Monday, December 28, 2009

Just Fantasy Hockey: Week 14 Forecaster

It’s Winter Classic time again, and the NHL is again center stage in the sports world for one day. This year’s edition has the highly penalized, Philadelphia Flyers battling streaking Boston Bruins, in the storied confines of Fenway. The NHL has perfected the art of the outdoor game and watching it in HD is a close second to freezing your butt off amongst the rowdy crowd.

4 Games - Anaheim, Atlanta, Calgary, Chicago, Columbus, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, New Jersey, Ottawa, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Jose

3 Games - Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, Colorado, Dallas, Detroit, Nashville, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, Washington

2 Games - Florida, Toronto

Boston Bruins - @ Tampa Bay vs. Atlanta, vs. Philadelphia

Closing out the week against the Flyers is not the only great news of the week. Winger, Milan Lucic, is poised to return for the Classic as well. Winners in their last 3 games, Tim Thomas has 3 wins and a shutout and looks to be leading the Bruins back into respectability.

Montreal - @ Ottawa, @ Tampa Bay, @ Florida, vs. Buffalo

There seems to be a goalie controversy brewing the Montreal. Winners in their last 4, Jaroslav Halak, has all 4 wins and allowed a stringy 6 goals in those starts. The line of Plekanec, A Kostistyn and Cammalleri are leading the charge as well as Montreal is red-hot on the PP thanks to Andrei Markov. Injured winger, Brian Gionta, should make it back into the line-up as well, and should pay off dividends when he heats up. He is a buy low candidate. Look for Halak to continue in the net until he loses, but Montreal should have a great week.

Columbus - vs. Detroit, @ New York Islanders, vs. Nashville, vs. Colorado

The Blue Jackets are in a freefall and are losers are in the last 9 contests. With no end in sight, steer clear of any Columbus netminder until they can right their ship. Rick Nash remains a must start in all formats as he remains their only consistent offensive weapon.

Los Angeles - vs. Minnesota, @ Calgary, @ Minnesota, vs. Washington

Playing only 1 game last week gave time for the Kings to regroup and ease Ryan Smyth back into the line-up. The good news stopped there as oft-injured Jason Williams went down with a broken leg. Look for Jonathan Quick to rule the Kings crease and Dustin Brown to move up to the top line with Smyth and Kopitar.

Mark

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Just Fantasy Hockey: Week 12 Forecaster

With half the league playing a busy 4 game week there are lots of choices in leagues that offer only weekly roster changes. Unfortunately the NHL schedule makers forgot about the San Jose Sharks by slating them for only 1 game, so Nabakov, Thornton and Heatley owners will have to work the waiver wire a bit more this week. Let’s look at the week ahead at some of the more promising match ups.

4 Game Week: Atlanta, Buffalo, Columbus, Detroit, Florida, Montreal, Nashville, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Phoenix, St. Louis, Toronto, Vancouver

3 Game Week: Anaheim, Boston, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Dallas, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Minnesota, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Washington

2 Game Week: Colorado

1 Game Week: San Jose

Vancouver: vs. Los Angeles, vs. Anaheim, vs. Washington, vs. St. Louis

Robert Luongo is 9-4-0 at home this year with a solid .922 SV% and 2.25 GAA. With 4 home games this week Luongo can be relied upon to post similar numbers. Also, the Canucks offence is second in the league in goals per game at home and fair well against some of the defences they are facing.

Fantasy Spin: The Sedin twins and Luongo are extremely solid plays in week-to-week leagues and are a definite must starts this week. Ryan Kesler has seen hits point total dip with the return of D. Sedin and should be considered as a number 3 fantasy center now.

Atlanta: @New York Rangers, @ Florida, vs. Dallas, vs. New Jersey

Atlanta has had one the most potent offences season and currently sit third in goals per game. The Thrashers offer one of the most balanced attacks in the NHL, as proven when when their number one point producer Kovalchuk, went down to injury. Until they show signs of slowing continue to dress your Thrashers.

