Crashing the Net takes you around the league you almost forgot about and all of the fantasy ins and outs, ups and downs.
David Backes, Blues
Skating on a line with Brady Boyes and Keith Tkachuk can certainly do wonders for a guy, just ask Backes, who has used his situation to record three goals and three assists in his last six games. Since his overall production is slightly muted (7 goals, 7 assists in 29 games), there is a good chance he could still be acquired off waivers or relatively cheaply from an unaware owner.
Rene Bourque, Flames
After scoring 10 goals and 24 points in 62 games with the Blackhawks last year, nothing was expected of Bourque. Turns out we may have misjudged him. He continues to skate on the Flames' third line with Curtis Glencross and Matthew Lombardi, and he has made the most of things with an impressive four goals in five games and six in nine. There is no doubt he is talented, and though we wouldn't expect his scoring pace to continue, there is no arguing with the current results.
Pascal Dupuis, Penguins
Skating with arguably the best player in the world certainly has its benefits as Dupuis continues to ride the Sidney Crosby bandwagon to points. Well, that isn't quite accurate as he has points in only one of his last five games, that one effort resulted in three goals and a +4 rating. He will pick up points through osmosis if he remains with Crosby and Miroslav Satan, so keep him in mind if you need a scoring boost.
Matt Hunwick, Bruins
Is everyone in Boston doing well of late? Well, the unheralded Hunwick certainly has as he has racked up 14 points and a +14 in just 18 games this season, his second in the league (he skated in 13 games last season). As great as his numbers are, the truth is he has been even better of late with all of the points coming in his last 13 games, meaning we are talking about 14 points and a +13 in that time. If he is on waivers in your deep league, grab him immediately.
Fredrik Modin, Blue Jackets
Modin was mentioned a few weeks back as a player to keep an eye on in another Crashing the Net piece. Modin has been on fire of late with five goals in seven December games, and he has been the club's scoring bright spot with superstar Rick Nash struggling. Modin scored 29, 31 and 22 goals in his last three injured filled season before slumping to just six in 23 games last season, and at 34 years old he clearly has some gas left in the tank.
Tomas Kaberle, Maple Leafs
Kaberle is tied for 20th among blue liners with 17 points in 29 games, but has the worst plus/minus of all those players at (-11). Kaberle also has gone 12 games without a goal, and his total of three assists in that time certainly doesn't remotely make up for his (-5) rating. Kaberle still runs the power play with aplomb: he has 12 points with the man-advantage. Given that he has recorded at least 53 points in each of the previous three seasons, we would expect the points to continue to flow despite his recent slump.
Mike Ribeiro, Stars
After bursting from the shadows into the light last season to score 83 points in 76 games, Ribeiro has faltered in the early going with just four goals and 22 points in 29 games. Particularly telling is that his shooting percentage is down to 8.5 percent, this after pacing the circuit with a 25.2 percent mark last season. Over his last 12 games he has but four points, and the loss of linemate Brenden Morrow has obviously been a huge blow for this Montreal native. The question is, can he overcome the loss and up his scoring average?
Brad Richards, Stars
Twenty-one points in 28 games is a great total for most players, but not for a player who scored at least 70 points from 2002-06. Almost as bad is the fact that the former power-play specialist has been held to eight points with the man-advantage, including a current stretch of six games with nary a point. Richards has also been a defensive liability at times given his (-7) rating the past five games. Too talented not to snap out of it, it still remains to be seen if a 70-plus point campaign with a solid plus/minus ratio is doable for Richards in Dallas this season.
Brian Rolston, Devils
After finally returning from a bum ankle on Dec. 4, Rolston has gone pointsless in five games. He is currently skating with Bobby Holik and David Clarkson on the team's third line, not what the team expected when it gave him a $20 million deal this offseason to return to the city he called home for his first six NHL seasons. Rolston will eventually figure things out, probably not until that ankle is fully healed, so now is the perfect time to buy low on a guy who scored at least 31 goals, with at least 11 coming on the power play, in each of the past three seasons.
Jason Spezza, Senators
Spezza scored in four-straight games only to be held pointless with a (-2) rating in his last three games. Overall, Spezza is well off the pace with just 22 points in 28 games, a 0.79 per game mark which is embarrassingly low for a guy who has averaged 1.27 points per game the past three years. If his current owner is frustrated with his inconsistency, pounce before the Ontario native blows up.
Teddy Purcell, Kings
What can make a rookie smile faster than a "call me" glance from Eva Mendes? Being placed on a line with a burgeoning superstar of course. Youngster Purcell has been lining up on the Kings' top line with Anze Kopitar and Patrick O'Sullivan, and that's the best you are doing to do if you call L.A. home. Purcell has scored three points in three games, including a goal and an assist in his last game, and the youngster seems to be taking well to skating on the club's first scoring line.
