This past week I had the thrill of picking up Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning in one of my fantasy hockey pools. It was the perfect time for me to acquire the native of Maykop, Russia, because he was just the National Hockey League player of the week from February 27-March 5.
In four games, Kucherov had five goals and four assists for nine points. He was also a +1 with six penalty minutes, five power play points, one game winning goal and 18 shots on goal. Kucherov’s best game of the week came this past Monday in a 5-1 win over the Ottawa Senators. Kucherov notched three goals and one assist for four points. All of his goals came on the power play and he also scored the game winning goal.
There is no question that Kucherov is red hot at the moment, but it will be interesting to see if his stock will increase or decrease when Steven Stamkos returns from a knee injury. I know in analyzing the Pittsburgh Penguins over the last few years that Evgeni Malkin generally has performed his best when his teammate, Sidney Crosby has been hurt. It will be interesting to see if Kucherov is much the same way. Currently he has 63 points which not only leads the Lightning, but is the tenth best in the National Hockey League.
Another player that is red hot at the moment is Calgary Flames goaltender Brian Elliott. The Flames have won seven straight and a major reason why they are comfortably in a playoff spot at the moment has been the play of the former Blues netminder. According to Rotoworld, Elliott is 8-1-1 since the National Hockey League All-Star Game. In his last five games, obviously all wins, he has not given up more than two goals. He still seems to be battling the puck at times throughout games and gives up the bad goal once in a while, but has been much better and consistent now than when he was at the beginning of the season.
The Flames are not the only team in the Western Conference with seven straight wins. The other are the Chicago Blackhawks, who are definite Stanley Cup contenders once again. During the seven game stretch, Patrick Kane has been spectacular. He has ten goals and two assists for 12 points and is a +7.
This week teams that play four times are the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals. The three best players to choose in weekly leagues are Brent Burns of the Sharks, Nicklas Backstrom of the Capitals and Mikael Granlund of the Wild. Players to stay away from are those who play on the Arizona Coyotes, Calgary Flames and Los Angeles Kings as they only have two games each this week.