Originally posted on The Hockey Program  |  Last updated 3/21/12

 

It seems like the question last night was more who did not score for Pittsburgh than who did. We are kidding of course.  However, despite the hat trick from James Neal, he was not our Fantasy POTN.  Now that does sound crazy of course and no Sidney Crosby was not either (despite four assists).  There was an even a hat trick from the enigmatic Ales Hemsky from the Edmonton Oilers.  Just think, we thought Monday Night was a bit crazy but Edmonton putting up a six spot in Nashville along with the 8-4 Pittsburgh romp and a few other surprising results made this one another very peculiar playoff and stretch night.

Now here is our Fantasy POTN and really there was no doubt at all about this one.

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FANTASY POTN:

Evgeni Malkin, C, Pittsburgh Penguins -- The Art Ross and Hart Trophies may be a done deal at this rate.  Malkin had two goals and three assists for a total of five points in a 8-4 laugher against the Winnipeg Jets.  This has not been uncommon for Malkin (with or without Crosby).  He has four such efforts (2 Vs. WPG, 1 Vs. FLA, 1 Vs. BUF).  The Center has a four game goal streak and has not gone more than two games without a point at all this year.  There is really no better of a fantasy certainty this year than Malkin.  This may represent a changing of a fantasy guard as Malkin should go #1 most everywhere next year and not Crosby.  It just is what it is ladies and gentlemen, at least short term.  By the way, Evgeni Malkin now has 43 goals and 50 assists on the season.  He has a very outside shot at a 50-50 season ladies and gentlemen.

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QUICK LOOK BACK:

James Neal, LW, Pittsburgh Penguins -- Neal has been "The Real Deal" as fans have called him this year for the Pens as he notched his second hat trick in the rout.  He also added an assist while recording a season high ten shots on goal.  This puts him at 72 points in 72 games and also with 35 goals, Neal has the potential of hitting 40 goals for the first time in his career.  Does anyone remember his post trade deadline slump last season?  I don't.  The key is ascertaining value is looking at how Neal meshed with Malkin, even from training camp.  One could almost see this coming honestly.  It would seem another jump, albeit smaller could occur next year.

Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins -- So Mr. Crosby has nine points in his first four games back, including four assists last night.  What do we say about this?  Well what every person thinking Devils' Advocate would.  His shot is not there at all yet!  Yes Crosby has no goals in comeback number two and really has not gotten dirty in those garbage scoring areas, which may be a wise move right now.  Either way, you are going to start him anyway for the assists, the goals will eventually come.  Everything takes time afterall.

Johan Hedberg, G, New Jersey Devils -- The crazy notion is that the New Jersey Devils play for Hedberg harder than Martin Brodeur.  Maybe they just take less for granted.  Whatever the reason, Hedberg quietly has a 2.27 GAA, a .917 save percentage and four shutouts in the backup role.  This includes a 33 save shutout last night against the Ottawa Senators in Ottawa.  We have all heard it that this may be his last start for the season but I say, do not count on that.  You may just get a spot start from Hedberg.  We are just saying.

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SCHEDULE TIME:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 TeamsNotes Montreal at Buffalo 7:00 PM | Gameday
Florida at Carolina 7:00 PM | Gameday
Detroit at NY Rangers 7:30 PM | Gameday
Vancouver at Chicago 8:00 PM | Gameday
St. Louis at Anaheim 10:00 PM | Gameday

It is a nice simple five games on Wednesday with strange injuries playing a role.  We are hoping to see Nick Lidstrom (bone bruise on ankle) by Saturday if all goes well.  Jimmy Howard may have reaggrivated his groin as well.  Darren Helm is our 4-6 weeks, etc...etc...etc.  You get the idea ladies and gentlemen.  The Red Wings are getting old but fear not, their development is just fine.  For fantasy purposes, that is what matters here.  So the New York Rangers have a prime opportunity to take advantage of a wounded opponent.  Can the Richards-Hagelin-Gaborik keep doing what they are doing?  Will John Tortorella continue to tinker with a good thing?  Those are two excellent questions but when they play together, the results are noticeable.

Watch out NHL, Drew Stafford and Tyler Ennis are wreaking havoc with opposing goalies.  Pominville and Vanek who?  Yes Marcus Foligno has come along for the ride but Stafford and Ennis are the real deal here.  Lindy Ruff has finally figured it out and fantasy owners should take note, especially now and for next year.  They are all starts tonight versus a Montreal team that is playing for pride but may not be able to contain them.  However, can Buffalo stop Max Pacioretty, Erik Cole, and David Desharnais?  It is a question worth asking.

Simply it is Vancouver and Chicago with no Jonathan Toews and a Vancouver team coming off a shutout at the lowly hands of the Minnesota Wild.  Let's just say keep the Sedin Twins, Andrew Shaw, Patrick Sharp, etc. ready to roll.  This could be one of those high scoring nights especially after Chicago put up five on Columbus last night like it was nothing.  You have been warned!

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The Program comes at you at 8pm ET tonight with a hard hitting edition.  We have a few surprises in store for everyone.  Good luck in your fantasy leagues and as always, thanks for reading.


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