Fantasy Hockey Team of the Week: Dec.14-20

Welcome to fantasy hockey team of the week, a series which will be found weekly on Die By the Blade. Our primary objective is to create the finest fantasy squad consisting of a center, left winger, right winger, two defensemen and one goaltender. In other words, just like a normal group regularly on the ice in game action.

We'll in addition herald a young gun, have a laugh at the gaffe of the week, highlight the best goal and more. By the season's end, a count will be undertaken to determine which players showed up in the most weeks. Of course, I'll try to provide some tips, real tips, for those involved in deep fantasy hockey pools.

Tons of scoring took place for the Nashville Predators, 23 goals in four victories to be exact, but it wasn't the expected players taking care of business for the most part. Marcel Goc has been tossed onto a number of lines by Barry Trotz and has blossomed alongside whomever. The German native came over from San Jose and if he can continue to bring the goods, it may allow the Predators to forget about that Rich Peverley character.

Numbers: four games played, two goals, four assists, six points, plus-six rating.

There are some indubitable certainties in life. We live, we sleep, we die and Ilya Kovalchuk will put pucks past goalkeepers. Atlanta's franchise performer, for the time being, has gone pointless on just eight occasions owning the instincts of a sniper. His back-checking and defensive play are another story but Kovalchuk gets paid to shoot the puck.

Numbers: four games played, two goals, four assists, six points, minus-one rating.

Sick of being referred to as enigmatic, Nathan Horton's potential has floated back to him quickly as he sits even with Rick Nash in points. What a sweet relief it must be for the Florida Panthers to witness the third overall selection in 2003 playing the best hockey of his career. The press loves to hound struggling stars but Horton seems like he can do no wrong lately.

Numbers: four games played, three goals, four assists, seven points, plus-two rating.

Two Thrashers make up our back line and we'll start with Tobias Enstrom who has proven to be an influential defender. Covering the ice well, the 25-year-old is dependable in sending that first break-out pass and sneaking into the play. While he could benefit from a bigger frame, Enstrom uses his assets well defensively to shut down the opposing competition.

Numbers: four games played, five assists, five points, plus-two rating.

Rounding out our five-man unit is Pavel Kubina and he's fit in well in Atlanta. With a plus-14 rating, he leads the squad in that regard and still packs a heavy shot which goaltenders will be lucky to stop but won't be able to avoid rebounds on always. The assists will arrive in packages for the former Maple Leaf considering the Thrasher forwards that hover towards the goal.

Numbers: four games played, one goal, four assists, five points, plus-one rating.

On we go to the most important individual on any team. In a far from convincing Pittsburgh display in Buffalo yesterday, Marc-Andre Fleury kept his side in the game with vital stops, none more impressive than his stretch across robbing Clarke MacArthur. As Sabres supporters, we know all about goaltenders being the No.1 star so no hard feelings to the Penguins netminder.

Numbers: three games played, three wins, 1.33 goals against average, .951 save percentage.

Team of the Week

Center: Marcel Goc

Left Wing: Ilya Kovalchuk

Right Wing: Nathan Horton

Defenseman: Tobias Enstrom

Defenseman: Pavel Kubina

Goaltender: Marc-Andre Fleury

Our young gun spotlight goes to Patric Hornqvist for his seven-point effort in Nashville's dominance. The rookie is up to ten goals and will undoubtedly surpass 20 come April. It's not often that Shea Weber and Steve Sullivan aren't overshadowed by a freshman often but the Swede managed to do it.

Matt Stajan had his head down and the body usually follows in those moments. Johnny Boychuk lined him up delivering a perfect open-ice check tucking the shoulder in and taking aim at the body. A little bloodied, Stajan skated off on his own and returned to finish out the match Saturday. That's our hit of the week in case you're wondering.

Drew Miller, younger brother of Ryan, has picked up the pieces in Detroit and gave the Tampa Bay Lightning something to remember him by. Knocking down a long pass out of the air, he managed to contain the puck and make a sweet move to the backhand as Mike Smith went for a poke-check. You can see it below.



Gaffe of the week is automatically handed to Vesa Toskala for his latest glove misusing. Toronto was controlling play up until that mistake which gave Buffalo the lead and really grabbed the life out of the Maple Leafs. Better luck next time Vesa if there is a next time.

Congratulations are in order for Mike Brodeur earning his first NHL win over the weekend in Ottawa. The Canadian has a huge last name to live up to if he looks to resemble the other Brodeur. One victory down, 578 to go.

Finally, a bit of recommendation for fantasy poolies. Do not drop Marc-Andre Bergeron because of Andrei Markov's early return from injury. The defenseman is planning on being used as a fourth-line forward and remaining on the powerplay alongside Markov. This was the type of role Mark Streit excelled in a few years ago before becoming a well-known blue liner.

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