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Blue Line Buzz: Getting ready for the break

by | Rotowire.com
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(all statistics through Sunday, February 2)

In Washington, sightings of American Olympian John Carlson have been reported. One of the more frustrating players to own this season, Carlson has seen an uptick in his production with two assists in Friday's loss to Detroit and a power-play blast Sunday against the Wings, giving him his 10th goal of the season, also adding an assist on Alexander Ovechkin's game-winning power-play blast.

Carlson had been amazingly quiet the last few weeks before reeling off five points in the Caps' last three tilts (1-4-5). Carlson's ability and potential to produce is no secret, but he's showing what he can do for owners who either gambled on him via waivers or a trade or those who left in the lineup simply because there are no better options available. Washington will need Carlson to carry the team's points from the blue line as Mike Green may or may not be dealing with a concussion and did not play Sunday.

New Jersey's Eric Gelinas again will make an appearance in this space, but this time it's because he probably won't be back in the NHL until after the Olympic break at the earliest.

He was sent to Albany (AHL) after the Devils' overtime win against Dallas on Tuesday, after some questionable decisions in both his own zone and the neutral zone during his latest stint with the big club. His decision to pinch on a bouncing puck in the Devils' crushing by the Rangers at Yankee Stadium last week led to an odd-man rush and a goal and he played only 2:50 in Tuesday's win over Dallas, the whole game.

Yes, Gelinas has been one of the most productive rookie defensemen not named Torey Krug, putting up 22 points in 44 games; but he lacks the poise in his own zone shown by the likes of Hampus Lindholm and, at times, Olli Maatta. The Devils are one organization in the league who will completely disregard offensive production if a defender can't figure it out in his own zone or the neutral zone. They already have one of those in Marek Zidlicky. Gelinas had no points since in his three-point outburst against St. Louis two weeks ago and had been a minus-4 in those four tilts since. New Jersey has opted to dress Gelinas as a seventh defenseman at times the last month, using him only in overtime and power-play situations.

The demotion to the AHL was coming for Gelinas and the other youngsters on New Jersey's squad with the Olympic break approaching. Most teams will send down their two-way contract players so they can play over the Sochi break, but will need to do so before their final game prior to the hiatus.

Gelinas will be back.

Don't You ... Forget About Me

It's easy for hockey fans not in Alberta to forget about the Calgary Flames and their northern neighbors in Edmonton. Both teams are the midst of a several-year rebuild with the Oilers having more pieces in place than Brian Burke and the Flames. One of the few bright spots for Calgary has been workhorse Mark Giordano.

The minute-eating blue liner is riding a nine-game points streak through Saturday's overtime win against Minnesota, a game in which he assisted on two of Calgary's four goals, including the winner. Giordano missed considerable time with a broken ankle but has found his stride after a rather quiet several weeks spanning late December and early January.

In these nine games, Giordano notched four goals and 10 points, putting six shots on goal Saturday. He's the team's top option on defense and will log huge minutes.

Somebody(s) That We Used To Know

Tom Gilbert, Panthers: He has no points in the last three games for an enigmatic Florida team, but he reeled off three consecutive two-assist games and sits with 24 points for the Panthers through 55 games. He's seeing first-pairing minutes although he isn't shooting much (67 shots) and has just four total points on the power play. Florida seems to score in droves for a week at a time, then disappear. Gilbert is likely bouncing around on waivers and can be worth a look in deep leagues; daily leagues might want to examine Gilbert as an option on days with a light slate of games.

Christian Ehrhoff, Sabres: The sight of a Sabre on your Fantasy roster might not inspire the most optimistic of thoughts, but players like Tyler Ennis have been providing secondary production of late. Ehrhoff isn't quite reliving his glory days from San Jose and Vancouver, but he's been steady the last three weeks with points in seven of 10 games, including a three-point effort against Columbus on January 25. Ehrhoff's grabbed nine points in those 10 contests and will continue to see scoring chances for the Sabres. He's picked up his play of late and is on pace for his best season since signing a huge contract with the Sabres in 2011.

