Crashing The Net: Aggressiveness should pull Parise out of slump
Zach Parise's 3.5 shots per game suggest he will break out of early slump
Zdeno Chara's renewed scoring has helped lead Bruins to 9-0-1 in last 10 games
Mike Green has begun skating again but there is still no timetable for his return
From goal scorers to defenders to the men who keep the puck out of the net, each week we'll take a spin around the rink and touch on some of the players that are in the news.
Zach Parise scored 94 points in 2008 and followed that up with 82 points in '10. Limited last year to 13 games because of a knee issue, Parise has a mere 12 points while being saddled with a minus-6 rating in 22 games this season. His slump has grown worse of late with only one marker in 11 games. Parise obviously makes a nice buy low target if you can get him on the cheap as he's still averaging a robust 3.5 shots a game (down from the 4.3 shots a game he averaged in 2008-09). They'll start to go in eventually.
The Ducks have been a mess all year, and what was supposed to be one of the best lines in hockey -- Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan -- has underperformed. To shake things up coach Randy Carlyle has decided to drop Ryan to the third line and to elevate Matt Beleskey to the top unit. Don't get too excited about Beleskey, though -- he doesn't have a point in 18 games this season and only had 10 last year in 35 games with the Ducks.
Brandon Dubinsky averaged 22 goals and 49 points the last two seasons. This year things have taken a turn for the worse as he is on pace for four goals and 40 points. Even worse is that he's now the center of the Rangers' fourth line. He's salvaged some fantasy value with 47 PIMs, but it's been a rough go for a player for whom much more was expected.
Matt Duchene's inconsistency in scoring has seen him shuffled all over the place by the Avalanche coaching staff. The quest to find the right mix of role, line mates and motivation seems to be working; Duchene has seven goals and 11 points in 13 games in November.
Jordan Eberle had a nice rookie season last year, recording 43 points in 69 games. This year is shaping up even better. Already with 24 points in 24 games, Eberle has 11 points in his last six games. He'll need to keep piling up the points with Taylor Hall sidelined (more on that below).
Valtteri Filppula is one of those talented skaters that Detroit seems to pull out of its hat every season. Until this year, Filppula has never quite lived up to expectations in Motown. Given a bigger responsibility this season, Filppula has taken off with seven goals and 12 helpers in 22 games. He's also posted a plus-8 rating while recording seven points on the power play. If he's your third or fourth center, which is quite possible, you're team is looking pretty good down the middle.
Curtis Glencross, welcome to the happy zone. The Flames are struggling for offense so they've shifted their personal around. The end result has Glencross now skating on the first line alongside Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen. Coming off the most productive season of his career (24g, 19a), Glencross is on a pace that would net him a career best 27 goals and now he gets to skate with the club's two best offensive weapons.
Milan Hejduk is a perennial 20-plus goal scorer and is on pace for 24 scores this season for the Avalanche. However, he's gone seven games without a goal, and he has just two helpers in that time.
Zdeno Chara had four points and a plus-1 rating in October as the Bruins tried to find their stride. Consider it found for both parties. The Bruins are 9-0-1 in their last 10 while Chara has recorded 12 points and is a plus-12 in his last 12 contests.
Christian Ehrhoff is helping to pick up the slack for a Sabres blue line that is in bad shape. Ehrhoff is averaging more than 26:30 minutes a game in his last four games. Obviously, the Sabres are pleased with his work, but fantasy owners have to be disappointed that he's on pace to record only seven goals after averaging 14 the past two years in Vancouver.
Alex Pietrangelo of the Blues has been playing some good two-way hockey of late. He's recorded a plus-7 mark the last two weeks, tied with Marc-Edouard Vlasic for the best mark among blue liners.
Everyone rightly pays attention to Shea Weber, and he has been spectacular the last two weeks with two goals, five assists and a plus-3 rating. Guess what? His teammate, Ryan Sutter, has been just a smidgen better. He, too, has two goals and five assists but he is a plus-4 rating.
Keith Yandle has 15 points in 22 games this season upping his pace to almost where it was last season, when he burst on the fantasy scene with 59 points. Until recently, though, his owners must have been disappointed, but the last 10 days have changed that stance as he has recorded six points in his last five games.
Mathieu Garon continues his impressive run in net for the Lightning. While Dwayne Roloson has struggled, Garon is tending some excellent net. He's only won two of his last five appearances despite allowing a total of six goals in that stretch, and his numbers (2.42 GAA, .916 save percentage) are vastly superior to Dwayne Roloson (he has a 3.35 GAA and .885 save percentage in November).
With Kari Lehtonen on the shelf with a groin issue (he could miss up to three weeks), the Stars need Andrew Raycroft to take on a bigger role in net. He stopped 35 shots on Monday night to pick up his first win since Jan. 9 (he was winless in five outings this year). Given that he owns a 2.87 GAA and .901 save percentage in his career, expectations should remain muted.
Roberto Luongo is still the No. 1 goalie for the Canucks when he's healthy, but that line has just about been blurred into nothingness by the hot play of Cory Schneider. The Canucks' "backup" has won his last four starts, during which time he's allowed three goals. There are few keepers in the game that are in the same "zone" right now.
Jonathan Quick picked up his NHL-leading fourth shutout on Monday, this one against the mighty Sharks. There's no way a guy with a 2.02 GAA should be winning only 50 percent of his starts (10-6-4).
Jordin Tootoo is a pain to play against. He's grating, obnoxious, aggressive, always doing something on the edge. In essence, he's the perfect fourth line winger. Of late, he's added a new dimension to his game -- scoring. He has five points in his last four games and has largely stayed away from the sin bin with only 26 PIMs in 23 games.
Mike Green (groin) started skating on Saturday and he continues to show slow progress in his attempt to get back onto the ice. There's no timetable yet, further frustrating owners who have seen the offensive dynamo skate in eight of the Caps' 22 games.
Taylor Hall is set to miss anywhere from 2-4 weeks with a left shoulder injury. That's a blow to the 2010 first overall selection in the Entry Draft, who was off to a strong start with seven goals and 11 helpers in 22 games.
Jaromir Jagr (groin) is skating, and there is some hope that he might be ready to play on Friday. Still, the Flyers will take a measured approach after he returned to action too quickly last time, leading to his current stunt on the sidelines.
Dustin Penner (hand) might actually return to the ice for the Kings on Thursday, though the question is whether or not you should care since he has only two points in 14 games while playing uninspired hockey.
Mikael Samuelsson (groin) hopes to be able to return to game action on Thursday for the Panthers. He last suited up on Oct. 18 when he was wearing the Canucks' crest on his jersey.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, and his NHL thoughts can be read at Rotowire.com . Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account. To e-mail Ray a question for next week's piece, drop him a line at email@example.com.
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