Saturday's Forward Recap: Staal, Nash, Crosby, Gaborik, Henrik Sedin
(3/31/12) With seemingly every game sending waves up and down the NHL standings, GMs in fantasy hockey leagues across North America (and the world) are jockeying for position as the results come in. Most leagues these days also offer payouts to second and third place, so every fantasy point matters in the race to the finish. Friday there were a number of notable performances; here's our Saturday morning recap.
First, we want to congratulate poolies who stuck with Eric Staal. He had a miserable start to the season, but with a goal against WIN on Friday, he is now one point shy of 70 on the year. Staal has 4 games to go and he will surely crack that plateau. The Hurricanes stink this season, but Staal is keeper worthy. Kyle Wellwood had a goal and an assist and now has 46 points on the year - a new career high for him - and Andrew Ladd notched his 25th on the season. Ladd is close to his goal total from last year (29), but with 4 games to go, he remains 13 points shy of the career high.
Second, Sidney Crosby was up to his old tricks again: scoring once and adding 3 assists. Steve Sullivan (3 points) Evgeni Malkin (2), Pascal Dupuis (2), Jordan Staal and James Neal (1 goal each) all contributed. Although top spot is still mathematically possible, the Penguins will likely finish 4th in the East and face the Flyers in Round 1. It will be an all-out war, but PIT is the favorite to march deep into the postseason. With the loss, Buffalo is now on the outside looking in. Of note, rookie Marcus Foligno has cooled off - he's now pointless in his last 2 games.
In a game that makes the Panthers' playoff aspirations look whimsical, RJ Umberger scored twice to help down Florida 4-1. Umberger has 6 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 games (including the hat trick he recorded on March 23rd). It's a strong finish for Umberger, who was having an off season up until this stretch. 2011-12 will go down as his lowest offensive production since his sophomore year in 2006-07 when he played for the Flyers. Rick Nash picked up an assist and now has 6 points in his last 4 games. He's closing in on 60 points... and once again we can only imagine what he could accomplish playing for an elite franchise. His fantasy potential remains untapped. Keeper owners pray for a trade in the offseason. If Nash can score three more in the final 4 games he will reach the 30 goal plateau for the 7th time in the last 8 years (all with the lowly Blue Jackets of course).
Other forward notes: Marian Gaborik scored his 39th and Brad Richards got his 25th in the Rangers' 50th win of the year. Stepan and Hagelin recorded assists. Rene Bourque got his 18th for MTL, and he represents a sleeper if the Canadiens can turn the ship around for next year. Alexander Radulov scored his 2nd of the season, as NSH served up a Round 1 preview to DET. Milan Hejduk scored his 14th amidst retirement talk, as the Avs dashed out the Flames playoff hopes for good this season. Rookie Mark Olver scored again, Landeskog with 2A. Los Angeles regained control in the Pacific by defeating the Oilers. Kopitar had 2 points, while Jordan Eberle scored his 33rd of the year from Nugent-Hopkins. Get used to that combo in 2012-13; both players are keepers. Finally, in the nightcap, Henrik Sedin spread the butter out with 3 assists, Burrows recorded his 25th, and Max Lapierre had a rare 3 point night (1G, 2A) as the Canucks demonstrated what a Round 1 series against the Stars would likely look like. VAN won 5-2.