Players better than their stats

There's reason to believe Alexander Semin and Mike Richards will only get better. AP Photo, Getty Images

We all know it, but sometimes we forget: the numbers aren't always enough to tell you what's coming next in fantasy hockey.

The Top 200

Note: Sean Allen's top 200 players are ranked for their expected performance in ESPN standard leagues from this point on, not on the statistics that have already been accrued. ESPN standard stats include goals, assists, power-play points, shots on goal, plus/minus, penalty minutes and average time on ice for skaters, and wins, goals-against average and save percentage for goalies. Last week's ranking is indicated in parentheses.

1. Sidney Crosby, F, Pit (1)
2. Alex Ovechkin, F, Was (2)
3. John Tavares, F, NYI (3)
4. Corey Perry, F, Ana (4)
5. Evgeni Malkin, F, Pit (5)
6. Patrick Kane, F, Chi (6)
7. Patrick Sharp, F, Chi (9)
8. Tuukka Rask, G, Bos (7)
9. P.K. Subban, D, Mon (8)
10. Ryan Getzlaf, F, Ana (12)
11. Chris Kunitz, F, Pit (13)
12. Henrik Zetterberg, F, Det (10)
13. Daniel Sedin, F, Van (14)
14. Anze Kopitar, F, LA (15)
15. Jonathan Toews, F, Chi (17)
16. Carey Price, G, Mon (18)
17. Erik Karlsson, D, Ott (19)
18. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Pit (20)
19. Duncan Keith, D, Chi (22)
20. James Neal, F, Pit (23)
21. Henrik Sedin, F, Van (16)
22. Phil Kessel, F, Tor (24)
23. David Backes, F, StL (21)
24. Claude Giroux, F, Phi (25)
25. Dustin Byfuglien, D, Wpg (26)
26. Ben Bishop, G, TB (27)
27. Patrick Marleau, F, SJ (28)
28. Joe Pavelski, F, SJ (32)
29. Alexander Steen, F, StL (61)
30. Drew Doughty, D, LA (31)
31. Nicklas Backstrom, F, Was (30)
32. Zach Parise, F, Min (50)
33. Jonathan Quick, G, LA (33)
34. Tyler Seguin, F, Dal (29)
35. Semyon Varlamov, G, Col (35)
36. Marian Hossa, F, Chi (38)
37. Martin St. Louis, F, TB (40)
38. Eric Staal, F, Car (36)
39. Antti Niemi, G, SJ (37)
40. Corey Crawford, G, Chi (39)
41. Jonas Hiller, G, Ana (42)
42. Matt Duchene, F, Col (43)
43. Pavel Datsyuk, F, Det (11)
44. Shea Weber, D, Nsh (45)
45. Ryan Kesler, F, Van (41)
46. Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR (71)
47. Evander Kane, F, Wpg (66)
48. Kris Letang, D, Pit (51)
49. Thomas Vanek, F, NYI (56)
50. Joe Thornton, F, SJ (47)
51. Roberto Luongo, G, Van (48)
52. Taylor Hall, F, Edm (49)
53. Kyle Turris, F, Ott (53)
54. Jamie Benn, F, Dal (52)
55. James van Riemsdyk, F, Tor (54)
56. Logan Couture, F, SJ (46)
57. Alex Pietrangelo, D, StL (55)
58. Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Cls (63)
59. Ryan Suter, D, Min (57)
60. Kevin Shattenkirk, D, StL (58)
61. Bobby Ryan, F, Ott (34)
62. Craig Anderson, G, Ott (59)
63. Niklas Kronwall, D, Det (64)
64. Rick Nash, F, NYR (65)
65. Max Pacioretty, F, Mon (67)
66. David Krejci, F, Bos (70)
67. Steven Stamkos, F, TB (104)
68. Andrei Markov, D, Mon (62)
69. Cory Schneider, G, NJ (69)
70. Brent Seabrook, D, Chi (72)
71. Jeff Skinner, F, Car (68)
72. Gabriel Landeskog, F, Col (74)
73. Steve Mason, G, Phi (75)
74. Alexander Semin, F, Car (98)
75. Radim Vrbata, F, Pho (76)
76. Kyle Okposo, F, NYI (77)
77. Jeff Carter, F, LA (78)
78. Jakub Voracek, F, Phi (79)
79. Jarome Iginla, F, Bos (73)
80. Keith Yandle, D, Pho (81)
81. Jonathan Bernier, G, Tor (84)
82. T.J. Oshie, F, StL (80)
83. Josh Harding, G, Min (44)
84. Brandon Dubinsky, F, Cls (93)
85. Bryan Little, F, Wpg (96)
86. Jimmy Howard, G, Det (82)
87. Johan Franzen, F, Det (60)
88. Milan Lucic, F, Bos (85)
89. Jaroslav Halak, G, StL (90)
90. David Perron, F, Edm (86)
91. Kari Lehtonen, G, Dal (87)
92. Jaromir Jagr, F, NJ (83)
