Saturday, March 3, 2007

Now THIS is the Greatest Hockey Fight Ever

I take it all back. Sure, Potvin vs Hextall is a great hockey fight, so is the Vernon vs Roy fight. But nothing compares to the one below.

NHL Trade Deadline, who is playing with who

Now that the trade deadline has come and gone I’m going to take a look back at the big names that moved and see who they are playing with. Because if you can’t add the big name to your Fantasy Hockey roster, you may be able to pick up some points by snatching their new linemates off of the waiver wire.

Peter Forsberg

Centering Paul Kariya and Martin Erat would likely boost any players fantasy stats, if that player is Peter Forsberg the sky may be the limit. If you didn’t manage to nab Forsberg before the deadline take a look and see if you can nab Erat. Forsberg has only put up 3 points since the trade so you may be able to snag him from a dissatisfied owner.

Ryan Smyth

Smyth is on a line with Islanders leading scorer Jason Blake and Randy Robitaille, once Alexei Yashin returns from injury he will replace Robitaille on that line. This could greatly increase Smyth’s point production for the remainder of the season and Robitaille might be worth a pickup for the short term.

Keith Tkachuk

Is now centering Ilya Kovalchuk and John Sim. Anyone on the same line as Kovalchuk should be able to generate some points, especially a player like Tkachuk who makes his living by parking his butt in front of the net. He has yet to record a point since the trade but keep an eye on him.

Bill Guerin

Guerin has joined former teammate Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo on San Jose’s top line. Guerin is probably gone already but some twitchy owner may have dropped Cheechoo earlier this season, if so grab him immediately.

Gary Roberts

Roberts started off riding shotgun with Sidney Crosby and Mark Recchi but has since been bumped down to the second line with Evgeni Malkin and Michel Ouellet. He also has 0 points since the move. Don’t take any action yet but keep an eye on Roberts as he could end up with a nice point burst in the last few months of the season.

Those are the big names, there were a few smaller names traded that could make a serious impact due to their new linemates.

Kyle Calder

Calder is currently on Detroit’s second line with Robert Lang and Johan Franzen, not a big deal but if Bertuzzi returns healthy Calder could see some quality icetime.

Anson Carter

For the short term Carter is partnered with Ray Whitney and Eric Staal but once Erik Cole returns from injury he will be likely relegated to the third line. He is a quality short term pickup until then even though he is pointless in 3 games so far.

Scottie Upshall

Upshall is on Philly’s top line with Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne, since the Feb 15th Peter Forsberg trade Upshall has potted 3 goals and 2 assists in 7 games including 2 GWGs. Considering that he had only put up 2 goals and 1 assist (both of those goals were game winners by the way!) this is a huge increase. If he can continue or even increase his current pace he would be a good addition as a 3rd or 4th winger to most teams in larger fantasy hockey leagues.

NHL Starting Goaltenders Saturday Night

Below are the reported starters for Thursday night:
(Bold is my predicted winner, Italic is an uncertain starter)

Blues – Curtis Sanford vs Rangers – Henrik Lundqvist
Predators – Vokoun vs Kings – Sean Burke
Islanders – Rick DiPietro vs – Capitals – Brent Johnson
Sabres – Ty Conklin vs Leafs – J.S. Aubin
Canadiens – Jaroslav Halak vs Bruins – Tim Thomas
Lightning – Johan Holmqvist vs Panthers - Ed Belfour
Blue Jackets – Brian Boucher vs Coyotes – Curtis Joseph
Flames – Miikka Kiprusoff vs Oilers – Dwayne Roloson

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Starting Goalies in the NHL tonight Thursday, March 1st

Below are the reported starters for Thursday night:
(Bold is my predicted winner, Italic is an uncertain starter)

Penguins - Marc-Andre Fleury vs Rangers - Henrik Lundqvist
Lightning - Johan Holmqvist vs Capitals - Brent Johnson
Flyers - Martin Biron vs Bruins - Tim Thomas
Stars - Mike Smith vs Panthers - Ed Belfour
Blues - Curtis Sanford vs Islanders - Rick DiPietro
Avalanche - Peter Budaj vs Blackhawks - Nikolai Khabibulin
Wild - Josh Harding vs Oilers - Dwayne Roloson
Coyotes - Curtis Joseph vs Canucks - Roberto Luongo
Ducks - J-S Giguere vs Kings - Sean Burke

Things to note tonight:
Josh Harding is replacing Niklas Backstrom who is out with injury, there is a small risk that Backstrom may actually play, but it is doubtful
Martin Biron is now playing for Philadelphia, start him at your own risk!

