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Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Hockey News: Bounce Back Candidates

By Darryl Dobbs
Special to ESPN.com

Every season there are plenty of fantasy hockey junkies who are used to being on or near the top of their pools, but find themselves in the middle of the pack as a result of some weak production from players who are usually slam-dunks. This season is no different.

November is the one month of the season that I get the most emails asking about underachievers. The first month is behind us and at this point all the statistics should be properly aligned right?

Not so.

Brad Richards of the Lightning has 15 points in 17 games after a 91-point season last year. Yes, his 72-point pace is a good 20 percent below last season, however keep in mind that at the 67-game mark he had but 66 points. Looking at it that way, his production versus last season really has not slowed.

The New Jersey combo of Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta are going through some tough times this season. They both put up points Tuesday night and are showing signs of coming out of a funk in which they had a combined 24 points in 32 games heading into the tilt against the Rangers. That's quite a drop from the 134 points in 120 games combined last season.

Calgary's Alex Tanguay is coming off back-to-back seasons in which he posted at least 1.1 points per game and he is just entering his prime. Heading into Tuesday night, he was on a 62-point pace.

At the ripe old age of 22, Rick Nash of the Blue Jackets is coming off a point-per-game season and more is expected of him than 11 points in 15 games. In both Nash and Tanguay's case, the entire team is at fault -- the Flames and Jackets are not scoring. When they do, the points will come.

Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg has just seven points in 16 games while Pavel Datsyuk has 12 in 16. They had 85 and 87 points, respectively, last season. A poolie who owns them both this year would have expected at least 36 points between the two of them by now -- a far cry from 19.

Miroslav Satan of the Islanders has just nine points in 16 games. Should you give up on him? Of course not. He will produce in the mid-to-high 60s as he has done in the past. Last year he had just 28 points in 42 games, but wound up with 66.

Philadelphia's Peter Forsberg has nine points in 14 games. Despite his injury issues, his points-per-game is still going to be valuable. In the past 10 years, his PPG has dropped below 1.22 in only two seasons. His PPG will be up there again when it is all said and done.

Ladislav Nagy of the Coyotes has just 10 points in 16 games heading into Tuesday night. Sound familiar? That's because it is. Last season, he had nine in 13 to start.

The bottom line in all this is -- don't start smacking that panic button yet. I can tell you with absolute authority that of the 10 players listed above, a full eight or nine of them will bounce back and have the year you were expecting. That makes them worth going after in your pool if you can get them cheap ... or worth keeping in your pool even though you are starting to get anxious.

Darryl Dobbs' Fantasy Pool Look appears every Monday and Wednesday only on The Hockey News.com. Want to speak with Darryl about fantasy hockey? E-mail him at dobber@dobberhockey.com.

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