Kane, Bourque hoping to find target

Leaders in missed shots on verge of turnaround

Updated: February 11, 2013, 5:54 PM ET
By Sean Allen | Special to ESPN.com

Anyone who has followed along on ESPN.com here for the past couple seasons already knows that we like to look at missed shots. The NHL began tracking the statistic under their "real-time stats" page after the 2004-05 lockout season. Basically, a player gets a missed shot whenever they attempt to take a shot on goal and the goaltender doesn't have to make a save to prevent a goal. By itself a missed shot doesn't mean all that much. But when taken into context with a player's history, style of play and linemates, it can be used as an indicator of who is generating offensive chances but is just slightly off the mark.

Evander Kane, Winnipeg Jets, 24 missed shots: Kane is usually spotted as someone taking a lot of shots on goal, not a lot of shots that miss the goal. He leads the league in missed shots this season at a rate of 2.18 per game. That is an increase from 1.32 missed shots per game last season. Kane had a great five-game stretch earlier this season in which he deposited all eight of his points this season, but has been absent the rest of the time. The same can be said of the other Jets' players, though, so it's not just Kane's fault. The missed shots in this case are a good thing. They show us that Kane is still helping generate offensive chances, there is just something off with the execution. Now skating with Olli Jokinen and Nik Antropov, Kane has chances to begin to improve his fantasy value. He just has to stop missing the net with a few more of those shots.

[+] EnlargePhil Kessel
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty ImagesPhil Kessel has a goal in each of his past two games after being shut out in his first 10.

Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs, 19 missed shots: After notching his first goal in his 11th game of the season, it should come as no surprise that Kessel has been missing the net. It was obvious something was wrong when this sniper started the season with four assists in nine games and no goals to speak of. His overall numbers look a lot better thanks to two goals and four assists in his past three games. Kessel struggled early without linemate Joffrey Lupul available, but has since had time to bond with James van Riemsdyk as a new partner in crime. Both players have figured out their roles with Tyler Bozak skating in the middle of them. When Lupul returns from a broken arm later this season, it may just be that he plays a role on a different line, despite how strong their connection was last season. In the meantime, hopefully you already bought low on Kessel, because the window has likely closed.

Rene Bourque, Montreal Canadiens, 18 missed shots: It might be a good thing that Bourque is missing so many shots for the Habs early this season. It means he really is getting a lot of scoring opportunities and will have the chance to eventually direct more of them toward the net. Bourque, Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta are the de facto first line for Montreal. That includes playing on the power play and leading the team in points as a trio. Bourque goes to the net hard on the rush and hangs around in front of the net when the team is controlling the puck in the offensive zone. The point is, he is always at the net. To look at his shots on goal and missed shots, we see he is getting a ton of chances to finish plays. He may be missing a few of them, but a lot of them are on target with a chance to go in. Better yet, Bourque is available in 74 percent of ESPN leagues.

Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals, 17 missed shots: In this case, it would make us feel better if Ovechkin were missing more shots. At least then we could say he was trying. Ovie's missed shots rate is down this season, just like all his other numbers have been. But there are signs of a turnaround for Ovechkin. He has looked better in recent games on a line with Mike Ribeiro as his center. In the past four games, Ovechkin has five points. He collected only three points in the eight games prior. During the past four games, when he has picked up his scoring, Ovie has a total of 20 shots on goal and only five missed shots. That means in the eight games prior, Ovechkin had only 29 shots on goal and 12 missed shots. It looks like he may have a turned a corner on his earlier slump. While the buy-low window on Kessel may be closed, Ovechkin's is probably still open a crack.

Ryane Clowe, San Jose Sharks, 15 missed shots: Still the only member of the Sharks' top six not to light the lamp yet, Clowe has been contributing in other ways (mainly his 56 penalty minutes). Clowe is missing a lot compared to previous campaigns, suggesting something might be off a little this season. But that suggests something can be done about it. Clowe is a great buy-low candidate for your team because the effort on missed shots indicates he is still getting the chances of a goal scorer, but has just been missing so far. More of the chances will start to get on target and more of them will start to go in. The bonus is even if Clowe needs a bit more time to get his game going, he will rack up PIMs in the meantime.

Rising and Falling

Top 100 Forwards

Note: Sean Allen's top 100 forwards 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. Last week's ranking is indicated in parentheses.