93. Jay Bouwmeester, D, StL (88)
94. Paul Stastny, F, Col (114)
95. Jordan Eberle, F, Edm (91)
96. Dion Phaneuf, D, Tor (92)
97. Brent Burns, F, SJ (94)
98. Ryan Miller, G, Buf (95)
99. Brian Elliott, G, StL (97)
100. Cam Fowler, D, Ana (101)
101. Brad Richards, F, NYR (99)
102. Andrew Ladd, F, Wpg (100)
103. James Wisniewski, D, Cls (110)
104. Anton Khudobin, G, Car (125)
105. Clarke MacArthur, F, Ott (106)
106. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, Pho (105)
107. Blake Wheeler, F, Wpg (102)
108. Derek Stepan, F, NYR (103)
109. Matt Niskanen, D, Pit (116)
110. Chris Kreider, F, NYR (118)
111. Mikko Koivu, F, Min (120)
112. Jason Garrison, D, Van (107)
113. Justin Williams, F, LA (89)
114. Jaden Schwartz, F, StL (109)
115. Nazem Kadri, F, Tor (128)
116. Patrice Bergeron, F, Bos (111)
117. Zdeno Chara, D, Bos (112)
118. Ondrej Pavelec, G, Wpg (NR)
119. Mike Green, D, Was (113)
120. Wayne Simmonds, F, Phi (140)
121. Ryan Johansen, F, Cls (115)
122. Scott Hartnell, F, Phi (136)
123. Martin Hanzal, F, Pho (117)
124. Jiri Hudler, F, Cgy (130)
125. Jason Spezza, F, Ott (108)
126. Shane Doan, F, Pho (119)
127. Dustin Penner, F, Ana (121)
128. Brandon Saad, F, Chi (122)
129. Tomas Plekanec, F, Mon (124)
130. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, F, Edm (126)
131. Valtteri Filppula, F, TB (127)
132. Radko Gudas, D, TB (129)
133. Brad Marchand, F, Bos (176)
134. Daniel Alfredsson, F, Det (123)
135. Mike Richards, F, LA (164)
136. Marek Zidlicky, D, NJ (131)
137. Joffrey Lupul, F, Tor (132)
138. Dustin Brown, F, LA (133)
139. Erik Johnson, D, Col (134)
140. Nick Bonino, F, Ana (158)
141. Torey Krug, D, Bos (135)
142. Matt Moulson, F, Buf (137)
143. Reilly Smith, F, Bos (138)
144. Dan Boyle, D, SJ (139)
145. Mikhail Grabovski, F, Was (151)
146. Mats Zuccarello, F, NYR (165)
147. Ryan Callahan, F, NYR (141)
148. Victor Hedman, D, TB (142)
149. Mike Smith, G, Pho (143)
150. Tyler Bozak, F, Tor (160)
151. Jason Pominville, F, Min (144)
152. Mark Giordano, D, Cgy (145)
153. Jussi Jokinen, F, Pit (147)
154. Ryan O'Reilly, F, Col (148)
155. Matt Carle, D, TB (149)
156. Mike Ribeiro, F, Pho (152)
157. Mark Streit, D, Phi (153)
158. Mike Fisher, F, Nsh (182)
159. Nathan MacKinnon, F, Col (154)
160. Jacob Trouba, D, Wpg (168)
161. Dennis Wideman, D, Cgy (155)
162. Kevin Bieksa, D, Van (156)
163. Cam Ward, G, Car (146)
164. John Carlson, D, Was (157)
165. Martin Brodeur, G, NJ (169)
166. Brendan Gallagher, F, Mon (159)
167. Tyson Barrie, D, Col (162)
168. Andrej Sekera, D, Car (163)
169. P.A. Parenteau, F, Col (NR)
170. Devan Dubnyk, G, Nsh (NR)
171. Mark Scheifele, F, Wpg (198)
172. Brian Campbell, D, Fla (167)
173. Ryan McDonagh, D, NYR (179)
174. Nathan Horton, F, Cls (NR)
175. Cody Franson, D, Tor (170)
176. Frans Nielsen, F, NYI (171)
177. Francois Beauchemin, D, Ana (172)
178. Hampus Lindholm, D, Ana (173)
179. Patric Hornqvist, F, Nsh (175)
180. Andy Greene, D, NJ (177)
181. Michal Neuvirth, G, Was (178)
182. James Reimer, G, Tor (166)
183. Justin Faulk, D, Car (180)
184. Troy Brouwer, F, Was (181)
185. Niklas Backstrom, G, Min (150)
186. David Desharnais, F, Mon (183)
187. Cody Hodgson, F, Buf (185)
188. Jonas Gustavsson, G, Det (184)
189. Tyler Johnson, F, TB (186)
190. Derek Roy, F, StL (187)
191. Chris Stewart, F, StL (188)
192. Vladimir Tarasenko, F, StL (189)
193. Ondrej Palat, F, TB (NR)
194. Adam Henrique, F, NJ (191)
195. Teddy Purcell, F, TB (NR)
196. Kimmo Timonen, D, Phi (192)
197. Sergei Gonchar, D, Dal (194)
198. Antoine Vermette, F, Pho (195)
199. Brayden Schenn, F, Phi (197)
200. Tim Thomas, G, Fla (200)