Sergei Gonchar, Stars: 15 years ago, Gonchar was the premier scoring defensemen in the NHL not named Nicklas Lidstrom. Gonchar cracked double digit goals in seven of his first eight NHL seasons, topping out at 26 in 2002. Those halcyon days are long gone. Gonchar can be an asset in only the deepest of leagues or a spot start in daily leagues. He hasn't been entirely awful; he has no points in his last two games but grabbed five points over a four game span last week. Keep in mind that of his 18 points on the season, four came in one game. Gonchar was not named to the Russian Olympic squad, but is still seeing power-play minutes for a suddenly hot Dallas team. He's hardly a reliable option, but those in a pinch might not have many other choices.

He's Back

Tyson Barrie is back on the radar of Fantasy owners for the surging Avalanche, with two goals and five total points in the last four games. Barrie has seen his production ebb and flow quite often; he's played in only 37 games this season complete with a stop in the minors after a slow start. He's good and in a great situation with an utterly talented group of young stars around him.

Hockey Tonk

In case you needed a reminder on how good of a player Shea Weber is and the 15 goals he has on the season doesn't convince you, him burying two chances against New Jersey Friday night should. Granted, they are golden scoring opportunities, but it takes a poised player (and a blistering slap shot) to convert. His overtime winner was a perfectly placed shot. Weber leads all NHL defensemen in goals with 15 and appears poised to crack 20 yet again.

Weber's teammate, Roman Josi has been remarkably consistent of late, slamming home four goals in the last 10 games and failing to register points in all but two of those tilts. The Swiss Olympian has played over 26 minutes in each of those 10 games, breaking 30 in two of them.

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Player News
Mikael Backlund
Flames' Backlund More Injured Than Thought
Mikael Backlund, C, CGY
9/23/2014
News: Mikael Backlund's abdominal strain is worse than originally thought, Kristen Odland of the Calgary Herald reports.
Analysis: Mikael Backlund was originally expected to be ready for the start of the regular season, but head coach Bob Hartley stated Monday that he's worried about Backlund's status. The team hasn't given any sort of timetable for the center's return, so keep an eye out for an update in the next few days.

Pavel Datsyuk
Red Wings' Datsyuk Suffers Shoulder Injury
Pavel Datsyuk, C, DET
7:22 PM
News: Pavel Datsyuk injured his shoulder in Monday's preseason opener against the Penguins, MLive.com's Ansar Khan reports.
Analysis: Pavel Datsyuk returned to training camp at full health after undergoing a minor knee procedure in April, but it didn't take long for him to get nicked up again. While he played well in his return to the ice, notching a goal and assist Monday, the painful check he absorbed from defenseman Robert Scuderi ended up marring his night. The Red Wings should relay more information on his condition Tuesday, but needless to say, it's not encouraging to see the 36-year-old already falling victim to injury.

Beau Bennett
Pens' Bennett Scores Monday
Beau Bennett, RW, PIT
7:17 PM
News: Beau Bennett scored Pittsburgh's lone goal Monday against Detroit, netting a wrister from 30 feet.
Analysis: The winger ranks near the top of his team in terms of skill, but he's skated on a line with Steve Downie and Brandon Sutter in the early going. Beau Bennett may have to wait for an injury to secure a top-six spot and a place on the first-unit power play, but it's a good bet he ends up on a top-two line -- provided he stays healthy.

Eric Fehr
Caps' Fehr Gets Two Points In Loss To Flyers
Eric Fehr, RW, WAS
6:59 PM
News: Eric Fehr finished with a goal and an assist, along with two shots in 17:12 of ice time during Monday's 5-4 loss to the Flyers.
Analysis: Eric Fehr played on a line with Marcus Johansson, one of the contenders for the team's second-line center job, and rookie Jakub Vrana. Given his versatility, Fehr will be a valuable player for the Capitals this season, but it is not yet clear whether he will get top-six forward minutes yet. Fehr spent most of last season centering Jason Chimera and Joel Ward, and although it was a productive unit, the team looks like they are moving him back to wing for the 2014-2015 season. Unless he becomes a fixture alongside the likes of Alex Ovechkin or Nicklas Backstrom, Fehr's fantasy value is likely limited to deeper leagues.