1. Sidney Crosby, Pit (1)
2. Steven Stamkos, TB (2)
3. Evgeni Malkin, Pit (3)
4. Martin St. Louis, TB (4)
5. Patrick Kane, Chi (5)
6. Daniel Sedin, Van (6)
7. John Tavares, NYI (10)
8. Marian Hossa, Chi (11)
9. Henrik Zetterberg, Det (16)
10. Thomas Vanek, Buf (19)
11. Claude Giroux, Phi (7)
12. Patrick Marleau, SJ (9)
13. Zach Parise, Min (8)
14. Henrik Sedin, Van (12)
15. Rick Nash, NYR (13)
16. Alex Ovechkin, Was (18)
17. Eric Staal, Car (15)
18. Ilya Kovalchuk, NJ (24)
19. James Neal, Pit (20)
20. Jonathan Toews, Chi (21)
21. Patrick Sharp, Chi (14)
22. Marian Gaborik, NYR (22)
23. Joe Thornton, SJ (23)
24. Pavel Datsyuk, Det (25)
25. Corey Perry, Ana (17)
26. Joe Pavelski, SJ (26)
27. Anze Kopitar, LA (27)
28. Jamie Benn, Dal (41)
29. Logan Couture, SJ (28)
30. Tyler Seguin, Bos (29)
31. Taylor Hall, Edm (30)
32. Jason Pominville, Buf (33)
33. Alexander Semin, Car (40)
34. Jordan Eberle, Edm (34)
35. Radim Vrbata, Pho (35)
36. Mikko Koivu, Min (36)
37. T.J. Oshie, StL (37)
38. Cory Conacher, TB (31)
39. Phil Kessel, Tor (48)
40. Vladimir Tarasenko, StL (38)
41. Vincent Lecavalier, TB (39)
42. David Backes, StL (45)
43. Ryan Getzlaf, Ana (42)
44. Matt Moulson, NYI (43)
45. Mike Ribeiro, Was (47)
46. Teddy Purcell, TB (44)
47. Dany Heatley, Min (32)
48. Tomas Plekanec, Mon (49)
49. Johan Franzen, Det (57)
50. Milan Lucic, Bos (51)
51. David Clarkson, NJ (62)
52. Matt Duchene, Col (52)
53. Patrice Bergeron, Bos (53)
54. Nicklas Backstrom, Was (54)
55. Teemu Selanne, Ana (55)
56. Brad Richards, NYR (46)
57. Chris Kunitz, Pit (61)
58. David Perron, StL (58)
59. Patrik Elias, NJ (68)
60. Jeff Skinner, Car (66)
61. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edm (50)
62. Jarome Iginla, Cgy (59)
63. P.A. Parenteau, Col (60)
64. Evander Kane, Wpg (63)
65. Loui Eriksson, Dal (64)
66. Damien Brunner, Det (96)
67. Jaromir Jagr, Dal (65)
68. Alexander Steen, StL (80)
69. Bobby Ryan, Ana (81)
70. Andy McDonald, StL (56)
71. Jordan Staal, Car (69)
72. Kyle Turris, Ott (71)
73. Sam Gagner, Edm (76)
74. Nail Yakupov, Edm (72)
75. Mikkel Boedker, Pho (73)
76. Rene Bourque, Mon (84)
77. Cody Hodgson, Buf (82)
78. Adam Henrique, NJ (78)
79. Zack Kassian, Van (70)
80. Nathan Horton, Bos (67)
81. Alex Burrows, Van (75)
82. Wayne Simmonds, Phi (90)
83. Max Pacioretty, Mon (77)
84. Andrew Ladd, Wpg (79)
85. James van Riemsdyk, Tor (120)
86. Martin Havlat, SJ (83)
87. Tomas Fleischmann, Fla (85)
88. Milan Michalek, Ott (86)
89. Brad Marchand, Bos (91)
90. Alex Tanguay, Cgy (119)
91. Alex Galchenyuk, Mon (89)
92. Ryane Clowe, SJ (94)
93. Kris Versteeg, Fla (95)
94. Jamie McGinn, Col (97)
95. Saku Koivu, Ana (127)
96. Patrik Berglund, StL (98)
97. Michael Grabner, NYI (99)
98. David Krejci, Bos (100)
99. Daniel Alfredsson, Ott (101)
100. Blake Wheeler, Wpg (92)

Dany Heatley, Minnesota Wild (down 15 spots to No. 47): Make this the second season in a row that Heatley has started with excitement with the Wild, only to disappoint after enough time had elapsed. Last season, Heatley showed a great connection with Mikko Koivu and Devin Setoguchi in the preseason that never ended up translating to the regular season. This season, Heatley actually did start off great with four goals in his first five games. Most of them came from planting himself in front of the net and letting Zach Parise basically bounce the pucks off him into the net. Still, it was a formula for success. But something has happened over the past six games and the Wild's top line has been rendered ineffective. So much so that Heatley has been demoted to the second line for rookie Charlie Coyle. Lucky for Heatley, Coyle hasn't done much with the opportunity yet. Too put it bluntly, Heatley is fantasy irrelevant away from Parise. If this continues, all owners might have to take a good hard look at whether he is worth using.

