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Neutral Zone Wrap: Make the right adjustment

by | Rotowire.com
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Look how far we've come as a Fantasy society. From our inception, where painstakingly long drafts were carried out by hand and often in-person, to the current state of affairs where quick online, click-as-you-go formats have become the norm. If you wanted the league standings and latest news 20 years ago, you stood by the mailbox waiting for it to arrive. These days, all stats and updates are readily available in seconds and ready to use for further research and manipulation.

Like the fake version, the actual NHL has evolved during the same time period. The no-helmet days may be a distant memory, but the current game holds just as many risks. Players may be bigger, stronger and better maintained, but the incidence of serious injury remains a popular talking point. We could go on and discuss related topics such as safety, insurance, and viewer interest but frankly, all that would be better covered in other forums.

So let's return to the Fantasy world, where improvement is always the goal -- adjusting rosters, working all transaction areas, ensuring your own well-being. Survival of the fittest exists everywhere; one must work hard since hoping something will happen usually doesn't fly. If your squad looks poised to compete for the championship, then don't sit around and wait. See what the other owners have, check the numbers, and make a move. In other words, be proactive.

To help you in your cause, here are five new teams from which to pick the flash and avoid the trash:

(Stats as of Monday December 16)

Despite aches, pains, and other disturbances, the Bruins have still found their way to the top of the Atlantic Division. With Loui Eriksson (concussion, unknown return) and Dougie Hamilton (lower-body injury, one to two more weeks) among the multitude of casualties, a couple vacancies have opened up. No need to remind either Reilly Smith (23 points, with four goals in his last five) or Carl Soderberg (15 in 27), who have seamlessly moved their way up the ladder. Dennis Seidenberg probably isn't your best option, but he picks up enough across the board (10 points, plus-10, 54 blocked shots, second power-play time) to earn your attention.

December springs luck for the Canucks, who haven't lost in seven. Jannik Hansen (two goals in three) has once again punched his ticket alongside the Sedins but he's not getting comfortable. Without Alexandre Burrows (jaw surgery, see you in January), Mike Santorelli (10 in nine) has made the most of his opportunities. So is Chris Higgins (eight in seven), who provides poolies with a hint of why he was drafted in the first round 11 years ago. Alexander Edler (minor knee tweaking) didn't inspire much confidence when healthy (three in 14, minus-9), while Kevin Bieksa (finally notched a point Saturday after 12 zeros) has also disappointed. Maybe workhorse Dan Hamhuis (only nine, but averaging ~25 minutes the last month) can increase his production to supplement Jason Garrison's potential career season (already with 22, including 10 PPPs).

Long live the Kings; the Kings aren't dead. With Jonathan Quick (groin strain, give him another two weeks) slowly working his way back, Ben Scrivens (1.66 GAA, .941 SV% in 16) has picked up most of the load but darkhorse Martin Jones (5-0 with a 0.99 GAA and .967 SV%) has managed to one-up the former Leaf. After once again dominating the AHL (12 in 10), Tyler Toffoli is wreaking havoc with the big boys (15 in 20). Two consecutive inspired playoff performances have landed Dwight King (three points on the weekend) the LW gig on the first line. His best days and legs are most likely behind him, but don't tell Jarret Stoll (six in seven). The buzz on Jake Muzzin (14) has not fizzed out but maybe Alec Martinez (four in five) would get some love if he could string together a few more decent outings.

A broken down Detroit still put on a better show than most other clubs, even if it's only on cable. Their captain has missed the last seven and the #1 goalie suffered a mishap in practice but the Magic Man just returned and is raring to knock the Wings out of their five-game slump. Gustav Nyquist (eight in 13) has grabbed the mantle of the missing with a bit of assistance from Tomas Tatar (13). Don't tie your waiver wire on Todd Bertuzzi (a goal in six). Give up on Brendan Smith (five in 25, minus-4) and move on to Jakub Kindl (accumulating the man-advantage minutes but scoreless in seven) before it's too late.

No matter how hard one tries to avoid it, everyone ends up in Jersey. Contrary to the passage of time, 41-year old Jaromir Jagr (28 in 34) has not slowed down. Dainius Zubrus (five in four) may never have served as the main attraction but, wow, he's sure been playing a while. All the hype that followed Damien Brunner has almost evaporated (although three goals in three looks to be a good sign). If Adam Henrique (four in 13) wants to be the Devils' anointed one at center, then he ain't doing it right. Andy Greene (eight in 12) keeps plugging away while Eric Gelinas (13 in his rookie campaign) has excelled during his blueline apprenticeship.

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Player News
Brad Richards
Blackhawks' Richards Sets Up Kane In Game 4 Win
Brad Richards, C, CHI
12:58 AM
News: Brad Richards assisted on Patrick Kane's game-tying power-play goal in Saturday's double-overtime victory over the Ducks in Game 4.
Analysis: Brad Richards has recorded a point in each game of the series thus far, giving the Blackhawks the offensive presence at the second-line center spot that was sorely missing during the past postseason. The 35-year-old submitted a mediocre regular season, but if he can remain productive for just a few more games, he'll be well worth the investment the Blackhawks made.

