Saturday, January 27, 2007

Welcome back Carolina and who to start in goal tonight?

Up until last night I was convinced that the All Star break managed to give us nothing but time and rumours. Apparently I was wrong.

Carolina seems to have taken the time to recharge there batteries and they came out swinging against the Washington Capitals last night. The 6-2 win over the Caps was a convincing one and it seemed like every offensive threat they have was contributing last night. Even Eric Staal! Keep in mind that almost every game between these two teams has been a blowout this year and it is a pretty even swap. Carolina is now leading the season series 3-2 and they have game 2 of a back to back going tonight. If you have either Caps or Canes players it might be a good idea to get them in your lineup for tonight.

Speaking of underachieving power forwards, Rick Nash potted a goal last night as well. Hopefully this is a sign that Nash and Staal are actually going to show up for the rest of the season.

And speaking of lineups... 13 teams play the second of their back to back games tonight. Seriousely. Carolina, Washington, Buffalo, Columbus, New York Islanders, St. Louis, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Phoenix, Edmonton and Los Angeles all play game 2 tonight. This means lots of games played by backups tonight.

Expected starters for each team are listed below. NOTE: this is nothing more than an educated guess coupled with some reading of local newspapers.

Carolina Hurricanes: John Grahame
Washington Capitals: Olaf Kolzig
Buffalo Sabres: Martin Biron
Columbus Blue Jackets: Fredrik Norrena
New York Islanders: Rick DiPietro
St. Louis Blues: Manny Legace
Minnesota Wild: Niklas Backstrom
New Jersey Devils: Martin Brodeur
Pittsburgh Penguins: Jocelyn Thibault
Nashville Predators: Chris Mason
Phoenix Coyotes: Mikael Tellqvist
Edmonton Oilers: Dwayne Roloson
Los Angeles Kings: Sean Burke

Make sure you take a look at your roster and make adjustments where necessary. Some of these are guesses, some of them are common sense and some are pulled from local news sources.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Greatest hockey fight ever?

I stumbled across Goon's world from a guy in Boston (which almost explains his love of the Bruins) who blogs about hockey and some other less interesting things. In this post he put up a YouTube video of one of the more entertaining (and somehow timely considering recent Quebec Remparts news) hockey fights to ever take place. Mike Vernon and Patrick Roy go toe to toe at center ice and manage to provide some serious excitement.

This got me thinking about some of the greatest hockey fights out there... any mention of great hockey fights needs to mention guys like McSorley, Brashear and Domi. But what do I think is the greatest hockey fight ever?

Felix 'The Cat' Potvin vs Ron 'The Lumberjack' Hextall of course.

Hextall races down the ice at the end of a Philly/Toronto game to take on Potvin and gets pussy whipped (this is the feline meaning of the word, not genital) by Potvin.

What makes it great? First of all, it is two goalies throwing down, how often do you see that. Even better, they actually throw AND land a ton of punches.

More importantly, Hextall challenges and goes after Potvin and then gets his butt kicked.

And NO, there is no dispute in this matter. Potvin clearly wins this fight, he lands just as many punches as Hextall does but Ronnie is the one spitting blood.

Any of you out there think you have a better candidate for best hockey fight?

Zubov returns to the ice tonight

Just in case you didn't catch the news, the Dallas Stars have activated Sergei Zubov from the IR and he is expected to start tonight for their game against Pittsburgh.

Zubov is perennially one of the top scoring defensemen in the NHL so get him back into your lineup ASAP!

Forsberg sweepstakes has interesting fantasy implications

The Flyers are apparently planning to move as many as 6 players before the trade deadline. Forsberg is the biggest name in the bunch and a large number of teams are interesting in renting his services for a playoff run.

The latest news hints that the Detroit Red Wings are pursuing Forsberg hard and the fact that they already have 7 Swedish players on their roster makes it likely that Forsberg would be willing to waive his no trade clause to join the Wings. Oh, yeah, and the fact that they are the Red Wings, a successful franchise and an original 6 team to boot.

What does this mean for Fantasy? Forsberg's value can do nothing but go up as the rumours continue to swirl around his imminent departure from Philly. With most players out there a fantasy rumour can hurt or improve their fantasy value depending upon the teams involved in the rumour, with Forsberg just about any team is better than Philly.

