DAILY PRIME - JANUARY 10, 2014: IS IT WORTH OWNING ANY BLUE'S FORWARDS?
Being an avid participant in fantasy hockey for over 20 years, I should know better when it comes to picking up "hot" forwards on balanced, scoring teams like the one in St. Louis. Ken Hitchcock continues rolling out four lines, and the one clicking the best on that given night will get the most quality ice-time. The "hot" line could last a few games, even weeks, but once another set of forwards are starting to surge, they now become the centerpiece of the offense. It's been a trademark of Hitchcock's teams, so why should things change now? The "flavor" of the moment seems to be the Vladimir Sobotka line flanked by Vladimir Tarasenko and Patrick Berglund. Both Tarasenko and Sobotka collected a goal and an assist in the 5-0 win over Calgary, raising their respective multi-point streaks to three games. The dilemma for most fantasy owners remains the same: When is it a good time to pick up a streaking St. Louis forward? I picked up RW Chris Stewart in the midst of his December streak, where he scored 8 goals and 3 assists in 7 games. The hope was that he could replicate his awesome 25-game stretch late last season when he was among the elite scorers in the NHL. Well, he went cold in the hurry, so I went against my instincts and scooped up Jaden Schwartz for him. A budding star with promising potential, he was sizzling around Christmas time. Now he has gone scoreless in his last 2 contests, with his minutes dropped to 14:33 and given minimal power-play time. Of course, Tarasenko is looking real good just about now, as the talented Russian is oozing with offensive upside. There is a slight chance that by the time I finish this article, he will be on my team. But, there is a reason why all these talented St. Louis forwards are readily available on the waiver wire. Due to the way they are used in Hitchcock's system, there is no fantasy staying power and the chances that any of them can contribute for you on a consistent basis for an entire season are slim to none. It seemed that prior to his injury that Alex Steen was bucking that trend with an exceptional first half, but we will never know if he could have kept it up. Anyway, that's my "two cents" on the St. Louis situation.
Fantasy Game Notes: Anton Khudobin wins his fourth straight start for Carolina since returning from injury, stopping 25 of 26 shots in the 5-1 win over Toronto. With Cam Ward on the shelf, the 27-year old Russian is "hot stuff" right now and should be owned in all fantasy leagues. Given Ward's well-documented struggles this season, Khudobin could own the Hurricane's crease for awhile... Keep John-Michael Liles on your radar. The Toronto cast-off scored his first goal for Carolina and has pushed Andrej Sekera off the top power-play unit. This situation bears watching, as Liles is capable of putting plenty of points during the second half. If you are desperate on "D', maybe taking a flier on him now would be a shrewd move.. With key Minnesota Wild forwards Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu out, there might be a few short-term options to choose from. Even though Justin Fontaine scored his first career "hat trick' in the 5-1 win over Phoenix, the one to choose would be Nino Niederreiter. The Swiss forward has benefited from the additional ice-time, gaining seven points in the last 6 games.. Philipp Grubauer snapped his 3-game losing streak with his 33-save effort in Washington's 4-3 win over Tampa Bay. Braden Holtby had a shot to win the job back and blew it with a horrific effort against Wild. Philipp takes the lead again. Fantasy value on the steep rise..