Now it is time to get into the fantasy hockey in earnest with a big Tuesday. Sure there were only three games on the schedule Monday but we did get to see a game with no penalties called (Edmonton Vs. Toronto). Also, Anaheim kept its hopes alive with a shootout win over Calgary. Phoenix turned things around against Detroit last night. Let’s take a quick look back.
A LOOK BACK:
Mike Smith, G, Phoenix Coyotes — So that would be Ilya Bryzgalov who? Smith seems to play a lot better against the Detroit Red Wings, doesn’t he? It was just not the 30 saves but it was the game changers that he made as opposed to the Coyotes’ former goaltender. At 20-14-7 with a 2.46 GAA and .922 save percentage, Smith is playing a lot like that #30 from last year. His numbers were 36-20-10 with a 2.48 GAA and .921 save percentage. Phoenix was a much better team last season as well so we are throwing out the shutout totals. The bottom line fantasy fans is Smith is cranking out about the same core numbers. Who knew?
Phil Kessel, RW, Toronto Maple Leafs — Well all of a sudden the early season Kessel reappeared last night with a three points night against the Edmonton Oilers. Kessel abused the duo of Ryan Whitney and Cam Barker to the point where you wondered just what Edmonton coaches were thinking. Either way, it will be interesting to see if Kessel can string together a point streak. Road games against Winnipeg tonight and Philly Thursday along with a home tilt against Montreal on HNIC should be a test to see what happens fantasy wise. It will be a test to say the least.
Miikka Kiprusoff, G, Calgary Flames — Kiprusoff deserved a lot better of a fate last night as he lost an eight round shootout to Jonas Hiller but his 31 saves absolutely stole a point for Calgary that they should have never nabbed. His numbers this season are very solid at 2.29 GAA and a .920 save percentage. We understand that Kipper only has 23 wins but just imagine if there was a little more scoring in Calgary…he could be closer to 30 wins. A few less starts seems to have served him and fantasy owners very well this season.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
|New Jersey||at||NY Rangers||7:00 PM | Gameday|
|NY Islanders||at||Philadelphia||7:00 PM | Gameday|
|Florida||at||Washington||7:00 PM | Gameday|
|Minnesota||at||Columbus||7:00 PM | Gameday|
|Pittsburgh||at||Montreal||7:30 PM | Gameday|
|St. Louis||at||Ottawa||7:30 PM | Gameday|
|Los Angeles||at||Tampa Bay||7:30 PM | Gameday|
|Vancouver||at||Nashville||8:00 PM | Gameday|
|Toronto||at||Winnipeg||8:30 PM | Gameday|
|Phoenix||at||Dallas||8:30 PM | Gameday|
|Chicago||at||Colorado||9:00 PM | Gameday|
Sadly there are no late games tonight but at least there are 11 games to satisfy the fantasy appetites. This will be a fun night as several coaches have executed some pretty interesting line changes. Now we bring in Ian Gooding from Kuklas Korner for a little Pick Six.
Can fantasy hockey players learn something from the New York Giants’ Super Bowl victory? Absolutely!
The football Giants were not exactly overwhelming during the regular season, becoming the first 9-7 team to ever win a Super Bowl. The Giants were also the last NFL team to clinch a playoff spot, needing a win in their final game against Dallas to get in. None of that mattered to the Giants, who knocked off opponents who clearly appeared to be better on paper.
In fantasy hockey head-to-head leagues, it doesn’t matter whether you are the first team or the last team to clinch a playoff spot. Some league reward the top two teams with first-round byes so that they face less competition, but after that there is no home field advantage for the team with the better record. Once you get into the fantasy playoffs, then all bets are off. You can never guarantee victory, but you can continually be looking for ways to bolster your team through trades and waiver-wire adds. I prefer the waiver-wire adds myself, since I control the entire transaction and don’t have to negotiate with another owner who could be looking to gain the upper hand in any deal.
Focusing on the here and now, Tuesday features 11 NHL games, which is a typical schedule for what is usually one of the league’s busier nights (Thursday and Saturday are the two other busy nights). We’ll start off with two names that should be gimmes for fantasy teams, but some recent numbers should reinforce why they should be in starting lineups.