Ask anybody who watched the Boston Bruins' games in early January if they knew that the second line was coming on strong, and they would have pointed to several scoring chances and shifts that indicated it was likely. The line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith is on fire now, with Marchand quickly climbing back toward 100 percent fantasy ownership thanks to six goals in the past four games.

But it's watching how he is scoring the goals that inspires the confidence to invest in fantasy hockey. Marchand is getting chances all alone and, at the end of the day, the highest percentage shot on the ice is the one you can take your time to plan. There is history with late-season antics for this line, as well. When Marchand broke onto the scene in 2010-11, he and Bergeron caught fire in January, and were one of the league's hottest duos for the rest of the season.

But that isn't the point we are trying to make. The point is that as the season wears on, you may not be watching as many highlight packages as you were at the beginning of the season, when there was still anticipation for a full slate of hockey ahead. That would be a mistake at this key time of the season, especially if you are in the thick of things in your league.

Like most crafts, fantasy hockey is part "left brain" and part "right brain." The left-brain part is obvious through the statistics and strategy we employ, but the right-brain aspects might not be so easy to pinpoint (as they often can be). That's where watching some hockey (or at least some recap videos) will come into play. Video is where you can see Marchand's six goals in four games weren't lucky at all; in fact, the other teams were lucky he didn't score more.

Let's see who else's recent box score exploits have looked good on paper and on film.

Alexander Semin, F, Carolina Hurricanes: Whatever was the catalyst, Semin looked like Semin for the first time this season over this past weekend. In particular, his coast-to-coast goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday was a thing of absolute beauty. Semin had a spring in his step as he scored three goals in two games. Whether it was the calling out done by general manager Jim Rutherford, or the reunion of Semin with Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty on the top line (the more likely explanation) that sparked him, fantasy owners should know not to look this gift horse in the mouth. Semin can be as dynamic as they come when he is scoring, and he is a no-brainer top-30 forward when working well with Staal. If this line gets going again, it's won't be long before it's too late to buy low on Semin.

Mike Richards, F, Los Angeles Kings: After a monstrous slump through December and into January, Richards has started to show up in the box score again. Though he is playing with the third line at even strength, Richards has been buzzing on the Kings' power play. The team has resorted back to a consistent man advantage featuring Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter and Richards up front. Richards got a goal and an assist Saturday, and was one pass too early to earn another power-play assist Monday for the Kings' third-period goal. He also picked up an even-strength assist in that contest. If the slump is truly over, Richards can very quickly start contributing to fantasy owners who stayed with him. That happens to be most of his owners, because he is still owned in 97.9 percent of ESPN leagues.

Nazem Kadri, F, Toronto Maple Leafs: Included in Kadri's current five-point, three-game run are some pretty slick moves and intelligent positioning. His assist on Cody Franson's first-period goal against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday was simply spectacular, while his goal against the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday was a perfect read on how the play was unfolding. Kadri just needs a little confidence to get going, and he has the ability, linemates and wherewithal to be a top-75 forward for fantasy purposes, with a ceiling much higher. Now with Nikolai Kulemin and Joffrey Lupul, Kadri is with the best possible combination for the Maple Leafs' second line, and this current point streak is likely just the beginning to a strong end.

