Fantasy Hockey ONE (12/10)

Time to get ready for a Saturday full of NHL fantasy craziness as this will decide your Week 9 more than likely.  Let us get started with Ian Gooding first and then we will roll along with the rest of your Saturday in fantasy hockey…..

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PICK SIX:

Usually when a team trades for a proven NHLer, its fan base shows optimism while hyping up the new acquisition. But when the team is Montreal and the player is Tomas Kaberle, the reaction is “Why?”

There are plenty of reasons to doubt Kaberle. After all, the Habs will be taking on $4.25 million for two more seasons after this season for a defenseman that they won’t need once Andrei Markov returns. The most telling comment about Kaberle had to be from Canes GM Jim Rutherford, who said, “I should have known better,” when referring to his decision to sign him. I’m sure Rutherford didn’t make that comment while he was attempting to work that deal with Montreal!

So does all the cynicism and doubt about a player who has been in four different NHL organizations in 2011 mean that he is a player that you should ignore in fantasy leagues? Let’s discuss the road ahead for Kaberle, along with a few other players who have been noteworthy recently.

Tomas Kaberle, D, MON – start
The Tomas Kaberle era in Carolina concluded without a single goal, along with only nine assists and a (-9) in 29 games – clearly bust material in fantasy leagues. He’ll begin his time with the Canadiens on Saturday in a matinee against New Jersey, a game in which the Habs will desperately need him. With Markov reportedly out until after the All-Star break, Kaberle will be counted on to log major power-play minutes for a team that is 29th in power-play percentage while receiving very little scoring from the blueline. Smile, Montreal fans – it’s a clean sheet of ice for Kaberle, and for some players it’s a matter of finding the right team.

Milan Michalek, LW, OTT – start
Who would have guessed that Michalek would be leading the NHL in goals at this point in the season? Michalek’s 18 goals has equaled his total from last season in less than half the number of games played. Michalek has found chemistry with Jason Spezza, and the two are playing inspired, competitive hockey under new coach Paul MacLean. Saturday’s test against the red-hot Canucks won’t be easy, but the Sens’ top line might make an impression on Hockey Night in Canada.

Scott Hartnell, LW, PHI – start
Hartnell and his hair are currently on a four-game goal streak. After a slow start, Hartnell has seven goals in his last nine games and 13 goals on the season. He and the Flyers are facing a porous Tampa Bay defense ranked in bottom third of league, so Hartnell should be a must-start for Saturday.

Olli Jokinen, C, CGY – start
Speaking of hair, Jokinen has grown his out (by his terms), which may be the key to his recent success. Maybe that’s not the real reason, but Roli Polli Olli (you’ll understand that reference if you watch Canadian kids shows) has three goals and six points in his last four games, benefitting from lining up alongside Jarome Iginla. In case you were wondering if Jokinen had fallen off the face of the earth, he is back and perhaps worth a pickup.

Artem Anisimov, C, NYR – add/start
If your name is Teemu Selanne and you’re shooting down Mike Bossy’s rookie record for goals, then motioning your stick like a machine gun is perfectly okay. But if your name is Artem Anisimov and you’re scoring your fifth goal of the season against Tampa Bay, well… not so much. But it’s worth mentioning that Anisimov has goals in three consecutive games and points in four consecutive games. The 16 penalty minutes from the brew-ha-ha on Thursday will artificially inflate his ranking, but he’s still worth adding in deeper leagues.

Patrick Marleau, LW, SJ – bench
Marleau can be maddeningly streaky for a top-50 fantasy option. Not only is he without a point in his last five games, but he has also been bumped down to the third line with Michal Handzus and Jamie McGinn. Marleau will eventually pick things up as he usually does, but facing perhaps the NHL’s hottest goalie this season (Brian Elliott) won’t be easy for the sniping Shark.

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TGIF MUSINGS:

What happened last night in the NHL probably drove many fantasy GM’s cuckoo.  Semyon Varlamov not playing well again as now the Colorado Avalanche play poorly on the road or the fact that Dennis Wideman had four points to be our “Fantasy POTN”.  There was a little of everything for everyone.  Even Ryan Miller managed to not get plowed over by a Florida Panther and got a 2-1 OT win to boot.  Then there was Cam Ward, who watched his defense go South as they gave up 30 shots in about half a game.  Ward surrendered four goals before being pulled then watched Carolina make somewhat of a comeback before losing by two.  Think about how bad Carolina is defensively.  It literally makes their goalie irrelevant in fantasy circles and almost every one of their top forwards.  In deeper leagues, sure you can pluck some categories but there are so many better options.

Fantasy wise, Colorado and Carolina did check out last night more or less.  Washington went 4-6 on the power play but hey Phil Kessel scored again for Toronto (his 18th on the year).  Kessel may cherry pick a bit but his numbers still speak for themselves.  Also, Edmonton is still trying its best to stay above water as far as a playoff spot.  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, and Ryan Smyth are still just rolling along helping fantasy teams shock the world.

So what will Saturday bring?  Here is the schedule…..

