Hot and cold
By Thomas J. Harrigan, Fantasy Sports Writer
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - With the final month of the NHL season upon us, fantasy owners would like their players to heat up with the weather, but some have brought on an extended winter.
Here are four fantasy situations that are red hot going into April, and four that are no threat to melt the ice.
Minnesota's big signings of winger Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter didn't yield immediate results. In fact, the Wild were one of the league's lowest scoring teams in the first half of the season, averaging 2.17 goals over the first 18 games. But they have produced 51 goals over the last 14, an average of 3.64 goals per game.
At the forefront of this turnaround has been Parise, who has six goals and 13 points over his last 10 games. But forwards Mikko Koivu and Devin Setoguchi and blueliners Jared Spurgeon and Suter have been tremendous as well.
Koivu has six goals and 16 over the last 12, Setoguchi has six goals and nine points in the last eight games and Spurgeon has a goal and five points over the last four.
But the true star has been Suter, who has earned his money with three goals and 18 points over his last 15 games.
Alex Ovechkin may never again reach his 2005-10 heights -- he averaged 54 goals, 106 points and 432 SOG -- but he is proving that he's still one of the top players in fantasy hockey with a vintage run to close March.
Ovechkin has six goals and 10 points over the last six games, a stretch that was prompted by putting center Nicklas Backstrom back with Ovechkin.
Backstrom has two goals and five points over his last four games, but he isn't the only Capitals player to give Ovechkin some support.
Troy Brouwer (RW) has three goals and six points over the last six games, Marcus Johansson (C) has three goals and eight points in the last seven and John Carlson (D) has a goal and four points over the last four.
And while center Mike Ribeiro has slowed down since being moved from the top line, he still has a goal and six points over his last six games.
Toronto Maple Leafs
We discussed the Maple Leafs' ascension this week, but the scoring hasn't been limited to Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul.
Defenseman Dion Phaneuf has recorded three goals and six points in his last six games, and 22-year-old center Nazem Kadri has emerged as a star with nine goals and 21 points in his last 17 games.
In the first half, the Predators received exactly the type of nondescript production you would expect from a no-name offense that has to use second- and third-liners as top-three forwards.
The team was shut out five times and averaged 2.04 goals over the first 23 games, a number that looks even worse when you consider it played 10 overtime games and six shootouts in the first 20.
But the Preds have been a more explosive team lately, one that has averaged 3.64 goals over the past 11 games.
The play of Martin Erat (one goal, eight points in the last four games) and Mike Fisher (five goals, nine points during a current eight-game scoring streak) has made the biggest difference, while defenseman Shea Weber has returned to his All-Star level with help from 22-year-old blueliner Roman Josi (two goals, nine points in the last seven games).
The Canes' defense recently has been more horrifying than that "Evil Dead" red band trailer, and it has caused their top five players -- Eric Staal, Alexander Semin, Jiri Tlusty, Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner -- to take massive plus/minus hits.
Eric Staal kept up his scoring production in the first half of March but he has one goal and two points over his last four games and is a -8 in that span. Semin also has a goal and two points over his last four and is a minus-7, and Tlusty has just two points over his last eight games.
Jordan Staal is a -6 over his last four games and has two goals and three points in his last eight games.
And Skinner hasn't been the same since suffering a concussion in February. The third-year forward has four points and a -7 differential in 13 games this month.
St. Louis Blues
Getting back their four injured forwards -- Alex Steen, T.J. Oshie, Andy McDonald and Vladimir Tarasenko -- was supposed to revitalize the Blues, but St. Louis' scoring lately has been as inconsistent as its goaltending was in February.
With such an even split of playing time between its top-nine forwards, it's difficult for one player to step forward as a reliable fantasy option.
Chris Stewart emerged as a stud in the wake of those injuries with seven goals and 14 points in a seven-game span in the middle of this month, but he has one point and a -4 over his last five games.
Check out what the Blues' other forwards have done recently.
Alex Steen - Averaging 4.7 SOG per game over his last six games but has two points and a -3 in that stretch.
T.J. Oshie - Two goals, seven points and a -4 over his last 15 games.
David Backes - Three points and zero goals over his last 10 games.
David Perron - One goal, three points over his last 10.
Patrik Berglund - one goal, two points, -3 in his last seven.
Vladimir Tarasenko - two goals, four points over the last six.
Vladimir Sobotka - one goal, three points over his last nine.
Andy McDonald - zero goals, two points over his last five.
The lackluster production is not limited to the forwards; blueliners Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo haven't provided consistent scoring either. Shattenkirk has two goals and 20 points on the season but just one point over his last nine games, and Pietrangelo (five goals, 19 points) has one point over his last six.
With early season surprises like Bobby Ryan and Francois Beauchemin coming back to Earth and Teemu Selanne struggling in March, the Ducks will head into April with only Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry as reliable fantasy options.
The latter two have combined for just nine points over the last nine games -- six by Getzlaf and three by Perry, who was suspended for four of them -- and the Ducks have lost four straight.
While team captain Claude Giroux continues to do Claude Giroux things -- two goals, six points over his last four games -- the rest of Philadelphia's offense has stalled.
Even with two goals in his last game, Scott Hartnell has just three points and a -4 in March, and Wayne Simmonds has produced four points and a -7 over his last nine.
Jakub Voracek had 11 goals and 26 points in 17 games from Feb. 2 to March 7, but his production has dipped closer to his career level over the last eight games. In that stretch, the winger has two goals, five points and a -5.
03/29 19:11:12 ET