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Crashing the net

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Patrick Elias, New Jersey

Usually we reserve this space for some out-of-the-way players who are hot, but there was just no way we could ignore Elias any longer. A year after recording just 55 points, Elias already has 37 in 31 games, thanks to a massive run of points in 15 of 16 games. During that streak he has posted 28 points, thanks to 12 goals and 16 assists as he has been putting up points like he was in 2000 when he recorded 96 points. Elias is only three goals away from matching his three-year average of 19 markers, so consider yourself extremely fortunate if you took a gamble on Elias this draft season.

Phil Kessel, Boston

Kessel currently has the league's longest point streak at 18 games, and he hasn't just been a guy dishing out an assist here and there to extend the streak. While he has handed out 14 assists during the streak, he has also tallied 14 goals. It's safe to say that the 2006 first round draft pick has arrived, especially considering he has already set a career best in goals (21) and tied his career-high in points (37) in just 33 games.

Sergei Kostitsyn, Montreal

It seems rather unlikely to list a guy as "hot" after a nine-game scoreless drought and just 13 points in 30 games, but the spunky left winger does have three goals and four points in three games, with two of the allies coming with the man-advantage. In 82 career games, Kostitsyn has scored 15 goals along with 25 assists, but he is still nothing more than a depth play at the moment.

David Krejci, Boston

As shocking as it sounds to say, Krejci is one of the best scorers in the league right now (and no, we aren't drinking spiked eggnog). Over his last 22 games, David has registered nine goals and 30 points, and if you can't believe that, you certainly wont believe the recent run he is on in which he has recorded at least a point in 14 of 15 games. And they haven't been merely helpers; He has lit the nine times during that stretch while dishing off the puck for 18 assists. Amazingly, four times in his past eight games he has recorded three points, and that means it will certainly be a white Christmas in the Krejci household.

Matt Niskanen, Dallas

Ten points in 30 games -- big whoopee, right? Wrong. With Sergei Zubov out of the lineup, Niskanen has been asked to pick up the offense from the blue line and has responded like an elf to the commands of Santa with eight points in his last nine games. He doesn't produce on the power-play -- scoring only two points with the man-advantage, and his plus/minus is poor (-7) -- but it is tough to find a defensemen with a "smaller" name who is producing better at the moment.

Jason Arnott, Nashville

After scoring 13 goals in his first 21 games the Predators captain has gone eight games without a goal and he has recorded only a measly two assists as his holiday season has been decidedly unhappy thus far. Arnott still gets all the ice-time he can handle, and there is no way that will change, so just grit your teeth and hope that his stocking this year is filled with a whole bunch of goals (it should be considering he averaged 29 goals a season the past three years).

Erik Cole, Edmonton

Thirty, twenty-nine and twenty-two, those are the goal scoring totals of this rugged forward the past three years despite an average of just 68 games a season. However, that scoring touch has virtually vanished as Cole has all of four goals in 31 games in his first season in Edmonton which includes a current run of just one goal in 16 games. Everyone expects him to pull out of this, and given his record of success, now is the perfect time to offer something "nice" to his owner who certainly views him as "naughty" for his lack of production this season.

Olli Jokinen, Phoenix

After missing some time with an injured shoulder, Jokinen returned with three goals in two games and everything was right in the world. Then, it all went horribly wrong. Olli has been held without a point in four straight games and the normally aggressive shooter has all of three shots in three games. You know it's just a hiccup you have to ride out, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating.

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Dion Phaneuf, Calgary

Four games without a point and an amazing 16 without a goal mark this Alberta native as a pretty big disappointment at the moment. Still, when you look at his three year run of consistency in goal scoring (20, 17 and 17) and points (49, 50 and 60), you know that the points will be there, an in fact he has 23 points in 33 which is actually a pace for nearly 60-points this season -- it just seems worse because of the lack of goal scoring.

Jason Spezza, Ottawa

Demoted to the third line and in danger of being a healthy scratch, Spezza is clearly in the doghouse in Ottawa where things continue to go horribly wrong. Spezza has one point in six games, is an abysmal (-7) in that time, and appears completely lost/disinterested, which makes this a perfect time to pounce on a frustrated owner to make a play for a skater who has averaged 90 points a season the past three years.

Bobby Ryan, Anaheim

Teemu Selanne will likely miss the next 4-6 weeks after being cut on his thigh by his own skate in a freak fall. This is a huge loss for the Ducks, especially on the power-play where Selanne leads the NHL with 13 markers. Into the void will step Ryan, who will try to use his right-handed shot much like Selanne did with the man-advantage. He will also move up and take Selanne's place on the second scoring line at even strength. Cnsidering that he has five points in his last six games skating mostly on the fourth line, it's clear that Ryan should be owned in all formats moving forward. Do yourself a favor and make sure he isn't laying out there waiting to be picked up, and if he is, snatch him up before he shimmies his way out the chimney after dropping off some gifts and eating some cookies.

Jeffe Taffe, Pittsburgh

Pascal Dupuis is dealing with an undisclosed injury that has him isted as doubtful to play early in the week, though he did practice with the team on Sunday. However, he skates on a line with Sidney Crosby and Miroslav Satan, so it's obviously some prime real estate that he is leaving open. Who will fill that void if Dupuis is out for a while? It appears that it will be none other than Taffe. Drafted in the first round in 2000, Taffe has never been able to break through as hoped and scored only 12 points in 45 games last year in Pittsburgh. However, skating with The Kid certainly has its benefits so if Taffe were somehow able to stick on that scoring line for a while he should be able to provide a few points merely through osmosis.