Brent Seabrook
Blackhawks' Seabrook Nets Game 4 Goal
Brent Seabrook, D, CHI
12:56 AM
News: Brent Seabrook tallied a goal in Saturday's Game 4 triumph over the Ducks.
Analysis: It was an effective all-around game for Brent Seabrook, who finished with four shot attempts, four hits, and six blocks across 32:03 of ice time. With coach Joel Quenneville showing little trust in fifth and sixth defensemen Kimmo Timonen and Kyle Cumiskey, Seabrook should be poised to log big minutes for the remainder of the postseason.

Valtteri Filppula
Bolts' Filppula Pots Game-Winner In Game 5 Sunday
Valtteri Filppula, C, TB
5/24/2015
News: Valtteri Filppula scored the game-winning goal in Game 5 Sunday against the Rangers.
Analysis: It was the third goal of the postseason for Valtteri Filppula, who has racked up four points in his last three games. Skating with Steve Stamkos, Filppula is having a decent postseason, notching 10 points in 18 games. He doesn't shoot much, but when he does, it can be lethal. Filppula's struck twice on the power play this postseason and is averaging 20:30 of ice time, making him a reliable scoring option who has helped Tampa Bay grab a 3-2 stranglehold on their series against the Rangers.

Steven Stamkos
Bolts' Stamkos Scores For Fourth Straight Game
Steven Stamkos, C, TB
5/24/2015
News: Steven Stamkos scored for the fourth straight game and added an assist in Sunday's Game 5 win over the Rangers.
Analysis: After recording just three points in seven games against Detroit in the first round, Steven Stamkos has exploded for 14 points in his last 11 games. The 25-year-old has seven points in his last four games and is the first player in Lightning history to score in four straight playoff games. With the Bolts now one win away from advancing onto the Stanley Cup Final, look for Stamkos, who sits second in NHL playoff scoring, to have another big outing in Game 6 Tuesday in Tampa Bay.

Henrik Lundqvist
Rangers' Lundqvist Stops 20 Shots In Game 5 Loss
Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR
5/24/2015
News: Henrik Lundqvist stopped 20 of 22 shots in Sunday's Game 5 loss to the Lightning.
Analysis: While the King turned in a decent performance, his opponent Ben Bishop was sensational, stopping all 26 shots he faced. Henrik Lundqvist has now lost three of his last four games, with the Rangers now on the brink of elimination. The 33-year-old has been phenomenal in elimination games in the past, so he'll need to show more of the same magic if the Rangers hope to force a Game 7 Tuesday against the Lightning in Game 6.

Ben Bishop
Bolts' Bishop Pitches 26-Save Shutout In Game 5
Ben Bishop, G, TB
5/24/2015
News: Ben Bishop stopped all 26 shots he faced in Sunday's Game 5 win over the Rangers.
Analysis: A fantastic outing from Ben Bishop, who had to leave warmups early after taking a shot in a very uncomfortable place. It was a great bounce-back performance from the 28-year-old, who had been burned for 10 goals in his last two games. Bishop's now 11-7-0 in this postseason and is one win away from advancing onto the Stanley Cup Final. Now that he's back on his game, look for Big Ben to have another giant outing in Game 6 Tuesday as the Bolts look to close out the series.

Braydon Coburn
Lightning's Coburn Misses Most Of Game 5 While Ill
Braydon Coburn, D, TB
5/24/2015
News: Braydon Coburn missed most of Sunday's Game 5 against the Rangers due to an illness, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reports.
Analysis: Lightning coach Jon Cooper hinted after the game that Braydon Coburn was vomiting on the bench, and the defenseman didn't play at all during the second period. Coburn finished with just 5:43 of ice time, after topping 15 minutes in each of the series' first four games. He can be considered day-to-day as the Lightning take a 3-2 series lead back to Tampa Bay for Tuesday's Game 6.

Lubomir Visnovsky
Isles' Visnovsky Could Be Headed To Austria
Lubomir Visnovsky, D, NYI
5/24/2015
News: Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) is close to signing a deal to play in Austria next season, according to SNY.tv.
Analysis: Lubomir Visnovsky is a free agent who has suffered several concussions over the past couple of seasons and was probably not going to be re-signed by the Islanders. While the Isles will miss Visnovsky's offensive skills and especially his ability to quarterback the power play, this may end up being addition by subtraction.

Matt Carle
Lightning's Carle Good To Go
Matt Carle, D, TB
5/24/2015
News: Matt Carle (undisclosed) will play in Sunday's Game 5 against the Rangers, ESPN's Mike Mazzeo reports.
Analysis: As expected, Matt Carle will rejoin the lineup after missing Friday's Game 4. He figures to work on the third defensive pairing alongside Andrej Sustr.

Patrick Sharp
Blackhawks' Sharp Captures Assist In Game 4
Patrick Sharp, LW, CHI
5/24/2015
News: Patrick Sharp picked up an assist in Saturday's Game 4 victory over the Ducks.
Analysis: Patrick Sharp was given credit for setting up Antoine Vermette's game-winning goal, though the latter did most of the work in making the play happen. It still counts as the first point of the series for Sharp, who has nonetheless been one of the Blackhawks' best contributors this postseason. He's compiled four goals, six assists, and 45 shot attempts over the team's 14 playoff games.

 
 
 
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