January 24, 2012

From goal scorers to defenders to the men who keep the puck out of the net, each week we'll take a spin around the rink and touch on some of the players that are in the news.

• Alex Ovechkin was suspended for three games for his hit on Zbynek Michalek (he "launched" himself into the Penguins' defender according to the league). This is bad timing for Ovechkin, who finally had been heating up with 17 points in 16 games. Because of the suspension, he's decided to sit out the All-Star game, though he is still eligible for the event.

• Pavel Datsyuk has 32 points in his last 25 games, and he's chipped in a plus-20 rating as well for the Red Wings during that stretch. He might be the most complete forward in the NHL.

• Scott Hartnell has been named to the All-Star Game to take the place of the injured Jonathan Toews. It's about time. Hartnell is sixth in the NHL with 25 goals, and he is the only skater in the game who has at least 70 penalty minutes (71) and more than 17 goals scored. Toss in 13 power-play goals and it can be argued, persuasively, that Hartnell has been one of the top-10 fantasy skaters this season.

• Nathan Horton is likely to miss some time with yet another head issue (that's code for a concussion). Given his woes in the past with said injury, we can only hope he bounces back quickly. Rich Peverley will move up to take Horton's spot in the lineups. Peverley has 32 points with a plus-18 in 40 games this season and he has scored a point in three-straight contests.

• David Krejci has a point in four-straight games. He also has points in 15 of his last 16 games for the Bruins as he has recovered from a slow start to the year. During his scoring run, David has recorded 22 points to push his season total up to 38 points in 43 games.

• Matthew Lombardi has 11 points in 30 games for the Leafs this season. An excellent skater, Lombardi is a one time 20-goal scorer who hasn't really been heard from since the 2009 season due to concussion woes. He has returned to the realm of the living of late with four goals in his last four games, so keep an eye on this explosive speedster.

• Peter Mueller is back on the ice after continued concussion woes, and somewhat surprisingly, he is performing well. Mueller has scored three times in his last three games, and he's fired 25 shots on net in those six outings. He even skated more than 19 minutes in the Avalanche's last game. A 22-goal, 54-point performer as a rookie in '07, Mueller is finally rounding into shape.

• Rick Nash is going to have to pick it up. With 17 goals in 48 games he is on pace to fail to record 30 goals, something he has done each of the past four seasons. He's also a dreadful (minus-20). The best thing that could happen to Nash would be for the Blue Jackets to deal him, though that isn't likely to occur.

• John Tavares has 48 points in 47 games, putting him on pace to blow past his 67 point total of last season. He's been particularly hot of late with a point in 12-straight games before he was held pointless on Monday night. During the 12-game point streak he recorded eight goals and 13 helpers for the Islanders.

• Kyle Turris has taken off since joining the Senators. In 18 games up north, Turris has four goals, nine helpers an a plus-11. This is exactly the type of production that was expected when he was taken third overall in '07.

• Jay Bouwmeester recorded 12, 15 and 15 goals from 2006-08. Alas, those offensive exploits have not been seen since his move to Calgary as he has a total of 10 goals in more than two an a half seasons with the Flames. On the plus side, Jay is coming off a three-point game and he has seven points in his last seven games. Don't expect that level of productivity to continue, but Bouwmeester may finally be realizing his potential at both ends of the ice.

• Dan Girardi has only eight penalty minutes on the season, a total that has some thinking he's "soft." That's not the case; Girardi just plays an honest game. He's fifth at the position with 132 hits, and his total of 116 blocked shots is fourth among the rear guards.

• Erik Johnson has had a down year for the Avalanche. Through 44 games he has 19 points, is a minus-11 skater, and has but one goal on 99 shots. It's amazing that you could have that many shots on goal and have only one score. The only blue liner with 100 shots who has scored fewer than three times is Joe Corvo, who has two on 109 shots.

• Alex Pietrangelo was taken fourth overall in '08 in hopes that he would one day develop into a No. 1 defensemen. He's looked every bit the part of late. Though he lost his nine-game point streak Monday, Pietrangelo has had a month to remember in January with three goals, 10 assists, a plus-6 rating, 14 PIMs and 38 shots on net -- all in just 10 games. That type of productivity, you don't need me to tell you, is elite from any player, let alone one who patrols the blue line.

• Mark Streit has 26 points, including 17 on the power-play, for the Islanders. Unfortunately he's also saddled with a pathetic minus-19 rating.

• Jonas Gustavsson has been tending net for the Leafs of late and he has clearly taken over as the No. 1 man ahead of James Reimer. The Monster had a shutout Monday, his third in the month of January.

• Jaroslav Halak allowed three goals Monday night, the first time in six outings that he had allowed more than two goals. In fact, over his last nine games he's allowed a total of 12 goals to lower his GAA to 2.04. The Blues are getting some type of goaltending right now.

• Jimmy Howard is 30-10-1 for the Winged Wheel. That's 30 victories in 49 team games. If he keeps up that pace he would win 50 games to set an NHL single season record (the current record is 48 wins by Martin Brodeur in '06).

• Jonathan Quick has a 1.93 GAA this year for the Kings. Over his last six games he has only three wins despite allowing a total of 10 goals. The Kings have been woeful on offense, limiting Quick's win-loss record to 21-12-9.

• Is there a keeper hotter than Pekka Rinne right now? Rinne has won his last eight starts and 11 of 12 outings. Over his last eight games he has allowed a mere 11 goals and he's dropped his season long GA down to 2.39. In the process, he has pushed his record to 27-11-4. He has more work to do to get his GAA down to last year's level (2.12), but he's just six wins away from tying his career best total of 33 victories from last season.

• Cam Ward's season-long ratios still don't sparkle (2.86 GAA, .909 save percentage), but he's finally found his groove of late. Over his last nine games he's held the opposition to two or fewer goals in each game, and for the month of January he has a 1.67 GAA. The 'Canes just aren't scoring goals though as Ward is just 5-2-3 over his last 10 outings.

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, and Saturday's from 3-4 PM he hosts the SiriusXM Fantasy Hockey Show. His NHL thoughts can be read at Rotowire.com. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account. To e-mail Ray a question for next week's piece, drop him a line at fantasyfandom@yahoo.com.

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