Ice Chips: Bubble Trouble Edition
How tight are the Western and Eastern playoff races? It seems like the standings change nightly, and that much pressure forces players to perform.
The Rangers spent this week in and out of the playoff bubble, but new coach John Tortorella finally has the team’s big guns going. Scott Gomez, pretty much a fantasy dud all season, has four goals and four assists in his last five games. Chris Drury, also a fantasy disappointment, has two goals and three assists in his last five games. Obviously, these aren’t sick numbers, but at this point in your fantasy season, it’s a sprint, not a marathon.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh has stormed its way back into the playoff picture and Bill Guerin, last seen languishing on the bench in Long Island, is finding out that playing on a line with Sidney Crosby does amazing things for your numbers. Guerin has a goal and five assists in his last five games. Compare that to all of January, when Guerin had two goals and three assists. Of course, this raises the issue of whether just about anyone can put up numbers on a line with Crosby. Like, could an enforcer put up these numbers? Could your grandmother? What about a toaster?
If you’re looking for a little more out of your defense, I’m going to suggest Edmonton’s Denis Grebeshkov, who has been quietly and steadily putting up decent numbers, including five assists in his last six games. With Edmonton barely holding onto its playoff position, Grebeshkov, who leads the Oilers with a +10 rating, might find himself taking more chances to help the Oilers put up some goals. Of course, that could end up killing his +/-. But for now, I’m really enjoying the cut of his jib. And slow and steady production is better than nothing at all.
Finally, a lot of Flyer-watchers have been bummed about the dramatic slowdown in the Jeff Carter–Joffrey Lupul–Scott Hartnell line. Things might be clicking again, though, as Hartnell put up two goals and two assists Tuesday night against Buffalo. Lupul had two assists and Carter had two goals. That’s pretty hot. You’re not going to find Carter available in any league, but you might be able to grab Hartnell. And odds are, you can have Lupul if you really believe in him.
The Week Ahead
- Saturday, the Flames take on the Leafs, a sweet reminder that the Canadian balance of hockey power has truly shifted to the west. Now, if we could just get the west in a better time zone…
- Sunday, the Islanders take on the Blackhawks, a noteworthy game only in that the AHL-stocked Isles play a shockingly uptempo, aggressive game. It’s not effective, but it’ll be great to watch against a slightly older Blackhawks team. But before we totally dismiss the Isles, it’s worth mentioning that youngster Kyle Okposo has potted goals in four straight games. Need some offense down the stretch? This rook is starting to light the lamp with greater frequency and he’s more than likely available in your league.
- Monday, Nashville plays LA, as the Predators try to hold onto and/or grab that last playoff spot and the Kings try to orchestrate a push into the playoffs. Non-traditional hockey markets represent!