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Fantasy Hockey Thoughts To Think About


I might be wrong, but …

 

-- Groin pulls and other injuries are going to impact the NHL more than usual with the heavy schedules. I almost wonder if the top goalies like Henrik Lundqvist and especially Jonathan Quick are going too early, given the risk of injury. That said, if I ever drafted higher than eighth I might take one of them.


-- Looking over weekly schedules will be more important than ever, The Penguins, for example, have a rough start with plenty of four-game weeks but play no more than three games in any April week.


-- Speaking of the Penguins, don’t rely on Marc-Andre Fleury getting into 82 percent of regular-season games like he did last year.  If the Flower starts 65 percent of games this season, then he’ll play 31 or 32 times with Tomas Vokoun starting the other 16 or 17.


-- I discounted rookies in my fantasy drafts. Teams don’t have enough time to gauge their abilities in the shortened camp. Justin Schultz, ranked #862 in Yahoo!, might be one of the exceptions but how many rookie blueliners come in and produce right away?


-- Some of the lower ranked Yahoo! guys I’ve targeted include Jonathan Toews (#38), Marion Gaborik (he was #136 but I believe he’s 90-something now), Jakub Voracek (#197). The Red Wings’ Damien Brunner was listed at #847. Whether you think the latest Euro in Detroit is worth the risk will determine your selection. Fabian Brunnstrom, Janne Pesonen, the scorched earth is long.


-- Since teams will only play within their conferences, make sure you aware of divisional and conference records. Anything can happen, but matchups in hockey are always important to consider. Here are some 2011-12 divisional records for your review:


New York Rangers: 15-7-2

Henrik Lundqvist in goal, Rick Nash coming in and Marion Gaborik coming back sooner than expected, what more do you need to know? 

Boston: 19-4-1

The only question mark here is how well Tuukka responds mentally to being the starter and how well his health holds up. Boston is set up as a fantasy hockey heaven. Perhaps backup Anton Khodobin comes out of nowhere and does well if something happens to Rask, but I wouldn’t want to bet my fantasy season on it. A real longshot would see Tim Thomas returning this season, not next.

Buffalo:  13-6-5

This is a surprise. It will be interesting to see how well Tyler Ennis does, if he can take the next step for a whole (well, 48-game) season. Rookie Mikhail Grigorenko has reported looked good but I find it difficult banking on any rookies in the short year. I’d rather wait and check waivers on first-year guys who look good in-season.

Winnipeg:  14-6-4

Ondrej Pavelec springs to mind as a goalie that might go late and do well, based on the team’s divisional record (Disclaimer: I'm not a big fan of his). I’ve been picking up Antti Niemi late as Yahoo! seems to have him ranked pretty low. Edmonton’s Devan Dubnyk seems to be the trendy goalie.

Nashville:  16-5-3

I’m not so sure the loss of Ryan Suter sets the defensive-minded Preds back, but I’m wondering if Shea Weber is worth his high rating with Suter gone and the pressure of his big contract. He probably will be after the first drop of the puck, but sometimes I find myself risk aversive when other options are available.

Chicago: 16-6-2

Risks on goalies like Corey Crawford make sense to me. The team did well in its division and there’s reason to expect Crawford to rebound. It’s likely he’ll slip pretty far in Yahoo! drafts. Teams might do well to focus on other needs and then grab a bargain like Crawford. As previously mentioned, Jonathan Toews is ranked low at #38 and his stats are for a partial season – 57 points in 59 games.

Vancouver:  18-5-1

The Canucks figure to be in line for another strong showing, even counting Roberto Luongo. From a team perspective, Vancouver might be better holding onto him for another year. Eddie Lack as a backup? No thanks. If Luongo gets moved, a vet like Brent Johnson might provide insurance for Corey Schneider.

Calgary:  15-6-1

Edmonton is the up-and-coming team inside the division, which makes Calgary’s record surprising. I’m not sure how much importance divisional records within the Northwest Division matter, given the aforementioned Oilers and the Colorado Avalanche.

Los Angeles:  13-4-7

Mike Richards and Jeff Carter will try to cover for Anze Kopitar’s week or two absence. Jonathan Quick was outstanding last year and is reportedly healthy. I could see him re-injuring his back and ruining fantasy seasons as a first-round draft pick in many pools.

Teams in the Central Division of the Western Conference went 17-5-1 against Columbus. Surprisingly, St. Louis went just 10-9-5 against their division rivals.

Star players are going to put up numbers against any opponent. John Tavares is still going to get his share of points. Where I like to use divisional numbers are on the blue line and secondary players. For leagues that still use plus-minus, loading up on defensemen and second-line forwards on teams with strong winning percentages is never a bad thing.


-- Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Penalty minutes were harder than ever to find last season. This year that may change. When teams play rivals repeatedly in short periods of times, expect more fireworks. Some of my leagues have switched to Hits and Blocked Shots over PIMs, but not all of them.

 

Give me a follow @JohnToperzer and/or reply here to talk hockey.

Game on!


 

     

Comments

By: Scott Pianowski
On: 1/15/2013 8:10:00 PM
New ranks should be in the Yahoo! game for Wednesday. Schultz is obviously a big mover. (Edit: They're now live. Enjoy.)
 
By: jtopper
On: 1/15/2013 8:15:00 PM
That's great. Yahoo! hockey is far and away the best game going. Good commentary on the site, too.
 
