There were plenty of ups and downs in the last week of fantasy hockey. We assess the best while looking ahead a bit. “Between The Lines” gets down to business headlined by a line that set fantasy leagues on fire.
Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel-Joffrey Lupul (Toronto) – The Mikhail Grabovski line took over for a bit last week but the true top line stood up. Phil Kessel led the way with nine points while Tyler Bozak chipped in seven and Joffrey Lupul tallied six. This includes being shut out on Saturday against Montreal. Bozak and Kessel were amongst the weekly goal leaders at four apiece. People forget that the pivot on this line can put the puck in the net. While he may not have the all around game of an Adam Henrique (New Jersey Devils), it does seem he is developing very well. The schedule is solid in the coming week.
Martin Hanzal-Radim Vrbata-Ray Whitney (Phoenix) – This line has been under the radar most of the year except for Ray Whitney, who had a whopping eight points in Week 17. Do not forget Radim Vrbata (on pace for 38 goals). Vrbata had three goals and seven points including a couple multi-point efforts. Yes Phoenix benefitted from a five game week but this line finds ways to produce. Week 18 and 19 look very good but keep an eye out with the trade winds, Whitney has a likelihood of being moved. So those 12-point weeks may be history soon.
Artem Anisimov-Marian Gaborik-Derek Stepan (NY Rangers) – It seems the “GAS Line” has been reunited with 10 points between the three in Week 17. Marian Gaborik led the way with seven points while Derek Stepan tossed in six points as the Rangers biggest win was the 5-2 fantasy bonanza in Philadelphia on Saturday. Their 39.8% frequency on the EV also has a underlying 13.6% PP frequency which means they are being mixed together on the man advantage also. It seems like they will stay together for awhile now and Week 18 is lukewarm especially with a Boston battle looming Tuesday.
Tuomo Ruutu-Eric Staal-Jiri Tlusty (Carolina) – Every so often this line seems to shine and in Week 17 they produced 10 points when together. Carolina has little margin for error and Eric Staal is heating up with four points along with Tuomo Ruutu’s four points. Jiri Tlusty seems to be creating space for these two. However, keep an eye on the trade rumors, as Ruutu could be moved. Right now, with every game meaning something, this line looks like a pretty good start for Week 18. Eight to 10 points are likely.
Milan Hejduk-David Jones-Paul Stastny (Colorado) – This has the makings of being Colorado’s best line going forward with nine points in Week 17 and a chemistry that has clearly developed between the players. David Jones racked up six points while Paul Stastny scored five points as this line looked like they did earlier in the season. Trade rumors plague this line as well so motivation will not be an issue (particularly for Jones and even Stastny). They could easily hit the eight to 10-point mark again in Week 18.
Lead Us Defenders…….
Shea Weber-Ryan Suter (Nashville) – It surprises me a little that this duo is not amongst the point leaders more often, given their propensity for offensive potential. Nonetheless, they combined for six points in Week 17, including four from Ryan Suter. Shea Weber fires a ton of shots on net usually while Suter gets the puck to the net which creates even more in the way of chances. Their Week 18 outlook is excellent as the offensive opportunities seem to continue. Another five point projection is likely.
Alex Goligoski-Stephane Robidas (Dallas) – This combination has very good chemistry together and while Alex Goligoski led the way with four points, Stephane Robidas was not far behind with three. Dallas is one of those teams with little margin of error and they depend on their first line defense to set the table on the PP as well as EV. Part of the reason for Jamie Benn’s resurgence of late is Goligoski and Robidas. Week 18 looks good as the Dallas schedule is favorable. They will likely be around five points combined again.
Dustin Byfuglien-Tobias Enstrom (Winnipeg) – Tobias Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien are wreaking havoc again with five combined points this week. Winnipeg is not the greatest road team in the world but this top defensive pairing can produce any given week. Byfuglien had four points and Enstrom had two including a nice showing against Pittsburgh on Saturday. They will be paired more and more together in all situations as Week 18 goes on so picking up Enstrom may be a wise idea.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @TheProgramBTR and fire away your questions. Thanks again and good luck this week.