Blue Line Buzz: Getting ready for the break
With the Olympics -- and the extended break that comes along with it -- now's the time to analyze your needs and see what you can do for a playoff run.
(all statistics through Sunday, February 2)
In Washington, sightings of American Olympian John Carlson have been reported. One of the more frustrating players to own this season, Carlson has seen an uptick in his production with two assists in Friday's loss to Detroit and a power-play blast Sunday against the Wings, giving him his 10th goal of the season, also adding an assist on Alexander Ovechkin's game-winning power-play blast.
Carlson had been amazingly quiet the last few weeks before reeling off five points in the Caps' last three tilts (1-4-5). Carlson's ability and potential to produce is no secret, but he's showing what he can do for owners who either gambled on him via waivers or a trade or those who left in the lineup simply because there are no better options available. Washington will need Carlson to carry the team's points from the blue line as Mike Green may or may not be dealing with a concussion and did not play Sunday.
New Jersey's Eric Gelinas again will make an appearance in this space, but this time it's because he probably won't be back in the NHL until after the Olympic break at the earliest.
He was sent to Albany (AHL) after the Devils' overtime win against Dallas on Tuesday, after some questionable decisions in both his own zone and the neutral zone during his latest stint with the big club. His decision to pinch on a bouncing puck in the Devils' crushing by the Rangers at Yankee Stadium last week led to an odd-man rush and a goal and he played only 2:50 in Tuesday's win over Dallas, the whole game.
Yes, Gelinas has been one of the most productive rookie defensemen not named Torey Krug, putting up 22 points in 44 games; but he lacks the poise in his own zone shown by the likes of Hampus Lindholm and, at times, Olli Maatta. The Devils are one organization in the league who will completely disregard offensive production if a defender can't figure it out in his own zone or the neutral zone. They already have one of those in Marek Zidlicky. Gelinas had no points since in his three-point outburst against St. Louis two weeks ago and had been a minus-4 in those four tilts since. New Jersey has opted to dress Gelinas as a seventh defenseman at times the last month, using him only in overtime and power-play situations.
The demotion to the AHL was coming for Gelinas and the other youngsters on New Jersey's squad with the Olympic break approaching. Most teams will send down their two-way contract players so they can play over the Sochi break, but will need to do so before their final game prior to the hiatus.
Gelinas will be back.
Don't You ... Forget About Me
It's easy for hockey fans not in Alberta to forget about the Calgary Flames and their northern neighbors in Edmonton. Both teams are the midst of a several-year rebuild with the Oilers having more pieces in place than Brian Burke and the Flames. One of the few bright spots for Calgary has been workhorse Mark Giordano.
The minute-eating blue liner is riding a nine-game points streak through Saturday's overtime win against Minnesota, a game in which he assisted on two of Calgary's four goals, including the winner. Giordano missed considerable time with a broken ankle but has found his stride after a rather quiet several weeks spanning late December and early January.
In these nine games, Giordano notched four goals and 10 points, putting six shots on goal Saturday. He's the team's top option on defense and will log huge minutes.
Somebody(s) That We Used To Know
Tom Gilbert, Panthers: He has no points in the last three games for an enigmatic Florida team, but he reeled off three consecutive two-assist games and sits with 24 points for the Panthers through 55 games. He's seeing first-pairing minutes although he isn't shooting much (67 shots) and has just four total points on the power play. Florida seems to score in droves for a week at a time, then disappear. Gilbert is likely bouncing around on waivers and can be worth a look in deep leagues; daily leagues might want to examine Gilbert as an option on days with a light slate of games.
Christian Ehrhoff, Sabres: The sight of a Sabre on your Fantasy roster might not inspire the most optimistic of thoughts, but players like Tyler Ennis have been providing secondary production of late. Ehrhoff isn't quite reliving his glory days from San Jose and Vancouver, but he's been steady the last three weeks with points in seven of 10 games, including a three-point effort against Columbus on January 25. Ehrhoff's grabbed nine points in those 10 contests and will continue to see scoring chances for the Sabres. He's picked up his play of late and is on pace for his best season since signing a huge contract with the Sabres in 2011.
Sergei Gonchar, Stars: 15 years ago, Gonchar was the premier scoring defensemen in the NHL not named Nicklas Lidstrom. Gonchar cracked double digit goals in seven of his first eight NHL seasons, topping out at 26 in 2002. Those halcyon days are long gone. Gonchar can be an asset in only the deepest of leagues or a spot start in daily leagues. He hasn't been entirely awful; he has no points in his last two games but grabbed five points over a four game span last week. Keep in mind that of his 18 points on the season, four came in one game. Gonchar was not named to the Russian Olympic squad, but is still seeing power-play minutes for a suddenly hot Dallas team. He's hardly a reliable option, but those in a pinch might not have many other choices.
Tyson Barrie is back on the radar of Fantasy owners for the surging Avalanche, with two goals and five total points in the last four games. Barrie has seen his production ebb and flow quite often; he's played in only 37 games this season complete with a stop in the minors after a slow start. He's good and in a great situation with an utterly talented group of young stars around him.
In case you needed a reminder on how good of a player Shea Weber is and the 15 goals he has on the season doesn't convince you, him burying two chances against New Jersey Friday night should. Granted, they are golden scoring opportunities, but it takes a poised player (and a blistering slap shot) to convert. His overtime winner was a perfectly placed shot. Weber leads all NHL defensemen in goals with 15 and appears poised to crack 20 yet again.
Weber's teammate, Roman Josi has been remarkably consistent of late, slamming home four goals in the last 10 games and failing to register points in all but two of those tilts. The Swiss Olympian has played over 26 minutes in each of those 10 games, breaking 30 in two of them.
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