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NHLKIA Fantasy Tips

Posted: Thursday, March 15, 2012 | 09:53 AM

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Ryan Miller has earned five wins in the month of March for the Buffalo Sabers. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images) Ryan Miller has earned five wins in the month of March for the Buffalo Sabers. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

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This week Jordan Fontaine is recommending Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller in his KIA Fantasy Tips. Confidence is an important trait for a goaltender and lately Miller has lots of it.
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.

If you've had the chance to explore the various areas of the Kia Hockey Night in Canada Hockey Pool website you may have seen the section called 'fantasy stats' under the 'my picks' tab.

This is a very useful section that allows you to see which players have the most points in a chosen week. You can sort by forwards, defencemen, and goaltending. It's a great tool for owners to see how their picks measure up in relation to the actual stats earned. Another really useful tool is the 'consensus pick' tab where owners can take a look at which selections are popular among the masses for the upcoming week. This is good when comparing similar players for the same roster spot. Be sure to take the time to explore and learn about these functions as they will prove useful down the stretch for your fantasy team.

Here are my selections for Week 25 in the Hockey Night in Canada Hockey Pool presented by Kia.

Goalies: This week I am recommending Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres. Confidence is an important trait for a goaltender and lately I think Miller has lots of it. In 12 February games Miller earned fantasy points in 10 of them.  He finished the month going 7-2-3 with two shutouts.  In a short March period the Sabres are 5-2-1 with Miller claiming all five wins, and have earned points in six of seven games played. Buffalo was an unanticipated struggling team coming in to the season, but they didn't clear house at the trade deadline and it's a good thing they didn't. The Sabres are currently in ninth spot in the Eastern conference with 75 pts (three points back of eighth-place Washington). Looking at those same Eastern conference standings a month ago, they were in 13th place, 10 points back of a playoff spot.  Miller has been a huge part of this turnaround and should be added to your squad this week for a player value of 'three'.  Added incentive is that Buffalo plays four games (@ FLA, @ TB, VS MTL, @ NYR) including two against teams they are chasing and two against teams just below them in the standings.  With no back-to-back contests it is likely that Miller will start all four games as the Sabres will ride the hot hand into what they hope is a post-season berth.

Defence: For Week 25 I want all owners to take a look at Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks. Bieksa has been a bit streaky this season but seven points in February and six points in six March contests leads me to believe his streak may be trending upwards. This is more of a speculative pick as Vancouver plays four times in Week 25 and Bieksa leads his entire team in average ice time (23:43). He will have plenty of opportunities to add to his point total of 39, which is four shy of his career best (43 in '08-'09). A home game against Columbus should get things going and it's followed by road games in Minnesota, Chicago, and Dallas. If you are looking for a cheap option to fill your fourth defensive spot, Bieksa will cost you 'one' player value point and has plenty of upside. I would hold off on making him your three-star selection but he should still be on your radar.

Forward: My forward pick this week is a guy I've had in my peripheral for a few months. Andy McDonald of the St Louis Blues has endured four injury shortened seasons in the past five. Yet when healthy, this guy delivers. Consider last season when he missed most of December and all of January. Upon returning, McDonald notched 33 points in 33 games. This season McDonald played in three October games before being sidelined until the middle of February. Once back on the ice McDonald has been up to his old tricks, producing 17pts in 17 games. Sound familiar?  To sweeten the pot further, this campaign McDonald is on the NHL's best team with the Blues sitting in first place in the league at 98 points. At a player value of 'two' McDonald is a steal and someone who should be in your lineup whenever he plays in three games or more.

Good luck this week and be sure to have your picks in place in time for the Saturday March 17th, 1pm/et deadline.

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