Crashing the Net takes you around the league you almost forgot about and all of the fantasy ins and outs, ups and downs.
Sean Avery, Rangers
In his last three games Avery has lit the lamp four times while taking only two PIM for his new team. "I think it probably has to do with my mind-set and where my head is more than anything," Avery said. Well, whatever you are doing, Sean, keep it up. Of course, he is more likely to let the fists start flying than to keep up this torrid scoring pace, but regardless, whenever he is on the ice he has value.
David Booth, Panthers
Booth scored 40 points in 73 games last season, so his total of 26 goals and 21 assists in just 59 games this season marks him as one player who has lived up to expectations. Booth has been particularly impressive of late with five goals in his last four games and points in each of his last four (nine points). He has also lit the lamp three times on the power play in this time and has even contributed eight PIM over the past three games. Look for him to continue his strong play to the finish line.
Alex Burrows, Canucks
Skating with the Sedin twins is the tonic for any winger, and Burrows has carved out a nice niche for himself on the line with his rugged play. More than just riding shotgun, Burros has established himself as a legitimate force of late with goals in each of his last four games and seven in seven. That type of scoring will play in any league, especially when you add in 29 PIM in nine games. With 15 points in his last 13 games Burrows has legitimately established himself as a force to be reckoned with.
Claude Giroux, Flyers
Worth a look only in deep leagues, Giroux has four points in his last five games. Again, this isn't a guy who is going to lead the league in scoring the rest of the season, but he does have four goals and seven assists in his last 17 games, and that isn't awful when you add in the fact that he has also been a solid +6 in that time.
Alexei Ponikarovsky, Leafs
Someone finally woke up. After ending February on a five game pointless streak, Ponikarovsky opened March the same way without a point in his first game. Since then however, he has looked like a modern day Wendell Clark with two goals and seven assists in his last six games. He may or may not be on waivers after his massive four assist effort on the 14th, but if he is, he likely shouldn't be.
Jay Bouwmeester, Panthers
Maybe they should have traded him? Since the trade deadline, Bouwmeester has a measly two assists in six games. Besides the lack of assists, things look even worse when you glance at the goal-scoring column, as he has but one goal in 18 games. Bouwmeester also has just eight PIM in his last 11 games. Without much in the way of point production, and little rough stuff to hang your hat on, you can't be feeling too good about the Panther at the moment, especially when you realize that he has only five shots on goal in his last five games.
Shawn Horcoff, Oilers
Now teamed with Alex Hemsky and Patrick O'Sullivan (you can read more below), Horcoff has continued his disappointing 2008-09 season, one that includes 15 goals and 30 assists in 66 games, this after scoring 21 times with 29 assists in just 53 games last season. Horcoff has been especially cold of late with only one goal in 10 games and only two assists in his last six contests. Toss in a (-3) over the month of March, and there really hasn't been any value to speak of here. Things could always turn around, he has the skill and the linemates to return to his point-per-game ways, but given the length of his relative struggles this season, that appears unlikely.
Bobby Ryan, Ducks
Ryan has 23 goals and 43 points in 51 games, showing the Ducks that they erred in not placing him on the roster to start the year. However, his scoring rate has slowed of late as he has gone three games without a point and he has only two goals in eight games. In addition, he has only one power-play goal in 20 games, this after tallying seven in his first 31. He continues to skate with Teemu Selanne which should help, but linemate Andrew Ebbett hasn't scored a point in four games while Selanne has only two points in five games as well. The whole unit is obviously in need of a pick me up.
Devin Setoguchi, Sharks
After scoring 11 times in 44 games as a rookie, Setoguchi's 25 goals in 67 games represents tremendous growth. However, on a micro level, his scoring rate of late has been so slow that a sun dial could time it. Setoguchi has gone 10 games without a marker and he has only one goal in 14 games. Considering that he has spent about 90 percent of that time skating with Joe Thornton, that run of futility is especially vexing. He continues to work hard, and he has fired at least three shots on net in each of the past four games, but it just isn't happening for him at the moment (he doesn't have a point in six games during which time he is also a -6. He should rebound if he continues to skate with Thornton and Patrick Marleau, but we have been thinking that for the past two weeks.
Jarret Stoll, Kings
Stoll has 18 goals and 41 points this season, which is his most productive year over the past three campaigns. However, his play of late has left us all wanting more as he has been a minus player in six-straight games (-9). In addition to the terrible two-way play, Stoll also has only one assist in that time. He does have three goals in his last seven games, but he also has that same total of three goals in his last 13 games. Little scoring, terrible two-way play and playing for a team that is 3-6-1 in its last 10 games certainly doesn't equal a player you should be counting on down the stretch.
Curtis Glencross, Flames
One of the luckiest men on skates, Glencross has been skating on the Flames' top line with Olli Jokinen and Jarome Iginla of late (Michael Cammalleri has been put on the second line to provide more scoring depth). As a result of skating with those insanely hot line mates (Iginla has 20 points in 11 games, Jokinen five goals in three games and eight in six with the Flames), Glencross has recorded a point in six of seven games (2g, 6a). In fact, going back a bit farther we find that Glencross has 14 points in his last 16 games. He may have only 38 points in 63 games overall, but the past month he has been a fantastic depth scorer.