While it is obvious what this means to Forsberg's value it is still important to watch the trade rumours closely, why? Well, let's say you the rumours to the Red Wings are true... what happens if Forsberg heads to Detroit? Pavel Datsyuk, Kris Draper, Robert Lang and Jason Williams all play the same position (center) as Forsberg. Who is the odd man out? Assuming that someone slides to a different (likely Williams as he has already done most of the season) that still leaves 4 pretty talented Centers on one team. Someone else with have to slide over to a slot on the wing.

In fantasy hockey we are generally only interested in first or second line players (except for specialty categories like PIMs) so who gets bumped? Tomas Holmstrom has been hot lately while combined with Zetterberg and Datsyuk, how long do you think that line combo will last with Forsberg on the team?

What this means is that even if you don't own or want to own Peter Forsberg (and let's be honest, he is a serious injury waiting to happen) this trade rumour could still affect your team in how it will play havoc with existing lines in Detroit.

If you own a Zetterberg, Datsyuk or Williams this is likely good news for your team. But if you own some fringe Red Wing players such as Holmstrom, Lang, Draper you should be watching how this plays out quite a bit.

I focused specifically on the Detroit Red Wings here but there have also been rumblings that Forsberg is being pursued heavily by both the Avalanche and the Rangers. Obviously the same logic applied above (that was logic right?) to the Detroit Red Wings can be used to evaluate the impact of this trade on your fantasy team if you own Colorado or New York Rangers players.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

NHL All Star game lacking

I don't know about the rest of you but I found the NHL All Star game boring as hell.

The much hyped line combo of Crosby and Ovechkin didn't manage to do much of anything at all during the game. Most of the time they looked a little uncertain out there and they never managed to connect with each others game. Ah well.

The good news? Daniel Briere was the MVP with 1 goal and 4 assists, Rick Nash potted two goals. Okay, so that probably doesn't really matter to any of you but Briere is my key Center and Nash has been a permanent fixture on my bench all season long. Hopefully Briere continues to lead the Sabres in points for the rest of the season and Nash wakes up from his long sleep. I'm sure a few of you out there are hoping this is a sign of a return of the Rick Nash we thought we had drafted.

What else was hot? Martin Brodeur was pummelled in net but came up with a spectacular glove save on Jonathan Cheechoo in the second period. Has anyone else ever noticed how much Brodeur tends to accentuate his saves with wildly waving body parts and post save flourishes? His save on Cheechoo was text book positional play as he slid across with stacked pads and his glove hand up high. Cheechoo simply hit Brodeur's glove as he tried to put it up over the pads. What did Brodeur do? He pulled a complete flip while holding his glove hand up high to show off his catch. You know what Marty? Good save... but I would be more impressed if I saw you do that flip with a pint of beer and not spill a drop.

Why is it that NHL goaltenders want to embellish their saves? Does anyone remember Felix the Cat? Potvin had a very good glove hand in his day and he had a habit of waving his glove around like he'd caught the holy grail after a save. Keep the after save displays to a minimum folks, they are annoying. Mike Palmateer used to stare at his glove after making a save as if to prove to himself that he really did catch that. I definitely prefer the more humble style that seems to have gone the way of the Dodo in the NHL.

That's enough for todays rant... real hockey is only 3 more days away!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Trade winds begin to blow

As I mentioned yesterday, All Star Week is when some serious trade rumours begin to fly around the NHL.

Reports have recently surfaced that the Philadelphia Flyers may be interested in trading Peter Forsberg near the deadline for some decent prospects. Why would they do that you ask?

Forsberg is an unrestricted FA at the end of this season and Philly feels that they can trade him to a contender this year and sign him back in the offseason. The good old rent a player scenario.

Teams that have the cap room and may be interested are the Anaheim Ducks, Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks.

Can you picture Forsberg suiting up with Teemu Selanne in Anaheim? Yeah, sure, he is more brittle than frozen toffee, but the few games he actually manages to play would likely make owning him seem worthwhile.

If you own him, start sending out some feelers to the other GMs and let them know you may be willing to offer him up. As these rumours heat up so will his trade value.

