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Fantasy Pool Look: A case for the 'D'

Steve Sullivan has been in and out of the lineup, David Legwand is out for another month, and Paul Kariya (although he's having a nice comeback season) is a minus-7. So why does Nashville have 22 wins in 32 tries?

Look no further than the defense corps. Marek Zidlicky, Kimmo Timonen, Dan Hamhuis, and Ryan Suter have been steady in their own zone and chipping in on the offense.

The Preds have scored 104 goals this year and those four blueliners have a combined 76 points. What's more, with the exception of Hamhuis, they are all plus players.

Zidlicky, coming off a 53-point first-year effort, has 21 points in his last 18 games and is a good bet to finish in the top five for scoring among defensemen.

Timonen, 30, has a career high of 44 points (set last NHL season) and is a lock to beat that mark. He has six points in his last four games.

Hamhuis, now in his second NHL season, picked up the offensive slack when Zidlicky wasn't putting up the numbers. After tapering off when the latter caught fire, Hamhuis is back on track with five points in his last three games.

Last, but not least, is the 20-year-old rookie Ryan Suter. The future looks bright for this youngster. He was a plus-5 with two points in the last three games.

Nashville coach Barry Trotz has a wealth of talent at the backend and he takes full advantage. The Predators have 40 power play goals this season, and a full 25 per cent of them are from the bluelinersÂ…

Detroit rookie defenseman Brett Lebda has five points in his last three games. Don't be fooled, however, as his offensive upside is limited. Mathieu Schneider will be back from injury soon and at that point Lebda's production will go back down. Lebda will likely not ever have a 40-point season, making his fantasy appeal practically zeroÂ…

Colorado checking forward Antti Laaksonen's stats are back to normal now. After an impressive 15 points in 25 games, he has only one goal in his past 10. This puts his numbers at about where you would expect themÂ…

Injuries, from a fantasy pool perspective: Chicago's Tuomo Ruutu is back (no pun intended) skating again. If he can hold up for another two weeks or so, pain free, he will play a couple of games in Norfolk of the American League and then make his return to the NHL. That's mid-January at the earliest. A more likely scenario will see him return to the Blackhawks for a couple of games prior to the Olympics, and then join the Finnish team for the Games in TurinÂ…Bryan Berard has a bulging disc in his back. This is something that will trouble him all season, so even though he may return before the New Year, his production will suffer until next season.

Farm Report: Anaheim blue-chipper Ryan Getzlaf picked up ten points in three games to win the AHL's player of the week award. He'll be an NHL regular next season and has 45-goal and 80-point upsideÂ…Colorado prospect Brad Richardson's play is slipping as the season wears on. Playing with the AHL's Lowell Loch Monsters, Richardson had a solid five points in six games in October and eight points in 11 games in November. But he has just two in seven for December. What's more, his plus-minus went plus-2, minus-1, minus-4, respectively. The 2003 fifth round pick (163rd overall) had a four game cup of coffee with the Avs earlier this year, and has a lot of offensive talent to offer.

Fantasy Hockey Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Tuesday and Friday. Also find the top 250 roto-player rankings at the first of every month (email me for the rankings).

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Fantasy Pool Look will return Dec. 30



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