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Crashing the Net: Kessel's scoring struggles mirror that of Leafs


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.

Alex Burrows, Canucks

For a long while it looked like Burrows would fail to live up to his lofty standards from last season (28g, 23a, +23, 150 PIMs). It might have taken him a while to get going this year, but he is now on track to blow past all the totals except for the PIMs (he has 52). Burrows recorded back-to-back hat-tricks in his last two weeks, has seven goals in four games, and has recorded at least a point in eight of nine games. A few more PIMs would be welcomed, but skating with the Sedin twins has its privileges, and Burrows is currently taking full advantage of that on his way to 17 goals, 18 assists and a +19 mark through 45 games.

Patric Hornqvist, Predators

After scoring two goals in 28 games as a rookie, there is a good chance that Patric (with no "K") wasn't taken in your fantasy league this season. Consider that decision a mistake. Hornqvist has lit the lamp 17 times in 44 games on the year, a strong total, but it has been his work of late that has truly inspired. (1) Hornqvist has scored a goal in three-straight games (four total goals -- all on the power-play). (2) Hornqvist has a point in four-straight games (six points). (3) Hornqvist has recorded 11 goals in his last 13 games. Anyway you look at that, his production has been stupendous of late.

Andy McDonald, Blues

Almost always overlooked, McDonald has a mere 27 points in 42 games this season after an impressive 44 in 46 games last season. McDonald has also been held scoreless in each of his last two games. So how in the hell is he on the "hot" list you ask? Well, just before his little two-game hiccup McDonald had recorded a goal in four-straight, and going back a bit further he has seven goals in 10 games. That'll play in any league. Consider picking up the might mite if you need help up the middle.

Tom Poti, Capitals

The year was 2003. The New Jersey Devils had just won the Stanley Cup, Peter Forsberg was the league MVP and Poti recorded 48 points for the Rangers. Flash forward to 2010, and the Devils continue to win behind Martin Brodeur, Forsberg continues to contemplate retirement, and Poti has been doing little on offense with 14 points in 36 games. However, the outlook has improved noticeably of late for Poti as he has actually been on an offensive tear for the Caps with a point in five-straight games (1g, 6a). It's hard to tell if this is a mirage or the start of a real trend, but it does appear that Poti has been given the green light to be more offensively minded after spending a few years focusing mostly on the defensive side of the puck. With the forwards on his club you'll want to err on the side of caution and pick up Poti if he is available.

Phil Kessel, Maple Leafs

First he was lambasted by coach Ron Wilson, then he was given a reassuring pat on the back, all within the span of a few days. Whatever the truth, be it Kessel's struggles or the fact that there isn't a high quality option to get him the puck in high scoring areas, Kessel is in a whopper of a slump. After jumping out of the gate with eight goals in November, Kessel slipped a bit in December, lighting the lamp six times in 16 games. January has been wasteland without a marker in five games, but it's even worse that that; over his last 12 games he has one goal. Too talented to struggle this badly for much longer, it would still be wise to keep your expectations in check given the overall struggles of the Leafs' forwards.

Brendan Morrison, Capitals

The good news is that Morrison has already bettered his point total of 22 from last season in 18 fewer games (10g, 16a). Morrison is also a +12 which makes him a passable depth option at the center position. Alas, a ton of his value came early on as the point production has dried up faster than a bottle of tequila at a bar on Saturday night. Morrison hasn't scored a goal in seven games and during that time he has only picked up a single helper. Over roughly the past month, we are talking about 15 games, Morrison has a total of three points. If you still can, trade the early season scoring star for another useful part.

Ryan Whitney, Ducks

Things haven't gone as planned this year in Anaheim, and one of the players who has struggled a bit is Whitney. Twenty-two points in 46 games isn't bad at all for a blue liner, but three goals in 46 games, for a guy who scored 26 times in 2006-07, is disappointing. Moreover, the guy hasn't been on the score sheet since Dec. 26, a stretch of eight games. He has also been a plus/minus nightmare of late with a poor (-6) during his scoreless streak. As the team gets healthy around him, his production should increase, but it's been a rough 46 games for Mr. Whitney.