Fantasy Spin: Kovalchuk continues to be a must play in standard hockey leagues, but in deeper leagues Peverly, Antropov and Afinogenov can be relied upon for consistent numbers.

Chicago: vs. St. Louis, vs. Boston, vs. Detroit.

The Blackhawks are tied with the Devils with a leagues best 2.14 GAA. With 3 home games against team in the bottom third in total offence, it is a perfect match-up for owners of Black Hawk goaltenders. Chicago continues to tinker with their offensive lines to try and find a second line center after Toews. Sharp looks to have developed some chemistry with Hossa and Eager on a line, something the Hawks have been looking for all season.

Fantasy Spin: With no back to back games this week Huet should get all 3 starts and should be started in any league this week. Toews, Keith and Hossa are solid plays this week even though they play only 3 games. Keep an eye out for an injury update on Kane as he went down in the game against the Lightning before your line-ups set.

Detroit: vs. Phoenix, vs. St. Louis, @Dallas, @ Chicago

Detroit has been hit by the injury bug all season and have tightened up defensively as a result. Allowing just 9 goals over their last 5 games, this veteran group of players are playing a defence first style of play to . Phoenix and St. Louis sit 28th and 29th in total offence and are great match-ups for Detroit early in the week.

Fantasy Spin: Jimmy Howard has allowed just 4 goals over his last 3 games and will likely get the majority of starts in net. Todd Bertuzzi has 4 goals in his last 2 games and may be worth a look in deeper leagues as he is hot right now.

Brian

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fantasy Boom or Bust Review - Eastern Conference

The Easternce Conference now hosts the team with the most points, the league leader in scoring and best goaltender. One third of the way in, Just Fantasy Hockey examins the Booms and Busts so far in the East.

Atlanta – The Thrashers made great strides in the off-season to sign players and make a return to the playoffs. They are currently sitting in a play-off position, however the ongoing contract discussions between Kovalchuk and management aren’t progressing.

Boom – M Afinogenov – Second in team scoring, Max has found a new lease on life playing with countryman Kovalchuk. A steal of a signing, Afinogenov has played primarily on Atlanta’s top line all season.

Bust – B Little, T White & S Kozlov – It appears playing with super sniper Kovalchuk will elevate anyone’s stats. In this case all three players have played on the second and third lines and have struggled mightily. Don’t expect a turn around anytime soon, it’s time to look elsewhere if you own the players.

Boston – The Bruins are suffering from a relapse after a deep playoff run. With injuries taking a toll early on, they are finally turning it around and contending for a playoff spot. With the core of the team signed long-term, the Bruins should challenge for the division lead.

Boom – P Bergeron – With the large amount of injuries in Boston, Bergeron was thrust into a number one role at the start of the season. Leading the Bruins in scoring with 23 points, Bergeron has increased his fantasy value once again and looks to have fully recovered from his injury from years ago.

Bust – T Thomas – The defending Vezina winning goalie has fallen back down to mediocrity. Boasting a 7-7-3 record with a 2.48 GAA, back-up Rask has outplayed him this season.

Buffalo – The Sabres goal this year is to return to the playoffs. Ryan Miller leads all NHL goaltenders in GAA and Save % and is the catalyst of the team. Coach Ruff has the team playing a disciplined but low scoring brand of hockey which is hurting their fantasy values.

Boom – T Myers – The 6’8” rookie has made an immediate impact with the team. Constantly compared To Zdeno Chara, Myers is a less physical, more mobile d-man. With 15 points in 27 games, he is having an excellent start to the season.

Bust – T Vanek – The Austrain winger is a wizard with the puck.A traditional slow starter, Vanek has only 18 points in 25 games and has more assists than goals. Be patient fantasy owners, he should break-out sooner rather than later.

