Just a couple weeks left before the trade deadline shakes things up a bit. Here is what you need to know as you set your fantasy hockey roster for week 20 (2/14 to 2/20):
Teams with 2 Games: Atlanta, Columbus, Pittsburgh
Teams with 4 Games: Buffalo, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Washington
Only three teams are facing the short schedule this week. May be best to avoid loading up on those teams for this week. Of the busier teams, give the Sabres a special look. They have 3 home games, including the Leafs, Blues, and Caps -- none of which present particularly menacing defenses right now. Expect Vanek and crew to have a big week.
A few surprising names highlight the top performers over the past two weeks:
• Mikael Samuelsson (VAN) - 10 points (4/6)
• Nikolai Kulemin (TOR) - 9 points (5/3)
• RJ Umberger (COB) - 8 points (2/6)
• Thomas Vanek (BUF) - 7 points (4/3)
• Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ) - 7 points (4/3)
• Nathan Horton (BOS) - 7 points (2/5)
• Robyn Regehr (D-CGY) - 5 points (1/4)
• Antti Niemi (G-SJ) - red hot with 4 wins, including 2 shutouts for the Sharks
A number of goaltenders have gone cold in the past couple weeks:
• Cory Schneider (VAN) - after a terrific first half of the season, he's lost 2 of 3 and has a .880 save percentage during that stretch.
• Kari Lehtonen (DAL) - Has lost 4 of 6 games with a 3.59 GAA
• Henrik Lundqvist (NYR) - lost his last 3 with a .818 save percentage
• Craig Anderson (COL) - lost 3 straight, with a 4+ GAA
Chris Campoli (D-OTT)
Campoli has shown flashes of brilliance in his career, particularly in his days with the Islanders. Recently, he's been the lone bright star in Ottawa. He has 6 points (2 goals and 4 assists) over the past 4 games. He is a +6 over that span, while many of his teammates are deep in the hole.
Max Pacioretty (MON)
Pacioretty's role with the Habs has been slowly increasing to the point where he is now being counted on for regular offensive production. He has 3 goals in the past 2 games and 6 in his last 5. He's been piling up an average of 4+ shots per game over the past month as well.
Travis Zajac (NJ)
Many fantasy owners expected Zajac to have a breakout campaign at the start of the season. It just hasn't panned out that way, at least until recently. Zajac has been at the center of New Jersey's recent resurgence and his numbers are starting to stand out. He has 6 points in his last 4 games and seems to be on track for a big finish.
Michael Grabner (NYI)
The plague of injuries on Long Island has opened the door for Michael Grabner to shine. He has been on a tear for the past month, with 15 points in his last 13 games, including a whopping 10 goals. He is currently riding a 3 game goal-scoring streak and has become the go-to guy for New York.
Keep or Drop?
Fantasy owners are facing decisions on several injured or struggling players. Here's my take on what to do.
Evgeni Malkin (PIT)
Word is Malkin is on the shelf until next fall. As much as it hurts, you must drop him and move on.
Evgeni Nabokov (SJ)
Nabokov remains in no-man's land, as hockey fans continue to scratch their heads over Garth Snow's motives. That should become clearer as the trade deadline approaches. It seems reasonable to think that Snow will move Nabokov to a contender for a pick or a prospect, essentially getting something for nothing out of this deal. If that plays out, fantasy owners can look forward to cashing in on Nabokov's services on a good team during the playoff run. In other words, keep him for now, or pick him up if he's still out there.
Ryan Malone (TB)
Malone is becoming one of the most inconsistent fantasy producers in the league. When several Lightning forwards went down with injury, he filled in on the top lines with some quality production. Since mid-January, his production has dried up, and he has missed several games. At this point, I'm looking elsewhere for help up front. Drop him.
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