By CHRIS NICHOLS -- SLAM! Sports
Over the next week or so leading up to April 4th, tight races in fantasy leagues across the land will be decided. It's crunch time. Do or die. Your backs are against the wall. It's now or never. There's no looking back.
Hmm. Are there any cliches I missed?
The vast majority of you have likely had your fantasy fate sealed already. For those of you in those bumper-to-bumper standings situations though, here is more info you will hopefully be able to put to good use. Also, be sure to check the bottom of this column for a rundown of how the fantasy coverage will be laid out here at Slam! over the rest of the regular season and the playoffs.
STRETCH DRIVE PERFORMERS
Jochen Hecht has been sizzling in the past few weeks (6G, 6A, 21 SOG, 6 PPP in his last 8GP) and he has games coming up against PIT (Twice), CLS, NYR, TOR (Just had a four-point game against them) and MON... With 4G and 6A in his last 10GP and that same favorable offensive schedule coming up, Daniel Briere may also be worth a look.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are not a good team, but they have been playing well lately and their offense - and more specifically, their power play -- is driving some fantasy teams. Aleksey Morozov (6G, 8A, 9 PPP in his last 9GP) has been mentioned in this space several times recently and he is still dominating... Milan Kraft has also been contributing decently (3G, 8A, 6 PPP)... Lasse Pirjeta has 3G, 5A, 5 PPP in his last 5GP... Ric Jackman has been unconscious since joining the Pens (8A and 7 PPP in his last 5GP alone)... Dick Tarnstrom has likely long since been taken in your league, but is still cruising with 4G, 10A, 10 PPP in his last 11GP.
Jonathan Cheechoo is doing his best Mike Bossy impersonation these days and has four 2-goal games (Plus 22 SOG) in his past seven times out; plus a two-assist effort last night... Andy Sutton has been getting valuable point time on the Atlanta power play with Dany Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk and Sutton has scored six times in his last six games - all on the power play. His 10 PIM's in that stretch also make him valuable in penalty minute leagues and Atlanta is still running with Sutton as the main man, even with Frantisek Kaberle back in the lineup... Sandis Ozolinsh has returned from injury and although he only has one point in those four games, his offensive upside may be worth a spot on your roster... Eric Brewer (4G, 6A, 6 PPP in his last 10GP) may finally be turning the corner offensively in his career and at the very least he's a hot defenseman that's contributing well. Marc-Andre Bergeron has also been excelling and has 3G, 4A in his last 7GP on the blueline.
To this day, Craig Conroy is still available in many leagues and it boggles my mind. He's playing with Jarome Iginla again (Who is neck and neck with Rick Nash and Ilya Kovalchuk for the goal scoring race) and Conroy has 4G, 8A in his past 11GP... Sergei Samsonov has played in four games since returning from injury and has two points... Jeremy Roenick returned to the Philly lineup Thursday night and you should feel free to activate him if he's on your roster... Peter Forsberg is finally back with Colorado and he says he feels great... Markus Naslund revealed that he's been playing with a hyper-extended elbow since the Steve Moore hit and that's likely why his goal total has suffered since then... Marty Turco's four-game suspension is going to decide the winner in at least a few fantasy leagues and it could cost the Stars playoff positioning.
Nikolai Zherdev (3G, 7A in his last 7GP) is giving us a glimpse of the greatness that is to come... Speaking of future greatness, Atlanta's Kari Lehtonen has been in net for two games now and has won both of them... San Jose's Alex Korolyuk has 8G, 6A in his last 11GP... Tyler Arnason is on fire with 9G, 8A in his last 12GP (9 PPP)... Washington's Jeff Halpern has been a power play fiend lately (9 PPP in his last 11GP) and with two games against PIT and one against the Rangers before the end of the year, may be worth adding. Alex Semin (7 PPP in 10GP) and Kip Miller (8 PPP in 11GP) are also worth noting for the same reasons.
GOONING IT UP
Last Saturday was the Holy Grail for some PIM seekers (I had these three guys on one of my rosters: Peter Worrell (15), Krzysztof Oliwa (34 and a suspension) and Wade Belak (17 and a suspension) combined to give some owners a 66-PIM night. Very nice. Jody Shelley had a 27-PIM night this week and got a suspension as a result of that, but in fantasy terms - he served his purpose.
I'll re-iterate what I've covered in several of my columns in recent weeks: PIM's can be the easiest category in which you can make up a lot of ground. Have a look at the player cards for the top goons in your league and see how they've done against their upcoming opponents this year. If you can pick out any rivalries and land a 15+ PIM-game from a few guys, you'll be moving up in the standings before you know it.
Fantasy junkies: here is the plan for the rest of the regular season and playoffs concerning the fantasy coverage here at Slam!
As you've likely noticed, Ask Slam! is finished for the season. Thanks to all of you who have sent in emails since the final column ran Monday expressing your gratitude. It's been a fun run this year and I plan on answering fantasy emails at least until the end of the regular season.
Friday, April 2nd will mark the end of the Fantasy Scoop column for the year. That will allow for some last minute advice for the final weekend of the regular season, in which some of you will have your fantasy fate decided.
Right before the playoffs start, look for a column on general playoff drafting strategies and my picks for each series.
Starting with the first night of the playoffs, a new fantasy column will be hitting Slam! to help you with your post-season pools. I'll be doing a nightly recap of all of the games and giving you a run down on each series as it goes along; all in one convenient column that will be published each night of the playoffs. Scoring streaks, cold spells, injury news: it'll all be there.
Chris writes a weekly fantasy hockey column every Friday for SLAM! Sports. You can also find his Hard Hits piece every Tuesday on the FHL site for ESPN, while his NHL News & Notes section is featured seven days a week throughout the regular season and playoffs on the subscription-based mckeenshockey.com
[Unfortunately, an error has occured.]