Crashing the Net: Byfuglien's scorching; Green's struggling
The NHL's second star of the week after recording six points, including his NHL-leading fifth game-winning goal of the season, Dustin is as hot as any blueliner in the game. In fact, he is playing like this year's Mike Green with 25 points in 24 games. Dustin also leads all blueliners with nine goals and 93 shots on net -- 20 more than the next closest rearguard (Shea Weber). It strains credulity to think that Dustin will be able to post 70+ points this season, but with the start he has had there is no disputing his title as the most valuable blueliner in the fantasy game at the moment.
Always an injury risk, Havlat and his agent had a war of words with the Wild early on because of a perceived lack of interest in Martin (there were accusations that the team wasn't giving him enough ice time, or the right ice time, to allow him to produce points like he was being paid to do). Consider that tit for tat a thing of the past as Havlat is all of a sudden up to 22 points in 22 games. Havlat has been on fire in November with five goals and 11 assists in just 16 games, and he has been even better of late with 12 points in his last seven contests. After recording 18 goals and 54 points last season many passed by Havlat on draft day, but as long as he can stay healthy -- never a given -- he should blow past those marks this season.
A solid two-way performer, Umberger does everything well. However, he has never risen to the level of fantasy star, despite 49 goals and 101 points the past two seasons, because he just doesn't produce enough for a center. Of late, his position has been inconsequential as he is putting up points fast and furious. R.J. has recorded a point in nine-straight games (three goals, eight assists) while also recording a +5 rating. As long as he can remain on the second line he has a chance to be a solid depth-level center in the fantasy game, but don't mistake his recent hot streak for a transformation into Mike Richards.
It's been a rough start to the year for this dynamic blueliner, as he just can't seem to get healthy (most recently he took a puck off his knee). While most blueliners who produce five goals and eight assists in 20 games cause their owners to do back flips, that per-game pace of 0.65 is well off the 1.04 mark he posted in 2008-09. Green has also been ice cold of late with one goal and one assist in nine games. In fact, if you remove a six-game streak from October 28 through November 9, Green has all of three points in 14 games on the year. That should change when he gets healthy, but up until now, it has been a real struggle.
The 10th overall selection in the 2009 NHL entry draft, MPS was supposed to usher in, along with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, a new era in Oilers hockey. While Eberle has been solid with 14 points, and Hall has been visible more nights than not with 11 points, Paajarvi-Svensson has been a total disaster with six points in 21 games. As if that level of production wasn't disappointing enough, Paajarvi hasn't posted a single point in 12-straight games. The Oilers continue to say that he just needs time to get used to the more physical play in North America -- he is from Sweden -- but at some point you would have to think they would send him down to the farm to regain his confidence.
Cold yet again, it has been one streaky season for the Ontario-born centerman. In three games out of the 19 he has skated this season Spezza has recorded nine points, meaning he has but five points in his other 16 contests. Moreover, he has but one point in his last six games. Has he lost his touch? That's a dubious position to take on a guy who is only 27 years old and has racked up 489 points in 482 career games. Still, he isn't doing anyone any favors of late with his putrid performance. Given his track record, it would be advisable to check the temperature of the Spezza owner in your league -- maybe you can find a way to pry him away on the cheap.
Despite suiting up for only seven games this season and just eight in his NHL career (he was taken 7th overall in the 2009 NHL entry draft), Kadri finds himself in a wonderful position skating between sniper Phil Kessel and solid leftwinger Clarke MacArthur on the Leafs' top scoring line. It remains to be seen if Kadri will be able to hold onto the role, after all the transition to the NHL is hard enough without your team counting on you to pile up the points, but if you are in a deep league and need some help down the middle, Kadri is a waiver-wire grab worthy of your attention this week in case he is able to find a groove with his new line mates.
A two-way skater who has never scored more than 13 goals or 26 points, and one who owns a career -22 rating, Talbot should be so far off your fantasy radar that you don't even know his name. That's exactly where he was until the Penguins decided to shift him to the second line skating alongside Evgeni Malkin. Now you not only need to know his name, you might want to add him to your roster. Chances are that Talbot will flame out and recede into fantasy oblivion rather quickly, but there is always a chance that he clicks with Malkin and starts to produce points if for no other reason than simply feeding the puck to number 71.
Turco is still the No. 1 keeper in Chicago's crease landscape, but the battle for playing time is about to get awfully tight. Turco has allowed 11 goals in his last two starts to see his GAA balloon to 2.90, and we all know how head coach Joel Quenneville likes to ride the hot hand in net. That hand belongs to Crawford right now. Not only do his numbers (2.07 GAA, .930 SV percentage in nine games) far surpass the work of Turco this season (2.90 GAA, .900 SV percentage in 18 games), Crawford has also looked exceedingly sharp of late, winning each of his last four starts while allowing a total of five goals. You have to figure that the 'Hawks brought in Turco to lead them to the promised land once again, but don't forget that Crawford has long been thought of as a potential long-term option in net for the club. Figure on Crawford getting more work in the short-term, but unless he continues to play like Ed Belfour in his prime, look for the younger Crawford to eventually take a backseat to Turco with games played split like we have seen to this point of the season.
* Eight teams play four games this week: Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Minnesota, NY Rangers, Ottawa, Phoenix and St. Louis.
* Two teams play only two games this week: Buffalo and New Jersey.