By David Weightman
[Editor's Note: We're taking a break from the NHL Wire Troll this week, but will return next week. In the meantime, here is some Fantasy hockey content to appease you.]
This week, we’ll profile two Washington Capitals that Fantasy owners should continue to watch.
Nicklas Backstrom, C: One of the reasons why the Capitals have been playing red hot hockey is because Backstrom has scored 10 points (3G-7A) over the last five games. His big game was on January 11 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, in which he scored a goal and three assists in a 5-2 victory. Even though in the past two games he has been a -4, Backstrom still averages 17 minutes of ice time, is the quarterback on the power play and is winning over 50 per cent of his faceoffs this season. Plus, he plays on a dynamite line that is nearly unstoppable (see video below).
T.J. Oshie, RW: Backstrom’s linemate has also scored 10 points (3G-7A) in the past five games and was +4 during this stretch. Oshie is averaging about 16 minutes, and over the last five games he’s put up 11 shots. So far this season in 37 games, he has tabulated 30 points (16G-14A), and is an eye opening +20.
Here are some other players who have stepped up their game and helped their Fantasy owners in recent days.
Brad Marchand, LW, Boston Bruins: Marchand had a 10-point stretch in the last week, including a two-assist game against the Detroit Red Wings, and a five-point game (2G-3A) last weekend at home against the Philadelphia Flyers. He’s up to 45 points this season, is averaging about 20 minutes of ice time, and in his last nine games, the winger has had three or more shots on goal in seven of those games, which means he’s getting plenty of chances to rack up the points.
Brent Burns, D, San Jose Sharks: The 31-year-old is coming off a week in which he scored three goals, one of them on the power play, and overall he’s averaging 25 minutes, making him one of the NHL leaders in ice time. In nine games this month, Burns has 12 points (4G-8A), is a +4, and is obviously going to be a key component for the Sharks in the second half of the season.
Vincent Trocheck, C, Florida Panthers: The 23-year-old has been on a roll. Trochek continues to average over 20 minutes, and his production has increased as a result. In the last week, he had two-point games against both the Islanders and Blue Jackets then, with the Panthers out west on a long road trip, he scored two goals on Wednesday against the Calgary Flames.
John Gibson, G, Anaheim Ducks: One of the reasons why the Ducks are in firstt place in the Pacific is because of Gibson’s play. In his last five starts, the goaltender is 4-0-1 with a GAA of 1.00 and has a save percentage of .965. Gibson picked up a shutout win over the Dallas Stars, a win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, in which he allowed a goal, and two wins over the lowly Colorado Avalanche in which he only allowed one goal in each.
Now let’s review some key health issues facing Fantasy owners.
Anaheim Ducks: Jakob Silfverberg, LW, upper body, day to day (didn’t travel on Anaheim’s current road trip); Clayton Stoner, D, abdomen, returns this week, or at least before the end of January.
Boston Bruins: Colin Miller, D, lower body, day to day (placed on injured reserve); Kevan Miller, D, concussion, day to day (has missed the last three games).
Buffalo Sabres: Josh Gorges, D, hip, day to day (missed Friday’s game).
Calgary Flames: Garnet Hathaway, RW, upper body, day to day (has missed two straight games).
Columbus Blue Jackets: David Savard, D, undisclosed, day to day (he had to leave Thursday’s game early).
Colorado Avalanche: Tyson Barrie, D, lower body, day to day (missed Saturday’s game); Semyon Varlamov, G, groin, day to day (has been shut down until at least after the All-Star Game).
Detroit Red Wings: Steve Ott, shoulder, day to day (on injured reserve list).
Minnesota Wild: Jonas Brodin, D, finger, day to day (missed Saturday’s game).
New York Islanders: Andrew Ladd, upper body, day to day (remained out of the lineup on Sunday).
New York Rangers: Jesper Fast, upper body, day to day (missed Sunday’s game); Antti Raanta, lower body, day to day (on the IR).
Ottawa Senators: Mark Borowiecki, D, flu, day to day (missed Sunday’s game).
Pittsburgh Penguins: Matt Cullen, C, foot, day to day (missed Sunday’s game, and could be out a month); Kris Letang, D, knee, week-to-week (landed on the IR last week).
Tampa Bay Lightning: Ryan Callahan, RW, hip, indefinitely (landed on IR last week).
Toronto Maples Leafs: Morgan Rielly, D, right knee, day to day.
Vancouver Canucks: Anton Rodin, RW, knee, day to day (on IR).
Washington Capitals: John Carlson, lower body, day to day (did some light skating Saturday, but missed the game).
Winnipeg Jets: Ben Chiarot, D, upper body, day to day; Patrik Laine, RW, concussion, day to day (has been cleared for full-contact practice).
Fantasy Hockey Recommendation of the Week
Danny DeKeyser, D, Detroit Red Wings: He’s been seeing tons of ice time in recent games, getting more shifts than any Red Wing on Sunday while playing over two minutes more of action than any of his teammates. DeKeyser is not putting up the offensive numbers he’s shown in the past, but given the bump in ice time this season, it’s reasonable to expect a big second half.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below who has been carrying or burying your Fantasy hockey team lately.