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Fantasy Hockey: Stumbling NHL stars, Flames rebound, Bolts fizzle

By Dobber Hockey

Dobber checks in every Monday to force-feed you the latest fantasy hockey trends. The founder of DobberHockey.com and a columnist for The Hockey News website, he long ago immersed himself into this rollercoaster world and is unable to escape.

There have been more than a few stars who stumbled out of the gate in October.

But in most cases, these things correct themselves over time. When you see that correction taking place, you often also see that the entire line he plays on is hot.

Take Henrik Zetterberg for example. Seven points in 18 games is something you would expect from Drew Miller, not ol' reliable Hank. But he's pounded out 12 points in his last 10 contests and his linemates Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler are hot right along with him. Same goes for Jarome Iginla and his linemates (Brendan Morrison and Olli Jokinen), as well as John Tavares (with Matt Moulson and P-A Parenteau).

In fact, let's take a look at the hottest lines of the past week, courtesy of Frozen Pool:

Still waiting for the Fleischmann, Versteeg and Weiss line to cool down…yawn…

Studs...

These fellas are wielding a hot stick. Take that into consideration when you go after them in trade talks...

Dany Heatley, Minnesota Wild (6-3-3-6, plus-3, 4 PIM, 16 SOG) — Despite being only 30, Heatley is well past his best-before date. That being said, he's finding a bit of the magic that he had in preseason with Mikko Koivu (unless you think that his other linemate Jeff Taffe is the reason). He still has some catching up to do in order to get back to a 60-point pace, but he'll get there.

Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames (5-4-5-9, plus-6, 4 PIM, 21 SOG) — In what has become an annual tradition for Iggy, he stumbled out of the gate. But much like last season in which he tallied 78 points in 67 games after starting with just eight in 15, Iginla has turned the corner.

Bryan Little, Winnipeg Jets (12-8-6-14, plus-9, 4 PIM, 35 SOG) —Little had an ugly start to the season and poolies were dumping him like he was RIM stock. After managing just 82 points combined in the last two years, the beginning of Little's fifth NHL season had most of his fantasy owners fed up. Those who hung in there just a little longer have been paid handsomely.

"Sell High" pick of the week: Olli Jokinen, Calgary Flames. With seven points in his last five contests, Jokinen has boosted his end-of-season pace to 58 points. That's enough to make him a fairly appealing asset. He's not going to improve on that and given the results of his last three seasons he is almost certain to finish up below that number.

Duds

Somebody wake these guys up — their fantasy owners are counting on them...

Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning (8-1-1-2, minus-7, 6 PIM, 26 SOG) — The last three campaigns have seen Vinny's points-per-game average slowly creep downwards: 0.87, 0.85 and 0.83. This year that stat is 0.66 which is far too sharp a drop. It will inch back upwards, with him ending 2011-12 in that 62 to 64 range.

Teddy Purcell, Tampa Bay Lightning (15-0-3-3, minus-2, 8 PIM, 14 SOG) — Lecavalier's linemate for about 20 percent of his shifts this season and Steven Stamkos' linemate for over 40 percent, there is really no explanation for such a slump. If you include last year's impressive postseason, Purcell had 32 points in 34 games and looked to have taken that next step. Nope.

Ales Hemsky, Edmonton Oilers (8-1-2-3, minus-4, 2 PIM, 24 SOG) — It's hard to believe that the Oilers' offensive fortunes at one time rode squarely on Hemsky's often dislocated shoulders. Now he's almost an afterthought when you flip on the game to watch the dazzling young guns go to work. Until he is moved to a new team, and strings together even 40 healthy games in a row, his fantasy value will remain marginally above nil.

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"Buy Low" pick of the week: Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks. Pointless in his last seven, his owners are starting to get restless. But with at least 71 points in five of his last six seasons, you know that Marleau is a safe bet to turn things around.

The Wire...

Mostly short-term grabs here, but as always some potential steals...

Nick Foligno, Ottawa Senators (18-8-8-16, plus-1, 33 PIM, 22 SOG) —Foligno's PIM have been a nice bonus for poolies. He's not a potential 70-point player though, but he can get 55. So picking him up now and riding his current wave doesn't really have a downside (unless he gets Shanabanned, that is) because at worst he should still give you modest numbers.

Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers (4-3-2-5, plus-4, 4 PIM, 11 SOG) — Because Simmonds had 116 penalty minutes to go along with 40 points and a plus-22 rating as a sophomore, he has remained on the radar of fantasy owners. This despite a step backward last season and a poor start to this one. But he's now lining up with Daniel Briere and Matt Read and the trio is really starting to click.

Anton Stralman, New York Rangers (2-0-1-1, even, 0 PIM, 4 SOG) — With Michael Sauer out (concussion), Stralman is finally getting into the lineup and his ice time was up over 15 minutes Sunday. His PP time is still minimal, but the fact that his assist was with the man advantage is good way to change that. Alternatively, teammate Steve Eminger (three points, plus-6 in his last two games) could be nice help for you temporarily.

Jesse Winchester, Ottawa Senators (4-1-1-2, plus-1, 10 PIM, 7 SOG) — For the truly desperate only. Winchester can provide you with at least…something. If you've run into some injury trouble and you dress 12 forwards then the pickings are slim as it is, so you could do worse than this guy. He can also help you in the penalty-killing categories.

Matt Hackett, Minnesota Wild (2-0-0, 1.01 GAA, 0.974 SP) — I think he gets at least two more starts before he's sent back down, depending on how quickly Josh Harding returns. With back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday, the youngster is sure to take one of those. And behind the mighty Wild defense, it's almost a lock to bring you solid numbers.

Kyle Brodziak, Minnesota Wild (6-5-2-7, plus-3, 19 PIM, 18 SOG) — I had him here last week, but he's still at just 6% owned in Yahoo! leagues. Since my recommendation he has played three games, picked up three points and 15 PIM. Still a great short-term option.

Richard Bachman, Dallas Stars (1-0-0, 0.75 GAA, 0.974 SP) — In 80 minutes of action, the youngster has allowed just one goal. He's long been one of my favorite prospect goaltenders and with Kari Lehtonen back to his injury-filled ways and Andrew Raycroft sucking, Bachman could be a very solid option for the next couple of weeks.

For more fantasy hockey tips, take a gander at DobberHockey. And while you're at it, follow Dobber's fantasy hockey musings on Twitter.

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Fantasy Hockey: Stumbling NHL stars, Flames rebound, Bolts fizzle

By Dobber Hockey Dobber checks in every Monday to force-feed you the latest fantasy...
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