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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
John Mitchell
Avs' Mitchell (Face) Out Second Straight Game
John Mitchell, C, COL
11/26/2014
News: John Mitchell (leg) will not play Tuesday against the Coyotes, Mike Chambers of the Denver Post reports.
Analysis: John Mitchell didn't even make the trip to Arizona for the game, as he continues to recover from the injury he's believed to have sustained last Thursday against the Capitals. Since it doesn't sound like he's resumed skating yet, it appears doubtful that Mitchell will be able to play in Wednesday's home date with the Blackhawks.

Alex Tanguay
Avs Reverse Course, Rule Tanguay Out Tuesday
Alex Tanguay, LW, COL
11/26/2014
News: Alex Tanguay (fractured jaw), who was expected to return to the lineup Tuesday against the Coyotes, will instead miss his second consecutive game, Mike Chambers of the Denver Post reports.
Analysis: After it was indicated a day earlier that Alex Tanguay wouldn't have to miss further time due to the jaw injury, coach Patrick Roy said the forward was still experiencing blurred vision and pain on the side of his head following Tuesday's morning skate. Fortunately, it doesn't sound like the setback is significant for Tanguay at the moment, so with an extra day off, the possibility exists that he could be ready to go when the Avs return home for a game Wednesday versus the Blackhawks.

Clayton Stoner
Ducks' Stoner Skates Tuesday Morning
Clayton Stoner, D, ANA
11/26/2014
News: Clayton Stoner (illness) took part in Tuesday's morning skate but doesn't think he'll be cleared to return until the weekend, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: Merely being on the ice amounts to a good sign for Clayton Stoner, as it was feared that he had been the latest Ducks player to succumb to the debilitating mumps virus. Stoner's symptoms were believed to be similar to the virus, but team doctors determined his particular illness wasn't contagious after he never experienced a fever. He's still need to skate for a few days to get his conditioning back up to par before coach Bruce Boudreau decides whether or not to use him Friday versus the Blackhawks.

Donald Brashear
Ex-NHLer Brashear Signs With Swedish Team
Donald Brashear, LW, ATL
11/26/2014
News: Donald Brashear signed a contract with MODO of the Swedish Hockey League on Tuesday.
Analysis: The move seemingly comes out of nowhere, as Donald Brashear hasn't played professional hockey since the 2009-10. It appears Brashear's relationship with former Flyers teammate Peter Forsberg, who serves as MODO's assistant GM, might have influenced the club's decision to bring him aboard. The long-time tough guy will be tasked with protecting MODO's stars, which most notably includes Maple Leafs prospect William Nylander, a top-10 pick in last June's NHL Entry Draft.

Sergei Bobrovsky
Jackets To Start Bobrovsky On Tuesday
Sergei Bobrovsky, G, CLB
11/26/2014
News: Sergei Bobrovsky will be in the net Tuesday against the Jets.
Analysis: Since holding the Sharks to one goal on 37 shots in his return from injured reserve Nov. 15, Sergei Bobrovsky has dropped his last three turns, yielding at least three goals in all of them. Fortunately, he'll have a good chance to turn the tide versus a struggling Jets attack that rank 29th in the NHL in scoring with 1.95 goals per game.

Bo Horvat
Horvat To Stick With Canucks
Bo Horvat, C, VAN
11/26/2014
News: Bo Horvat will remain with the Canucks rather than return to his junior team after his nine-game trial ends.
Analysis: Recalled by the Canucks earlier in November after missing the season's first month while recovering from a shoulder injury, Bo Horvat needed to impress out of the gate to warrant staying in Vancouver, and he was able to do just that. He's been especially superb over the Canucks' last two games, potting his first NHL goal on Nov. 20 and gathering three assists in Sunday's victory Sunday night. The 19-year-old could notice increased ice time after the three-assist performance, so it's certainly worthwhile to track him the next few games and possibly pick him up if he continues to thrive.

Kari Lehtonen
Stars' Lehtonen Confirmed For Tuesday
Kari Lehtonen, G, DAL
5:07 PM
News: Kari Lehtonen led the Stars on to the ice and will be between the pipes Tuesday against the Oilers, NHL.com's Mark Stepneski reports.
Analysis: Confirming what was already widely assumed, Kari Lehtonen will make his eighth straight start in goal. Viktor Fasth will man the net for the opposition.

Milan Michalek
Sens Scratch Michalek On Tuesday
Milan Michalek, LW, OTT
4:39 PM
News: Milan Michalek wasn't on the ice for pregame warmups and will be a healthy scratch for Tuesday's game against the Blues, Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports.
Analysis: The Senators have dropped six of their last eight games, and though Milan Michalek hasn't been a total void during that stretch (four points), coach Paul MacLean seems inclined to shake up his lineup in an attempt to find some more productive trios. Mika Zibanejad will also spend Tuesday's game with Michalek in the press box, as both Colin Greening and Erik Condra step in to replace them.

Mika Zibanejad
Sens Scratch Zibanejad On Tuesday
Mika Zibanejad, C, OTT
4:37 PM
News: Mika Zibanejad wasn't on the ice for pregame warmups and will be a healthy scratch for Tuesday's game against the Blues, Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reports.
Analysis: The Senators have dropped six of their last eight games, and coach Paul MacLean seems inclined to shake up his lineup with the hope of generating more positive results. The timing of Mika Zibanejad's assignment to the press box is a bit odd, as such a lineup decision probably should have happened early in the season, when the forward failed to score a point and attempted just nine shots on goal over his first eight games. Milan Michalek will also serve as a healthy scratch Tuesday, with both Colin Greening and Erik Condra entering the lineup.

Calvin de Haan
Isles' De Haan Returns To Practice Tuesday
Calvin de Haan, D, NYI
4:37 PM
News: De Haan (illness) returned to practice Tuesday, according to Newsday's Arthur Staple.
Analysis: De Haan had missed the game Monday but is expected to play Wednesday against the Capitals. De Haan doesn't get much power play time with the addition of Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy so his offensive upside is limited.

 
 
 
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