Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Hockey News: Riding the Streak
By Darryl Dobbs
Special to ESPN.com
When a team is on a hot streak, it's always good to pick up several of the players for a week or two in your rotisserie league and ride the wave. When that team is also desperate and fighting for their playoff lives, this becomes an absolute no-brainer.
The Colorado Avalanche are riding an 8-0-1 wave and are now within striking distance of the Calgary Flames for the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference playoff picture. Anyone who is in second place in their fantasy leagues and needs a boost for the stretch run: grab some of these players if you haven't already.
During the nine-game run, the team has scored 34 goals and given up 18. What's more, the offense has not really been spread out, so it has been the big guns who have been putting up the points. It's a tailor-made situation for even the most casual of fantasy hockey owners to take advantage of.
From the top line, Joe Sakic has nine points in his past three games while Andrew Brunette has six. From the second line, Paul Stastny has 19 points in his past 13 games and Milan Hejduk has 14 in his last 10.
At the other end of the rink, Jose Theodore was long ago relegated to backup status with Peter Budaj shouldering the workload. It's a safe bet Budaj will be credited with every 'W' from here on in -- and there will be a lot of them.
The Avs play their next two contests against the Oilers. Edmonton has been unable to put points on the board of late, so adding Budaj to your squad is an easy decision. The Oilers have tightened up defensively to compensate for their offensive ineptitude, so don't expect huge numbers from Colorado the next two games. Whatever offense the Avs do produce will come from the aforementioned foursome of Sakic, Brunette, Stastny and Hejduk.
Two players to stay away from are Marek Svatos (who has had a miserable season and is seeing less than 10 minutes of ice time these days) and Wojtek Wolski (four points in his past 13 games). Focus on the 'Big Four' plus Budaj and you will be laughing down the stretch.
Injuries, from a fantasy pool perspective: With Dan Cleary back in the Detroit lineup and Todd Bertuzzi apparently joining the team on Thursday or Saturday, all the extra ice time Jiri Hudler has been enjoying will soon come to an end. The rookie has been hot of late and has proven he will be a solid NHLer. Mike Babcock is patient with his youngsters, however, so Hudler will have to wait for his next opportunity & Tim Connolly is back practising for the Sabres and could still return for a week of regular season games before the team enters the playoffs. His return will spell the end of Drew Stafford's terrific production of late, as the youngster will slip to the fourth line & Scottie Upshall and Simon Gagne are expected to return to the Philadelphia lineup on Saturday. Both players were hot before injuries befell them.
Darryl Dobbs' Fantasy Pool Look appears every Monday and Wednesday only on The Hockey News.com. Want to speak with Darryl about fantasy hockey?
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