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NHLKia Fantasy Tips

Posted: Thursday, February 2, 2012 | 11:10 AM

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A healthy Jamie Benn looks like a good pickup this week. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) A healthy Jamie Benn looks like a good pickup this week. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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After a week of the pomp and pageantry that is the NHL All-Star skills competition and game, it's time for the players to get back on the ice for games that matter in the standings.

Fantasy owners in the Kia Fantasy pool were likely monitoring the health of several key players who have been nursing injuries and there are some who are now back in action.
Each week, Jordan will try to provide you with guidance and inside information as you pick your lineup in the Hockey Night in Canada Fantasy Pool presented by Kia, with a focus on finding "sleeper" picks to help fill the roster when cap space is low.

After a week of the pomp and pageantry that is the NHL All-Star skills competition and game, it's time for the players to get back on the ice for games that matter in the standings.

Fantasy owners in the Kia Fantasy pool were likely monitoring the health of several key players who have been nursing injuries and there are some who are now back in action. Key guys who are back include Jamie Benn (appendectomy) and Mike Ribeiro (knee) of the Dallas Stars, Patrick Sharp (broken wrist) of the Chicago Blackhawks and John-Michael Liles of the Maple Leafs.

These are guys owners have to now factor back into things and put into consideration for roster spots.

Here are my selections for Week 19 in the Hockey Night in Canada Hockey Pool presented by Kia.

Goalies

In Week 19 I am going to recommend someone affordable, and someone who has several favorable matchups. I'm talking about Kari Lehtonen of the Dallas Stars. This guy was the belle of the ball during the first two months going 13-5-1. Injuries caught up to him in December when he was sidelined for most of the month and it's been a work in progress for Lehtonen as he tries to find his game again.

With the All-Star break's arrival comes time for players to heal, and this is true for Dallas. Returning from injury are Benn and Ribeiro and I think that fact combined with some soft opponents could spell a big fantasy week for Lehtonen. Dallas plays four games this week and all are against teams who currently sit outside of the playoff picture. I think this is precisely the schedule the Stars need to hop back in to the Western Conference playoff scene. Home games against Minnesota and Phoenix, and road games in Columbus and Buffalo are what Dallas has this week. Lehtonen will start three of these games and I think it's a very real possibility that he wins all of his starts. At a player value cost of 3 Lehtonen has to be considered a value play but one owners should act on this week.

Defence

I really like the recent play of the Anaheim Ducks and want to advise fantasy owners to pick up Lubomir Visnovsky. He started off the year with a player value of 3 but his poor play prior to Christmas (21GP, nine pts) allowed his value to drop down to a 2. At this price point I am willing to buy Visnovsky for Week 19.

Anaheim is 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, including wins over Vancouver and Ottawa. For his part, Visnovsky notched eight points in 12 January games.  These numbers don't exactly jump off the page but they do show signs of him waking up to last year's form of a career high 68 points. Defence is a category owners cannot afford to spend 3 player value for one player and I'm thinking you might just get that rate of production from Visnovsky at the reduced cost. This week Anaheim plays at home against Calgary and Carolina before finishing the fantasy week in Detroit. The Ducks know that their continued strong play will result in them climbing back into the playoff race and thus avoid the prospect of general manager Bob Murray "blowing up" the roster prior to the trade deadline.

Forward

For my forward pick this week I am going back to the Dallas Stars and am choosing Jamie Benn. Although he missed six games prior to the all-star break due to an appendectomy he participated in the both the skills competition and the All-Star Game and will be good to go as Dallas gets back in action on February 1st.

At a player value cost of 3 he is a higher end option but one that has shown consistent success this season. Benn recorded eight points in six January games, and on Wednesday came back to action with three points. played in 6 games and recorded 8pts. Benn is set to improve on his career high of 56 points in 69 games. Making this pick all the more sweeter is that Dallas plays weaker opponents in Minnesota, Phoenix, Columbus and Buffalo during Week 19. Columbus and Buffalo are in the bottom five of teams for goals allowed in the NHL and Phoenix and Minnesota each have just three wins in their last 10 games. Add him, give him your 3 star selection, and enjoy the results!

Good luck this week and be sure to have your picks in place in time for the Saturday, February 4th, 1 p.m. Et deadline.

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