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Ice Chips: Hot, Cold, or Hurt?

March 14, 2008 | By Steven Ovadia | comment on this post
Thomas Vanek is on the skids.
Let’s hope, in what is their third appearance on the site, that the Sabres’ skanks in training can help Thomas Vanek heat up.

The playoffs are within reach for so many teams. We love to complain about parity, but it sure does make the NHLers play hard, eh? This time of year, it’s all about injuries, hot streaks and cold streaks. There’s really nothing else that matters.

Cold

  • Obviously, it’s not fair to call Caps’ rookie Nicklas Backstrom cold, what with his season totals of 11 goals and 48 assists, but his March has been a bit slow so far, with just two goals and five assists. And perhaps, most significantly, there was the small matter of his scoring on his own goalie in a tight game against the Penguins. Even worse for Backstrom owners, the goal didn’t count toward his stats, which is the real crime.
  • Buffalo Sabre left winger Thomas Vanek has gone ice, ice cold. After putting up 13 goals and seven assists in February, he’s gone stunningly chilly in March, putting up just one goal without an assist. If you grabbed Vanek after his amazing February, it might be time to see if there’s anyone else you can grab to bring you to the finish line. Meanwhile, his teammate Jason Pominville is having another solid season. While his numbers aren’t gaudy (23 goals and 42 assists), he’s closing in on his career high of 68 points, set last season, and he’s got a good shot at an 80-point season.

Hot

  • Where did Red Wing forward Johan Franzen come from? He’s got 18 goals and eight assists on the season, but has put up six goals and two assists in March. The secret to his sudden success? He’s learning the joys of standing in front of the net.
  • I’m actually a little bit of a Jeff Halpern fan, but no one was more shocked than I was to see what he’s doing in Tampa, where he was traded from Dallas. Halpern’s put up five goals and five assists since he arrived in the land of 4 p.m. dinner specials. Meanwhile, his linemates Michel Ouellet (six goals, four assists) and Mathieu Darche (five assists) have also picked up the pace since Halpern’s arrival nine games ago. And you thought you were so slick having both Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier on your fantasy roster. Maybe you picked the wrong bolt of Lightning!

Hurt

  • Boston Bruin defenseman Zdeno Chara is day-to-day with an upper body injury. He’s missed two games this week. Maybe it’s nothing, but it’s something you might want to keep an eye on. In Chara’s stead, youngster Matt Lashoff has seen an increase in PT, but he hasn’t done anything to make him worthy of fantasy consideration.
  • Sidney Crosby, a guy you might have heard of, is also day-to-day with a sore right ankle (or, as some coaches might say, a lower leg/upper foot injury). Crosby hopes to be back Sunday, but the Penguins’ superstars are dropping like flies. Marian Hossa, out with a sprained MCL, might also be back Sunday, though.

Reborn

  • OK. There’s actually one more category that counts this time of year. The ability to rise up from the dead (metaphorically speaking, of course). Colorado Avalanche left winger Ryan Smyth managed to miss just five games with a concussion and an injured shoulder. He could be back this weekend, which is pretty impressive.
  • And over in Ottawa, goalie Martin Gerber has finally won the starting job. Or so it seems. His .915 save percentage and 2.57 goals against average are actually pretty good. And he was obviously sharp in his Thursday night shutout against the Habs. So if he’s somehow still on your fantasy roster, you’re in good shape. Ray Emery, Ottawa’s other goalie? It sounds like he’s going to be Plan B for a while.

The Week Ahead

  • Saturday, the Devils play the Avalanche, and considering the Avalanche spent the trade deadline re-assembling its 2001 Cup-winning team, this game really will look like some kind of weird, time capsule of an era gone by.
  • Saturday also sees the Islanders playing the Canadiens. These games are always a little awkward as the Habs have quite a few Long Island natives. Luckily, ice + awkwardness = great hockey.
  • Tuesday, the Sharks play the Kings, which just doesn’t seem fair. It’s like when the Washington Generals play the Globetrotters.

The Hockey Blog

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