Jakub Voracek, Columbus

With two of their top forwards on the sidelines -- Jason Chimera (groin) and Derick Brassard (a dislocated shoulder that may require season ending surgery) -- the Jackets need a forward to step up and provide some offense. Apparently, the club wants that player to be Jakub who has been thrust onto the team's first scoring line with Rick Nash and R.J. Umberger. Voracek, a first-year winger with the club, was the seventh overall selection in 2007, and thus far has garnered 15 points in 32 games and three points in his last five. If he continues to skate on the top scoring line, that production should obviously improve, especially if Brassard could be lost for the rest of the season as is feared.

Manny Fernandez, Boston

The Bruins lead the NHL with a 2.18 GAA thanks to the stellar play of Tim Thomas and Fernandez. Though Thomas is the "No. 1" keeper, it's Fernandez who has been in the spotlight of late. Truthfully, they have both been spectacular.

Thomas: 13-3-3, 2.15 GAA, .932 SV%Fernandez: 11-2-1, 2.09 GAA, .926 SV%

Fernandez made his second consecutive start on Sunday night as he continues to eat into Thomas' playing time after Tim hit a bit of a rough patch in his last three starts (4.13 GAA). Fernandez hasn't overtaken Thomas for the top spot, but with his superb play (1.69 GAA in December and more than two goals allowed just once in eight appearances), it is clear that this has basically become a 1A and 1B type situation.

Antero Niittymaki, Philadelphia

Starting goalie Martin Biron has missed about a week's worth of action due to the flu and is still listed as day-to-day despite showing improvement. The good news for the Flyers is that Antero is 6-1-1 in his last eight starts and owns a .921 save percentage in six December starts. With Biron's season-long struggles (2.95 GAA, .900 SV%), it is clear that Niittymaki not only has gained some traction (2.62 GAA, .915 SV%) but is making a big-time play for time in net even when Biron is back. Keep an eye on how this situation plays out, but if you need a boost in a shallow league, there is no reason not to add Antero with the way he is playing (you can always hope the club decides to lean on him more heavily moving forward).

Pekka Rinne, Nashville, Nashville

Seems like every week we are writing about Rinne or Dan Ellis, doesn't it? The Predators have been receiving excellent work in net over their past 12 games as the duo has combined for an amazing five shutouts while club has allowed more than 30 shots on goals just twice in their last 14 games. While Ellis has been superb in four December starts (1.24 GAA, .957 SV%), Rinne hasn't missed a beat either and has actually produced better numbers (if you can believe that). Rinne is 4-1 in his five starts with a 1.40 GAA and .947 save percentage, and don't forget about the three shutouts he has posted in those five starts. It's tough to pick a "No. 1" at this point, but it's tough not to have confidence in the Finish native who has been stonewalling opponents all month.

Tomas Vokoun, Florida

Vokoun recorded a shutout on Sunday night as he has started three of the Panthers last four games (2-0-1). Tomas will also be in net on Tuesday night against Nashville, and he appears to have reclaimed his starting spot from upstart Craig Anderson (8-3-3, 2.19 GAA, .940 SV%). Anderson has lost two of his last four decisions and allowed five goals in his last start, while Vokoun has rebounded from some early season struggles to appear as dazzling as that Christmas tree full of lights and ornaments, posting a 1.49 GAA and a .951 save percentage in four December appearances. Vokoun has also gone six appearances without allowing more than two goals, so for those of you who remained patient with Vokoun, it looks like your Christmas gift will be a pleasant one and not the dreaded red mittens that you normally get from Aunt Martha every year.

Donald Brashear, Washington

This long-time pugilist is likely already owned if you are in a league that counts PIM's, but if he isn't you might consider adding him to your squad considering his work of late as he produced 26 PIM in his last appearance against Philly as he beat down Riley Cote -- twice. Still, he has been completely hit or miss this season as 41 of his 73 penalty minutes have come in just two games. Still, he is a big risk to add to your lineup since he never scores (one goal, three assists), that is unless you are in desperate need of some rough stuff.

* Ryan Clowe has 12 goals on the year, and nine of them have come on the power-play. Over his last five games he has thrived in the man-advantage situations with three PPG's.

* Petr Sykora has nine power-play goals out of the 12 overall goals he has scored (Sound familiar?), and he too has been hot of late with three PPG's in four games.

* Keith Tkachuk has eight of his 12 markers this year with the man-advantage but he has gone the entire month of December, 11 games, without a power-play tally.

* Six teams play four games this week: Anaheim, Atlanta, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver. Some names you might want to keep in mind from these squads would include the following.

Colby Armstrong, Atlanta

Besides those rumors that he might be on his way to Minnesota, Armstrong has picked his play up of late with three goals and 12 PIM over his last three games. He has never scored more than 16 times in a season, but he is still young (26) and has a fair amount of upside depending on how much ice-time he receives.

Niklas Hagman, Toronto

Hagman, rather quietly, has 20 points in 28 games, thanks in part to three goals and four assists in his last eight games. He is seeing time on the power play (eight points) and bares watching in those leagues where people forgot that he scored 27 times last season with Dallas.

George Parros, Anaheim

Besides his penchant for dropping the gloves at a moments notice just to get on TV to show off the leagues best porn-stache, Parros has actually been an effective offensive player of late with four points in his last six games. Parros also owns a solid +9 mark on the year, so he won't hurt you in that category while he mixes things up on the ice.

* Eight teams play only two games this week: Calgary, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Minnesota, NY Rangers and San Jose. Be careful if you own any Canadiens -- they play only a single game this week.