Carolina – The worst team in the league doesn’t have a lot going for it at the moment. With injuries to Staal and Ward, their complimentary players just aren’t enough to keep the team a float. The clock may be ticking on coach Maurice.

Boom – R Whitney – This ageless wonder is leading the struggling Hurricanes in scoring. With 20 points in 27 games, 37 year old is prime trade bait as he is a UFA in the off-season.

Bust – The rest of the team – The Hurricanes are the worst team in the league and things are not looking up. Staal and Ward are the leaders of the team and have both been injured for long periods of time. Fantasy owners should not expect an outpouring of offence in Carolina but a look for Staal to rebound from a slow start.

Florida – After a horrible start to the season, The Panthers have turned it around as of late and are now only 4 points out of a playoff spot.

Boom – N Horton – After a slow start to the season, Horton has has turned around his game. Leading the Panthers in scoring with 25 points in 30 games, he is finally rewarding fantasy owner with an all round effort.

Bust – D Booth – This season is a season that Booth will want to forget. After receiving a vicious hit from Mike Richards that left him with a concussion, Booth is still not able to skate and is suffering from post concussion syndrome. Fantasy owners that drafted Booth early know the skill he possesses but will have to wait until next year to get rue value from him.

Montreal – The Habs face pressure on a nightly basis from fans, press, coaches and themselves. Few players have shown up on a nightly basis and the Habs get outshot routinely. Goaltender Carey Price has elevated himself and has carried the club most nights, now if he could only score goals.

Boom – T Plekanec – Playing for a new contract, Plekanec is leading the Canadiens in scoring and has been one of the teams highlight players this year. Look for Plekanec to continue playing at a point per game basis as he is the top pivot in Montreal.

Bust – S Gomez – At 7.5 Million dollars a season, you would expect you would be getting a player that leads your team in scoring. In 27 games, Gomez has managed 15 points and continues to disappear on a routine basis. He should no longer be looked at as a number one centerman in any fantasy format.

New Jersey – Many thought with the addition of Jaques Lemaire as coach would end the Devils ability to score, the opposite is holding true. The Devils lead their division and have many players scoring at a point per game rate.

Boom – M Brodeur – It’s hard to argue that there is any better Devil than one of the greatest goaltenders of all time. Playing on a nightly basis, Brodeur is showing no signs of slowing at 37. Fantasy owners should not worry about him fading away or retiring until the ink is dry on his retirement papers.

Bust – D Zubrus – At 31, Zubrus has never had a season with over 60 points. He currently has 7 points in 20 games and is nursing an injury. With a lot of fellow Devils scoring at a point per game pace, Zubrus has once again fallen behind the pack.

NY Islanders – Rookie John Tavares and goaltender Dwayne Roloson have turned the Islanders into a legitimate NHL team again. Sitting 3 points out of a playoff spot, the Islander will continue to push all season to get back into the big dance.

Boom – M Moulson – Fantasy owners are still wondering where this kid came from. Second in team scoring, Moulson has a propensity for scoring goals and compliments Tavares nicely.

Bust – S Bergenheim – Lightning fast, Bergeheim is struggling to keep up with the other young Islanders. With 11 points in 29 games, he is top 5 on the team in shot but just can’t seem to find the back of the net.

NY Rangers – The Rangers are only as good as Marion Gaborik. The leading scorer in the league, Gaborik is dynamic and finally healthy. However, if Gaborik goes down, so does any hopes of the Rangers making the playoffs.

Boom – V Prospal – The good season, bad season trend continues for Prospal. He is having a amazing start to the season playing alongside Gaborik. With 26 points in 28 games, he is one of the few productive Rangers this season.

Bust – H Lundqvist – Still an elite goaltender in the league, Lundqvist started the season on a hot streak but has fallen on tough times lately. Still possessing a winning record, 12-11-1 2.64 GAA, he should be able to return to fine form as the the season grinds on.

