We have survived many calamities this early fantasy hockey season but not comes the next November 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 November turns into December later this week, we can move on from the Crosby question and on to some more of the ups and downs in the world of fantasy hockey. First up, we do have our Player Of The Week.
Player Of The Week……
Congratulations to Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins on winning the award this week. All he did was score nine points in four games including two goals and two assists against the New York Islanders in his first game back. Overall he had two goals and seven assists in game action, including two assists on the man advantage with 15 shots on net.
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……..
Thanksgiving Week offers little solace for the fantasy weary. The injury counter is up to 134 this week even with the return of that Pittsburgh Center. If you are not careful, you may just find some of your positions decimated. There is no time like the present to go into some of these injuries so let us get down to business.
James Reimer (Toronto Maple Leafs) — All you need to know with Reimer is that he is at least another week to ten days before he even considers returning to the lineup. Talking to our Toronto friends, it seems Reimer, like Ryan Miller is at least on the road to recovery. Just be patient Toronto fans. Reimer will be back soon enough.
Mike Green (Washington Capitals) — Green just has that knack of not being able to stay healthy. Now he is skating and could be back in the very near future but until he plays a couple games in a row without getting hurt, it is not worth it to even think about inserting him into your lineup. The strangest thing is how good the Caps are with Green in the mix as opposed to out. It indirectly cost Bruce Boudreau his job Monday.
Kari Lehtonen (Dallas Stars) — Dallas lost three players over the weekend but none bigger than Lehtonen, especially after losing Alex Goligoski about a week before that. There was some debate at the very onset of what the injury was. However, it is clearly a groin and Lehtonen will miss around three weeks of action, give or take. Again, this could be worse but it appears Dallas should be getting most of its walking wounded back just before Christmas. That is good news for all and for fantasy hockey fans as well.
The “Fake” Injuries? — Nothing claims more players (albeit for a short term) quite like the flu. Just ask Chris Pronger, Ryan Miller, Al Montoya, and others about it. Pronger had missed the last four games with a virus but now will miss a month after having surgery done on his left knee to fix more damage. Basically the surgery is needed to clean out some loose particles in his knee. The team and Pronger say it was going to be necessary anyway and that it was better to do it now than later. Basically, you will likely see Pronger right around the Winter Classic.
Does Ryan Miller have a concussion and at this point, does it matter? The bottom line is no one really knows, not even Miller. Here is the dilemma. Miller was not playing well and Jhonas Enroth was. Now that Enroth has been slumping just a little bit, Miller is suddenly skating and could return in the not too distant future. Keep an eye on this ever changing situation but someone is fabricating a bit here. Is there something more to this because something just not seem right. Stay tuned!
Al Montoya is the final curious case. Montoya was put on the IR with a nagging hamstring issue allegedly. Whether it was or not, one thing is clear, he sure looked awfully good over the weekend against New Jersey. This may be nothing but then again fantasy wise, it just seems a weird way to deal with a three way goalie circus. Keep vigilant on how he plays from here on out because it could pave the way for actual movement.
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 7. 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.
Jonathan Toews (Chicago Blackhawks) — Sure “Chelsea Dagger” can be an annoying song to some but Toews had a very nice week for Chicago. In three games, he had three goals, three assists, and two game winning goals as Chicago posted a winning week in what felt like forever. 25 points in 24 games is pretty good for most elite forwards but even Toews knows that better weeks are coming like in Week 8. Keep him in there and you will definitely be rewarded. He is rolling.
Joffrey Lupul (Toronto Maple Leafs) — It is strange how some duos just click from the beginning and Phil Kessel and Lupul have done just that. Kessel and Lupul clearly feed off each other to the tune of 31 points for Kessel (1st in the NHL) and more importantly 29 points for Lupul which is good for a tie for second. Lupul has ten points in his last six games and has points in all six of those games. The chemistry between these two and increased ice time have led them to the top of the scoring heap and the reality is it should continue for the foreseeable future.
Todd Bertuzzi (Detroit Red Wings) — It is mostly because he finds himself on the top line for now that we have him even on here but do note he had two assists in his last two games of last week and seems to be finding the net a bit more. Sometimes we take gambles on here but playing with Pavel Datsyuk and Johan Franzen has to boost your value. Right? Right? Well we hope so anyway for Week 8.
Ryan Smyth (Edmonton Oilers) — The older man is going along at a point a game clip and just had another six game binge end (eight points in that span). He has 19 points in his last 14 games overall with 24 points on the season. Smyth was thought to be done after requesting a trade to be closer to home from Los Angeles. It turns out he has gotten the last laugh on us at least so far mentoring Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. To say they have been good is quite the understatement.
Honorable Mention: Mikko Koivu (MIN) — Eight points in his last six games.
Let’s slide down a few chutes……
California Dreaming? (Goalies) — Sometimes we look to Southern California for warmth, sun, and some good fantasy fun. This is not one of those times as Jonathan Quick (LA Kings) and Jonas Hiller (Anaheim Ducks) have not been exactly lighting it up. Quick seems to have a knack for giving up late goals while Hiller gives up early goals. Either way their GAA’s have both been climbing in recent weeks making Hiller a near persona non grata fantasy wise while Quick’s ownership rates are dropping. Until these goalies pick up their game a bit, one may want to look elsewhere.
Semyon Varlamov (Colorado Avalanche) — Varlamov has just fallen off the cliff in November. The numbers are so bad that he is on pace to finish the year at 21-32-3 with a 3.13 GAA and .896 save percentage. That does not even mention what he has done or not done this month. The 1-6-1 mark with a GAA of around four and save percentage around .850 includes two solid performances and a win in his last two outings. Varlamov’s health could also come into question. We advise to probably stay away for awhile until Colorado sorts things out, if they do.
Bobby Ryan (Anaheim Ducks) — Sure he had two goals in the Chicago game but the reality is defensively he has been putrid out there at a -7 clip in the last four games. Other than those two points, he has done nothing in the last half dozen contests. Fantasy owners have to be concerned with the entire line including Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry and even worse, the 2-11-4 record belies the fact that this mess could get worse. Maybe staying completely away from Anaheim is prudent right now fantasy fans.
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.