We have survived many calamities this early fantasy hockey season but now comes the next December 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.
As December rolls on, we can look into everything from expanded injuries to a first half recap around the week of Christmas. First up, we do have our Player Of The Week.
Player Of The Week……
Congratulations to Tim Thomas on being this week’s fantasy player of the week. This was part of a banner month where Thomas has won ten straight games and literally has the highest PR15 (Previous 15 games) compared to any goalie in fantasy hockey. Honestly, there were viable alternatives but again Thomas was the one player who stood above all the rest. For the heck of it, Thomas now has a save percentage of around .940 which is right around last year’s .938. With this out of the way….
Now it is time to take a look at a few new injuries that seem to be popping up in fantasy circles……
Beware the injuries……..
The first week of December brought us up over 140 injuries for the first time all year and Monday produced a few near scares as well. This is just the part of the season where you have to hold on tight and hope your team is not so unlucky. With that said, here are a few more injuries for your perusal.
James Reimer (Toronto Maple Leafs) — Reimer is healthy and now back in your lineup. He will be coddled a bit but now is healthy after the whiplash/concussion issues.
Mike Green (Washington Capitals) — Green just has that knack of not being able to stay healthy. There is not much else to report here other than Green is no closer to returning in all honestly. Check back with us next week.
Kari Lehtonen (Dallas Stars) — Fantasy hockey fans will be happy to know that Lehtonen is progressing fairly nice but still another 2-3 weeks away from returning or that seems to be the Dallas plan. However, the groin injury does not seem to be any more serious.
The Islander Injuries — Well Rick DiPietro is out with a groin injury and so is Michael Grabner. They are day to day. Then add in Andrew MacDonald who is out 2-4 weeks with a leg injury. Also, Nino Niederreiter is injured with a concussion (after getting hit by Mark Fistric) as seen here. It was Dallas about ten days ago and now it is the Islanders turn, which is not really a surprise. Keep a particular eye on Grabner who is the best player in the bunch and clearly has the biggest fantasy impact.
Kris Letang (Pittsburgh Penguins) — It appears he has concussion like symptoms a bit worse than Zbynek Michalek. Watch both situations but Letang (placed on IR) seems to be more serious. Both will miss at least a game or two but keep an eye on our headliner here. Fantasy wise, please keep an eye on this because Letang should not have came back in played after that hit in Montreal. Hindsight is 20-20 but this Penguin should not be in the lineup for your team this week.
Andrei Markov (Montreal Canadiens) — Markov was getting closer and closer to returning and then it hit. He will have some loose fragments and scar tissue removed which will cause him to miss at least another three weeks maybe a month. The bottom line is you are just going to wait until 2012 to see the return of this talented but oft-injured defenseman to your roster. This is the nicest way of saying invest in other options.
There are other injuries but these are ones that impact fantasy rosters the most for the fourth week of November in fantasy leagues.
Here are the ladders…….
These are for the players who have seen their values shoot up in Week 8. 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.
Adam Henrique (New Jersey) — Look out ladies and gentlemen because the best player in New Jersey may just be a rookie? Say it is not so but more and more #14 looks like he not only belongs but thrives on the top line. Six points in five games but numerous scoring chances are an indication that there is still potential for continued upside. Just imagine if this guy had played in October, he would be at least considered as an early Calder Trophy candidate. Week 9 could be another solid week with opponents like Toronto and Montreal just for a sampler.
Versteeg-Weiss-Fleischmann (Florida) — This is the hottest line in the NHL over the last month. When a line generates 45 points like they did, averaging above a point a game for four or more weeks, a fantasy owner has to stand up and take notice. Kris Versteeg, Stephen Weiss, and Tomas Fleischmann are a combined +41 this year. What does that tell you? Honestly, it means these guys are getting the job done and players you should pick up or trade for as they are not going away, even if the team’s record does drop off a bit. Week 9 started off well with these guys leading the way in a 5-4 win over Washington. There you have it.
Al Montoya (NY Islanders) — Montoya has been called “The Big Cubano” for a reason and that is because he plays like a big goalie ready for some fantasy primetime. He has over a .930 save percentage on the year and is a big reason why the Islanders went 3-0-1 last week. Now with a GAA in the low 2′s, this is a guy that may not get an owner all the wins in the world but at the very least, he is available on waiver wires, why not take a shot on a good player like this?
Let’s slide down a few chutes……
Jonas Hiller (Anaheim Ducks) — It just is not going very well for Hiller who seems to be content on letting in three or more goals in almost every start. They blew a 3-0 and 2-0 lead in the last week against Philadelphia and Minnesota. The biggest problem is Hiller positionally slides back in his crease far too much and has little or no confidence the minute a goal goes by him. We saw it last year in New Jersey too often, a goalie cannot play skittish like this as it is a bad fantasy mix. Stay far away if you can.
Martin Brodeur (New Jersey Devils) – He has really amazed us and spoiled fantasy owners for years but it just seems the time is drawing very close to the end of Brodeur’s spectacular career. Last week he was yanked against Minnesota and spanked badly by the Colorado Avalanche. Nine goals allowed in those two games is enough to at least start the questioning process. Brodeur is a platoon goalie at this juncture as New Jersey struggles right now. He is a “bench” for Week 9.
Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles) — Kopitar has struggled recently and part of that has to do with Mike Richards’ injury. However, his shots are not finding the back of the net as he has one point in his last five games. Kopitar has only generated two scoring chances (five shots) during Week 8 in your fantasy leagues. Surely the talented Russian will bounce back but these are the dry spells that bring a fantasy team to your knees. Week 9 should be a little more sunny for owners of Kopitar.
Well that wraps it up for this week. Good luck and hopefully November keeps rolling for everyone out there. Do not forget to follow us @TheProgramBTR for all your fantasy hockey questions and more.