Fantasy Hockey ONE (3/5)

 

 

When elite players go into extended funks, what do or can you do?  Imagine a world where Tim Thomas and Ryan Miller are not Top 5 goaltenders in the league.  Miller is playing more like it to be honest but Thomas has cracked this year kind of like he did two years ago.  It is funny how these “sustained runs” can sometimes peter out unexpectedly.  Even Ilya Bryzgalov has shown better fantasy numbers than Tim Thomas.  Yes Thomas still has a pretty good record with solid numbers but people forget that two years ago, Thomas’s second have save percentage was under .910.  Last year it was only .916.   This year it is below .910 again.  What happens when your goalies go into the tank in March like this?  Head to the waiver wire and use whatever stopgaps you can.  There is no band-aid to fix gaping wounds only quick patch jobs that hopefully do not burst.

So what did we see yesterday?  Well first let’s take a look at our Fantasy POTN for Sunday in the NHL….

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FANTASY POTN:

Semyon Varlamov, G, Colorado Avalanche — Fantasy hockey can be very frustrating this time of year with goaltenders asserting themselves while some others crack like “Martha Stewart Housewares”.  Here is one oddity in a fine example.  Varlamov is a .500 goaltender this year with much better talent.  Some will say he has completely underperformed on the road with his 3.14 and .897 splits.  However he does have four shutouts on the road and has played well in five of his last six road starts (2 SO in that span).  The overall 2.69 GAA and .909 save percentage may drive some nuts but if Varlamov keeps playing like this he can make a decent push for your fantasy team.  Even a 30 save shutout against Minnesota gets fantasy notice this time of year.

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QUICK LOOK BACK:

Jamie McGinn, LW, Colorado Avalanche — He did score the only two goals of the game.  Mind you they were in the first period but on a slow offensive day and night in the NHL Sunday, this one seemed to stick out a bit.  McGinn’s minutes are down in Colorado and he only played 13:48 last night but he was effective early and some nights, it is better to be good early than not at all.  This was one of those nights.  Obviously do not expect this going forward.

Matt Hackett, G, Minnesota Wild — Yes Ilya Bryzgalov (Philly) had a shutout but Hackett was a show stealer last night against Colorado.  He settled down after the rough first ten minutes and kept his team in a game that they had no business being in.  Honestly this one could have been five or six to nothing very easily.  The 34 saves on 36 shots were good in itself but the composure the young goalie showed will serve him well.  Exepct him to maybe get a couple more starts especially if Josh Harding struggles at all.

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SCHEDULE TIME:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Teams Notes
Phoenix at Pittsburgh 7:00 PM | Gameday
Buffalo at Winnipeg 8:00 PM | Gameday
Edmonton at Anaheim 10:00 PM | Gameday

The light schedule has a very strange feel to it as Phoenix looks like it is heading into the lambs of slaughter and Anaheim is now limping a good bit after that torrid stretch.  Then there is the big matchup in Winnipeg between the Sabres and Jets.  Something in this night of hockey screams mostly low scoring affairs but then there is part of me that thinks Winnipeg is under more pressure, so is Anaheim, and so is Phoenix to a point.  They may all have to score a bit more than expected on this night.  Ryan Miller showed he was very human in Vancouver, especially in that third period and Winnipeg can definitely pot some goals at home. 

The law of averages still says to run with the home teams and their top lines fantasy wise tonight and it is one of those rare occurrences where we are willing to endorse it.  It still will be interesting to see how Pittsburgh does long term without Kris Letang (concussion).  Something tells me they may miss him a bit more than yes, Sidney Crosby

For Buffalo to be successful tonight, they have to score early.  Depth scoring was kind of their problem all season, which is why they acquired a youngster like Cody Hodgson, who has to step up.  Poor 22 year old kid has a little pressure on him and he had no points last week.  Sometimes expectation makes one a bit nervous in the early going with a new team but its a big stage and Hodgson does have big stage potential.  Let’s see what the kid has in this kind of spot.

