With the very strong play of Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier, it is no surprise that Tampa Bay has jumped ahead of Carolina in the standings. Tampa Bay Goalie Johan Holmqvist could be a nice late addition to your team; he has won nine of his last 10 games. Marc Denis is not completely out of the picture, but Holmqvist is making a strong case.
If you are interested in acquiring Rod Brind’Amour now is the time. His value is lower than it was earlier this season. He only has 15 goals. However, be aware that Cory Stillman recently injured his knee. While the extent of his injury is unknown, it could cause some reshuffling off the lines.
The Rangers recently traded for Sean Avery. While Avery does have 118 PIM and is -11, his real benefit is his ability to draw penalties from the opposing team. Avery can be a pest and gets under the skin of his opponents. The Rangers top line/ number one power play unit does most of their scoring. With Avery drawing more penalties this could lead to more power play points for Jaromir Jagr, Martin Straka, Michael Nylander, and of course Brendan Shanahan.
Besides Tampa Bay another hot team is the Pittsburgh Penguins. They have won eight of their last ten games and are in second place in the Atlantic Conference. In that time Marc Andre Fleury has posted 2 shutouts. But besides notables Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, two other guys have picked their game up. On a team filled with high draft picks, rookie Jordan Staal is not disappointing. In his last 11 games, he has scored seven goals and three assists. In the same span his teammate Marc Recchi has eight goals and eight assists. Six of those eight goals have come on the power play. Recchi has the most power play goals of all NHL players in the last month. Pittsburgh overall has the second most power play goals in the league (the San Jose Sharks have more).
In Columbus, high scoring defensemen Bryan Berard recently made his debut after finally recovering from injury. A healthy Berard logged over 27 minutes in a recent game which lead the team. Berard should soon start putting up points and helping his fellow teammates score as well. His return however may hurt his teammate and fellow defensemen Rostislav Klesla in terms of playing time. As of January 5th, Klesla had turned his game up. Since that time, he has scored an impressive 6 goals and 2 assists. Keep an eye on what happens and if Klesla’s time continues to drop from 26 minutes to 20 minutes.
Speaking of recovering from injuries, Marian Gaborik has not lost his scoring touch. He has ten goals and five assists in the 14 games that he has been back. It will be interesting to see if Gaborik can play the rest of the season without getting hurt again. His tendency to get hurt has always hurt his ranking and status in terms of fantasy hockey. If he can finish the season without missing games, maybe, just maybe he will be worthy next season.
Another injury-stricken player has been Alexei Yashin. Earlier this season, while playing he was putting up very good numbers at a strong pace. He got injured and returned but had not been the same. Recently he injured himself again and is now out indefinitely. His fantasy value is really low right now and I would rightfully steer you away from him. His absence however could affect Jason Blake’s numbers.