three games in this series now, he's allowed just five goals on 117 shots -- a .957 save percentage.

Trevor van Riemsdyk
Van Riemsdyk (Wrist) Out For Game 4
Trevor van Riemsdyk, D, CHI
10:09 AM
News: Van Riemsdyk (wrist) will not play in Game 4 against the Ducks, but could see the ice sometime during the series, Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reports.
Analysis: Van Riemsdyk's initial recovery timetable put his return date somewhere around June 2, so his return could be slightly premature and a way for Chicago to oversee him more closely. If he does make it back, don't expect too much playing time.

Matt Carle
Tampa Bay's Carle (Undisclosed) Out For Game 4
Matt Carle, D, TB
8:23 AM
News: Matt Carle (undisclosed) is out for Friday night's Game 4 against the Rangers, per the Lightning's Michelle Gingras.
Analysis: It's hard to say what direction Jon Cooper will take with his lineup, as the Ottawa Sun's Don Brennan reports there's a possibility Tampa Bay will have seven defensemen for Game 3. It's still hard to say when Matt Carle will return, given there's still been no real indication how he's exactly injured.

 
 
 
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