Despite the light schedule, it is still time to take a look back at what happened last night in the NHL for our fantasy hockey fans.
A LOOK BACK:
Rise Of The Ducks? — Something told us the Anaheim Ducks could not be kept down the entire season. In a slightly similar way to the New Jersey Devils last year, Anaheim has bounced back with points in seven straight games (6-0-1) after a 6-2 thrashing of the Phoenix Coyotes last night. Remember Phoenix just came off a 6-1 rout of the Colorado Avalanche Monday Night. The Ducks were a team built on maximizing scoring chances (quality over quantity). Early in the season they were awful at doing it and getting scored upon for it. However, now they have figured it out. Scoring seems to be coming from all four lines in the last two weeks. Even Saku Koivu had a seven point week last week. Jonas Hiller has been on fire of late, stringing together quality starts. There is no question the Ducks are playing the kind of game they should have been all year but it is great news for fantasy owners who cannot worry about where this has been but they have to see how far it can take them. Their schedule into mid-February looks excellent for a continued revival.
Woe Is Buffalo — The team that finally found an owner willing to spend is watching his investments go up in smoke literally. Buffalo would have actually had seven goals scored on them last night but an apparent hand pass that no one saw disallowed yet another goal. The 6-2 loss to a team that is considred elite in the West is not unheard of but it is the way this team has been losing games since the Milan Lucic hit on Ryan Miller, that has people talking. Miller’s 3.12 GAA and .898 save percentage is a far cry from even his career numbers (2.60 GAA, .914 save percentage). Derek Roy is struggling mightily and everyone knows what a dud Ville Leino has been. That cohesive “Top Six” scoring has not been there all season and there are few signs it is returning anytime soon. Even the grit that was somewhat there seems to be replaced by a melancholy that should drive fantay owners away from mostly everyone except Jason Pominville and Thomas Vanek. It does not get any easier for Buffalo because nothing changes there it seems.
Can anyone figure out Washington? — The Capitals looked lifeless against the New York Islanders on Tuesday but played discipline and took advantage of chances on Wednesday? Does this make sense? Where is the consistency? So they had 17 shots and 9 scoring chances Tuesday but 16 shots and 11 scoring chances (however 3 went in). They were badly outshot in both games (31-16 last night). It almost looked like Washington only wanted to press the issue last night when they wanted to. Okay, it looked like a trap in a modified form last night but Michal Neuvirth posted a 31 save shutout and guys like Marcus Johansson and John Carlson saw the scoresheet. They have to if Washington is going to have success but the bigger question is what style of play does Washington want to play? Does Washington even know? Keep an eye on this fantasy hockey fans. That story is not going away.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
|Boston||at||New Jersey||7:00 PM | Gameday|
|Minnesota||at||Toronto||7:00 PM | Gameday|
|Pittsburgh||at||NY Rangers||7:00 PM | Gameday|
|NY Islanders||at||Philadelphia||7:00 PM | Gameday|
|Nashville||at||Columbus||7:00 PM | Gameday|
|Edmonton||at||St. Louis||8:00 PM | Gameday|
|Buffalo||at||Winnipeg||8:30 PM | Gameday|
|Detroit||at||Phoenix||9:00 PM | Gameday|
|Calgary||at||Los Angeles||10:30 PM | Gameday|
|Ottawa||at||San Jose||10:30 PM | Gameday|
This night does have a considerable amount of intrigue so we got Ian Gooding on the scene to do his Pick Six. Here it goes. Oh and get well soon Ian as the sickness seems to spread in the hockey world.
There will be no lengthy introduction for the Pick Six for Thursday, since I am feeling under the weather right now. A few people I know believe that my current condition was brought on by my attending the Canucks/Kings game last night – a game I enjoyed watching even though my Canucks lost in a shootout.
Speaking of sickness, this Pick Six includes two players from a team that is clearly not well right now – the Buffalo Sabres. It will be interesting to see if long-time coach Lindy Ruff makes it through the week, let alone the season.
Jaroslav Halak, G, STL – start
Even though Brian Elliott’s unexpectedly amazing play has forced a timeshare, Halak has racked up five consecutive wins, including shutouts in two of last three starts. He is starting at home against an Edmonton team that is struggling in all areas right now (Jeremy Rutherford). Make sure you’re not leaving him on your bench any longer.
Kevin Shattenkirk, D, STL – start
Shattenkirk’s point totals this month (three points in seven games) aren’t that impressive. However, he is currently a +7 this month for a Blues team that has made its way into the discussion. Overall, Shattenkirk has 23 points and a +17 for the season – a nice followup after bursting onto the scene last season with Colorado. There’s no reason that he, or any high-scoring Blues, won’t find success on Thursday against the Oilers.
Taylor Hall, LW, EDM – bench
Hall is doubtful for Thursday after taking an errant Corey Potter skate to his head during pre-game warmups (CBC). The former first overall pick has a strange record of injuries over his brief NHL career, as you may recall his broken ankle from a fight last season. The 30-stitch cut will probably need more time to heal than just overnight. Also expect him to be wearing a helmet during pre-game warmups when he returns.
Ryan Miller, G, BUF – bench
Did Miller ask for a trade or not? That seems to be one of the burning questions in the hockey world this week (TSN). Something we can probably agree on is the fact that Miller is not an elite fantasy goalie right now – possibly even into the future. His 11-13-2 record, 3.12 GAA, and .898 SV% have done more harm than good to fantasy rosters. The majority of the fiery Miller’s struggles have followed his return from the concussion that he suffered at the hands of Milan Lucic. The struggling Sabres will be playing their second of back-to-back games against Winnipeg on Thursday, so don’t expect a ton of support.
Jason Pominville, RW, BUF – start
Hey, it’s not all bad in Buffalo. With his two goals on Wednesday against Chicago, Pominville leads the Sabres with 46 points (17g-29a) in 46 games. The Sabres’ captain and Thomas Vanek are probably the only Sabres worth starting in a fantasy lineup right now, as both are above 40 points and no other Sabre has more than 25 to his name.
Todd Bertuzzi, RW, DET – start
Fantasy hockey is all about linemates, and when you have linemates named Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen, you can expect to earn points. Big Bert has reappeared on the fantasy landscape recently, scoring three goals and two assists in his last three games. The Red Wings’ ascent to the top of the Western Conference has also benefitted Bertuzzi, who currently sits at a +21.
THREE TO PLAY:
1. Patrick Marleau (San Jose)
2. Jonathan Quick (LA)
3. Adam Henrique (New Jersey)
THREE TO SIT:
1. Martin Brodeur (New Jersey)
2. Olli Jokinen (Calgary)
3. Ryan Smyth (Edmonton)
There you have it ladies and gentlemen. Good luck tonight with your teams and we will be on Twitter the whole way to get you through the night. It’s alright. Thanks for reading.