If I were a hockey player meme

Found an interesting little feature on several Hockey blogs out there. If I were a hockey player who would I be? No if I was a particular player, but if I were the actual player what would I be like?


If I Were a Hockey Player:

Team: Toronto Maple Leafs
Uniform Number: 29
Position: Goaltender
Nickname: "Crooks"
Dream Linemates: Darryl Sittler, Borje Salming
Rounding out the PP: Borje Salming and Tiger Williams.
Job: Keep the puck out of the net and players out of the crease.
Signature Move: Combination of a glove save on one side and an ankle chop on the other.
Strengths: Positional play
Weaknessess: Taking too many slashing penalties
Injury Problems: Both knees
Equipment: Thief mask with prison striped cage and goal stick.
Nemesis: Dave "The Hammer" Shultz and the rest of the Flyers
Scandal Involvement: Caught cavorting naked with 5 Toronto Argonaut Cheerleaders in the fountain out front of Ryerson.

Who I'd face in the Stanley Cup Finals: Philadelphia Flyers winning in 4 after knocking Shultz out for the season with an ankle injury.

What I'd do with the Stanley Cup after our victory: Baptize my child in it.

Would the media love me or hate me: They'd love me because I always give them something to talk about

NHL needs to change rules after Neil's hit on Drury

We have all seen the footage of the Ray Emery vs Martin Biron and Andrew Peters fights. We have also seen the footage of the Chris Neil on Chris Drury hit that started it all.

Most of us have also formed opinions on whether or not it was a legal hit (it was).

Despite the fact that Chris Drury has still not been able to return to the lineup due to a concussion suffered as a result of the hit the issue is NOT whether or not this is a legal hockey hit.

The issue is whether it should be.

At the On Frozen Blog site they posted a letter from Sabres owner Tom Golisano that seems to agree with this point, even though the blog doesn't.

This got me to thinking...

* The NHL has instituted rules that govern hits from behind in order to protect it's players.
* They have instituted rules that keep a player from taking an extended run at a target before delivering a hit.
* They have even instituted rules that protect a player from being hit when they do not have possession of the puck.
* But for some reason they shy away from creating rules to protect their players from otherwise legal hits that are clearly meant to cause injury.

Should Neil be fined and/or suspended for his actions? Or should it be the NHL itself that needs to accept the blame for this one?

The instigator rule has done a lot to reduce fighting across the NHL, or at least limit fights to an extent. It has not removed fighting from the game (Crosby forbid), instead it has forced players to at least briefly consider the consequences of starting a fight. I like this rule and I think we can extend this concept to other aspects of the game... like questionable hits.

My suggestion is that the NHL and NHLPA institute an 'Injurator' rule. This rule would be governed by the NHL after the fact and would not be assessed by on ice officials, this review would be trigger by:
Any deliberate contact that causes serious injury.

Deliberate contact is defined as:

* A player initiates contact
* A player makes no attempt to avoid contact
* Any body check, hit with a stick or any other contact between two players
* Does not include incidental contact or contact initiated by the other player

Serious injury is defined as:

* Any injury which causes a player to miss at least one game
* Any injury which causes a player to exit and not return to a game with at least 10 minutes left (not including overtime)
* Does include exacerbating existing injuries

This is my idea of how the 'Injurator' rule would work, but how should it be punished? I like the way the 'new' insigator rule works. The NHL would review and hits that cause serious injury and automatically tally the results for each hit caused by an injury. Any player who accumulates 5 'Injurator' infractions in a single season would be given a mandatory 2 game suspension.

So, what do you think? Good idea? Or have I been hitting the MLSE crack pipe too much lately?

From a Fantasy Hockey perspective, it gives us a new stat to add to our leagues. The Injurator stat would be a negative one of course... just like PIM's are... right?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Has Ovechkin returned from the land of the dead?

If you happened to take advantage of Alexander Ovechkin's recent scoring slump to acquire the young superstar for your fantasy hockey roster then the gamble has paid off.

Saturday night saw Ovechkin bag an assist and he followed that up with a goal on Sunday night.

Tonight after the close of the second period he has already put up two goals and two assists. I had thought about writing a post earlier today to advise you to put him back in your lineup but with my penchant for cursed predictions, I didn't dare.

Hopefully, he can keep this production up for us all. But one note of caution, his shot totals have not actually risen. This could be a false positive but my fingers are crossed.

Leafs take aim a Stanley Cup, and a hit off the crack pipe

The Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs are two teams going in different directions, but which direction is the question.

