List: 10 players who are absolutely killing fantasy teams

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While the likes of Phil Kessel, Jason Spezza and Thomas Vanek have been lighting it up early in the 2011-12 NHL season, the following 10 players have been less productive than a dog with a chainsaw. (Super unproductive. Can’t even get the chainsaw started usually.)

Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit (2G, 1A, 9GP) – Scoring is rarely a problem for the Wings, but with just four goals in their last four games (all losses), they need a lot more from their star Swede with the $6.1-million cap hit.

Daniel Cleary, Detroit (0G, 2A, 9GP) – Cleary had 26 goals in 2010-11. He’ll need 26 more goals in 2011-12 to match last season’s total. “You’d like to get the first one out of the way, then you get more confidence, and it comes,” he said after the Wings’ 1-0 loss Saturday in Minnesota.

Ville Leino, Buffalo (1G, 1A, 10GP) – We wrote about Leino’s struggles earlier today. The Sabres will try to jump-start their big free-agent acquisition by putting him on a line with the red-hot Vanek (15 points) and Jason Pominville (14 points).

Derek Roy (1G, 3A, 10GP) – The little center’s lack of production has flown slightly under the radar with much of the focus on the newly-acquired Leino. Roy has gone pointless in his last five games while his time on the power play has been reduced to practically nothing.

Jarome Iginla, Calgary (2G, 2A, 9GP) – Not nearly enough from a guy who scored 43 times in 2010-11. Iginla isn’t just snake-bitten either. His shots per game are way down from last season.

Chris Stewart, St. Louis (2G, 1A, 11GP) – The 24-year-old power forward has the talent to be one of the top scorers in the NHL. Goalless in his last eight games, at least Stewart is putting the puck on the net. His 37 shots are a team best.

Michael Grabner, NY Islanders (3G, 0A, 9GP) – The Austrian speedster broke out with 34 goals in 2010-11, adding 18 assists for 52 points. While three goals is hardly a disastrous total, he’s only been on the ice for five Islander goals total. Not the greatest way to start a five-year, $15-million contract.

Saku Koivu, Anaheim (0G, 3A, 11GP) – Koivu is 36 years old so we won’t be too tough on him. Still, he had 45 points last year. He’s better than this.

Dustin Penner, Los Angeles (0G, 1A, 9GP) – The way things are looking, Penner might be better off pursuing that softball career with the El Cid Lounge.

David Booth, Vancouver (0G, 2A, 9GP) – On the bright side, he picked up his first point as a Canuck with an assist Saturday night. Booth has played three games on a line with Ryan Kesler with not much to show for it. Good hunter though.

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.

Blackhawks bolster Central lead, shine harsh light on Penguins’ struggles

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Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.

The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.

Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.

With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.

They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.

Video: An early taste of the Tkachuk-inspired violence in Kings vs. Flames

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BREAKING: the Los Angeles Kings really don’t appreciate Calgary Flames rookie-pest-forward Matthew Tkachuk thanks to that elbow on Drew Doughty (and the fallout from all … that).

Tkachuk responded by critiquing Doughty for “complaining to the media,” so there was testiness from the start.

There was jawing before the game. Then Jake Muzzin rebuked Tkachuk’s kind offer for a fight. Finally, Keith’s son dropped the gloves with Brayden McNabb:

It wasn’t the only bout of the opening frame, and there could be more blood to come beyond this Jarome IginlaDeryk Engelland feud:

Players from both teams better keep their heads up (and on a swivel) tonight. The Flames have to hope that this doesn’t result in injuries, judging from what happened to Johnny Gaudreau.

Avalanche sign Toews-like first-rounder Tyson Jost

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Things have been pretty bleak for the Colorado Avalanche this season, but at least they can look to a high pick in the next draft … and maybe dream about how their top pick from 2016 may pan out.

The Avs signed Tyson Jost, the 10th pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, to an entry-level contract on Wednesday. Colorado notes that he’ll jump right into some NHL action to close out this season.

It’s a nice sneak preview, as NHL insider Bob McKenzie noted on an NBCSN appearance (see above) that doing so will not burn the first year of Jost’s entry-level contract. Nice.

Even nicer? McKenzie also compares Jost favorably to … (drum-roll, though the headline spoiled it) Jonathan Toews.

Most obviously, the two both starred at the University of North Dakota. For the sake of fun, here are their numbers in their final years in the NCAA:

Jost: 16 goals, 35 points in 33 games, +17 rating (2016-17)
Toews: 18 goals, 46 points in 34 games (2006-07)

Naturally, Toews enthusiasts in particular will tell you that points aren’t everything … but maybe there are some shades of the two-way Blackhawks center there?

The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy raved that Jost has “man-strength already” back around the 2016 NHL Draft, as you can see in this profile.

“Jost oozes confidence and already looks like NHL captain material for the future.”

Hey, that does sound at least somewhat Toews-like, doesn’t it?

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In other signing news, the Buffalo News’ Mike Harrington reports that the Buffalo Sabres signed UMass-Lowell’s CJ Smith. More on that below.