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Crashing The Net: Crosby, Malkin offer look back to Gretzky, Messier

From goal scorers to defenders to the men who keep the puck out of the net, each week we'll take a spin around the rink and touch on some of the players that are in the news.

• Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin -- who is the better player? Crosby has four points in his last two games, and since he returned on March 15 he's posted a prodigious total of 13 points while recording a plus-9 mark in just seven games. Malkin, if you can believe it, has been even hotter (he was named the NHL's First Star last week). Malkin has nine points in his last four games and eight goals in his last seven games. Going back a bit further, Malkin has 19 goals and 38 points in his last 24 games. They are the Gretzky and Messier of their times.

• Alexander Ovechkin has finally awakened from his slumber (perhaps a kiss from a beautiful princess awoke him from his sleep?). Named the NHL's Third Star of the Week, Ovechkin has scored a goal in five-straight games and over his last seven contests he has nine makers. His 61 points on the season are still disappointing, but if he stays hot he could still reach 40 goals (his recent streak has pushed him up to 36 goals). Better late than never Alex.

• Michael Cammalleri might be three goals short of 20 for the year but he has three goals during his five-game point streak that has also seen him register four assists for the Flames.

• Ryan Jones is one goal off his career best of 18 for the Oilers, and he's scored three in his last four games. He's also recorded seven points in his last six games.

• Louis Leblanc has 13 points in 36 games this season. Why mention him? He's been promoted to the Canadiens' second line to skate with Tomas Plekanec and Rene Bourque, so he could turn up the offensive production the rest of the way.

• Ryan Malone has 42 points an a minus-9 rating in 61 games this season for the Bolts, but he's been hot for those of you who have astutely added him for a playoff run. Malone has four points in four games, and going back to the start of February he has 15 points in 19 games. Too bad he's still a minus-6 performer in that time.

• Ben Pouliot is hot as heck right now (how witty was that? Not terribly so. My apologies for not offering a more interesting statement, maybe something like hot as Hades or hot as Sofia Vergara in a bikini on the beach). No matter, Pouliot has three goals in four games, and over his last eight contests he's been a plus-9 skater thanks at least in part to three goals and seven assists.

• Andrew Shaw has four goals in four games for the Blackhawks. He's also recorded a point in five-straight games, leading to eight points.

• Steven Stamkos leads the NHL with 53 goals, a total that has set a Lightning record. He's also scored nine times in 12 games in March and he has 20 goals in his last 25 games.

• I'm sure you haven't noticed, and why would you, but Raffi Torres has five goals in 10 games for the Coyotes. Did you even know he was on the Coyotes?

• Zach Bogosian has yet to find his offensive game at the NHL level with just 23 points this season. Worse, he has only one assist in five games. But if you're in a league that counts shots on goal he's worth an add. Over his last three games he's fired a whopping 19 shots at opposing keepers.

• Christian Ehrhoff has one goal in 23 games for the Sabres. He scored 14 goals each of the last two years with the Canucks.

• Alex Goligoski hasn't scored a goal since Feb. 19 (a span of 17 games). He's also dished out just two assists in his last 13 games for the Stars. Surprisingly, he is still a plus-5 skater in his last four games.

• With all the goals the Penguins are scoring some of the supporting cast has seen its plus/minus marks trending in the right direction. Paul Martin might only be a plus-8 skater on the year but over his last 10 games he's a rather amazing plus-15 performer.

• Tyler Myers scored 48 points as a rookie. He had 37 points last year. This year he has just 22 points. Still, he has 12 points over his last 25 games and is a plus-12 skater, so he hasn't been totally useless.

• Brent Seabrook has been held off the score sheet the last two games, but he still has points in five of seven games while seeing his plus/minus mark shoot up plus-7 in that time (it's +18 for the year).

• Need a little boost? Ladislav Smid has 15 points with a plus-6 rating on the year for the Oilers. Big deal, right? Well, he's heating up of late with four points in five games while recording a plus-5 rating.

• Brian Elliott continues to lead the NHL in GAA (1.52) and save percentage (.941 -- a mark that would set an all-time NHL record). Elliott also is tied for the NHL lead with eight shutouts after pitching one in each of his last two outings. Amazingly, he's only appeared in 12 games since the All-Star break. Jaroslav Halak has made 16 starts, instead, going 11-3-1 with a 1.66 GAA. The Blues have had phenomenal goaltending all year and the shared work in net has robbed both keepers from getting enough game action, so that neither is the best keeper in the fantasy game.

• Brian Holtby will be in net for the fouth straight game Tuesday for the Capitals with Tomas Vokoun still out as he works to rehab a groin injury. In his three March outings Holtby is 2-0-1 with a 1.30 GAA and .955 save percentage. He's a solid short-term pickup.

• Sensing that he was losing his hold on the starting spot in net for the Canucks to Cory Schneider, Roberto Luongo has brought it the last few times he's been on the ice. In his last three games, he's allowed a total of four goals, and Monday night he posted his fourth shutout of the season on his way to his 29th victory (he needs one more victory for a seventh straight 30-win season). With the Canucks only two points behind the Blues for the Western Conference lead, Luongo likely won't be resting much down the stretch.

• Steve Mason is once again playing like ... Steve Mason. That means he's letting in shots that 99 percent of NHL goalies stop on a regular basis. Mason won four-straight games to start March, but over his last four games he is 1-3 while allowing at least five goals three times. You weren't seduced into counting on him were you? Shame on all of us.

• Look no further than Ryan Miller's play to explain the Sabres' performance this season. Before the All-Star break he was 12-15-2 with a 3.07 GAA and .899 save percentage. In 23 games since he's not only racked up five shutouts he's gone 15-3-5 with a 1.94 GAA and .935 save percentage. Hopefully you didn't sell low when he was struggling.

• Dwayne Roloson has ... fill in the blank with any adjective that will explain how putrid his work has been this season. Amazingly, an I admit to thinking I'd never write this again about him, Roloson has tending net with aplomb of late for the Lightning. Roloson has won each of his last three starts. Though he's allowed eight goals in those three games, he's been facing so many shots that his save percentage has been at least .919 in each game. He's actually playing well enough that you could consider starting him.

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, and Saturday's from 4-5 PM he hosts the SiriusXM Fantasy Hockey Show. His NHL thoughts can be read at Rotowire.com. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account. To e-mail Ray a question for next week's piece, drop him a line at fantasyfandom@yahoo.com.

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