One hundred thirteen. Hockey fans, we are officially 113 days away from Olympic hockey! In only 16 weeks, the most talented players form around the globe will take to the 210′ by 98′ ice sheets to reignite their country’s passion for the game.
For any readers looking to get a jump start on Olympic fever, check out this video of the top ten plays from the 2010 games.
Four years removed from Sidney Crosby’s golden goal (sigh) both the USA and Canada are poised for a return to the Gold Medal game. As an American hockey fan, I am all too wary of the roster that my neighbors to the north are capable of producing. Canada could field a formidable team just with the players that didn’t get the invite to their orientation camp.
Arise Logan Couture!
One Olympic hopeful to watch for is Logan Couture. He and his upstart Sharks team are off to a blazing start. The hardworking center-man from Ontario is a vocal leader for the 8-0-1 Sharks despite his age.
He donned the “A” on Saturday, marking his first appointment as assistant captain in San Jose. He also notched the only goal of the shootout, or game for that matter, against the Red Wings last night. (Click here for my take on the role shootouts should play in fantasy hockey)
Team Canada’s skipper Mike Babcock surely took note of the young man’s performance: 5 SOG, 2 blocked shots, 23+ minutes of TOI with time on both the PK and PP, and a 67% clip from the face-off dot.
There’s no question that Logan Couture has been filling out the stat sheet this year. Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey currently rates him as the #9 player in the NHL based on the standard Yahoo! scoring. The question on every fantasy owners mind is this: will he be able to keep up his production across the board?
Yes. OK, end of article. Before going back to looking at the 13 cutest mountain lions on Buzzfeed, hear me out. Couture has began the 2013-14 campaign with 4-7-11 including a +8 rating and 32 SOG. Antti Niemi has yet to concede a 5 on 5 goal with Couture on the ice after NINE GAMES.
Furthermore, Couture has the third most blocked shots out of NHL forwards (12) and is 15th overall in faceoff percentage (56%). Couture can even contribute in your more defensive-heavy leagues.
Fantasy Downside? Hardly!
His only fantasy downside? Couture has yet to take a penalty and has thrown just one hit this season. Never fear, what this Lady Byng candidate lacks in PIM he makes up for in power-play opportunities.
The San Jose Sharks are 7th in the NHL in power play scoring percentage at 23.4%. However, they have spent the most time on the power play in the NHL and have scored the most PPG. The Sharks have spent more than 69 minutes on the power play this season. How can a team spend more than a full game’s worth of time on the PP in just 9 games?
The Sharks as a unit have made a more consistent effort to simplify and expedite zone break outs. Eliminating longer cross ice passes has reduced neutral zone turnovers. The Sharks now break out with speed, creating odd man rushes, thus pressuring opposing D-men into taking penalties. Fear the Fin has a more in depth break-down of the break-out that is working so well for San Jose.
Logan Couture is reaping the benefits of the increased power play opportunities, and he has spent the 12th most time on the PP in the NHL. He has four points on the man advantage including this beauty of a goal-scorers goal.
As long as the Sharks stick to their simple and fast paced game play, Couture should continue to rack up points as well as the stat categories that don’t get the press they deserve.
Kevin Roche is a lead writer for fantasy hockey with THW. He is a passionate hockey fan and pond hockey enthusiast who attends Clemson University in South Carolina. Kevin will graduate with an engineering degree in 2014, but he will continue to do what he loves after graduation: write about hockey.