Ilya Kovalchuk, LW, NJ – start
Kovalchuk fell out of elite status after last year’s first-half Devil of a disaster, but he appears to be rubbing shoulders with the top left wingers in fantasy once again. He has ten points (3g-7a) in his last four games, along with point-per-game numbers (50 points in 47 games) this season. Maybe his triple-digit contract won’t turn out so terribly after all, although Devils fans will beg to differ if Zach Parise is not re-signed.
Ryan Kesler, C, VAN – start
Following offseason hip surgery, Kesler isn’t having his strongest season offensively (16 goals and 36 points in 47 games). However, he is currently on a three-game goal streak and a five-game point streak. His fantasy owners will definitely want him to in the starting lineup Tuesday, when he faces a Nashville team that he owned during last year’s second-round playoff series (11 points in 6 games). For argument’s sake, however, he did not score a point in his only game against Nashville this season.
Clarke MacArthur, LW, TOR – add/start
How’s this for a streaky player: MacArthur put together a seven-game point streak during the holidays, then ran up eight consecutive games of goose egg points, but is now on a five-game point streak. In the Leafs’ reshuffled new lines, Mac is now playing alongside leading goal scorer Phil Kessel and the red-hot Mikhail Grabovski. Offense has been more plentiful in Leafland this season, so feel free to park MacArthur in your starting lineup Tuesday against Winnipeg.
Mike Fisher, C, NSH – add/start
The Nashville Predators boast a strong offense. No, I am not crazy for saying that. The Moneyball Preds’ 146 goals places them ninth in the NHL, while their power play is second in the NHL, only 0.1 percent behind league-leading Vancouver. The two leading power plays face off on Tuesday night in the Music City, where the Preds could take advantage of a Canucks team that has uncharacteristically given up 89 shots on goal in its last two games. The guy better known as Carrie Underwood’s husband by the locals has made some music of his own recently with points in 10 of his last 13 games. Numerous other Preds could be interchanged for Fisher here, as nine Preds have scored at least ten goals this season – a feat matched only by two other teams this season.
Ray Emery, G, CHI – add/start
I came that close to dropping Corey Crawford in one league. That’s right, the goalie that was assumed to be taking the next step by being a starting goalie for an entire season. Crawford is slowly losing starts to Emery, who is the confirmed starter against Colorado on Tuesday (Tracey Myers). Emery, who relieved Crawford in mop-up duty in Thursday’s 8-4 debacle in Edmonton, started the next night in a 3-1 loss down the road in Calgary. It’s difficult to say how the Chicago goaltending situation will play out, but the Hawks will need to improve on their team 2.87 GAA (24th in NHL) in order to have any hope of winning the Stanley Cup.
Scott Gomez, C, MON – drop
You’ve probably heard of Gomez’s goalless drought 100 times by now, but it’s gotten to the point where 1) it has gone on for one calendar year; and 2) someone has taken the time to create a website called Did Gomez Score. On Sunday, Gomez “almost” scored on a deflection, but the goal was awarded to Tomas Plekanec after what must have been painstaking review. Since Gomez isn’t even raking in the stat category he specializes in (seven assists in 22 games), his fantasy value is virtually zero. Expect the hockey world to be some kind of happy when he does score, even if he earns insanely more than you and I do ($7.8 million per season).
TRADE DEADLINE FANTASY MUSINGS:
It is why fantasy hockey GM’s pay close attention to the NHL Trade Deadline or at least they should. With just 20 days to go until the deadline, there really has been no changes to any list of sellers. In order to have a decent trade market, sellers have to be in this enough to make dialog, chatter, and actual transactions to happen. Players being put on waivers this week is the start of that fishing expedition. At first, you will see some of them clear, maybe a few get plucked, but the bottom line is we are getting closer.
What we recommend for rumors that go out of control is to search out HFBoards. One will have to dig quite a bit to get some good trade proposals and values but there are a few gems in there. When all else fails, we highly recommend Spectors Hockey ladies and gentlemen. On our subsequent shows, we will be telling fantasy owners and hockey fans who we think may go or stay along with rumors as always.
Good luck fantasy fans tonight as pivotal night one is here for Week 17. We will be live tweeting throughout the night and Weekly Slapshot is at 9:30pm ET only on Blog Talk Radio!