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Blue Line Buzz: Predicting a streak

by | Rotowire.com
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(all statistics through Sunday, December 1)

We're Going Streaking ...

Part of the maddeningly frustrating appeal of Fantasy sports is the streaks. Winning streaks, hot streaks, steady yet unspectacular streaks and, of course, those stretches of futility. Streaks where you leave a player in your lineup for games or weeks and they fail to even look as if they're on the ice. Disgusted, you then remove the dead weight from your lineup, either cutting them or benching them, and then they proceed to remind you why they were in your lineup in the first place, by, you know, actually producing. Reinsert them, only to see zeroes.

On a larger scale, this always seems to work in threes. Player Y explodes in year one (not necessarily a rookie year, but year one for example's sake) when you didn't own him. Draft Player Y in year two anticipating that same level of production. He's a bust in year two; by year three you'll be damned if you'll invest in them again, only to see them explode back to year one level production.

Managing these streaks can be the key to finishing atop the pool. Some of it is dumb luck, but having an idea of players prone to streakiness can pay off as you decide whether it's a sage decision to utilize their skill set.

While power-play ice time and shots on goal are typically statistics to examine as harbingers of future production, looking at game logs is paramount.

Marek Zidlicky, New Jersey: Zidlicky has 13 points in 27 games. For defensemen that aren't elite point producers, a benchmark of a point every two games is solid, players you can rely on in later rounds to fill your roster. Take a closer look at Zidlicky. The Czech veteran is mired in a six-game points drought and has a mere four points over the last 15 games. Throughout his career, he's been a player who binges on points, doing just enough to mask those stretches where you forget he's on the ice in the offensive zone. (You likely won't forget he's on the ice in the defensive zone, neither will the opposition.) True, the emergence of rookie Eric Gelinas (2-8-10 in 17 games) and the recently hot Andy Greene (1-5-6 over his last five games) has had something to do with Zidlicky not producing as much, but Zidlicky has also seen his power-play time decline over the last five games, comprising a smaller percentage of his total ice time, which has stayed largely the same.

Utilizing a player like Zidlicky can pay off in deeper leagues, but the negatives and the unproductiveness outweigh most benefits.

Jason Garrison, Vancouver: Those who employ the talents of Garrison on their roster have likely enjoyed the six points he registered over a five-game span this past week, notching a goal and five helpers. However, you could excuse most owners if Garrison had been removed from the active lineup or jettisoned unceremoniously to waivers. The Orcas' blue line bomber had recently endured a span of 14 games where he didn't register a single point. True, Vancouver was mired in a losing streak at that time, but Garrison was still seeing regular ice time including one game with almost nine minutes on the power play. Garrison's goal in Thursday's win over Ottawa was his first in 25 games after he'd opened the season with a goal in each of Vancouver's first two tilts. Again, Garrison's numbers are deceiving on the whole, as he has 15 points in 29 games, just a shade over .50 points-per-game, solid numbers for a defensemen of his caliber, but is the production worth the hassle of owning him?

Remember, this is the man who potted 16 goals in the 2011-12 season for Florida, just three of which were tallied after the All-Star break. Goal-scoring defensemen are not easy to come by, which makes Garrison's slumps almost a necessary evil to having him on your roster. The flip side to this argument is that the 16-goal campaign was an aberration, as Garrison had seven tallies in his first two NHL seasons. That monster season earned him a massive contract with Vancouver in July 2012 and he slammed home eight goals in shortened season one winter ago.

Garrison has a howitzer of a point shot and gets to dish the puck to the Sedin twins on the power play when the two of them decide to play. Six of Garrison's 15 points, 40-percent, have come on the man advantage. Despite his having just three goals on the season, the prospect is there for Garrison to deliver quality numbers despite the fluctuation in production.

Duncan Keith, Chicago: Four years ago, Duncan Keith won an Olympic Gold Medal, a Norris Trophy and a Stanley Cup. Since then he's won another Cup but has seen his offensive production slide prior to this season. If you're looking for consistency this year without the peaks and valleys, Keith has delivered for owners, failing to register a point in only six games this season and never going more than three contests without one. Will he challenge the league's elite point-producing blue liners come season's end? Probably not, but it's steady production from a player known more for his name than his offensive production the last few years. While Keith is raking in helpers, 23, the same amount as Sidney Crosby heading into Sunday, tied for third in the league, Keith won't be scoring 14 goals as he did in his golden year. His 24 points put him behind only Ottawa cyborg Erik Karlsson's 27.

The sheer consistency with which Keith has been collecting assists lately is pleasing to owners (nine over his last seven games). You're not getting a player who is binging on points, scoring three goals over three games then disappearing (with Keith, you don't have to worry about goal scoring at all, actually). You're receiving consistent numbers, albeit ones that likely will slow down soon, but there is a track record of production (despite the last three seasons of regression). If Keith settles into the essentially guaranteed production levels of a Ryan Suter, that has to be considered more valuable than a player slamming home goals in spates only to vanish for a stretch.

