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Posted - 12/16/2007 :  12:37:40  Show Profile
By Fantasy Fanatics
www.FantasyFanatics.com


After months of wondering whether Scott Niedermayer would return, the future first ballot hall of famer announced his return to the Ducks this week. The Ducks defence which already includes Mathieu Schneider, Chris Pronger, and Francois Beauchemin just got really scary with the return of their stud defenceman. The buzz around the league is that Teemu Selanne could be returning in the new year which certainly makes the Ducks a contender once again. On a personal note, congratulations go out to my favourite player Wade Belak for scoring his first goal in 143 games. Wade is one of the great guys in the NHL, and it was good to see him finally put one in. This week in the NHL is jam packed with all but the Rangers playing at least three games this week. The contenders, the pretenders and a whole lot more as we break down another exciting week in the NHL!

4 Games

Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Edmonton, Florida, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Philadelphia, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, Washington.

Things have been looking up for Anaheim lately. The return of Niedermayer should give their poor special teams a shot in the arm, and the schedule for the Ducks this week definitely looks promising. The Ducks play 3 of 4 at home as they welcome the Canucks, Sharks and Wild into Anaheim this week. A road contest at Columbus rounds out the week as the Ducks see themselves only 3 points behind division leading San Jose. Anaheim has a home record of 9-4-3, but could be in tough as Minnesota, Vancouver and San Jose are all strong road teams. Anaheim will be once again led by the trio of Chris Kunitz, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf who is putting together an all-star calibre start to the season posting 13 goals, 20 assists and 33 points. J.S Giguere will man the pipes for Anaheim as usual this week who is still recovering from a slow start to the season.

The New Jersey Devils are winners of 9 out of their past 10 games and are the hottest team in the NHL. A commitment back to old fashioned Devils hockey, which is not always the most exciting to watch is the reason for their recent success. New Jersey could very well continue their winning ways with home games against Phoenix and Philadelphia, while travelling to Boston and Washington. Zach Parise is proving that last years breakout season was no fluke as the young winger has scored 14 goals and 32 points, including a hat trick this past week. The Devils are in desperate need of an offensive defenceman to compliment Paul Martin as Martin is the only defenceman with over 6 points. Martin Brodeur is back to his usual self posting a record of 14-10-1 with a 2.30 GAA and continues to be the key to the Devils success

3 Games

Atlanta, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Montreal, Minnesota, Nashville, New York Islanders, Ottawa, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St.Louis, Toronto.

Although the competitiveness of the Central division has changed dramatically one thing remains the same, the Detroit Red Wings are still the cream of the crop. Detroit is a perfect example of how great scouting can overcome poor draft positions as the Wings have either traded or picked in the bottom 5 of the first round in the past decade. Detroit should continue its winning ways with home games against two dreadful road teams in the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers. The Wings travel to Nashville in an important central division match up as the Preds are only 3 points out of 2nd place. The Wings had been thinking of breaking up the line of Zetterberg, Datsyuk, and Holmstrom but thought better of it and were rewarded with a hat trick from Zetterberg in a 5-0 Friday night win over Minnesota. Detroit could be looking to platoon Hasek and Osgood in net so fantasy owners should be cautious before starting one of the two.

Dallas is a team which has been all over the map this year. This team has been inconsistent all season and has yet to get solid goaltending from starter Marty Turco. That being said, I do like their schedule this week. The Stars welcome in bottom feeders Los Angeles and Edmonton, and face the Sharks in a Saturday day game in San Jose. Brendan Morrow has taking over leadership of the team and his play dictates the fortunes of the Stars. Morrow leads the team with 27 points and has been one of the few constant scoring threats on the Stars. Dallas is banged up though with injuries to Jere Lehtinen, and Philippe Boucher who was injured on Wednesday and will be out 3-4 weeks. Matt Niskanen could see more time on the power play and could be a nice pick up for fantasy owners.

2 Games

New York Rangers.

As previously stated, the Rangers are the only team with 2 games this week. The Rangers will be looking to turn their recent luck around as the team has lost 3 straight and have been outscored 14-4. The Rangers play 2 easily winnable games and should end this mini slump with a home game against Phoenix and a road game against the woeful Capitals. The Rangers have gotten away from playing solid defensive hockey and seemed to be getting out worked as of late. I watched Thursday as sluggish skating defenceman Hal Gill skated through the entire Rangers team, took a shot, got his own rebound, curled back and passed it over to a wide open Mats Sundin for a goal. The Rangers are led by top scorer Scott Gomez with 22 points who is trailed closely by perennial all star Jaromir Jagr with 21. Henrik Lundqvist has been outstanding this year posting a 14-11-1 record with a sparkling 2.02 GAA.


Best Games

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Philadelphia Flyers

The battle for Pennsylvania rages on as these two teams face each other in a Tuesday night match up. Pittsburgh and Philly are evenly matched in the standings as both teams have 32 points, although Philly has two games in hand. Philly is a team who has certainly retooled itself for the better in the off season as Daniel Briere and Joffrey Lupel have been valuable additions to the team. Mike Richards and Briere have given the Flyers a terrific one-two punch as the youngsters lead the team with 31 points. Martin Biron has started 23 of 27 so far for the Flyers this season, and will no doubt get the start against the Penguins who have been red hot going 7-2-1 in their past 10. Pittsburgh has seen back up goaltender Dany Sabourin step up in the absence of Marc Andre Fleury who went down with an ankle injury in a 3-2 shootout win over Calgary on Thursday. The Pens are led by sniper Sidney Crosby and his 40 points, with Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar also making strong contributions with 35 and 25 points respectively.


Wednesday, December 12h , 2007
Ottawa Senators vs Carolina Hurricanes

Last week I picked the Senators vs Lightning as one of my games of the week and boy was it ever. Ottawa scored 2 goals in the final 2 minutes to send it to a shootout, only to fall short as Vaclav Prospal netted the winner for Tampa. Ottawa will be once again featured this week as the Sens travel to Carolina in what has the makings of a high scoring affair. The two teams are second and third in goals for in the NHL so a lack of scoring should not be a factor. Carolina will be led once again by the trio of Whitney, Brind'Amour and Stillman, with Staal and Cullen providing the secondary scoring. Cam Ward hasn't been sharp this year, and the Canes could be looking for a back up as John Grahame has been brutal this year, most recently allowing all 8 goals in a 8-1 loss against the Sabres. Ottawa features arguably the top line in hockey as Spezza, Alfredsson and Heatley are a threat whenever the trio is on the ice. Ray Emery has started the past 3 games since relieving Martin Gerber in a 5-2 loss against the Rangers, despite the fact that Emery has a 4-3-2 record with a 2.79 GAA and a .893 SVP.

Top Players This Week

Center
Jason Spezza
Joe Thornton
Vinny Lecavalier
Mike Richards

Left Wing
Henrik Zetterberg
Chris Kunitz
Cory Stillman
Alex Ovechkin

Right Wing
Nathan Horton
Jarome Iginla
Martin St.Louis
Daniel Alfredsson

Defence
Dion Phaneuf
Chris Pronger
Nicklas Lidstrom
Brian Rafalski
Kimmo Timonen

Goaltenders
J.S Giguere
Marty Turco
Martin Brodeur
Evgeni Nabokov

Sleepers
G- Mathieu Garon
RW- Mark Recchi
RW- Chuck Kobasew
LW-Aaron Voros
D- Matt Niskanen
D- Kris Letang





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