Coming off the All-Star break, most leagues feature a slightly shorter game schedule, so once again, it's important to pay attention to the schedule. Here is what you need to know as you set your fantasy hockey roster for week 18 ():
Teams with 2 Games: Anaheim, Buffalo, Chicago
Teams with 4 Games: Montreal, New Jersey, Pittsburgh
Only three teams feature four games on the schedule. Of those, take note of New Jersey, who has been on a bit of a hot streak lately. They have home games with Ottawa and Florida, and away matches with the Rangers and Montreal. The Devils have a good shot at winning 3 of those four this week.
On the other end, the Sabres have just 2 games on the schedule, with one of them being played at Pittsburgh. Don't expect much production there.
This week, we'll take a look at the hottest point producers since the calendar flipped to 2011:
- Daniel Sedin - 17 (7/10)
- Danny Briere - 16 (8/8)
- Patrice Bergeron - 16 (8/8)
- Eric Staal - 15 (7/8)
- Mike Ribiero - 15 (4/11)
- Brad Richards - 15 (3/12)
- Lee Stempniak - 14 (6/8)
- Thomas Vanek - 14 (4/10)
A few surprises in the list. Bergeron has caught fire with the Bruins and his goal production is reaching new heights. Lee Stempniak continues to puzzle. Maybe he just plays well late in the season, mimicking last year's production.
- Keith Yandle - 17 (3/14)
- Shea Weber - 13 (4/9)
- Lubomir Visnovsky - 13 (1/12)
- Joe Corvo - 11 (1/10)
- Zdeno Chara - 10 (5/5)
- Fedor Tyutin - 10 (3/7)
- Tobias Enstrom - 10 (1/9)
Weber and Yandle have made a strong push to start the new year for Norris consideration. Yandle's on a crazy point streak right now. Corvo seems to have awaken from a one year slumber to get back to his old ways of consistent fantasy production.
- Pekka Rinne (NAS ) - 9 wins in 12 games. He went on a terrific run.
- Dwayne Roloson (TB) - since arriving in Tampa, Roloson has exceeded expectations. He has 8 wins and 3 shutouts in his last 12 games.
- Jonas Hiller (ANA) - Hiller earned his All-Star berth with a fine January. He won 8 games, including 2 shutouts.
- Ryan Miller (BUF) - Miller had a rough start to the season, but is back to his Vezina form of last year. He also has 8 wins in January, and 1 shutout
Mats Zuccarello (NYR)
Zuccarello is still fighting to earn consistent playing time, but his role with the Rangers has been increasing since he arrived in late December. He has 7 points in his last 7 games, including a 3-point performance against the Panthers heading into the break. He's been on the short list of go-to guys in the shootout lately, which shows that Tortorella has confidence in his abilities.
Brad Boyes (STL)
For those who may have given up on Brad Boyes in the past year after months of disappointing results, you may want to check out what he's been up to lately. He's on a 4 game point streak and has 12 points in 12 games since the calendar turned to 2011. While the goals have been slow in coming, he's piling up the assists right now. Boyes was a fantasy star from 07-09, but fell off the map quickly. Keep an eye on him after the All-Star break and consider grabbing him on the rebound.
Michael Grabner (NYI)
While he's looking at just 21 points in 45 games on the season, take note of what he's been doing lately. Grabner has points in 7 of the last 8 games, and has totaled 6 goals and 3 assists over that stretch. His ice time in on the rise with the Islanders, and he's averaging well over 3 shots per game this month. With so many rookies to watch this season, Grabner has been late to the party; however, at this point, he's worth a look.
Keep or Drop?
Fantasy owners are facing decisions on several injured or struggling players. Here's my take on what to do.
Alex Edler (D-VAN)
Edler was having himself a stellar season on the Vancouver blueline; however, that came to a sudden stop last week. He's now looking at about 8 weeks on the shelf as he recovers from a bad back. Unless you've got a bench spot to spare, there's no point holding on to him, as he may just make it back before the playoffs. You'd really have to make it to the finals of your league before he could contribute again this season.
Jamie Benn (DAL)
Benn was on a tear for the Stars in January before leaving the game last Monday with a head injury. No official word on his condition, but there is talk of a possible concussion. At this point, you should definitely slide him down to your bench, but I'm not quite ready to advise dropping Benn. If he bounces back quickly, he's looking like a valuable player to have in your lineup. If the head problems linger, you may consider letting go. For now, I'm holding.