Most head to head leagues end this week before the playoffs start. Now as we head towards crunch time, the injuries start to spike upward. The trade deadline has passed and it is put up or shut up time as we head into Week 21 (22 for some) on “Between The Lines”.
Teddy Purcell-Steven Stamkos-Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay) -- There is on fire and then there is what Teddy Purcell is doing right now. If anyone had said Purcell would be double shifted like this and one did not know his upside, there would have been much groaning. The ten points last week was no mirage as he is playing with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. Stamkos had seven points, including four goals while St. Louis chipped in with seven points on three goals. With all three over 20:00 ATOI, they are must starts this week.
Pascal Dupuis-Jordan Staal-Steve Sullivan (Pittsburgh) -- Without Sidney Crosby something unexpected has happened. Steve Sullivan has finally developed a rhythm. His eight points last week was second amongst all forwards. There is no reason to not expect a good week this week as Jordan Staal and Sullivan have meshed very well. Honestly, Pascal Dupuis is along for the ride until Crosby comes back but in the meantime, Staal and his six points are particularly encouraging. Sit Dupuis but start Staal and Sullivan this week.
David Krejci-Milan Lucic-Tyler Seguin (Boston) -- This line has major upside and in leagues where the pain of the Steve Downie injury is felt, this line and David Krejci, in particular, offers some hope as the playoffs near. Krejci has been kind of so-so most of the year but his hat trick and improved play last week offers hope going forward. With a playmaker like Tyler Seguin on the line, this is a threesome that has much upside. The 35.2% frequency at EV and 42.9% on the PP indicates Claude Julien is ready to ride these guys into April and so should you.
David Backes-Andy McDonald-T.J. Oshie (St. Louis) -- There is just something about Andy McDonald that screams great power play pivot. In a slight twist of fate, T.J. Oshie had seven points (six assists) and McDonald had three goals on five points. David Backes was the muscle particularly on the power play opening up space for McDonald and Oshie. McDonald does most of his damage on the man advantage which makes fantasy owners ecstatic. This spark makes the line a very good start for this week and beyond.
Val Filppula-Jiri Hudler-Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit) -- They were too obvious to pass up as Henrik Zetterberg did it again with eight points this week then Val Filppula pocketed seven points. These two have amazing chemistry on and off the ice. Now Jiri Hudler is mostly the guy that provides the space or the third cog in a typical cycle but that role is vital to the production of Filppula and Zetterberg. Detroit has so much scoring depth that they can miss Pavel Datsyuk for weeks and their fantasy production does not suffer. That really speaks volumes. Start Zetterberg and Filppula for the playoff battles.
Lead Us Defenders……
Erik Karlsson-Filip Kuba (Ottawa) -- Is anyone surprised? Erik Karlsson is dragging Filip Kuba into fantasy relevance. The duo combined for eight points this week with Karlsson having another 5+ point week (six in all). This may be one of those periods where Karlsson does not produce quite as much which means start Karlsson but expect more modest production while sitting Kuba. The Rangers and Sabres will not be easy to thrive against.
Kevin Shattenkirk-Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis) -- Again these are two guys that are only going to get better. While Alex Pietrangelo potted four points, Kevin Shattenkirk stepped up big with six points. These defensemen are almost fantasy gold for those who do not have one of the elite defensemen this season. The schedule looks good so trotting either one of these two is a safe bet.
Niklas Kronwall-Brad Stuart (Detroit) -- Brad Stuart is a non factor ladies and gentlemen but the injury to Nick Lidstrom suddenly makes Niklas Kronwall very attractive. Detroit acknowledged that Lidstrom could miss a few more games which means another good week to start Kronwall or pick him up in your leagues. His six points was a pleasant surprise but he has the talent to assume this role when Lidstrom retires. Kronwall’s ability to hit with good frequency is a bonus also so run with this while you can because when #5 comes back, the music stops so to speak.
As always you can follow me on Twitter @TheProgramBTR and fire away those questions. Thanks again, good luck, and remember the stakes now rise in your leagues.