|Sweet and Sour||Tweet|
|Written by Russ Miller|
|Thursday, 03 February 2011 11:52|
Time to look ahead to the final 30 games or so and see what might be in store for the balance of the season. I'll pick one player from each Eastern Conference team that should be in for a sweet finish and one whose production over the last stanza may leave a sour taste in their owners mouth. I'll try my very best to avoid being Captain Obvious.
Sweet: Nik Antropov sits ninth in team scoring and was on pace for a mere 41 points after averaging 61 points over the last three seasons. The soon to be 31-year-old was hot of late, recording six points in seven games.
Sour: I was never really sold on Anthony Stewart turning into a scorer in the NHL. He was a point-per-game player in junior, but he never topped 31 points as a professional. Stewart has gone ice cold, recording only four points in his last 15 contests.
Sweet: With 25 points in his last 21 games, Patrice Bergeron was on pace for 65 points, his best since he recorded back-to-back 70 point seasons in 2005-06 and 2006-07. Marc Savard has likely played his last game this season, giving Bergeron a decent shot at hitting 70 points for the third time in his career.
Sour: Brad Marchand has recorded 11 points over the last 11 games despite receiving virtually no power play time. He is averaging just over 13 minutes of overall ice time, tenth most amongst Bruin forwards. This recent point streak won't last.
Sweet: Last year as a rookie, Tyler Myers scored 16 of his 48 points in 22 games following the All-Star games. Heading into the break this season, he had four points in four games and was on pace for 35 points.
Sour: Jordan Leopold was only six points shy of his 33 point career high, set way back in 2002-03. He was on pace for 44 points, but has only one point in his last five contests.
Sweet: Prior to last seasons brutal 18 points in 52 games, Joe Corvo had averaged 41 points over each of the four previous years. In his first three months of this season, a span of 36 games, Corvo recorded 13 points. He matched that point total over the course of 14 January matches and is currently on pace for 42 points. The 33-year-old could surpass his career high of 48 points.
Sour: As impressed as I am with rookie Jeff Skinner, I just can't see him continuing to score at his current 65 point pace. Tradition has it that at some point, rookies hit a wall and their production slows significantly. He did have 12 points in the 11 games immediately prior to the All-Star break. Only last year, Skinner had 50 goals and 90 points in his final season of junior hockey. The kid doesn't even turn 19 until May!
Sweet: David Booth has two consecutive seasons of decent post All-Star game numbers. Last year, he finished with 11 points in 12 games and the season before that, he had 29 points in his final 33 games.
Sour: Mike Santorelli had a point in 11 of 12 games from December 27 to January 19. He was on pace to finish with 43 points. Over his last two AHL seasons, Santorelli had 59 points in 57 games and 70 points in 70 games. Looking over the Panthers top nine forwards though, does not inspire confidence in fantasy owners.
Sweet: In his first 24 games of this season, Scott Gomez recorded a paltry seven points, a 24 point pace. During his next 24 games, he scored at a 65 point pace registering 19 points. Over the last four seasons, Gomez has averaged 62 points. He also saves his best for the latter part of the season. During the second half of last year, he scored at a 70 point pace and a 62 point rate the season before that.
Sour: James Wisniewski has already surpassed his previous career high of 30 points and is on pace for 56 points. He has 13 points in 14 games with Montreal, but I just can't see him maintaining this pace through the end of the season.
Sweet: There is lots of negativity surrounding Martin Brodeur. Sure he is past his prime, but that doesn't mean he can't be useful to astute fantasy owners. Do I want him in a keeper, not really as the end is nigh, but you should be able to plug him in for the final 30 games or so and reap a decent return.
Sour: Brian Rolston has been red hot, sniping 12 points in his last nine games. Even with that recent surge, he's still only on pace to finish with 32 points. Last year, he had 37 points and just 32 points the season before that. I'm afraid that the soon to be 38-year-old is all but done as a regular fantasy contributor.
Sweet: Last season, Kyle Okposo averaged 20:32 in ice time, including the second most power play time on ice. He finished the year with 10 points in 12 games. The season before that he closed with 17 points over the final 14 games. Now that it looks like he has shaken off the rust, look for him to score at a 60-65 point pace the rest of the way.