Torey Krug, Boston: One of last spring's breakout stars of the playoffs, Krug is terrorizing Eastern Conference netminders with seven goals through 28 games, a pace that could regress back toward the mean, but an impressive one nonetheless. Krug is tied for the goals lead among NHL defensemen with seven, sharing it with Karlsson, Shea Weber and Phoenix's Michael Stone. There has to be attention paid to Krug (not that there hasn't been), who's ability to blast the puck unseated Zdeno Chara from the Bruins' power-play point, but again there are stretches where Krug just isn't finding the net, with a modest one goal over his last 12 games. He has nine assists and 16 points on the season, but over that 12-game stretch he did notch six assists, hitting the magic .50 points-per-game mark. Krug will continue seeing scoring chances, but do his goals make him more valuable than a player similar to him only putting up assists, say a Kevin Shattenkirk, whose 16 points breakdown is 1-15-16 rather than Krug's 7-9-16.

Question of the week: Steak or sizzle? Would you rather quiet, consistent production (think Loui Eriksson in his Dallas years) or a player who binges on points?

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Player News
Paul Gaustad
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Paul Gaustad, C, NSH
12:59 AM
News: Paul Gaustad left Tuesday's game against the Canucks after he took a high hit from Alexandre Burrows. The Predators didn't have an update on Gaustad's condition Wednesday, Adam Vingan of The Tennessean reports.
Analysis: Burrows was ejected for the hit, but isn't expected to face any supplementary punishment from the league office. It's possible that Paul Gaustad, who picked up an assist earlier in the contest, suffered a concussion from the impact, but nothing on that front will be known officially until the team provides more information.

Matt Beleskey
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Matt Beleskey, LW, ANA
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Analysis: Matt Beleskey wasn't able to return to the ice during the Ducks' morning skate, which will prevent him for suiting up for a second straight game. Jiri Sekac is slated to skate on the top line in Beleskey's absence.

Jonas Hiller
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Jonas Hiller, G, CGY
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News: Jonas Hiller is slated to start Thursday's game against the Blues.
Analysis: Jonas Hiller will thus make his third straight start for the Flames, who compiled a 9-3-3 record in March, a month that was capped by back-to-back triumphs by a combined tally of 10-5, both backstopped by Hiller.

Boyd Gordon
Oilers' Gordon Remains Out Wednesday
Boyd Gordon, C, EDM
12:42 AM
News: Boyd Gordon (back) will not return to the Oilers' lineup Wednesday against the Ducks, Jack Michaels of the Oilers Radio Network reports.
Analysis: Boyd Gordon is traveling with the Oilers on their road trip and was able to skate with the team Wednesday morning, but he'll still need a little more practice time before reentering the lineup. Though he could be ready to play Thursday against the Kings, Gordon will be forced to sit out a fourth consecutive game.

Matt Hendricks
Oilers' Hendricks Out Third Straight
Matt Hendricks, C, EDM
12:40 AM
News: Matt Hendricks (back) will not play Wednesday against the Ducks, Jack Michaels of the Oilers Radio Network reports.
Analysis: Matt Hendricks is traveling with the Oilers on their road trip and was able to skate with the team Wednesday morning, but he'll still need a little more practice time before re-entering the lineup. He'll head to the press box for a third consecutive game and could be a candidate to play Thursday against the Kings.

Clayton Stoner
Ducks' Stoner Likely To Sit Out Another
Clayton Stoner, D, ANA
12:35 AM
News: Clayton Stoner (lower body) isn't expected to play Wednesday against the Oilers, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: Clayton Stoner resumed skating with the Ducks on Wednesday, but his absence from a regular defensive pairing suggests he'll sit out a second straight game. With only eight points in 67 games this season, Stoner will struggle to provide fantasy players with value once he does return to the lineup.

Frederik Andersen
Ducks' Andersen Confirmed For Thursday
Frederik Andersen, G, ANA
12:33 AM
News: Frederik Andersen is confirmed as the starter in goal for Thursday's game against the Oilers, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: After receiving the Ducks' previous game off in favor of John Gibson, Frederik Andersen will get back in the net Wednesday looking to extend his winning streak to three games. Andersen has won his previous three career starts against the Oilers, producing a 1.67 GAA and .935 save percentage.

Martin St. Louis
Rangers' St. Louis Set To Return
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12:32 AM
News: Martin St. Louis (knee) is slated to play Thursday against the Wild.
Analysis: Martin St. Louis, who is bouncing back from a sprained right MCL, last suited up for the Rangers on March 15. Based on Wednesday's practice, look for St. Louis to work on a line with Kevin Hayes and Carl Hagelin upon his return to the Rangers' lineup on Thursday. Prior to his injury, St. Louis had recorded 20 goals and 47 points in 68 games.

Ryan Kesler
Ducks' Kesler A Game-Time Decision
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News: Ryan Kesler (elbow) will be a game-time decision for Wednesday's tilt with the Oilers.
Analysis: Ryan Kesler was on the ice for Wednesday's morning skate, but coach Bruce Boudreau was tight-lipped about the center's status for the evening. Given that the Oilers are one of the NHL's weakest teams, it might make sense for the Ducks to give Kesler the night off to preserve his body for the playoffs. An official decision on his status should come down based on how the Ducks line up during pregame warmups.

Tanner Pearson
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News: Tanner Pearson (leg) underwent an X-ray Tuesday, which didn't show as much healing as he had hoped, Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider reports.
Analysis: Tanner Pearson appeared to be making a bid for returning to the lineup before the end of the regular season, but those plans may have hit some friction with the news he received following his X-ray. While it doesn't sound like the winger is dealing with a major setback, the Kings haven't wavered from the three-month timetable Pearson was issued after suffering the injury Jan. 10. If his subsequent skates with the team continue to go well, Pearson could put himself on track to return for the first round of the playoffs.

 
 
 
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