If there's one thing that everyone in fantasy hockey really likes, it's scoring. And the more, the merrier.
Scores like 8-2 and 9-6, as we had in the NHL last week, are an absolute treat. Like an early present from Santa, those games have given poolies a bundle of booty in the form of goals, assists and points.
Consider these gift-wrapped goodies:
-Kristian Huselius of the Flames has not one, but two five-point nights. With linemates Jarome Iginla and Daymond Langkow, the top line combined for 26 points in just three games. And to think many poolies stayed away from Huselius because of his icy past with new coach Mike Keenan.
-Joffrey Lupul of the Flyers, all but ignored on draft day, lights it up with three goals and three assists against the Penguins. For good measure, he scores another hat trick just two games later.
-Lupul's linemate, R. J. Umberger, has five points in that same Pittsburgh game. And when was the last time two teammates produced so prolifically in a single game? Well, just two days earlier, actually. That was when Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny of the Avalanche delighted their pool owners with six and five points respectively against the Blues.
-Jason Spezza of the Senators is now fully and obviously recovered from a groin injury. He had multi-point performances in four of five games, totalling 11 points in that span. Not to be out-done, linemate Dany Heatley scores two goals in three straight games to put himself back in contention for the Rocket Richard Trophy.
-Sergei Zubov of the Stars, the NHL's top scoring defenceman, had a goal and three assists against the Oilers and finishes the week with eight points. He wasn't the only blue-liner giving generously to poolies. Dion Phaneuf of the Flames has five points in that big 9-6 Calgary win over the Lightning. And three-point games from both Mike Green of the Capitals and Matt Niskanen of the Stars puts those upstart d-men on the radar.
Defenceman Scott Niedermayer returned Sunday night but it cost the Ducks the services of Andy McDonald. Making room under the salary cap, McDonald was peddled to the Blues, a move that should benefit his pool owners.
Playing with Paul Kariya and Brad Boyes, he quickly put his terrible start behind him and picked up a goal and an assist in his Blues debut.
Going west in that deal was Doug Weight, who also got off to a good start with an assist in his first game with the Ducks. That aside, he's only worth pouncing on if he centres one of the top two lines.
Lines and linemates are gold in hockey pools.
A decent player who finds himself on the top unit can increase his value exponentially. The problem, of course, these new lines don't often stay together long. Poolies will argue that too many coaches are way too quick to shuffle players around in the lineup.
Still, we have to believe Antti Miettinen is worthy of attention.
The Stars winger has been on a roll lately, thanks in large part because he's now on the first line with Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow. He had two goals and six points last week, so go get him while the getting is good.
Bryan McCabe (broken hand) had a horrible start to the season but there's no denying the power potential of the Leafs defenceman, and there is no doubting that his pool owners will miss him the next two months.
Good news on the injury front comes from the returns of Oiler defenceman Sheldon Souray and goaltender Tim Thomas of the Bruins.
It'll be interesting to see if Thomas resume top duties right away since emergency substitute Alex Auld was fabulous in his absence.
Some players to watch or watch out for in your hockey pool this week:
1. LW Kristian Huselius, Flames. Two fab five-point games for coach Keenan's former whipping boy.
2. LW Antti Miettinen, Stars. Eight points in five games as production increases with promotion to top line.
3. RW Joffrey Lupul, Flyers. Nine points in three games has Oilers' fans wondering where this was last year.
4. RW Nikolai Zherdev, Blue Jackets. Goals in five straight games gives him 12, two more than last year.
5. RW Milan Lucic, Bruins. Another NHL rookie with a ton of talent, he had back-to-back two-point games.
1. D Alexei Zhitnik, Thrashers. No goals all year and the last of his two assists came over two months ago.
2. J.P. Dumont, Predators. He had 66 points last year but hasn't a single one in seven December games.
3. C Cory Stillman, Hurricanes. Drought reaches five games as several Hurricanes hit a dry spell.
4. G Chris Mason, Predators. Just one win in past six games puts his starter's job in serious jeopardy.
5. LW Rick Nash, Blue Jackets. Onset of cold weather temporarily cools this streaky sniper's hot start.