Does Anaheim kill your fantasy teams tonight?  Jonas Hiller was horrendous against Los Angeles and without a few breaks could have given up five or six.  For as consistent as Hiller was during the Ducks run is as inconsistent as he is playing right now.  Though they may get a bit “well” against Edmonton tonight, the Ducks are pretty much middling now as they seem destined to play out the string.  Expect Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne to have strong weeks with a slightly easier strength (weakness) of schedule.

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As always we live tweet the happenings of a light fantasy night in the NHL.  Thanks again for reading and good luck out there as the fantasy season officially enters the “Final Five”.

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!

Fantasy Hockey ONE (3/5)

 

Yes it is a Saturday edition of Fantasy Hockey ONE.  There are ten games on the schedule today and tonight and each one counts.  Think about how good it will be for fantasy owners out there as the fantasy playoffs approach.  For some leagues, they start next week.  It is a crunch time weekend so let’s look back on what was another crazy night in the NHL  There were only five games last night.  It is time to first to rewind.

A LOOK BACK:

1. Ilya Kovalchuk (New Jersey) — The flare for the dramatic is what Kovalchuk possesses.   He scored the game winner last night in OT on the man advantage for his ninth GWG of the season.  It feels like he has had 10 or 15 of these in the past month.  In the end, the fantasy redemption of Ilya Kovalchuk does not have a set ending.  It has an open ending.  But again last night, the clutch was clutch once again and that is money in fantasy leagues this time of year.

2. Lubomir Visnovsky (Anaheim) — This guy gets so little respect in fantasy circles that it is disugsting and disgraceful.  Visnovsky, very quietly, is having one of the best seasons for a defenseman in the NHL and barely anyone has taken notice.  That was until last night of course when Lubomir Visnovsky single handedly almost, led the Anaheim Ducks to victory with a Hat Trick and an assisst in a 4-3 OT victory.  If you thought Kovalchuk was clutch, all Visnovsky did was score his third goal with just seconds left in OT.  He now has 51 points on the season including 22 on the man advantage. Let’s just say, quite fantasy relevant now.

3. Miikka Kiprusoff (Calgary) — One has to lough the resilliency of a goalie like Kiprusoff.  Yes he gave up three goals and yet he stole the show amongst goalies last night in the NHL.  How often does a goalie stop two penalty shots in one night?  Well I am waiting for an answer and will not receive one because it has not happened in the modern era.  Not only that, but Kipper made 37 saves and got the win to top it all off.  He may not always play consistently sound but this goalie can still come up clutch when the call goes out to him.

SCHEDULE TIME:

SATURDAY, MARCH 5, 2011

Teams Notes
St. Louis at NY Islanders 1:00 PM 
Buffalo at Philadelphia 1:00 PM 
Vancouver at Los Angeles 4:00 PM 
Pittsburgh at Boston 7:00 PM 
Chicago at Toronto 7:00 PM 
Florida at Atlanta 7:00 PM 
Montreal at Tampa Bay 7:00 PM 
Detroit at Phoenix 8:00 PM 
Edmonton at Colorado 10:00 PM 
Dallas at San Jose 10:30 PM 

 

So here comes the fantasy pain.  There are tons of fantasy significance tonight all over the place. Philly, Tampa Bay, and LA just to name a few locations where there will be some big happenings. Stamkos Vs. Price, the Sedins Vs. LA, Miller Vs. the Philly offense.  Lots of fantasy storylines to be had and well it is time to take a look at the game of the day err night or is that day.

FANTASY GAME OF THE DAY:

Buffalo Vs. Philadelphia is the obvious choice and it gets underway at 1pm ET.   If Buffalo wants to make the playoffs, 1 out of 2 is not acceptable.  Three out of four points at the minimum this weekend is a must and Ryan Miller has to be a key part of that.  When he is on, he is ON but this year, Miller has been a little more inconsistent than last year.  Part of that may be because he has no reliable backup at all.  There is no safety net but he does not get a fantasy pass with us.  Jonas Enroth may ultimately be that guy but for the foreseeable future, it is go time Mr. Miller and put up or shut up time for Buffalo.

Philadelphia has its own sort of crisis in a sense.  For all the fantasy balance that they posess, there is always the fantasy question in the nets.  Do you go with Boucher or Bobrovski?  Do you hedge them? Well while the numbers for both are good.  How much of that is the defense?  The blueline in Philly is to me, the best in the NHL and that definitely helps the two Philly fantasy netminders.  There is a margin of error that just does not exist in Buffalo. 