Jason Williams, Thrashers
Williams has been a disappointment in his first season in Atlanta with only 14 points in 29 games, but he has recently been placed on a line with Chris Thorburn and Ilya Kovalchuk, and that should help out plenty considering the talent that sniper Kovalchuk possesses. At this point Williams is likely on waivers given his total of four points in his last 14 games, but don't forget that he scored 36 points in just 43 games last year in Chicago.
Scott Clemmensen, Devils
It's too late to come to the party now as Clemmensen has clearly taken over the reigns in New Jersey, but in case you have been packaging presents at the North Pole, Clemmensen has been on quite a role. Clemmensen has won his last four starts, and an amazing eight of nine in a Martin Brodeur-like performance. He has yet to record a shutout this year, but his ratios are strong (2.43 GAA, .919 save percentage) thanks to having allowed more than three goals just once in eight starts. After all these years bidding his time behind the best keeper in NHL history, Scott has finally broken through in a big way.
Dan Ellis, Predators
Pekka Rinne was NHL Player of the Week about a week ago and was playing great, but after a five-goal hiccup against the Blues, the team has turned back to Ellis for each of the last three starts, in which time he has allowed a grand total of three goals (.967 save percentage). No matter who the club goes with at the moment, they are receiving strong goaltending as each netminder has two shutouts in the club's last nine games. Given that Ellis was the starter heading into the year, combined with the fact that he has recently found his game, one would think that the majority of starts could be headed his way in the short-term as he seeks to determine his credentials as a starter in this league. Rinne still has value, but with each solid outing by Ellis that value shrinks a bit.
Martin Gerber, Seantors
Gerber will have started three games in four nights after the decision was made to play him against the Thrashers on Tuesday, and he may finally be thrusting himself back into importance after Alex Auld's early-season success. Auld owns a stellar 2.21 GAA and a superb .920 save percentage in 20 starts, but he has allowed nine goals in his last two starts, opening the door for Gerber, last year's No. 1 netminder in Ottawa. Over his past three starts, Gerber has been spectacular, allowing just three goals with a shutout and a .963 save percentage, bringing his yearly numbers in eight appearances (2.51 GAA, .916 SV%) right on the heels of Auld's work. Ottawa tends to go with the hot hand, and since Gerber has it for the moment he could seize the club's starting role.
Curtis Sanford, Canucks
If you hadn't heard, Roberto Luongo suffered a setback in his recovery from an injured groin, and as a result, his workouts haves been shut down. Estimates vary as to how long he will be sidelined, but something around four weeks seems to be the general consensus. That means the Canucks will have to continue to go with the duo of Sanford and Cory Schneider in net. Schneider has allowed seven goals in his last two starts, and overall owns a poor .890 save percentage, leaving the door open for Sanford to run with the starting role. He has played well his past two starts, allowing four goals after being bombed for six by the Red Wings, though his overall his numbers aren't that pretty to look at either (2.87 GAA, .904 SV%). If you are desperate you can roll with Sanford, but don't look for better production that what you have seen so far.
Arron Asham, Flyers
This rugged winger has all of two goals and three points in 29 games this season, though he does have 67 PIM, putting him on pace to smash his career-high of 103 set in 2005 as a member of the Isles. He has been particularly testy of late; perhaps he had trouble hanging his holiday lights (don't we all trying to find that one bulb that caused the whole string to crap out?), but regardless, he has been a PIM machine with penalties in seven of his last eight games leading to 38 PIM.
* Teemu Selanne of the Ducks has scored 14 goals this season with 13 of them coming with the man-advantage.
* Keith Tkachuk of the Blues has scored eight of his 12 goals on the power-play and 10 of his 20 points with the man-advantage.
* Defender Mike Green of the Caps knows how to run a power-play as he has scored seven of his eight goals with the man-advantage.
* Eight teams play four games this week: Carolina, Colorado, Los Angeles, Montreal, New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Jose and St. Louis. Some names you might want to keep in mind from these squads would include the following:
Marcel Goc, Sharks
Since it seems like everyone on San Jose is scoring, why not Goc? Sure, he has only six points in 22 games this season, but he has two points in his last three games and will likely pick up a bit more ice-time with Jeremy Roenick on the sidelines with a separated shoulder (estimates have him being out for 3-4 weeks).
T.J. Hensick, Avalanche
Since being recalled from the minors of Nov. 6, this center has done a pretty good job for the Avalanche with seven points in 18 games. While the totals aren't awe-inspiring, he does have two points in three games, and with injuries up front, and four games this week, he might be a short-term fix.
Jarret Stoll, Kings
Stoll has 16 points in 30 games, with three assists in the last three contests. He has been erratic to be sure, but he does have four power-play goals and five power-play assists while being a +7 on a dreadful team.
Scottie Upshall, Flyers
He scored 14 times with 30 points in 61 games last season, a pace he is behind this year with five goals and 10 points in 29 games. Still, he has two goals the past five games and over his last six games he has piled up 21 PIM.
* Six teams play only two games this week: Anaheim, Florida, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Vancouver.