Ilya Kovalchuk has six points in his last 11 games in what his fantasy owners would easily deem “a disappointing season”. He has six points and is a minus-10 in his last 11 games, but things are finally looking a little brighter for the 23-year-old. Enough of the Steve Rucchin experiment! End the Niko Kapanen trials! Stop the Glen Metropolit insanity!

 

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The Keith Tkachuk era in Atlanta has begun and the power forward is heading straight for Kovalchuk’s line.
 
Granted, said era may only last for two months, but for poolies that have sat on Kovalchuk all season long it could be the two months that save their pool. His 61 points in 64 games were heading in the opposite direction of last season’s impressive 98 points in 78 contests. That’s a 1.26 points-per-game average, and although Tkachuk is no Marc Savard (Kovalchuk’s center of old) in terms of setup ability, he brings a different element to the game. Expect Atlanta’s acquisition of Tkachuk to bring the Russian winger back to that 1.26 pace from here on in.


Slava Kozlov, meanwhile, has generally found himself on a line with Marian Hossa this season. The center on his line has been newcomer Eric Belanger. This line will remain intact and Kozlov’s even-strength points will continue unabated. His power-play points, on the other hand, will decline. This will be a bigger blow on his numbers than with most players, as Kozlov currently sits with more power-play points (32) than even strength (30).
 
Atlanta’s other big acquisition this weekend, Alexei Zhitnik, gives them a veteran presence on the blue line, and they will use his offensive talent to quarterback their power play. Granted, Zhitnik’s talents fall short of a Scott Niedermayer or Nik Lidstrom, but he is an upgrade to Steve McCarthy and Greg Devries. With the likes of Kovalchuk, Hossa and Tkachuk to pass to, and with the uncontested No.1 spot on the blue line with the man advantage, Zhitnik is sure to put up a point for every two games going forward…
 
Meanwhile…


The Bruins are reportedly not finished wheeling and dealing just yet. While Glen Murray’s name is nothing new to trade rumors this season, slumping sophomore Brad Boyes’ is. The latter’s season could not get any worse and it may be worth taking a flyer on him in your pool in hopes that he is moved…
 
It took four games, but the Nashville line of Peter Forsberg-Paul Kariya-Martin Erat finally produced on Saturday. Coach Barry Trotz was very patient with this line and they have gelled more and more with every game. Forsberg was out for about 10 minutes during the second period, however, and reportedly was walking the halls without his skates on. He later returned to the game. During his absence, David Legwand stepped back onto his old line and scored a goal. Legwand’s new linemate, Scott Hartnell, broke his foot in the contest and it will be interesting to see what Trotz does with his lines now…


Montreal rookie Guillaume Latendresse is pointless and a minus-5 in his last seven games. He was a healthy scratch on Saturday…


Dallas goaltender Mike Smith has started four of the last seven games and came on in relief of Marty Turco in a fifth contest. He is 4-1 in that span and will spot Turco quite a bit during the stretch run. The Stars want to buck the trend of having Turco collapse come playoff time and feel that some extra rest might do the trick. At any rate, if Turco does stumble in the postseason, they will be quick with the hook. Smith would make a decent No.3 goaltender on most fantasy rosters…
 
Despite seeing significant time with Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles winger Dustin Brown is pointless in his last seven games…


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