Troy Brouwer
Caps' Brouwer Has Goal, Assist In Loss To Flyers
Troy Brouwer, RW, WAS
6:52 PM
News: Troy Brouwer finished with a goal and an assist to go along with three SOG in 18:00 of ice-time during the Capitals' 5-4 loss to the Flyers on Monday.
Analysis: Both of Troy Brouwer's points came on the power-play. He played on an even-strength line with Evgeny Kuznetsov, believed to have the inside track on the team's second-line center job. It's looking like Brouwer will be a fixture on a scoring line in DC this coming season, giving the power-forward some sleeper potential in deeper leagues.

Alexander Semin
Canes' Semin To Miss Second Preseason Game
Alexander Semin, RW, CAR
6:42 PM
News: Alexander Semin will be held out of the Canes' second preseason game Tuesday against the Sabres, Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer reports.
Analysis: Alexander Semin had offseason surgery on his wrist, and the move to limit his preseason game action by new coach Bill Peters is reportedly just a cautionary move. So far, there has been no word of Semin re-injuring his wrist in training camp, so we fully expect him to start the regular season on schedule at this point.

Adam McQuaid
B's McQuaid Back At Full Strength
Adam McQuaid, D, BOS
6:39 PM
News: Adam McQuaid participated in Sunday's team scrimmage, a sign that he's fully recovered from his May right ankle surgery, Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald reports.
Analysis: An array of second-half injuries limited Adam McQuaid to just 32 games last season, but the physical rearguard should be ready to go for the start of the 2014-15 campaign. Though he's now healthy, the Bruins could transition McQuaid into more of a seventh defenseman role this season, with young guns Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton and Kevan Miller all on track to earn close to full-time roles along the Bruins' blue line.

Anton Khudobin
Canes' Khudobin To Start Preseason Game Tuesday
Anton Khudobin, G, CAR
6:35 PM
News: Anton Khudobin will start the Canes' second preseason game Tuesday against the Sabres, Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer reports.
Analysis: The Canes lost 4-3 to the Blue Jackets on Sunday with Cam Ward starting in net, however Ward did receive a positive review from new head coach Bill Peters. Given Ward's hefty contract, along with the length of his tenure in Raleigh, Anton Khudobin will likely have to stand on his head in the preseason to have a real shot at opening the season as the team's No. 1 netminder.

Dave Bolland
Healthy Bolland Set To Man Third Line For Florida
Dave Bolland, C, FLA
6:28 PM
News: Dave Bolland (ankle) is expected to center the Panthers' third line this season, Harvey Fialkow of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.
Analysis: The five-year, $27.5 million contract the Panthers gave Dave Bolland in the offseason seems like a steep overpay for a third-liner, especially for a player coming off a significant ankle injury. The Panthers have more talent on the wing than most believe, but the move from Toronto to South Florida likely won't dramatically jumpstart his production. That being said, he has shown the capability of producing around 40 points in the past, so a decent buy-low window could exist for him late in deep-league drafts.

Cam Ward
Canes' Ward Sees First Preseason Game Action
Cam Ward, G, CAR
6:22 PM
News: Cam Ward started the Hurricanes' first preseason game Sunday, allowing three goals on 13 shots in a 4-3 loss to Columbus. He played roughly half the game, giving way to junior prospect Alex Nedeljkovic in the second period.
Analysis: The good news is, all three goals came on quality shots by the Jackets, and Cam Ward earned a positive review from his coach, Bill Peters. "I thought ‘Wardo' was good," Peters said. "On the goals we gave up, there's nothing the goalies can do. We've got to be better defensively than that." Overall, this was probably not the preseason start Ward was looking for, but it doesn't sound like it has hurt his chances at starting the season as the Canes' No. 1 goalie. In the meantime, however, Anton Khudobin will get a look in the Canes' second preseason scrimmage Tuesday against the Sabres.

 
 
 
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