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Todd White, Thrashers

Yes, it's time to panic. After bursting on the fantasy scene last year with 73 points in 82 games, White hasn't been able to muster anything close to that level of production this season with a mere 16 points in 43 games. White has all of one point in seven games and four in 18 games as his scoring doldrums continue to stretch on. Amazingly, he has scored only three goals this year and he is currently working on a 34-game goalless streak (that's nearly half a season worth of games), which when couple with his putrid (-16) rating mark him as a player who isn't even worth rostering in standard sized leagues at the moment.

David Krejci, Bruins

Marc Savard will likely miss 2-4 weeks with a grade II tear of the MCL in his right knee. Patrice Bergeron will miss a couple of weeks with a broken thumb. As a result, Krejci has moved up to center the first line. He has scored only one goal in 11 games but maybe lining up with Blake Wheeler and Miroslav Satan will spark Krejci to return to the level he flashed last season (22g, 51a with a +37).

Teemu Selanne, Ducks

Though he spent the majority of his first game back skating on the fourth line, Selanne managed to score a goal in his first game action after missing more than a month with a broken hand. Don't expect the sniper to stay down on the depth chart for long. Teemu will likely be back to top-6 status by the time you read this as he continues to score goals at a pretty furious pace (16 goals in 29 games).

Senators' forwards

The entire first line of the Senators is currently on the shelf. Milan Michalek is out indefinitely with a concussion that could be serious. Jason Spezza is still at least a couple of weeks away from returning from a knee injury. Daniel Alfredsson is about a week and a half away from returning from a shoulder injury. Therefore, you might want to pay particular attention to Ryan Shannon who is now skating on a line with Mike Fisher and Alexei Kovalev.

Craig Anderson, Avalanche

After a 10-2-2 month of October when his save percentage was .939, Anderson was bound to slow down. He did, precipitously in November (4-5-3, .897 SV%) and December (5-3-0, .902 SV%), but things have turned around a bit in three January starts (2-1-0, .918 SV%). Overall, Anderson is 16th in save percentage (.916) though he leads the league with 1,117 saves due to the high volume of shots he faces on a nightly basis which might be particularly useful if you are in a non-traditional league that counts saves.

Mathieu Garon, Blue Jackets

Garon will make his fourth straight start on Tuesday as Steve Mason has been relegated to the bench due to ineffective play (Mason owns the third worst GAA in the league at 3.31 and allowed six goals in just 35 minutes in his last appearance). Garon's season-long GAA is 2.55, and with a 7-5-3 record he also has produced a better winning percentage than last year's breakout star -- Mason -- who is 11-15-6. Garon has won his last three starts, owns a 1.47 GAA in his last four appearances, and he appears likely to continue to play as long as he continues to post Ws. He shouldn't be on any waiver-wires at the moment.

Mike Smith, Lightning

Smith is a disappointing 10-11-6, but things have taken a turn for the better of late. Smith has won four of his last six starts, and over his last 14 appearances on the ice his save percentage has been a healthy .917. The Bolts continue to play spotty D with a lack of consistent scoring at times, and as a result Smith is 6-7-1 since the start of December despite his improved play. Nothing more than a goalie two, if you can grab Smith on the cheap it might be a wise idea since he finally appears to be rounding into shape after battles with his health.

Cam Ward, Hurricanes

The 'Canes stink, and as a result so do the numbers of Ward, including his pathetic 8-15-5 record. Ward has played better of late, much better in fact, as he has allowed a single goal in three of his last four starts as he has emerged with a victory in each of those outings. He has no shot at duplicating his success from last season (39-23-0, 2.44 GAA -- his mark this year is 2.91), but he appears to have finally righted the ship, making him a fine buy-low candidate if his current owner has soured on him after a terrible start to the year.

* Seven teams play four games this week: Calgary, Detroit, Minnesota, NY Rangers, Pittsburgh, San Jose and Washington.

* Three teams play only two games this week: Buffalo, Colorado and NY Islanders.