Fantasy Chutes And Ladders: Ice In The Veins

Eric Staal has been driving fantasy hockey GM's crazy all season. Maybe there is something weighing heavy on his mind. (clydeorama@flickr)

We have survived many calamities this early fantasy hockey season but not comes the first November edition of “Chutes And Ladders”.  Riding the fortunes of a fantasy hockey team can be a lot like the original Milton Bradley game.  There are enough twists and turns to drive any normal person crazy.  So imagine what it is like for the average hockey fan who takes on a fantasy hockey league.

Take a look at even experts and beginners alike, what is the one thing in common with every fantasy league?  The stakes start to rise ladies and gentlemen at this time of year with the increased amount of games.  Before the muck gets too deep, it is time to ask that question yet again because people seem to be fascinated with this one.


The Crosby Question…….AGAIN?


When is Sidney Crosby going to return?

Crosby, according to reports, is a “possibility” for Friday’s game but after meeting with doctors, everything is “status quo” at the moment.  This was a simple quote from Sidney Crosby himself.

“I haven’t really thought about that,” Crosby told the media. “Their guess is as good as mine.”

The latest that we have been projecting is November 11th as Crosby ironically cannot get the contact needed to ascertain whether he could return sooner.  Sources are definitely torn on a more precise return date so as of now, it would be advised to keep him out of your lineups for another week at least just in case a regression or “no change” happens.  Do not expect much information until Thursday at the earliest.


Beware the injuries……..


Sometimes we have said that there are certain players where you can see an injury coming from a mile away.  That even includes some players now that used to be practically indestructible.  The reality of every single fantasy hockey player is that even our “hometown players” or “favorite old reliable” is just not the same player anymore.

Injuries really do impact a team but they can almost devastate a team to utter ruin.  It happens every year and often early in the season as well.  What one does now goes a long way in determining the fate of a fantasy team.  Here are a few injuries that might be ones to at least be vigilant about.

November really does keep the fantasy player on their toes.  The problem becomes now is who to add on that is fantasy relevant.  Here are some late entries and ones who are mending as well.

Chris Pronger (Philadelphia Flyers) — Last Monday, we did say Pronger would be out for at least a week.  That meant exactly nine days apparently as he will be back on the defense come Wednesday Night in Tampa Bay.  The eye injury is completely healed and he is practicing at 100%.  It is time to put him in your lineups ASAP.

Daniel Alfredsson (Ottawa Senators) — Alfredsson received a concussion at the hands of Wojtek Wolski last weekend on what was a head shot.  Alfredsson did finally skate on Monday and according to Ian Mendes, “skated for about 30 minutes and could receive a baseline test Tuesday which means he is still at least a week away from returning”.

James Reimer (Toronto Maple Leafs) — What me worry?  That does sound like a bush league statement to come from Toronto fans and brass but that is the reality of what they are saying in a sense.  No one really knows how close Reimer is to returning from a concussion suffered a couple weeks ago.  Clearly, just keep an eye out day by day to see what is going on while Jonas Gustavsson and Ben Scrivens continue to hold down the fort for now.

Tim Connolly (Toronto Maple Leafs) — Again a point or near point a game like this just should not be injured this often and yet again, Connolly finds himself missing 10-14 days with another injury.  This time, Connolly has an upper body injury again after missing 8 games in October.  It just seems that this year will be one of those injury plagued seasons once again.  Do not play Connolly this week or next week.


There are other injuries but these are ones that impact fantasy rosters the most for the second week of November in fantasy leagues.


Here are the ladders…….


These are for the players who have seen their values shoot up in Week 4.  Some are waiver wire pickups but most are not.  November is when the number of games start going up in earnest.  Inevitably fantasy values for certain players will continue to look very enticing and here is our best.

Josh Harding (Minnesota Wild) — There was nothing more this goalie could do in the last week.  His 0.99 GAA and most importantly 3 wins helped Minnesota rise in the standings but his unflappable play has to give Nicklas Backstrom owners a serious case of trepidation and jitters.  Overall Harding is 4-0-1 with a 1.18 GAA and .965 save percentage.  Last we checked, that is what we call scorching hot.  Sit Backstrom and start Harding while the heat lasts.

Nicklas Backstrom (Washington Capitals) — The Center was clearly injured last year in the playoffs but put up a monster week that shows he is not only back but he is BACK!  Eight points (3 G 5 A) in four games including 3 PPA’s (Power Play Assists).  What else could you ask from the guy?  In 12 games, Backstrom has only been held scoreless twice.  Just think what happens when Alex Ovechkin really gets going.  You have been warned ladies and gentlemen.

Claude Giroux (Philadelphia Flyers) — Sure it helps to play Columbus but Giroux was on a nice tear last week with 8 points (3 G 5 A) in 4 games.  How about some icing on the cake?  Giroux was also a +7 on the week.  He even had 13 SOG this fantasy week.  The reality is that when Giroux wants to dominate, he can dominate.  He is a strong start this week as well. 

Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning) — There is little more to be said than the guy can score goals in bunches.  Out of the six points this week, four went in the net off his stick.  He also had a hat trick against Chicago.  Hat tricks are bonus points for most fantasy owners and I am sure they were smiling plenty.  The best advice is to roll with the scoring wave as Stamkos often does this in bunches.  That is his career M.O.

Marc-Andre Bergeron (Tampa Bay Lightning) — If you are looking for a cheaper version of Eric Karlsson then maybe Bergeron is your answer.  This guy is still available in many leagues and seemingly has put it all together for now.  For a short term solution that is still on its way up, Bergeron really is your guy.  If I also told you, he is a +5 on the season, surely one would laugh.  It is no laughing matter as he actually is a +5.


Let’s slide down a few chutes……


Jaroslav Halak (St. Louis Blues) — It just keeps getting more and more ugly for the almost benched goaltender for the Blues.  Brian Elliott is the better choice honestly for St. Louis.  He may get his job back eventually but right now it is best to drop or stash him away if you can (some leagues have that option).  Clearly Halak has that “deer in the headlights look” anytime he starts these days and some will say may never be starter material in this league.  Add in the fact that new Coach Ken Hitchcock may be apt to ride Elliott and Halak in a 1A and 1B scenario, Halak owners have to be apprehensive at least (he will start Tuesday).

New York Islanders Goaltending — The results speak for themselves as the Isles were lit up for six goals Monday Night against the Boston Bruins.  They have now lost six of their last seven games and do not look anything like the team that started the season with all three phases working so well.  Either Rick DiPietro, Evgeni Nabokov, and Al Montoya get no support or they are just too rusty to get in any sort of rhythm.  This is why a three headed system just does not work at the NHL level in any way, shape, or form.  Jack Capuano and Garth Snow have to make a decision soon for the benefit of this team.

Eric Staal (Carolina Hurricanes) —
Staal is still stuck on five points and is now an astounding -16 and then this came out today.

“I wouldn’t say it has kept me awake at night, but it’s tough,” Eric Staal told “If I could take it back I probably wouldn’t hit him knowing where we’ve gone and what has gone on since then. But it was one of those plays, bang-bang, happens so quickly, and I hit him hard.”

The proof is in the pudding and the guilt is there.  Yes Staal will get over this but it may take a position change to get this talented Center moving somewhere in the right direction.


Well that wraps it up for this week.  Good luck and hopefully November is a better month for you.

Chris Wassel

Fantasy Hockey / Feature Writer


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