Crashing the Net: Stick with Sharks' Couture while he's hot
Crashing the Net takes you around the league touching on hot and cold players, battles for ice-time and what's going on in net.
Logan Couture, Sharks: Only four players have more goals than Couture this season -- Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Patrick Sharp and Alexander Semin. That's it. The Sharks' rookie is also second in the NHL with 14 tallies on the road (Stamkos leads the way with 17). Couture simply cannot be expected to keep this up, but for now he is as hot as anyone in the game with nine goals and two helpers in his last 10 games.
Mikhail Grabovski, Maple Leafs: After scoring 20 times in 2008, Grabovski slumped to 10 goals last season (while appearing in only 58 games). This season, he is back to his '08 pace and then some with 11 markers in 32 games. He has been particularly hot of late with goals in six of his last seven games. There likely isn't a hotter skater in the game who might be on waivers.
Chris Kelly, Senators: The Sens are still a mess on offense, just look at some of the points totals of their top players in December: Jason Spezza (four), Daniel Alfredsson (four), Sergei Gonchar (two), Milan Michalek (two). One Senator who hasn't been cold is Kelly, who has recorded a point in five straight games. He's also lit the lamp five times in his past eight games as one of the lone bright spots on offense. Kelly has skill, but at no point in the previous five seasons has he recorded more than 15 goals or 38 points despite playing at least 75 games in each campaign.
Mike Green, Capitals: A point-per-game performer the past two seasons, Green has struggled with health and production so far. Not only does he have a mere 14 points in 28 games, he's actually been held off the score sheet in each of his last six games and in 12 of 13 games. Yowzahs.
Jiri Hudler, Red Wings: Awful all season, and failing to live up to the hype in his return to North America, he has six points and none in his last 10 games.
Marc Savard, Bruins: I'm totally stoked that he's back and apparently healthy from his concussion woes, but those warm and fuzzies are starting to disappear. His production, if you can call it that, has been terrible: a goal and three points in eight games wit a -4 rating. It's too much to expect him to be a point-per-game guy right from the start, but can't you post at least half a point per game, Mr. Savard?
Teemu Selanne, Ducks: He's been in and out of the lineup with a groin injury, but it still seems like every time he's on the ice good things happen (28 points in 27 games). Selanne owners have to be happy with the latest news that he will skate on the Ducks' top line next to Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry as coach Randy Caryle really likes the chemistry the three are generating. As if you needed another reason to have Selanne in your lineup when he's active. The loser in this scenario is Bobby Ryan, who has been dropped to a line with Saku Koivu and Jason Blake.
Patrick Sharp, Blackhawks: Superb this season with 18 goals and 34 points in 34 games and it can be argued that Sharp has been the most valuable Blackhawk. So how can he be moving up? Because of injuries to Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane, the club has juggled its lines, and of late -- the last two games -- Sharp has been skating on the wing with Jonathan Toews, and that's the big news here. Obviously you start Sharp every time the Blackhawks play, but keep an eye on this center's positional eligibility since he might be adding "winger" and further enhancing his value.
Craig Anderson, Avalanche: He has had all kinds of trouble staying healthy this season though he is 10-4-2 and has been articularly sharp in December (6-0-2), though you wouldn't have guessed that given his poor ratios (3.10 GAA, .901 save percentage). Fortunately for Anderson, Peter Budaj has regressed substantially of late, having allowed -- get this -- at least three goals in nine straight appearances. If Anderson can just stay healthy, his path to copious amounts of playing time is wide open.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Maple Leafs: For the third time this season, he is missing time with a strained groin. A bit befuddled, both Giguere and the Leafs are searching for an answer as to why he feels good after taking time off, but as soon as he gets back into a game situation his groin issue comes back to bite him. What makes this situation frustrating, beyond the obvious, is that the Leafs aren't putting Giguere on the IR, so he's just sitting there wasting a roster spot. If you have patience, hold on, but hopefully you did the smart thing and rostered Jonas Gustavsson as soon as Giguere's groin became an problem, though that decision hasn't led to any fantasy success, as Jonas is 1-3 with a 3.93 GAA in December. Do yourself a favor and just avoid this whole mess.
Michael Leighton, Flyers: The Flyers have three goalies, which in a perfect world is one too many. Sergei Bobrovsky is 15-4-3 with a 2.32 GAA and .923 save percentage. He might make the All-Star team. Wily veteran Brian Boucher has won all four of his starts in December, is 6-1 in his last seven appearances, and has allowed only eight goals in his last six games. So where does the recently healthy Michael Leighton, last season's playoff hero, fit in? Good question. The most likely scenario would seem to be finding some way to get something in return for Brian Boucher, but on the other hand, why would you trade a guy who has a 2.11 GAA and .922 save percentage through 12 games? This is a terribly sticky situation that doesn't look like it will get unstuck until after the holidays.
Steve Mason, Blue Jackets: "It's like Maverick in Top Gun, you keep sending him back up until he breaks through." says Versus analyst and former NHL goalie Daryl Reaugh. "This kid is way too good to be struggling like he is." Mason has been all over the map this season, just like he was in 2009-10. Here are the ugly numbers. (1) He has been pulled in three of his last four starts. (2) He's also been pulled 12 times since the start of last season, the most in the league. (3) He has a 3.29 GAA , which is actually worse than his awful 3.05 mark from last season. The Blue Jackets swear they aren't going to send him down to the minors, but it doesn't seem like a bad idea given that he has looked nothing like the star who won the Calder Trophy in 2008 (2.29 GAA, 10 shutouts). Look for Mathieu Garon (1.98 GAA, .924 save percentage) to continue to see plenty of work.
Evgeni Nabokov, Free Agent: The fantasy world sits and waits. It certainly seems like multiple teams could use the netminder. I wrote about those options in Nabokov to Return, but as of this writing we are just in a holding pattern, waiting for some team to make a move on the all-world 'tender.
* Five teams play four games this week: Atlanta, Pittsburgh, St, Louis, Tampa Bay and Vancouver.
* Seven teams play only two games: Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Colorado, Ottawa, San Jose and Toronto.
* Two teams play only one game: NY Rangers and Philadelphia.
Ray Flowers is Managing Editor for Fanball.com Owners Edge and Rototimes.com. You can also follow the happenings of the game of hockey on our Twitter Page, as well as listen to his daily three hour radio show on Sirius 211 and XM 147. For more information on the show click on the link to the Fanball Fantasy Drive.
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