If you don't own him, immediately send a trade offer to his owner and hope that they have soured on his lackluster play this year. The combination of his injury risk and the Philly curse he is under this year may make him available for a song. Or maybe an aria.

See the source of these trade rumours here

NHL All Star week, boring... young stars game was fun though

So last night I spent some quality time in front of my television with the good old NHL All Star Week festivities.

Ok, so the real reason I was watching is that Little Mosque on the Prairie was preempted by the festivities in Dallas.

To be fair I was actually interested in watching the young stars game, I don't often get the chance to take a look at guys like Radulov, Kopitar etc.. The first few minutes of the game were exciting, especially as Kari Lehtonen and Peter Budaj got warmed up and started making some brilliant defensive plays. Well someone had to, not a single player on the ice was making any sort of defensive effort except for the goalies.

If you didn't watch the game then the easiest way to illustrate how poorly the game was being played is to look at the actions of rising star Evgeni Malkin. At one point the puck was being cycled around the Eastern conference zone for what seemed like five minutes... where was Malkin? Standing at center ice waiting for a breakout pass. I would guess that the hockey gods took note of the goal suck, Malkin did not record a single point in the East's 9-8 win over the Western Conference.

Moving along from players that sucked ass last night, let's take a look at who was impressive.

Ryan Whitney of Pittsburgh showed me why I need to pick him back up off of the waiver wire as soon as possible by picking up a goal in the game and looking very good all game long.

Phil Kessel took my advice and went balls to the wall in picking up a hat trick in the game. Unfortunately for him that was not good enough for MVP honours as Zach Parise potted two goals and added 4 assists to grab that honour. Hmmm... is he worth a pick-up in your league?

I'm not sure if his current production is good enough to take a flyer on, but the feel good story here makes it hard not to consider him.

Another player that caught my eye was Matt Carle of San Jose, wasn't he demoted to the minors back in December? Yet there he was at the Young Guns game looking good and snagging two goals in a close finish. Offensive defensemen are hard to find, I would seriousely consider finding room for him on your roster. It is likely that he was dropped in your league during his stint in the minors so take a quick peak at the waiver wire and see if he is available. He is likely the d-man with the most offensive potential unsigned in many leagues out there.

Now that poses a problem for me... both Whitney and Carle are available in my league... who do I choose? And more importantly, who do I drop?

This would be so much easier if that damn lazy GM would just accept my last trade offer for Heatley, then I'd have some dead weight on my roster to let me make some speculative moves.

And yes Colin, I do know that you will probably read this (in fact you are probably the only one who will!).

Monday, January 22, 2007

No NHL? What is a guy to do

Winter has finally reared it's ugly head in Ontario and on top of dealing with sleet, slush and window scraping I now have to deal with a week without hockey!

What the heck am I supposed to do this week? I can't make roster changes, I can't research matchups, what is a hockey freak to do?

The All-Star break is a great time to evaluate your roster needs and more importantly identify the roster needs of your fellow GM's. With the extra free time you have this week focus on determining which teams in your league have weaknesses in areas that you are strong. Have two strong wingers that can't crack your lineup and languish on your bench? Find a team that is weak at the wing and see if you can pry an improvement for one of your other areas from them.

The All-Star break is also the point in the season where trade rumours begin to fly all over the place. Joni Pitkanen has had a terrible year in comparison to last year. Is this his fault? Or is it just the fact that he plays for the lowly Philadelphia Flyers?

Why is this of interest? Rumours have surfaced that the Flyers are looking to move Pitkanen before the trade deadline and this can only improve Pitkanen's fantasy value. These rumours make Pitkanen a good FA pickup or make him a more valuable piece in a trade for other higher performing players. A good example from last year is Roberto Luongo, all the rumours had him going to the Vancouver Canucks before the deadline. I was fielding all sorts of offers for his services last year but with an 80 point lead at the All-Star break I wasn't willing to shake my roster up that much.

The All-Star break will surely give rise to other enticing rumours, can you imagine what the inklings of a Havlat to Ottawa trade would do for his fantasy value?

Have a good All-Star break and spend your newly acquired free time identifying possible ways to improve your team.