Crashing the net: Avery again finds himself in bright lights of Broadway
Dustin Byfuglien has been the blue line star of the NHL with a position-leading 16 goals and 41 points, but fellow Thrashers' blue liner Enstrom has excelling of late with points in four-straight games (1g, 6a). Rather quietly, Enstrom is up to 38 points. Admit it, you had no idea, did you? Coming off a 50-point campaign last year, it's clear that the Thrashers have two scoring stars from the blue line.
With the trade of Tomas Fleischmann, Fehr is no longer spending time in the press box. He's rewarded the Caps with strong play recently, including three goals and four points in three games, and out further has seven points in six games. The Caps can score, and Fehr did have 21 goals last season, so his recent run of point production shouldn't come as a total shock.
A talented skater, Stafford has one 20-goal season on his resume (2008), though the belief has always been that he had more to give. Perhaps he's figured that out himself this season as he has tallied 14 goals in a mere 26 contests. In January, Stafford has been white hot with four goals and three assists in four games, and he has lit the lamp 10 times in his last 12 games to help ease the pain of losing Derek Roy for the Sabres.
Kostitsyn has a respectable total of 10 goals through 41 games, but he has been a disaster of late with one goal in his last 17 games.If you are looking for scoring make sure you have Sergei Kostitsyn (20 points in 18 games), and not Andrei, on your club.
He likely isn't on any fantasy squads, but my goodness, has he been pitiful since joining the Flames last year. Stajan lit the lamp 16 and 15 times in '07-08, and he had 16 goals through 55 games with the Leafs last year before being dealt to Calgary. Since then, Stajan has scored five times in 63 games, including just one in his last 17 games. There is talent here but not enough production to roster him, even if you're in an 18-team league.
Thornton is on pace for an 11th-straight season of 20 goals, but that is the highlight of his season so far. A plus-16 skater or better in each of his five seasons with the Sharks, he is currently shouldering a minus-12 rating, including a minus-6 mark over his last four games. He has also been held pointless for five-straight games, a shocking number for a man with 966 points in 956 career games. Thornton has 35 points in 41 games, a pace for 70 points, which would be his worst mark since 2001. Expect his totals to improve, perhaps substantially, in the second half.
An agitator who everyone loves to hate, Avery broke a 33-game goal drought on Saturday night (his goal was the game winner). Avery skated on the top line with Marian Gaborik in that contest, and with Alexander Frolov out of action for the rest of the season because of a torn ACL, someone is going to have to fill the other wing on the Gaborik line the rest of the way. It might as well be the pugnacious, yet talented, Avery, who has 127 PIMs and 16 points in 43 games.
The current beneficiary of the nasal sinus fracture injury to Ryan Getzlaf, Beleskey has been elevated to the top line in Anaheim alongside Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan. This will likely be a fluid situation; Maxim Lapierre was given a shot on the line as well, but for now the 22-year-old Beleskey will get the call. Beleskey has some skill, he has lit the lamp 13 times in 82 career games and has three points in his last four contests. Those numbers would grow, perhaps significantly, if he were to stick on the top line.
Has been awful this season (three goals and four assists), and he has been injured at times, limiting him to just 23 games. Perhaps brighter times are ahead. With newly acquired Marco Sturm having some trouble finding his stride, the Kings promoted Ponikarovsky to the top-line alongside Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar on Saturday night. He only skated on that line at even strength, but if he were to somehow hang on to the spot, his production could skyrocket (he has scored 20-plus goals in four of the last five seasons showing that he has offensive skill).
A 31-goal scorer in '08, Setoguchi slumped to 20 markers last season as he struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness. He started this season off much the same way. However, an injury to Joe Pavelski has given Setoguchi a chance to return to a top-six role with the Sharks. Pavelski is close to returning from his lower body injury, which could spell doom for Setoguchi, especially since he is a minus-5 skater the past four games despite time on the top-two lines and the second power-play unit. Keep an eye on Seto, but be wary of the return of Little Joe.
Finally looking something like the all-time great that he is, Brodeur has performed like an NHL-caliber keeper in his last two outings, allowing a total of three goals. Does this mean he is back, and even if he is, will it matter behind that dreadful team in New Jersey? Even if he starts to perform better on a consistent basis, be wary of his won-loss record, which could be dismal (he has one victory in nine appearances).
Hiller is up to second in the league in victories (21) and he has boosted his save percentage to third overall (.929). Currently working on a stupendous streak of netminding, Jonas has allowed a total of six goals in his last six games, including shutouts of the Blue Jackets and Sharks in his last two outings. There isn't a hotter keeper in the game right now.
Kari Lehtonen has been good all year for the Stars with a 2.61 GAA and .914 save percentage over 32 games, but backup Raycroft has produced far better numbers (2.05 GAA, .934 SV% in 13 games). Raycroft has also been sharp of late with victories in his last four appearances, during which time he has allowed all of seven goals. Lehtonen is still the starter, but keep Raycroft on your radar because if Lehtonen does his normal thing and gets injured, Raycroft would have a lot of value.
* Eleven teams play four games this week: Boston, Edmonton, Nashville, NY Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Phoenix, St. Louis, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington.
* Three teams play only two games this week: Atlanta, Dallas and New Jersey.