We have survived many calamities this early fantasy hockey season but now comes the next January 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 2012 is now upon us as well as Week 15 in fantasy leagues, it is time to first reveal our Fantasy Player Of The Week.
Player Of The Week……
Congratulations to Evgeni Malkin on winning this week’s Fantasy Player Of The Week. The Pittsburgh Penguins forward tallied seven points and that included five goals on the week. More importantly for Pittsburgh was that Chris Kunitz and James Neal were not only along for the ride but producing big as well. The Penguins swept the two weekend games which at least helped stop the bleeding for now. This top line has to sustain at this high level in order not only to be fantasy reliable during Week 15 but beyond. Malkin is clearly the anchor and fantasy anchor in the NHL right now.
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 calmed somewhat but the fantasy GM in me just cringes in horror still. 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) — The nicest way to say this is the following. Congratulations on Crosby finally skating last week but he is scheduled to see his “concussion team” this week. Reality dictates that nothing has changed in the least so simply he is still not due back anytime at soon ladies and gentlemen.
Mike Green (Washington Capitals) — Green is still out as he went right back on the injury list with the same groin injury once again. If you are in a one year league, Green should be dropped immediately. If you are in a keeper league, stash him away until further notice.
Kris Letang (Pittsburgh Penguins) — Letang is progressing nicely from his concussion like symptoms and could be back right before the All Star Break as he is skating very hard in practice with the team. Maybe he is back as soon as the weekend so keep an eye out in the Pittsburgh papers or just ask Mike Colligan.
Andrei Markov (Montreal Canadiens) — When guessing if Markov is going to play, we suggest consulting a psychic first. While this is no laughing matter, the knee injuries and setbacks have just sent anyone who still owns Markov into a land of confusion. Our suggestion would be he is at least three to five weeks away minimum and the possibility exists that this season is indeed done. Basically insurance is insurance right Pierre Gauthier? Right! Markov probably should not be in your future fantasy plans either.
Simon Gagne (Los Angeles Kings) — Gagne is currently on the IR with concussion like symptoms and with his previous concussion history, it may be awhile before he comes back. Yes simply Gagne is likely out until after the All-Star Break barring a miracle and this could potentially linger into February. Just proceed with extreme caution here!
Matt Duchene (Colorado Avalanche) — Duchene will be out another couple weeks with a knee injury. Duchene was honestly having a below average fantasy season (by his standards). Maybe the injury will allow him to have a nice second half push. Expect him back around the first week of February. In the meantime, scour the waiver wire as always. It is ironic that Ryan O’Reilly leads the team in scoring. No one expected that. The bottom line is that Duchene is progressing nicely in his recovery and is ahead of schedule slightly which is good news.
James Wisniewski (Columbus Blue Jackets) — Wisniewski is injured again with a broken ankle that will keep him out at least a minimum of 6 weeks. His 17 points in 29 games is nice but that -18 is an eyesore that cannot be ignored. Stash him on your IR until about mid-February.
Patrick Sharp (Chicago Blackhawks) — Sharp was injured last night very late in the first period and now will miss two more weeks with an upper body injury that WILL NOT require surgery. This is important to note. In the meantime, put him on the IR and try to at least supplement your forward production.
Derek Roy (Buffalo Sabres) — Roy is back in the lineup but with Buffalo in full free-falling mode since the incident with Ryan Miller, there are really only a few steady fantasy bets on the team and Roy is not necessarily one of them.
Jeff Skinner (Carolina Hurricanes) — This is like many happy returns in the sense that Skinenr returned to the lineup Sunday for Carolina and played a little over 17:00. He will get his rhythm back in no time at all and should be immediately in your lineups from this point and beyond. Skinner missed 16 games with concussion like symptoms but looked 100% against Washington.
Mikko Koivu (Minnesota Wild) — Just a quick note as Mikko Koivu will miss at least two weeks with an upper body injury (shoulder). Please adjust your fantasy rosters accordingly and it is believed that this is fairly minor considering over the weekend he was seen in a sling. At the worst, he is expected back by Week 17 in your leagues.
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 14. Some are waiver wire pickups but most are not. January often brings out the best and worst in fantasy weeks and then there is the All-Star Break which creates its own headaches.
Dave Bolland (Chicago Blackhawks) — Fantasy owners wish that Bolland would have more weeks like this but the oft-injured forward plays a style that just lends itself to minor, nagging injuries that keep his production a little down. However when he is on, he is on. With seven points in four games last week, Bolland was a front of the net beast with five pucks finding their way into the net. If he can stay healthy and can just take the punishment, Bolland could have a very good Week 15 as well.
Saku Koivu (Anaheim Ducks) — The Ducks have taken points in six straight and it is not just the play of Jonas Hiller but it is the resurgent play of Saku Koivu. With seven points and four goals on the week, Koivu provided the scoring depth that Anaheim needs in order to try and get back into the Western Conference conversation. With Teemu Selanne by his side, fantasy GM’s can expect a slight uptick going forward as Anaheim tries hard to make it respectable there.
Jason Spezza (Ottawa Senators) — It was a tough choice for the third chair and we thought of a goaltender maybe but in the last week Spezza has played a bit less of a role on the surface but yet nabbed six points on the week. His four goals and two assists keyed a lot of fantasy squads as it seemed quite a few players had big weeks. Ottawa still has three more games on the week so the four game week helps fantasy owners. The only team that had more games in Week 15 is Boston who had five.
Honorable Mention: Anze Kopitar (LA), Marian Hossa (CHI)
Let’s slide down a few chutes……
Steve Mason/Ilya Bryzgalov (Columbus/Philadelphia) — Honestly the two goalies are one in the same. The only difference is one plays on an awful rudderless team and the other plays on a semi-contender. Both have sub .900 save percentages, got shelled on Sunday Night, and have caused their teams a respective heartburn that cannot be quashed. If you dare even start either of these goaltenders on Week 15, one may want to consider undergoing an MRI on the brain. This is truly a repeat more as a public service announcement not to start either goalie. Sergei Bobrovsky is a much better alternative fantasy fans and he is still quite available in most leagues.
Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres) — When you have looked bad since your injury then get blindsided when playing with family in the audience, it is a sign that nothing is going right. Miller was pulled on Monday Night after allowing five goals. It was just not the porous defense but Miller just lacks confidence and the frustration is showing and mounting. What do you do if you have Miller on your team? The first option would be to see what you can get via a trade and if all else fails just bench him. Dropping him is not a wise idea at this time.
Mathieu Garon/Dwayne Roloson (Tampa Bay Lightning) — This is how bad it has become for the Tampa Bay Lightning. There goaltending is a league wide laughingstock as their defense continue to flounder and the team searches for answers. Tampa has given up 156 goals in 44 games this year which is good for 3.55 goals per game. That is just way too many for a team that employs the 1-3-1 more out of necessity than anything else. However the goalie breakdowns have clearly hampered this time as the best they can do is just try to right the ship for next year.
Dishonorable Mentions: Ryan Kesler (VAN), Phil Kessel (TOR)
Well that wraps it up for this week. Good luck and hopefully January keeps rolling for everyone out there. Do not forget to follow us @TheProgramBTR for all your fantasy hockey questions and more. Thanks again for reading.