Here is what you need to know as you set your fantasy hockey roster for week 9 (12/6 to 12/12):
Teams with 2 Games: Carolina, Chicago, LA, NY Isles, Phoenix, St. Louis
Teams with 4 Games: Anaheim, Dallas, Detroit, San Jose, Toronto, Washington
This promises to be a high-scoring fantasy week, as many of the top scoring teams have 4 games on the radar (Dallas, Detroit, SJ, Washington). Detroit and Washington have 3 of those 4 at home, and the Caps get home matchups with the likes of Toronto and Florida.
Look for the well to continue to run dry on the Island, as New York plays once at Boston and then home against the red hot Thrashers. Carolina is also facing a tough schedule with just 2 road games, including one at Dallas.
Here are some of the hottest players over the past couple of weeks. First, on defense:
• Dustin Byfuglien (ATL) - 6 games: 5 goals, 6 assists
• Kevin Shattenkirk (COL) - 6 games: 3 goals, 6 assists
• Alex Pietrangelo (STL) - 7 games: 2 goals, 5 assists
• Kris Letang (PIT) - 6 games: 2 goals, 4 assists
• Marek Zidlicky (MIN) - 6 games, 1 goal, 5 assists
On offense (other than Crosby and Stamkos):
• Jarome Iginla (CGY) - 8 games: 7 goals, 4 assists
• Alex Tanguay (CGY) - 8 games: 2 goals, 8 assists
• Martin Havlat (MIN) - 7 games: 3 goals, 6 assists
• Dany Heatley (SJ) - 6 games: 5 goals, 2 assists
• Ondrej Pavelec (ATL) - 6 games: 6 wins, < 1 GAA, 2 shutouts
• M.A. Fleury (PIT) - 5 games: 5 wins, 1 shutout
• Semyon Varlamov (WAS) - 4 games: 4 wins, 1 shutout
Here are some prominent names who have started to dry up in production:
• Nathan Horton (F-BOS) - 0 points in last 6 games
• Evgeni Malkin (F-PIT) - 2 points in last 5 games
• Drew Doughty (D-LA) - 0 points in last 6 games
• Niklas Backstrom (G-MIN) - lost 3 straight with 6 GAA in those games
• Marty Turco (G-CHI) - won just 1 of his past 5 games
RJ Umberger (F -COB)
Umberger is currently riding a 10 game point streak. During that stretch, he's racked up 3 goals and 10 assists. Prior to the streak, he only had 6 points in 13 games, so it's a good bet he's still available. Don't expect the point a game business to last long, but he's proven in the past he can go on hot streaks and be a valuable fantasy forward for a stretch.
Corey Crawford (G-CHI)
Crawford is starting to make a play for the starting role, as expected this season. He's won 5 straight starts. He's gaining in popularity, going from being owned in 22% of CBS leagues two weeks ago, to 41% this week. Snag him before it's too late.
Tom Gilbert (D-EDM) - 7 games, 2 goals, 3 assists
After a long dry spell, Gilbert is starting to awaken. He had 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists) in his last 6 games. He has shown flashes of offensive brilliance in the past, so don't be shocked to see him continue to perform at a high level. He's averaging close to 24 minutes a night now.
Jamie Benn (F-DAL)
All that Benn needs to really break out is opportunity. The Stars are stacked on the wing right now, so Benn is hard-pressed to top 16 minutes of play per night. Even so, he's managed 5 points in his last 3 games, including a goal in each contest. If he graduates to regular duty on the top 2 lines, he could break out.
James van Riemsdyk (F-PHI)
After spending a couple of weeks in the press box, van Riemsdyk rattled off a 5 game point streak, with goals in 3 straight. Expect him to be up and down, but if you can catch him on a hot streak, he's capable of filling that final offensive roster spot for a week or two.
Keep or Drop?
Fantasy owners are facing decisions on several injured or struggling players. Here's my take on what to do.
Devin Setoguchi (F-SJ)
It seems like every season in San Jose, a new young talent rises, only to supplant last year's special. With the emergence of Logan Couture, it seems that Setoguchi has become the odd man out in 2010. He has a mere 2 goals and 5 assists on the season and is showing no signs of life. See Waiver Watch above for better options.
Chris Stewart (F-COL)
With the broken hand and 4-6 weeks on the shelf, many managers face the tough choice of tying up a bench spot until 2011, or testing the free agent market. Make no mistake. Stewart is a beast and will continue to be so in January. I have him in two of my leagues and he's staying put.
David Booth (F-FLA)
At the start of the season, I thought Booth had a good shot at taking over the Panthers offense and recovering from a tragic season in 09-10. It's time to come to terms with reality. Booth hasn't scored a goal in 12 games. Movin' on.
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