Sour: The return of Okposo pushes fellow right wing P.A. Parenteau down the depth chart one notch. While Okposo doesn't play exclusively with John Tavares, we can expect less shifts with the budding star for Parenteau. He has eight points in his last nine games, nice time to try and sell high, that is of course assuming you can find a buyer.
Sweet: Artem Anisimov is averaging 16 minutes of ice time per contest, yet he has logged over 21 minutes in three of his last four games. He has also been spending more and more time playing with Marian Gaborik, which can only help the lanky Russian's bottom line. The 22-year-old scored 81 points in 80 AHL games two seasons ago and registered 28 points in his rookie NHL campaign last year.
Sour: Brian Boyle is on pace to score 27 goals and 42 points. He has points in six of his last eight games, a perfect time to sell. There is plenty of competition for ice time on this team, especially with Ryan Callahan returning and what should be Vaclav Prospal's season debut tonight. I'd stick with guys who have a track record, especially where Coach Tortellini is concerned.
Sweet: With only two points in his last eight games, now might be a perfect opportunity to buy low on Sergei Gonchar, that is if you still believe that the 36-year-old has some gas left in his tank. Last season, he recorded 50 points in only 62 games and finished that season with 13 points in 16 games. The previous season, he had 19 points in the final 25 contests. The Sens may try to trade Gonchar, but will there be any takers with that contract?
Sour: Chris Kelly averages top six ice time, but spends only eight seconds of that on the power play. He had a ten game stretch back in December where he recorded ten points, yet was still only on pace for his customary 30-35 points. Stay away from this fantasy dud.
Sweet: Jeff Carter scored at a point-per-game pace during 25 games in December and January. He has 12 multi-point efforts on the season thus far. Carter is on pace for 36 goals and 69 points. Two years ago, he hit for 40 points in his final 42 games on his way to a 46 goal, 84 point season.
Sour: Over an eight game stretch in early January, Ville Leino recorded 10 points. He is pointless in his last four games however. He logs top six ice time and receives second unit man advantage minutes. Leino is in uncharted territory here, so it would be wise to expect a decline as the season draws to a close. He has never played in more than 57 games as a professional.
Sweet: The obvious player here would be Evgeni Malkin, but he doesn't seem to be himself this season (rumour has it he is nursing an injury). Instead, I'll nominate Jordan Staal. It took him five games to get back up to speed, but since then, he's logged seven points in eight games. He is coming off of back-to-back 49 point seasons.
Sour: Heading into last night's action, Kris Letang was on pace for 65 points. That would see him surpass his last two season's point totals of 27 and 33 combined. Letang only has one point over his last seven games and has yet to play more than 74 games in a season.
Sweet: Simon Gagne has been lining up beside Vincent Lecavalier of late and has eight points in his last nine games. All the checking attention goes to Stamkos and St. Louis, freeing up more scoring opportunities for Gagne and Lecavalier. Only two seasons ago, Gagne had 34 goals and 74 points. He will turn 31 at the end of February (Gagne is a leap year baby).
Sour: Teddy Purcell has already doubled his previous NHL career best and has seven points in his last three games. Prior to his most recent run, he had a single point over 14 games. Ten other forwards receive more average ice time than Purcell, although he does log the seventh most power play minutes on the team.
Sweet: Phil Kessel started the season hot with nine points in eight games, but soon went cold recording 11 points over the next 26 games. He's now scored 14 points in his last 15 games. This year, he is on pace for 31 goals and 56 points, which is very similar to last year's 30 goals and 55 points and the year before's 36 goals and 60 points. I could see Kessel being able to finish the season with near a point-per-game pace.
Sour: Kris Versteeg was on target for 52 points, essentially matching his career high of 53 points set back in the 2008-09 season. Last year, he had 44 points. He started the season with only two points in his first nine games, then ripped off 29 points in the next 31 games and now has one point in his last seven matches.
Sweet: Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin and Mike Green should all finish on a high note heading into the playoffs. A lengthy playoff run will erase a poor regular season in the eyes of their fans, but not their fantasy owners.
Sour: Mike Knuble was minus-1 in seven of his last nine games, recording only two points. Typically, 38-year-olds aren't noted for their ability to finish strongly. It doesn't look like a happy ending for Knuble owners this season.
|Last Updated on Friday, 04 February 2011 01:34|