David Clarkson, New Jersey Devils (up 11 spots to No. 51): Clarkson has been absolutely rocking so far this season. This former power forward has taken one more step to add elite offensive prowess to his game. Clarkson doesn't actually possess shiftiness like Ilya Kovalchuk or a laser-beam shot like Patrik Elias, but what he has developed is an acute awareness of where to be on the ice and what to do while he is there. Clarkson's 15 points in 12 games are no accident. He is third in the league in shots on goal this season and is among the league leaders in power-play points. Will he continue to accrue points at such a torrid pace? Probably not. But this isn't the last we've seen of Clarkson's ability to put pucks in the net. And guess what else? He still hasn't given up on his roots and has 19 PIMs this season.

Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks (down seven spots to No. 21): This movement is not a reflection on Sharp's play this season, but instead on the play of his other teammates. Sharp has picked up huge amounts of slack in recent seasons while Patrick Kane has underachieved, but with the way Kane has been playing this season there is no more slack to be picked up. There is nothing wrong with Sharp's 11 points in 12 games, but he is no longer being leaned on as the catalyst in the offense; Kane, Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews all have more points.

Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings (up seven spots to No. 9): Zetterberg's connection and scoring with Damien Brunner in the Swiss hockey league during the lockout clearly primed him for this abbreviated NHL campaign. Zetterberg's connection on the ice with Pavel Datsyuk has long since been established and now he has a second threat to work with in Brunner, not to mention that on the power play he gets to work with both of them. At even strength, Zetterberg and Brunner have Johan Franzen making trouble in front of the opponents' net. Datsyuk joins the trio on the power play to create as potent a unit as any NHL team can boast. Zetterberg has been firing a ton of shots on goal and has only two games this season without a point.

Scoring Lines

Colin Wilson, Nashville Predators: As likely a culprit as anyone on the Preds roster to help stimulate the offense, Wilson did his part with a burst of six points in three games last week. The team then promptly managed just one goal in the next two games. That illustrates what kind of hot-and-cold production one can expect from a team like the Predators. Wilson has as much offensive talent as the next forward on this team and very well could emerge as the leader of the team's scoring. He is being paired with Mike Fisher and Martin Erat on the power play, while playing with Gabriel Bourque and David Legwand at even strength. We will have to wait to see how that changes when Patric Hornqvist returns, but there is little doubt Wilson has a more dynamic game that Hornqvist's. It may be worth a gamble now in deeper leagues to see if Wilson can get another little streak going soon.

Brad Boyes, New York Islanders: We pegged him before this season began as a the dark horse to replace P.A. Parenteau on the Isles' top line. It took a while, but Boyes is skating with Matt Moulson and John Tavares. There aren't many prime wing spots like Boyes' current one that the declining veteran could have hoped to earn this season, but earn it he has. Already with eight points in 11 games, Boyes has been showing a knack for hanging around the net looking for Moulson's and Tavares' rebounds. He began with a role with them on the power play and has expanded it to full-time work. Boyes is still widely available if you are thinking of acting on him.

Simon Gagne, Los Angeles Kings: Frankly, it's about time the defending Stanley Cup champions started experimenting with different looks on offense. Struggling to score goals, the Kings moved Gagne up to the top line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. The result was a goal from Kopitar on Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings. That is more than adequate for the Kings to give the line another look, so expect to see Gagne with Kopitar on Monday as well. Obviously, Gagne has breakaway speed and a great wrist shot, given his days as a 40-goal scorer. But injuries have taken their toll. It will be interesting to see if Gagne can keep up the role on the first line.

Power Plays

Troy Brouwer, Washington Capitals: Brouwer never really connected with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom last season, despite several extended looks with the top duo. But all of that can be kept in the past as it appears that Brouwer has found his groove with Backstrom, Ovechkin, Mike Green and Mike Ribeiro on the man advantage. Of his five points in five games in February, three came on the man advantage.

Infirmary

Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche: He still hasn't practiced with the team after suffering a concussion early this season. There is some suggestion that Landeskog will be back practicing sooner than later, but as we know with concussions, skating might not mean an imminent return. Hopefully Landeskog isn't a bit gun shy when he returns, because his physical play is part of what creates the space to allow him to be creative with the puck. Still, hold on to him for now.

Scott Hartnell, Philadelphia Flyers: Hartnell already has the cast off his broken foot and is projecting for a return closer to four weeks than the maximum of eight that was initially suggested. If you dropped him or if he is available in your league, pick him back up if you have space.

Cam Atkinson, Columbus Blue Jackets: Atkinson is getting closer to returning from an ankle injury, and could do so late this week. The Blue Jackets desperately need some more offense and Atkinson packs a ton of skills. He was a sleeper before the season started and should be considered of the same status again. No one on the Jackets has really stepped up in his absence, so he should get a crack at a top line again right away.

Sean Allen is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He was the 2008 and 2009 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hockey Writer of the Year. You can tweet him @seanard.

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