January 18, 2011

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.

Jamie Benn, Stars

A rugged forward with size (6-2, 205 lbs.), Benn has the rare combination of physicality and talent. Of late he has been showcasing his offensive upside with a point in each of his last four games (3g, 3a). Benn has been productive on offense for much longer than a handful of games as he has produced 14 points in his last 14 games while firing at least four shots on goal six times. He could be on waivers if you are in a shallow league, and if he is you should give serious consideration to adding him to the mix.

Ilya Kovalchuk, Devils

OK, so he isn't on "fire," but at least it's a start. The overall numbers are atrocious -- 13 goals and a minus-27 through 44 games -- but perhaps there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Kovalchuk has lit the lamp three times in his last three games, and over his last four outings he has five points. He's even been a plus-3 skater in that time. The situation in New Jersey is dreadful, but that doesn't mean that he couldn't go on a massive scoring streak the rest of the way, so don't sleep on him if his current owner will give him up on the cheap.

Mike Santorelli, Panthers

A sixth round draft pick in 2004, he recorded three points in 32 career games with the Predators before being moved to the Panthers. It was more of the same at first in the Sunshine State, but of late Santorelli has been on quite the hot streak. Not only does he have a single point in six-straight contests, he also has points in 10 of 11 games. As a center eligible player there isn't an extreme level of interest, but he is a name to consider adding if you need a boost.

Marian Gaborik, Rangers

Last season was the "good Gaborik" as he brought many a crowd to its feet on his way to 42 goals and a career-best 86 points. This season we've seen the downside of what Gaborik can bring to the ice as injury has limited him to 33 of the Rangers' 47 games. Even worse, Gaborik hasn't been the offensive force that he always is with a mere 11 goals scored, including a drought of eight-straight games without a goal. The injury concerns will never go away but there is no disputing his elite talent. If you can, buy low on the Czech born sniper.

Nathan Horton, Bruins

Horton opened the year on fire with nine points in eight October games, and through 22 contests he had 18 points. Since then he has dealt with minor injuries and poor performance, which has resulted in a mere four goals scored in his last 21 contests, including just one in his last 15 games. Add it all up and Horton is on pace to pretty much match what he did last year in Florida (20g, 37a), a far cry from what was expected from him in his first season in Boston.

Tyler Myers, Sabres

Last year's Rookie of the Year has been a disappointment. Myers is on pace to roughly match his goals, hits and PIM total of last season, but his point production has fallen from 0.59 points-per-game down to 0.40. Myers has also seen his plus/minus mark dip from +13 to a (-15) this year, including a (-7) mark in his last seven games, and you can forget about him lighting the lamp because he hasn't beaten a keeper since Nov. 15 -- that's over two months if you don't have your calendar handy. All in all, it's been a rather dreadful follow up to a terrific rookie season.

Jochen Hecht, Sabres

With Tim Connolly scoring just one goal in 11 games, he will lose his spot on the top line, allowing Mr. Hecht to be promoted to play alongside Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville. This obviously boosts the value of Hecht, who has been doing quite well of late, skating with inferior linemates as he has recorded points in seven of 10 games and nine of 13. However, given Hecht's track record, even this "promotion" doesn't figure to keep him fantasy relevant for much longer unless you are in deep leagues (in 11 seasons he has never bettered 22 goals or 56 points).

Sergei Shirokov, Canucks

Immensely gifted, Shirokov was a star in Canucks' camp last year, but when the season started he was a bust, lasting only six games before being demoted. This season the 24-year old has excelled in the AHL -- he's currently sporting a 12-game point streak at that level -- which resulted in his recall for the first time this season. While his recall alone is enough of a reason to get interested, the fact that he is likely to replace Jeff Tambellini on the second scoring line is even more reason to get excited about the Russian winger.

Miikka Kiprusoff, Flames

The Flames ace is dealing with awful struggles of late. Kipper has allowed 17 goals in his last six starts, leading to a 3.41 GAA and a .862 save percentage. In those six games he has failed to reach even 30 minutes of action before being pulled. The Flames will continue to rely on him most nights, but if you are a Kiprusoff owner you have to be feeling nervous about the fact that his save percentage has been just .880 in his last 17 starts.

Joey MacDonald, Red Wings

Jimmy Howard's injured knee is healing quickly, and he will likely return to action this week. In the meantime MacDonald is starting for the Winged Wheel since Chris Osgood is also on the shelf after groin surgery. Whomever starts for the Wings has to be given fantasy consideration, and in four appearances this season MacDonald has done pretty well with a 2.37 GAA. He'll slide back into a support role, likely by the end of the week, but with Osgood out for a while MacDonald is the backup to Howard that you want to own.

Ryan Miller, Sabres

The Sabres MVP has made 21-consecutive starts for the club, going 11-8-2. However, Miller has given up four goals six times in his last 10 outings, and in the month of January his GAA sits at 3.07 to raise his season-long mark to 2.72, a half a goal worse than his 2.22 mark from last year. He's in a slump, but the Sabres will continue to let him work his way through it (he is scheduled for a 22nd straight start against Montreal).

* Thirteen teams play four games this week: Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Florida, Los Angeles, Montreal, New Jersey, NY Islanders, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Tampa Bay.

* One team play only two games this week: Chicago

Ray Flowers is Managing Editor forFanball.com Owners Edge and RotoTimes.com. You can also follow the happenings of the game of hockey on our Twitter Page, as well as listen to his daily three hour radio show on Sirius 211 and XM 147. For more information on the show click on the link to the Fanball Fantasy Drive.

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