Teddy Purcell, Kings
The youngster has been skating on the club's top line alongside Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, and as they say, membership has its privileges. Though he has just 14 points in 28 games on the year, Purcell has been feeling it of late with three goals and four assists in eight games in the month of March. Adding to the production is the fact that he has two power-play goals and two assists this month, and one of his markers has been a game winner. It's tough to say that this rookie will continue along at that pace the rest of the way, but at the same time he makes a great waiver-wire find who could potentially put nearly up a point-per-game the rest of the month.
Patrick O'Sullivan, Oilers
The Oilers will need a strong finish if they hope to vie for Lord Stanley's Cup (they are currently ninth in the West), and given that they are 3-2-5 in their last 10, the team will look to shake things up with the line combinations. The chief beneficiary of all the movement could be O'Sullivan, who has been promoted to the top line with Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff. Since being acquired at the trade deadline, O'Sullivan has one goal and two points in five games while taking only eight shots on goal (this after 200 in 62 games with the Kings). O'Sullivan scored 22 times in '07-08, and with 15 goals in 67 games this year, a strong finish could certainly lift him to the 20-goal plateau yet again. He'll have no better shot at it then skating with the team's most dynamic twosome.
The Bulin Wall is back. Nikolai Khabibulin, fresh off a return from a lower-body injury (he last played Feb. 11), didn't fair well in his first start, allowing four goals on just 19 shots. Still, the team wants him to get back in the groove so he will start a second straight game on Tuesday night. Obviously, this could be significant given that the team has basically rotated Khabibulin and Cristobal Huet for most of the season. However, it could just be a situation where the team is trying to get their rusty netminder some work. Huet is 2-2 with a .898 save percentage in his last four appearances, and over his last seven games he is 2-4 while allowing four or more goals four times. Does this mean that Khabibulin will be given a bigger role down the stretch to prepare for the playoffs? If we had to guess we would say yes, but really, it's just a guess at this point.
Kari Lehtonen, Thrashers
The hottest goaltender in the league you say? Seriously, we aren't kidding. Lehtonen has won each of his last five starts, producing a 1.18 GAA, a .966 save percentage and two shutouts. No, we aren't reading Martin Brodeur's line; those really are the numbers for Lehtonen. Look, we all know that the man possesses this kind of talent -- after all he was drafted No. 2 overall in '02 -- but playing in front of a sad sack team all these years, not to mention dealing with a myriad of minor injuries, has knocked his value down. Though his GAA has been at least 2.79 the past three years (currently 2.94), his save percentage has never fallen below .912 (currently .915). If by some miracle he is still on waivers in your shallow league, by all means take a shot on this Finnish netminder.
Los Angeles Kings
Jonathan Quick has won three of his last four starts, but he has also allowed four or more goals in three of his last six starts. As a result, his save percentage in the month of March has been substandard at .876. That has led to Erik Ersberg getting some work. He looked great in a start against the Sharks, stopping 38 of 39 shots, so he was given the start next time out only to allow four goals. In fact, Ersberg has alternated four and one-goal games in his last five appearances (4, 1, 4, 1 and 4) in a real feast or famine type situation. The team clearly isn't opposed to going with the hot hand since Quick has struggled of late, but with Ersberg failing to put up any type of consistency for most of the season, we still favor Quick for the majority of work the rest of the way.
Miikka Kiprusoff, Flames
Kipper leads the league with 40 victories, but he has also been brutal of late with a 4.75 GAA in his last four starts. So will the Flames rest their main man and risk losing the division crown to the surging Canucks given that all 13 of their remaining games are against playoff caliber teams? "We're watching his balance," coach Mike Keenan said. "He's had a lot of days off this season. We'll continue to watch his play very closely." They might want to watch him a little closer considering he has allowed five goals in four of his last seven appearances. You simply cannot sit him down given the wins he racks up, but his ratios are barely average at this point (2.88 GAA, .903 SV%). A rest here and there certainly couldn't hurt, and it might also help the bottom line over the final few weeks.
This is a pretty odd situation, and it's making it impossible to predict who will be in net from one night to the next. Jaroslav Halak was on fire, winning four straight games to seize the starter's role from Carey Price. Halak then picked up the flu and Price entered the lineup, going 2-2 with a 2.25 GAA. When Halak returned to health he returned to the lineup and made 45 saves in a loss. Now, word is that Price will still get back in net on Tuesday night despite Halak's strong last game. It looks like a good old fashioned No. 1 and No. 1A situation, making it impossible to predict who will be in net from night to night. The team clearly wants Price to hold down the job, so he would appear to be the slight favorite despite the fact that Halak is 5-2 with a .943 save percentage in his last seven appearances (Price is 2-3-2 with a .904 SV% in his last seven appearances).
• Nine teams play four games this week: Atlanta, Chicago, Edmonton, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Ottawa, Phoenix, San Jose and Washington.
• Five teams play only two games this week: Boston, Calgary, Columbus, Detroit and NY Islanders.