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SCHEDULE TIME:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Teams Notes
Montreal at New Jersey 1:00 PM
Boston at Columbus 7:00 PM
NY Rangers at Buffalo 7:00 PM
Vancouver at Ottawa 7:00 PM
Pittsburgh at NY Islanders 7:00 PM
Tampa Bay at Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Winnipeg at Detroit 7:00 PM
San Jose at St. Louis 8:00 PM
Anaheim at Nashville 8:00 PM
Minnesota at Phoenix 8:00 PM
Edmonton at Calgary 10:00 PM
Dallas at Los Angeles 10:30 PM

Its another jam packed Saturday with 12 games on the schedule almost like Thursday but in many ways better because this will again like we said, determine your Week 9 in many cases.  How you play Saturdays is more important than any other day of the week.  It has been said pretty much since the beginning.  You win Saturday and most times (unless you are considerably behind), you win the week!

Here is one again some key injuries you may want to pay attention to and some quick status updates….

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QUICK HITTERS INJURY STYLE:

Martin St. Louis, RW, Tampa Bay — Facial Fractures (OUT)

Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh — Headaches/Knee (OUT)

Kris Letang, D, Pittsburgh — Concussion (IR — OUT)

Cal Clutterbuck, F, Minnesota — Leg (Questionable — GO)

Saku Koivu, C, Anaheim — Lower Body (Questionable — SIT)

Pavel Datsyuk, C, Detroit — Lower Body (Probable — GO)

Sergei Gonchar, D, Ottawa — Upper Body (Questionable — SIT)

Kevin Shattenkirk, D, St. Louis — Flu (Questionable — GO)

Hopefully this makes life a little easier as far as injuries and such.  On Saturdays, it is important to recover from the week’s action and decompress a bit for the big fantasy day and night.  So if there is a key player that could be vital, we will try to give you quick yes or no answers right here.

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THE AFTERNOONER:

It is always joked that an afternoon game or two or three can set the tone of your fantasy day.  Well there is only one such matinee on Saturday but this could be big for quite a few fantasy owners as the New Jersey Devils face the Montreal Canadiens at 1pm ET at the Prudential Center.  New Jersey comes off an emotional 5-4 win while Montreal blew a 3-0 lead and lost to the Vancouver Canucks in the bonus session gimmick. 

Key Lines: (NJ) — Henrique-Parise-Kovalchuk  (MTL) Desharnais-Cole-Cammalleri

Goaltenders: (NJ) — Martin Brodeur  (MTL) Carey Price

The question always becomes well when is Martin Brodeur going to fall off?  Well we did say early in the season to expect the drop.  Sure enough Brodeur has but do expect flashes of the former brilliance every fantasy owner grew to be spoiled by.  Now Brodeur does love to play these teams in Canada more often than naught but New Jersey is riding a bit of confidence in their two game winning streak while Montreal has had two deflating losses that should have been wins (yes got 2 pts I know I know). 

What Could Happen Here?:  These games are either snoozers of wild wide eyed shootouts.  There is really no way to gauge this one but New Jersey will try hard to get Brodeur a win against his former childhood idols.  New Jersey could be more dangerous on the Penalty Kill as they have given up only six goals on the PK and eight goals while on the Power Play.  Montreal does have some pretty good speed so New Jersey will have to be attentive.  Alexander Urbom and Matt Taormina have been called up so how they mesh on the blueline will be key in a Devils victory.  Expect the top Devils line to produce again just enough as the Devils win 4-2.

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KEEP AN EYE ON………..

Rangers @ Sabres — For some reason this one keeps catching our eye.  Maybe it just depends on who starts against Lundqvist, I am not sure.  Either way, Sabres have to play better than against a tired Florida team.  Again Lundqvist has to stand on his head for Ranger victory while Marian Gaborik has to start scoring a bit more for New York.  Expect secondary scoring to be key in this tilt.

Penguins @ Islanders — If there was a time for the Isles to play the Penguins, it is now.  Pittsburgh has 11 guys on the shelf right now, including Sidney Crosby.  This should mean that Al Montoya could get a cheap win against a very good opponent under normal circumstances.  Also the John Tavares line should get plenty of chances.  Marc-Andre Fleury will be tested plenty in what could be a very testy affair.

Stars @ Kings — Both teams have been hurting of late and have struggling players galore on fantasy rosters but this game screams a breakout for LA.  We will see how it materializes but the Kings have been a bit snakebitten, especially at home of late.  It might not be a bad time to ride a few Kings to victory.  Paging Anze Kopitar……

Ducks @ Predators — Little more needs to be said here.  The teams hate each other and it comes down to who makes the clutch save or two.  Pekka Rinne is due for a home win despite playing well for the most part.  Watch out for that Wilson-Smith duo especially on the man advantage and in some rare double shifting situations.  Anaheim’s top line will have to carry the night and Jonas Hiller has to play better…plain and simple.

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Well that does it for us.  Good luck tonight of course and check back with us on Sunday for the aftermath.

 

About Chris Wassel

Simply I am a hockey writer who is a jack of all trades. Whether it is draft, fantasy, NHL, KHL, AHL, etc...I probably can write about it. The challenge in hockey is to be able to step out of your comfort zone and write like you are still there. Hopefully you enjoy the humor in the writing on the site and tell your friends. Thanks for reading!

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