Edmonton today traded the face of their franchise, Ryan Smyth for two former first round picks and a first round pick in next years draft. Coupled with the trade earlier this month of defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron to the Islanders it seems clear that the Edmonton Oilers are waiving the white flag on this years season.

Toronto today announced signing Darcy Tucker, arguably the face of the franchise and undoubtedly one of the Leaf's most popular players, to a 4 year, $12 million contract. Oh, and they inked a trade to bring back center Yanic Perreault for his third stint as a Maple Leaf. The message in Toronto is clear, they are gearing up for a run at the Stanley Cup this year.

So, if we assume that an NHL team can only go in two directions, up or down, which team is going in which direction?

As far as I am concerned the Toronto Maple Leafs have just taken a huge step backwards in improving their team. Sure, Tucker has had a great season and Perreault is a valuable role player with offensive upside and a dominating presence in the face off circle. But, do they help us build a team for the future? And more importantly, is there enough crack cocaine in the world to make anyone believe that the Leafs can make a serious bid for the Stanley Cup this year? The Toronto Maple Leafs now have committed about $28 million of their available cap space to 6 players, there is not much room to add significant players to the team there and even a combination of crack and heroin isn't enough to make anyone believe that this Leafs team will be better 2-3 years from now with this same roster.

On the other hand, the Edmonton Oilers may have traded the face of the franchise and their highest scoring defenseman but they definitely improved their team for the future. With these two moves the Oilers have picked up 4 first round picks that include a highly prized defensive prospect (Denis Grebeskhov) and a top 6 forward prospect (Robert Nilsson). Oh, and did I forget to mention that the Oilers retain the possibility of resigning Smyth during the offseason? This is a team that has grasped the present and used it to ensure a prosperous future.

Being a Toronto Maple Leafs fan I spent the last few weeks leading up to the trade deadline praying to Crosby that MLSE would have the wisdom and vision to make some trades for the future. Instead they once again threw good money after bad to make yet another vain attempt at a Stanley Cup win.

This leaves me with one more question... how many more years does Toronto need to go without ownership of the Stanley Cup before it learns the lesson that the Oilers seem to have grasped. You can't rebuild an organization without making some sacrifices.

Monday, February 26, 2007

NHL Weekly Wrapup - Who's Hot and Who's Not

Interesting week in the NHL. Let's see if I can get through the weekly wrapup without mentioning the brouhaha between Buffalo and Ottawa... DOH! Oh well, if you can't beat them, join them.

Centers: Don't look now but Brad Richards has put up 16 points in his last 8 games with 4 multi point games in that stretch. Only 1 game winner and 2 penalty minutes but 7 power play points in those 8 games.

Brad Richards: 2 goals, 7 assists
Marc Savard: 2 goals, 7 assists
Paul Stastny: 2 goals, 6 assists
Saku Koivu: 7 assists
Jason Spezza: 3 goals, 3 assists, 1 GWG and one great turtle impression

Who's not: Pavol Demitra only managed 1 point in the past week after his 9 game point streak. I hope you didn't pick him up like I did.

Wingers: Dany Heatley showed off his speed this week, both in running from Andrew Peters and on the score sheet. The Ottawa winger produced 4 goals, 3 assists in the last week and is currently on a 7 game point streak. Aside from showcasing his avoidance skills during the Ottawa vs Buffalo home and home series he also managed 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists) over the two games.

Dany Heatley: 4 goals, 3 assists and some impressive rabbiting skills
Andrew Brunette: 7 assists
Martin St. Louis: 3 goals, 3 assists, 1 GWG
Brad Boyes: 3 goals, 3 assists, 1 GWG
Jarome Iginla: 2 goals, 3 assists, 1 GWG

Who's not: Patrick Elias, after a modest 4 game point streak Elias and the rest of the Devil's had a slow week. Elias only put up 1 point in three games after putting up 7 points in the 4 games before this current slump.

Defensemen: Jamie Heward? Really? Yep, the Capital's dman put up 1 goal and 4 assists in 4 games this week. He also took 10 shots in those 4 games as opposed to the 8 shots in the 8 games earlier this month.

Jamie Heward: 1 goal, 4 assists
Mathieu Schneider: 5 assists
Dan Boyle: 1 goal, 3 assists
Wade Redden: 4 assists
Kimmo Timonen: 4 assists

Who's not: Tomas Kaberle only managed 1 assist in 3 games last week. The Leaf's only managed 1 win in that same span. The same game that Kaberle managed his 1 point. Coincidence? I think not.

Goaltenders: Tim Thomas is back and the Bruins are enjoying there role as spoiler. 3 wins and 1 shutout makes Thomas the hottest goalie of the week.