Will the Claude Giroux line carry the Flyers?  That is the one line that Ryan Miller really should fear today BUT does not mean it is the only line.  Far from it.  By the way Dany Briere has two goals and four assists in the last two matchups with Buffalo.  The former Buffalo player does have Ryan Miller’s number career wise which is not a surprise.  That could continue today.  

Buffalo is 7-1-1 in their last 9 on the road and that is mostly because Miller has come up so clutch with timely scoring by Buffalo.  Brad Boyes is definitely on the fantasy radar for Buffalo along with Thomas Vanek who seems to be heating up at the right time.  The keys to the game are obvious for Buffalo. They have to keep Philly off the board early.  If not, Flyer forwards will have a big fantasy day like they have in the first two meetings this season.  Also, Buffalo’s first line has to click early in this one.  If not, it could be a long day for the Sabres in their road trip that still has several games to go.

For Philly, it is as simple as rolling those lines and not trying to press.  Health is not an issue as the flu seems to be pretty much gone from the Flyers’ roster.  In the end, the Flyers balance is too much. Briere, Giroux, and Pronger have big enough days and that propels Philly to a 4-2 win.

ONES TO WATCH:

1. Al Montoya (NY Islanders) — Yes this is the type of team that comes into Long Island in St. Louis that could be a nice easy win for the Isles.  This is a similar setup to when the Minnesota Wild came in to a point but Montoya has been on fire and the .933 save percentage is not that much of a fluke. Now can he handle back to back starts this weekend?  That is a valid question but I think he fares well today.  A double matinee weekend will be a little different and a test for the goalie so in a fantasy crunch time, can anyone believe that Montoya would be a fantasy answer for many in a bind?  Well it is indeed strange but true.

2. Jon Quick (LA Kings) — This is the time again as Quick has found a way to silence the critics from last year’s insomnia bout.  Today’s test is the NHL leading Vancouver Canucks.  It will not be an easy test with the Sedin twins and array of scorers from all angles that Vancouver can throw at a team.  Los Angeles is in the Top 8 in the West because of solid goaltending and much to many’s surprise, Quick has held off Jonathan Bernier as the starter for the Kings.  With the 4pm start, Quick should be able to continue the “mo” today although he will definitely earn the victory against this depth laden Vancouver squad.

3. Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay) — A bit slowed down by the likes of New Jersey and Boston, Stamkos might find it a bit easier against Montreal and to add in Vincent Lecavalier looks likely to return.  Add in St. Louis, Downie, and the usual suspects against a slower than useual Montreal defense and the recipe for a big fantasy night from the Tampa forwards would not be a shock. Remember Carey Price had to stop 40+ against Atlanta.  Tampa is a bit more lethal offensively. Expect scoring to ensue.

ONES TO RUN AWAY:

1.  James Reimer (Toronto) — This sounds crazy on the surface but low, glove side is a glaring weakness that teams are not exposing on the young netminder.  But give credit to the goalie as he has covered it up well.  Remember that rookies usually do hit a wall at some point and the time may be sooner rather than later.  It does not mean that Reimer will get shelled, just there is a potential not to expect a stellar performance here.  There are better options to be honest.

2. Anyone from Edmonton — With the loss of Taylor Hall and his 42 points, the Oilers will be understandably deflated heading to Colorado tonight to face the Avalanche.  They may surprise everyone but in a long season, this is the type of bittersweet loss that just screams fantasy irrelevance. Penner gone, Hemsky injured, and now Hall, the writing is indeed on the wall for the rest of the year.

3. Michael Grabner (NY Islanders) — We sang his praises for quite awhile there but has slumped a bit of late.  Stay away for a bit but do not worry next year, there will be less of these fantasy slumps as Grabner will have less of those slumps.  The learning curve will go up for this player.  Take a better look at the likes of Kyle Okpso and Matt Moulson today.

Good luck everyone with your fantasy leagues today and see you tomorrow for more FANTASY HOCKEY ONE. 

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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