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Fantasy Hockey News for Tuesday

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A fantasized look at Monday's NHL action

If you're a regular reader, you probably noticed that FHS writers mentioned Alex Burrows in Thursday's Daily Dosage: "Maybe be worth a flyer in deeper leagues?" By Sunday, a "revitalized" Burrows was "Pickup of the Week." We talked about him again in yesterday's Daily Dosage: "Burrows continued his hot streak with a goal and 2 assists." And sure enough, Monday night, Burrows scores two more goals and an assist. It's quite remarkable how the floodgates have opened: five goals and eight points in four games, following 35 games without a goal (and just six assists). Of course, Burrows is not a two-points-per-game player, or even a point-per-game player, but he's a safe bet for a 50-60 point pace the rest of the way.

In suspect a significant weight has been, or will soon be, lifted from the Canucks' collective shoulders, and we'll see them play better from here on. They know they can't make the playoffs (well, sportsclubstats gives them a 1.3% chance now), but they can play for pride and for ice time next year. There's no pressure now, and they get to play the spoiler and the underdog, roles more suited to the Canuck franchise, at least historically.

One of those guys looking to impress and crystallize a spot on next year's roster is 2011 first round pick Nicklas Jensen. Although the Danish winger's numbers with the Utica Comets (AHL) are not spectacular, he was particularly hot in late February and March, which led to his Canucks call-up. With an assist last night he has three points in five NHL games. He's playing with Burrows and Henrik Sedin, which is a tremendous opportunity for a skilled player.

Tampa Bay's top powerplay unit is apparently Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat, Valtteri Filppula, Ryan Callahan, and Sami Salo. That's what the minutes from last night tell me. Bad news for owners of Alex Killorn and Tyler Johnson. At least they are still pairing with Stamkos at even-strength, for now.

On a related note, I am coming around to the idea that in keeper leagues, the importance of choosing players that generate offence on their own, rather than players with great linemates, cannot be overstated. It may seem obvious (yes, it is better to own Crosby than Kunitz), but it goes deeper. It's not always easy to tell, especially with younger players, how much of their current production is due to exceptional linemates (e.g., Cory Conacher last year with Stamkos, or Matt Moulson with John Tavares). Players are always on the move, whether it's being promoted or demoted on their team, or being traded, or signing with another team. In the long run, a guy who is born to score is going to break free of his shackles (hence we hold on to Drew Doughty), and a guy who is riding the coattails of greatness is going to be exposed as a hanger-on (hence we eschew Pascal Dupuis). Trust your instincts and be patient.

The Boston Bruins have won nine in a row and it doesn't seem to matter who is tending net. Tuukka Rask was in last night for the 4-1 win. He's let in one goal each of his last three starts (Rask owners would doubtless rather have all three goals against last night and two shutouts). Jarome Iginla had two goals, running his point streak to five games. Iggy always finds another gear in the spring; the veteran has 26 in his last 19. The Bruins didn't play a single second with the man advantage, but Zdeno Chara still managed two assists.

The Blues-Jets game was rough. Four Jets players earned at least 10 penalty minutes: Jacob Trouba, Olli Jokinen, Blake Wheeler and Dustin Byfuglien. Four Blues players responded, but you shouldn't own any of them, so I will not list them here. David Backes scored two goals and delivered six hits. You should probably own him. Jay Bouwmeester added two assists, following an 11-game pointless drought that regressed him to the mean. He's now at exactly .5 points per game, and the universe has returned to normalcy.

The Blues called up Russian prospect Dmitrij Jaskin again. He played 15 minutes last night, by far the most time the rookie winger has played in the NHL this season. He's one worth owning in keeper leagues. Keep in mind, at this time last season fantasy pundits said Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko would never be of high fantasy value in St. Louis, where they score by committee. However, I don't think Jaskin has quite the same potential (comparing a second-round pick to firsts), and he's probably three years away from reaching that potential.

Keith Yandle flew off the handle last night: one goal, one assist, plus-two, two PIMs, six shots and three blocked shots. Quick question: who is third in scoring among NHL defenceman? No, it's not Yandle, it's Dustin Byfuglien. Trick question. Yandle is fourth, but he should be third because Byfuglien spends a lot of time as a forward. Anyway, Yandle is only four points back of Duncan Keith for second, and the way those two are trending lately, I am going to make the not-so-bold prediction that Yandle finishes the year second only to Erik Karlsson. At the beginning of this season I predicted that this would be the eyar that Oliver Ekman-Larsson would surpass Yandle in point production. I was very wrong. Never take my advice, ever.