Fantasy Hockey Church: The 6 Edicts

Nothing is rock solid in fantasy hockey. As Marc Staal found out, the hockey gods can be very cruel. (Bridget Samuels/Flickr)
Nothing is rock solid in fantasy hockey. As Marc Staal found out, the hockey gods can be very cruel. (Bridget Samuels/Flickr)

Sometimes fantasy hockey answers to a higher power. Daily fantasy hockey often is even more mysterious. This is why there are certain thoughts and precepts that we try to apply in fantasy sports.

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All I am saying is that none of this is easy. This may be one of the most difficult years to figure out and not just because of the Olympics or the schedule. There are just a myriad of factors that have to be tossed into the equation. Are you ready to go to fantasy hockey church. It is time to preach from the pulpit with “The 6 Edicts“.

Fantasy Hockey 6 Edicts:

1. The injuries are making it fuzzy for people.

So when you see 30 and 40 new injuries a week, that is a sign that there are serious problems. Marc Staal is now out, maybe long term, with another concussion and that is only the tip of the iceberg. Injuries are everywhere in record numbers, not by the overall amount, but by the volume of recent injuries plus high profile victims. By the way the overall count is at 120. The record since we kept these stats was in March of 2010 with 171 injuries. Players that have more fantasy value seem to be dropping like flies. Your rosters look like a sea of red? Do not expect that to end anytime soon.

2. System players failing to adapt to change.

They say change is the hardest part but some players have really had a tough time adjusting to new systems. If you take a look at the precipitous fall of Dan Girardi and David Clarkson, the sample size is a little small but these are two different cases with two seemingly divergent paths now. Fantasy hockey owners cannot believe Girardi fell off as much as he has. Six points in 32 games is not normal for a player who is typically around 10-12 points. Girardi made no secret of his disdain of Alain Vigenault’s new system. David Clarkson on the other hand just cannot get going but it is early. Toronto plays a bit different style (not exactly puck possession heavy) which makes it tougher to rack up points in streaks like Clarkson could do. It is still early but not that early. Maybe Clarkson will have more fighting majors than points. Hey you never know.

3. Is it mental Henrik Lundqvist?

Something seems off in Gotham. (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
Something seems off in Gotham. (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

All anyone knows is that Henrik Lundqvist is not the same goalie that he has been since 2006. Something is off and he did miss a few games because of a mystery injury. Later it was revealed that contract negotiations had irritated Lundqvist in a profound enough way to at least somewhat affect his fantasy hockey numbers.

The 2.60 GAA and .913 save percentage is respectable but not numbers indicative of a normal season for #30. In a season where the New York Rangers have a -14 scoring deficit, are getting better goaltending from backup Cam Talbot and have a team whose system may revert back to the John Tortorella system, Will that help Lundqvist? At some point, the all world “King” has got to fight his way out of this latest funk.

4. That rookie in Dallas is pretty good.

Anyone who felt that a tenth pick could not be this good, does not know how the NHL Draft works. Valeri Nichushkin started off a bit slow but 12 points in his last 16 games may be an indication that the young Russian teenager is figuring it out. Playing on a line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin does help but the bottom line is Nichushkin is one big player who could fill out even bigger. With his power moves and increasingly skilled hands, he could be a first line fixture in Dallas for the next decade. Just watch this.

Yes at some point Valeri Nichushkin may hit the proverbial rookie wall but then again I remember a player two years ago who was paired with two talented first line players. That worked out rather well. His name was Adam Henrique by the way. Nichushkin may be on his way to a 45-50 point season.

5. Matt Duchene’s injury has impacted his season.

The numbers do not lie and even though it is a very small sample, Matt Duchene has officially gone on a cold streak, with one point in his last seven games. This is the evidence.

DEC 10 ’13   PHX @ COL 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 0.0 19 19:06 37.5
DEC 08 ’13   COL @ VAN 0 0 0 -1 0 0 0 2 0.0 21 19:26 44.4
DEC 06 ’13   COL @ CGY 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 4 0.0 21 19:20 16.7
DEC 05 ’13   COL @ EDM 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 4 0.0 21 17:21 52.6
NOV 30 ’13   MIN @ COL 0 0 0 -1 0 0 0 3 0.0 23 19:13 31.8
NOV 29 ’13   COL @ MIN 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.0 21 19:52 53.3
NOV 27 ’13   STL @ COL 0 0 0 -1 0 0 0 3 0.0 21 17:42 66.7

The one thing that I noticed is gradually Duchene is playing a bit more. His ATOI should start to gradually rise as the Avalanche teeter on the playoff bubble. Watching the way Duchene is playing right now is a bit more telling. He does not look tentative for the most part but the shots are not going in and some passes have been less than crisp. Up until November 16th, Duchene was a point a game player at around 18:00 per night with the ability to score from anywhere. Now, shots are hurried a bit and so are passes. Is it just a phase or is Duchene injured? I learn toward the first and not the latter. However, consider other options for a little while longer.

6. Let’s have some pancakes and humble pie too.

Dustin Penner Kings
Fantasy hockey fans are glad he shed this Kings jersey seen above. (Rich Kane/Icon SMI)

Can anyone believe that Dustin Penner is playing this well? The Anaheim Ducks at least had an idea this was a possibility. It was well known that chemistry was always high between Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Penner but this year Getzlaf has morphed into some kind of goal scorer and Penner is a +/- beast. The line has combined for 12 power play goals and Penner is a whopping +18 along with 23 points in 26 games. By the way, Penner is well rested as his minutes are modified. Some nights he plays 14 or 15 minutes and others he plays 18 or 19. Meanwhile, Perry and Getzlaf log 20+ minutes. It offers a different kind of humble pie as Penner gets sheltered Nazem Kadri like time. This is a win-win for fantasy players and the Anaheim Ducks alike.

Will we continue to keep eating that humble pie? Honestly, there really aren’t too many scenarios where it would not happen. That is a scary thought but just do not quite expect a point a game. Relax.


Thanks again for reading and good luck with your fantasy leagues. See you next week.