Tim Thomas: 3 wins, 1 shutout
Niklas Backstrom: 3 wins
Rick DiPietro: 3 wins
Dwayne Roloson: 2 wins, 1 shutout
Evgeni Nabokov: 2 wins, 1 shutout

Who's not: It's a tie between Kari Lehtonen and Cam Ward, both goalies have ridden the pine for two out of three games this week and watched their supposed backups (Johan Hedberg and John Grahame) put up solid games in their place. Grahame won both starts and Hedberg won 1.

NHL Trade Deadline Approaching, Floodgates opening?

Tkachuk moved to Atlanta yesterday for 3 draft picks and a roster player. Steep price for a rental player.

Craig Rivet leaves the Canadiens for San Jose for 1 pick and defenseman Josh Georges. So does this mean the Montreal Canadiens have thrown in the towel this season?

In both cases the Fantasy Hockey value of the player is increased by the move. Tkachuk could end up on a line with Kovalchuk or Hossa, either way an increase in points is probably around the corner. In Rivet's case, just moving to a team that scores goals on a regular basis should be a help to his fantasy value.

Montreal and Edmonton are both in the same position at this year's trade deadline, a few points out of a playoff position and trading away free agents. In prior years this was a clear sign that teams were writing off the remainder of the season. In the post-lockout era I'm not exactly sure what it means?

I'll be back later today with a wrap up of last weeks hot players and some sleeper picks.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

NHL Blows... the call on Ottawa vs Buffalo

I'm still following the fallout from Thursday's brawl between Buffalo and Ottawa and a couple of things have jumped out at me.

First off, Lindy Ruff was fined by the NHL for the incident. The only plausible reason here is that Ruff is being fined for putting the line of Kaleta, Mair and Peters on the ice.

Ok, fair enough, fine away. The intent of that line change is quite clear.

So, let's skip forward to Saturday night. Ottawa pulls Brian McGratton (thanks James for pointing out my error on my post about Sat's game. ) out of the press box for the first time in 10 games.

My question is, why isn't the NHL fining Bryan Murray for putting McGratton into the lineup? How is that any different from Ruff putting his goons out on the ice after the Drury injury. In fact it is worse, Ruff could have at least plead heat of the moment, Murray slotted McGratton into the lineup with cold blooded premeditation.

I was browsing around the net and caught site of a post on the Checking Line that I found amusing. In short, Chris DeGroat is suggesting that Martin Biron should have checked out this video of Emery pounding the snot out of Josh Gratton in an AHL game a few years back.

Why is that amusing? If you watch the video the first guy to congratulate Emery after the fight is none other than Anton Volchenkov. The Ottawa Defenseman was on the ice at the time of the Sens/Sabres tilt and my original post about this fight mistakenly identified him as the guy who went for Emery after he pummeled Biron.

So, not only did I mistakenly identify the player, from the wrong team no less... but he is probably the one guy on the ice who knew better than to throw down with Emery from personal experience.

That would be why Blind Sight is 20/20.

Parity in the NHL, 'Canes and Oilers making the point

Last year the Stanley Cup playoff's featured the Carolina Hurricanes and the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers appearance in the final marked the first time an eight seed made it all the way through. So much for the good news.

With the Oilers recent trade of Marc-Andre Bergeron to the NY Islanders one has to wonder if the Oilers have thrown in the towel this season. If that is the case, and Darren Dreger of TSN reports that Kevin Lowe is insisting that the Oilers are still contending, it marks one heck of a drop in the Oilers fortunes. From cock of the walk to just a bunch of .... well, you get the point.

Even more surprising is that the Carolina Hurricanes are in 7th spot in the East by only 1 point. More worrisome there are 5 teams in the East separated by only 3 points fighting for the last 3 playoff spots. Atlanta, Carolina, NYI, Montreal and Toronto are all in the hunt.

So, let's look forward about 20 games, what happens if both Edmonton and Carolina miss the playoff's? In my memory this would be the first time that the two teams that played in the Stanley Cup final have missed the playoff's in the following year. I can remember individual teams, can anyone say Tampa Bay? But as far as I can determine this is the first time that BOTH teams go from top to bottom in the NHL.

It looks like parity has truly come to the NHL. Somehow I doubt that the Oilers and Hurricanes are very fond of it.

In BlindSight: The Emery vs Biron fight on Thursday has brought about some serious interest in Goalie fights. Tyler over at the 'NHL Digest' asked the question about the best goalie fight ever and mentioned my personal favorite Potvin vs Hextall. Today he put up another good contender, Byron Dafoe vs Patrick Lalime. Good fight, check it out.