Matt Read, F, Philadelphia Flyers: Lower down on the list of fantasy assets, but nevertheless intriguing, is Read. While he does technically have three goals in the past two games, one was an empty-netter. So don't get too excited. However, both his goals Monday against the New York Islanders were phenomenal individual efforts that showed off not only his speed, but his accuracy. While Read is currently buried on the third line, it wouldn't take much more for coach Craig Berube to give him a chance higher up on the depth chart. While the second line won't be busted up any time soon, Jakub Voracek suffered an upper-body injury and that may leave a hole on the wing with Claude Giroux for Read. But even if Voracek is fine, it wouldn't take a lot for Michael Raffl to be supplanted from the top line. Raffl has had ample opportunity to start converting with Giroux and Voracek, and little to show for it.

Forwards rising and falling

Mats Zuccarello, F, New York Rangers (up 19 spots to No. 146): Even despite being consistently kept away from the top line (and often finding himself on the third line), Zuccarello continues to show off the offensive prowess that he promised when he came to the NHL. The Norwegian player took a couple of seasons to adjust to the NHL after winning the Swedish league MVP in 2010, but there is no doubt he has found a way to create offense with his speed and small frame (5-foot-7). The key to Zuccarello's usefulness in fantasy has been the consistency. Though the overall value may lack compared to others, there are few scoring droughts. If you need a low-end winger to fill out your lineup with little risk for the remainder of the season, Zuccarello is where you should start looking. There is always upside, too, considering how low on the depth chart he usually plays. If injury or ineffectiveness continues to grip other wingers, Zuccarello could suddenly find himself alongside a red-hot Rick Nash.

Jarome Iginla, F, Boston Bruins (down six spots to No. 79): As the second line takes off like a shot, the Bruins' top line is faltering. Iginla has been struck the worst by the current doldrums, with but one assist in eight games. More troubling is that Iginla hasn't managed a plus-rating in that time, falling from plus-18 to plus-13. Since Iginla largely relies on David Krejci and Milan Lucic for support, there is reason for continued concern. The Bruins have a tendency to only get one line of offense really clicking at a fantasy-friendly rate at any one time. If Bergeron and Marchand continue to light the lamp, chances are Iginla won't be.

Defensemen rising and falling

Jacob Trouba, D, Winnipeg Jets (up eight spots to No. 160): Whether it's some trust or confidence to pinch from coach Paul Maurice, Trouba has three goals in his past two games. Both goals against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday were scored in close, where few rookie defensemen are given a leash to roam. We've mentioned before that Maurice tends to put faith into young players, and that is showing very quickly with the Jets as Trouba and Mark Scheifele have had a kick in their step since he took over. There is no doubt that Trouba has the offensive pedigree to be a force in the NHL, and there is a chance that with Maurice behind the bench, Trouba's progression could be happening right before our eyes.

Goaltenders rising and falling

Ondrej Pavelec, G, Winnipeg Jets (re-enters list at No. 118): Speaking of changes implemented by Maurice, history has shown that not all of his teams have performed admirably from a defensive perspective. But when analyzing his role at the helm of the Jets last week, we were sure to note that this team has a lot more raw talent than other recent teams that Maurice has coached. Well, three wins later and we are buying what Maurice is selling. Why? Shots on goal. Averaging close to 35 shots allowed per game before Maurice came in, the Jets have allowed 19, 22 and 22 in three wins for their new coach. The result for Pavelec has been enough to quickly turn his fantasy tide for the season. When not being peppered with shots each night, Pavelec already has shown an ability to stand tall in goal. We like his chances to be a very serviceable fantasy goaltender who is widely available in your league.

Devan Dubnyk, G, Nashville Predators (re-enters list at No. 170): It's not a coincidence that goaltenders such as Dan Ellis, Chris Mason and Anders Lindback have put up good numbers as a backup to Pekka Rinne during recent seasons, only to struggle once outside the Predators organization. Dubnyk's debut with the Preds wasn't great, as he allowed five goals on 29 shots to the Colorado Avalanche. But he had been with the team for a mere three days at that point. Keep the faith with Dubnyk and rewards will be reaped, so long as Rinne's injury keeps him out long enough for Dubnyk to get settled and rolling. Carter Hutton already has had a couple hot streaks this season that have come to crashing ends, so hopefully Dubnyk is adjusted to the Predators' schemes by the time that happens.