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 Week 11 rolls on, we want people to keep in mind that this is only a five day week and four at press time. First up, we do have our Player Of The Week.
Player Of The Week……
Congratulations to Zach Parise on winning this week’s Fantasy Player Of The Week. The New Jersey Devils forward tallied eight points and nearly a ninth but was honest in admitting he did not touch a puck on a pass and well that does get bonus points. The bottom line is that the Kovalchuk-Parise-Henrique trio has been a very hot line in the last month or so. It is kind of poetic in this Christmas season that we would have a player who occasionally wears red and green as our top fantasy producer. With only two games this week, Parise’s big game may be Tuesday against the New York Rangers. Expect fireworks.
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 situation has now gone to a level where people can almost panic. Sadly I wish I was joking at this juncture but the reality is when you see teams with double digit injury counts, the fantasy GM in me just cringes in horror. Yes this is only a game but literally with so many crippling injuries, treading water is the best medicine. Here is the latest from the injury front….
Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) — Yes Crosby is on the IR once again, this time with concussion like symptoms. The timetable is unclear but right now it pretty much seems that if you see Crosby playing by New Years, it would be a miracle of sorts for Pittsburgh. Please stash and bench accordingly.
Mike Green (Washington Capitals) — Green is still out and though he is practicing with the team from time to time, who knows when the defenseman will actually play. Our guess is as good as yours. He has been out just about six weeks now and it is just not wise to have him in the lineup until January at best.
Kari Lehtonen (Dallas Stars) — With Richard Bachman playing well for the most part, the goalie just does not have to be rushed back at all which is bad for Lehtonen owners but extremely good for people who managed to pick up Bachman for the short term fix. Throw out the debacle in New Jersey on Friday and now you understand why Dallas really does not mind the slow progress Kari Lehtonen is making.
The Pittsburgh M*A*S*H* Unit — What to make of the Pittsburgh Penguins, you may ask? My answers will anger most of you. Yes they continue to win but wow they have an awful time staying healthy. There were 11 injuries AGAIN as of Tuesday ladies and gentlemen with the biggest injury being Sidney Crosby but there is so much more than just Crosby. With Kris Letang, Zbynek Michalek, and Jordan Staal all out, the Pens just do not care as Evgeni Malkin continues to carry this team (36 pts in 26 games). They play hard. Staal is so close to playing one night and then does not the next so keep an eye out. Letang and Michalek both have concussion like symptoms and were not exactly taken care of in the best way. One thing we can say is that Michalek is a good bit closer than Letang right now.
Andrei Markov (Montreal Canadiens) — Markov honestly will just be window dressing for fantasy owners at this point. There really is talk that Markov was signed just as sort of an “attaboy”. Either way he is out until at least late January and potentially the season so search elsewhere if you have not already. Markov is not going to be putting up points anytime soon. If you have an LTIR slot in dynasty, then use it. Basically nothing has changed.
Steve Eminger (New York Rangers) — While Eminger will not get the most fantasy points for your team, he was pretty good at ATOI, blocks, and hits which are of course vital in those deeper leagues. That is why this shoulder separation hits hard for some fantasy fans. He will miss 2-3 months with the injury and Daniel Girardi gets bumped up another notch in fantasy circles. While the Rangers will get healthy defensively at some point, it may be at the very end of the season at this rate.
Mikko Koivu (Minnesota Wild) — Please keep an eye out for this one as Koivu missed Monday’s game against Vancouver with a leg injury. It is a situation that needs monitoring but right now it appears to be a day to day issue. Keep an eye on it and as always we will try our best to keep the fantasy hockey and hockey fans informed.
There are other injuries but these are ones that impact fantasy rosters the most at the moment.
Here are the ladders…….
These are for the players who have seen their values shoot up in Week 10. Some are waiver wire pickups but most are not. December is a strategic month because of how games are bunched around the holidays so paying attention is key to fantasy success here. Some players are picked this week on merit and schedule because Week 11 only has five days. With four days left, here is our best.
Michael Del Zotto (New York Rangers) — This was a player who was killed in every fantasy circle last year including ones that did not exist yet. However in the last month or so, he has managed to really put his game in gear and take it up a notch. It is not just the half dozen points he racked up in the last ten days but with rivalry games against the Devils, Islanders, and Flyers coming up, it may be a good idea to grab now and ask questions later.
Alfredsson-Greenig-Spezza (Ottawa Senators) — Why? This is simple. Daniel Alfredsson (when 100%) and Jason Spezza can produce especially on the power play and in a short Week 11, this could be lightning caught in a bottle. Ottawa itself is high risk, high reward because they give up so much defensively at times but when their offense is on, its really on. Expect a solid Week 11 from the Alfredsson-Spezza duo and furthermore some good Christmas tidings under your fantasy hockey tree.
Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins) — This is a guy who took his hurting team on his shoulders and delivered a five point night against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday Night. When you start producing near 1.5 points a game, you get in that fantasy territory that is otherworldly. Can Malkin continue this? That is an excellent question. However, we will say this, his linemates Chris Kunitz and James Neal can put pucks in the net. That means fantasy goodness for your squad.
Honorable Mention: Ilya Kovalchuk (NJD), Steven Stamkos (TBL)
Let’s slide down a few chutes……
Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres) — Honestly Miller has been up, down, and around since his return from his concussion, whiplash, neck issue or whatever you would like to call it. However, when he gave up five of the eight goals Pittsburgh scored Saturday Night, there were just certain things that could not be excused. Miller looked stewed and completely out of it at the same time. Yes he faces a high number of shots but this is not the Ryan Miller anyone is used to seeing or is it? Other than the Olympic Year, Miller has been a slightly above average to borderline good goalie and nothing more fantasy wise. It is probably time to stash him for a little while and maybe he gets it back together.
Jonas Hiller (Anaheim Ducks) — When it all goes bad, it just all gets worse. Hiller has really only had about one good effort for every four which does not do any good for fantasy owners. Worse, with some good goalies struggling mightily, it creates a situation where Hiller owners may be stuck. This is not all on the Ducks and their lack of team defense, their goalie has seriously cracked and some of it could be partially because of the medication he is not allowed to take for his vertigo. The lower dosed form I am guessing does not seem to work as Hiller gave up three or more goals in nine of his last 12 starts. Talk about not encouraging.
New York Islanders Rotating Goalies — What do you do if you still own a goalie for the New York Islanders? The better question may be why do you still own a goalie on the Islanders? Yes Al Montoya has been very good at times but the problem is everyone knows Evgeni Nabokov does not want to be there so we still its best to just stay away from this situation before it festers anymore.
Well that wraps it up for this week. Good luck and hopefully December keeps rolling for everyone out there. Do not forget to follow us @TheProgramBTR for all your fantasy hockey questions and more. Also, our Christmas Edition is coming over the weekend. Seasons Greetings!