Originally submitted to and published by The Hockey News, ESPN.com and MSN.ca on March 21.
When a team is on a hot streak, it’s always good to pick several of the players up for a week or two in your rotisserie league and ride the wave. When that team is desperate and fighting for their playoff lives, this becomes an absolute no-brainer.
The Colorado Avalanche are riding an 8-0-1 wave and are now within striking distance of the Calgary Flames. Anyone that is in second place in their fantasy leagues and needs a boost for the stretch run – grab some of these players if you haven’t already.
During the nine-game run, the team has scored 34 goals and has given up 18. What’s more, the offense has not really been spread out so it has been their big guns that have been putting up the points. It’s a tailor-made situation for even the most casual of fantasy hockey owners to take advantage of.
From the top line, Joe Sakic has nine points in his last three games while Andrew Brunette has six. From the second line, Paul Stastny has 19 points in his last 13 games and Milan Hejduk has 14 in his last 10.
At the other side of the rink, Jose Theodore has been relegated to backup status and it is Peter Budaj who is shouldering the workload. From here on in, Budaj will be credited with every ‘W’ – and there will be a lot of them.
The Avs play their next two contests against the Oilers. Edmonton has been unable to put points on the board of late, so adding Budaj is an easy decision. The Oilers have also been holding their opponents down in terms of offense to compensate, so don’t expect huge numbers from Colorado the next two games, but it will be the above four players who get them.
Two Avs to stay away from are Marek Svatos (who has had a miserable season and is seeing less than 10 minutes of ice time these days) and Wojtek Wolski (four points in his last 13 games). Focus on the ‘Big 4’ plus Budaj and you will be laughing down the stretch…
Injuries, from a fantasy pool perspective: With Dan Cleary back in the Detroit lineup and with Todd Bertuzzi joining the team on Thursday/Saturday (apparently), all the extra ice time that Jiri Hudler has been enjoying will soon come to an end. The rookie has been hot of late and has proven that he will be a solid NHLer. Mike Babcock is patient with his youngsters, however, so Hudler will have to wait for his next opportunity…Tim Connolly is back practicing for the Sabres and could still return for a week of regular season games before the team enters the playoffs. His return will spell the end of Drew Stafford’s terrific production of late, as the youngster will slip to the fourth line…Scottie Upshall and Simon Gagne are expected to return to the Philadelphia lineup on Saturday. Both players were hot for the stretch immediately after the trade deadline before injuries befell them.