By: Erickson
On: 1/15/2013 10:13:00 PM
I'd argue that even with some of the Euro-fails you've cited, I trust the Wings' more than I would other teams with their imports. So yeah, I'll probably boost Brunner more than I should, even though I've never once seen him play, at least knowingly.
 
By: quails144
On: 1/15/2013 11:52:00 PM
Wonder if you're right about a possible rise in PIM. Most leagues still use them as a category, and over the past few years we've seen a near-extinction of the species of high-PIM-decent-scoring types.
Is it possible that a Burrows/Hartnell/Lucic goes snapshow a couple times and winds up with 200 PIM in 48 games?
It was always so much fun drafting Shanahan or Verbeek or Tkachuk and laughing all the way to the bank.
Hell, I'd settle for Chris Gratton at this point. Where have all the scoring goons gone???

Also, I like your take on rookies.... except for the places where they seem to have jobs and their teams want (read: NEED) them to succeed right away. Guys like Galchenyuk, Granlund, Yakupov, B.Smith, and Huberdeau will stick for sure. They're going to be given every opportunity to fail, so will have some time to figure it out. But yeah, do you really want a -20 somewhere, even if he's got a PPG?
 
By: quails144
On: 1/15/2013 11:55:00 PM
92-93 Rick Tocchet: 48-61-109 with +28 and 252 PIM.
I just (got pretty excited).
 
By: jtopper
On: 1/16/2013 7:37:00 AM
Jeff, quails144: Opportunity is something the rooks you mentioned all have. I just prefer waiting on them in this shortened season, except in keeper leagues. Damien Brunner, Yul Brynner, I'm not sure there's a difference this year. If there is then I'll like miss out.

For pure enjoyment purposes, Rick Tocchet's 92-93 ranks up there as one of my all-time favorites. Kevin Stevens -- 55 goals in 72 games. Mario Lemieux -- 160 points. Francis, Jagr, Murphy, Mullen, etc. That team won 17 games in a row, everything but the Cup.

Regarding goaltenders, I think good backups are undervalued. The Rangers, for instance, play eight times in 13 days from Jan. 19 to Jan. 31. How many of those will Lundqvist start? I'm using him as an example but that goes for every undisputed no. 1 goalie around the league.
 
By: quails144
On: 1/16/2013 9:10:00 AM
Nice redacting. Really?! I should have said something about a happy ending. Stupid family websites.

"Number one" goalies who should play 40+ games this season are fantasy gold and worth going the extra buck (or earlier pick) on for sure.

CGY's record above shocked me. EDM and MIN and COL all look to be improved, so if CGY does anything close to that again, the Canucks' romp through what has been easiest division in hockey just became a slog. If they win another President's Trophy (just one more lockout and they will rename it the Bettman) I will finally be duly impressed.

What's the O/U on PIM in the 4 PGH-PHA games? Are there two teams that hate each other more?
 
By: jtopper
On: 1/16/2013 9:35:00 AM
1994-95 Goalie Appearances -- Player -- Decisions in () for 40-plus apps.

These are goalies who appeared in the highest number of team games

31 Hextall
28 Carey
40 Brodeur (36 decisions)
35 Richter
37 Vanbiesbrouck
36 Puppa
26 Soderstrom
30 Vernon
36 Joseph
42 Belfour (40)
36 Potvin
31 Moog
30 Chevaldae
32 Fiset
38 Wregget
35 Lacher
41 Hasek (40)
43 Roy (43)
42 Burke (40)
38 Beaupre
43 Kidd (42)
40 McLean (40)
38 Irbe
35 Hrudey
40 Ranford (38)
39 Hebert
 
By: clemeno
On: 1/19/2013 8:51:00 AM
Hey. Reading the hockey dialogue got me a little stoked.

Regarding the rookies, the Canadiens can still place Galchenyuk in the juniors. Don't discount the notion they are displaying him for the five-game max, before sending him back to Sarnia. He'll get an opportunity right away, for sure, but it also energizes the fan base after last year's sad, last-place finish. Skating on the second line with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta puts him in a position to start fast and stick for the season.

And the Blues have two rookies getting opening-night duty: Jaden Schwartz (second line) and Vladimir Tarasenko (third line). Schwartz was introduced late in the 2011-12 season after a nice career at Colorado College, but didn't play at all in the playoffs. The lockout didn't impact his development at all. He's played 33 games (19 points) in the AHL, primarily as a center. Moving to the wing (he played some wing at CC) will be an adjustment. He's skating with young vets Patrik Berglund and Chris Stewart. It took the Blues a bit longer than expected to get Tarasenko ("the Tank") to North America; the Russian opted to stay in the KHL rather than play in the AHL. The Blues continued to court him through the whole process and I get the sense the Tank didn't come to North America just to play in Peoria. Unless he completely bombs, he'll be up all season. He starts on the third line with Andy McDonald and Alex Steen. He's in a good spot with those two. Tarasenko and Schwartz both skated on one of the three(!) power-play units coach Ken Hitchcock deployed in training camp.

Drop the friggin' puck already!
 
By: jtopper
On: 1/20/2013 2:29:00 PM
You'd have to guess Tarasenko was the most picked-up play on Yahoo! after Game 1. What a shellacking by the Blues over the Red Wings. It's only one game and if any team can figure things out, it's Babcock.

Tough start in Philly. They're defense needs help. Two games in less than 24 hours doesn't help either.

 
By: jtopper
On: 1/20/2013 2:30:00 PM
*their* defense
 

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