Ottawa – The surprising Sens are a hard working club that are in the game most nights. Currently sitting in 7th in the East, Ottawa will have to find the secondary scoring to be able to stay there for the rest of the year.

Boom – M Fisher – The 29 year old centerman has never been a scoring force in the NHL. Second in team scoring, Fisher has 23 points in 29 games and is outplaying top pivot Jason Spezza. Fisher may not continue scoring but keep an eye on his progression as he may very well become Ottawa’s top center.

Bust – J Spezza, A Kovalev & J Cheechoo – The high priced talent just isn’t pulling their weight. With a combined total of 38 points in 82 games, this trio just aren’t getting it done. Fantasy owners should expect them to continue to struggle all season as the chemistry doesn’t seem to be prevalent in Ottawa.

Philadelphia – The Flyers were favourites heading into the league but their struggles with injuries and scoring have found them on the outside looking in. With so much talent on one team, it is only a matter of time before they get it together again.

Boom – J van Riemsdyk – A Calder candidate, JVR has fit in nicely on the Flyers top 2 lines. With 19 points in 25 games, JVR should continue putting up good numbers when Philly snaps out of their slump.

Bust –Coach J Stevens – The first coaching change of the season, Stevens was supposed to lead the Flyers straight into the Cup final, instead he lead them into a 5 game losing streak and 10 place in the Eastern Conference. Look for the Flyers to rebound now that Laviolette is in charge.

Pittsburgh – The Penguins got hit by the injury bug hard and were able to stay afloat thanks to Sid the Kid. Now that the majority of the Pens are healthy, they have returned to their championship form and are a force to be reckoned with.

Boom – A Goligoski – With all the injuries in Pittsburgh, Goligoski has quietly become the Penguins leading defensive scorer. With 16 points in 21 games, he has become yet another weapon for the potent Penguins.

Bust – K Letang – With the emergence of Goligoski, Letang has struggled statistically. Suffering an early injury, Letang has 10 points in 22 games after a stellar Stanley Cup run. Hold onto Letang as he may still put up points in the latter half of the season.

Tampa Bay – The Lightning are feeling better about where they are this year. With a young and competitive hockey team, Tampa sits 2 points out of a playoff spot and are getting production from sophomore Stamkos.

Boom – S Stamkos – In his second full year in the league, Stamkos is emerging as a force in Tampa. He is leading the for the Lightning in goals and points and has meshed well with Marty St. Louis. If this is a sign of how good he could be in the future, the Lightning have drafted a gem.

Bust – A Tanguay – After suffering a series of injuries in Montreal, Tanguay joined the Lightning late in the off-season. Tanguay may very well still be recovering from the injuries as he is playing as a shadow of his former self. With 17 points in 29 games, he should not be relied on as a top number 1 winger in fantasy pools.

Toronto – The Jekyll and Hyde Maple Leafs have looked impressive as of late. With sniper Kessel back in action and Kaberle making that all important first pass out of the zone, the Leafs are only as good as their goaltending.

Boom – T Kaberle – Second in defensive scoring in the league and leading the Leafs with 28 points in 29 games, Kaberle is having an outstanding season. With the ability to thread the eye of a needle with his passes, Kaberle will continue to post great numbers all season.

Bust – J Blake – A player that takes as many shots on goal as Blake does should result in far more goals. After taking 92 shots so far this season, he only has 4 goals. The aging winger has tremendous speed but lacks the finishing touch he had as an Islanders 4 seasons ago.

Washington –The flashy Capitals are deep in talent and are leading the league in scoring. With many questions surrounding their goaltending to start the season, Both Varlamov and Theodore own winning records and have helped the Caps lead the league in points.

Boom – B Laich, T Fleischmann & B Morrison – The Caps now have the ability to count on someone other than AO for scoring. With the emergence of these players, Washington is now deep, young and primed for a long playoff run.

Bust – M Nylander – The enigma that is Michael Nylander continues to haunt the Capitals. Not having played a game all season, and eating a cap hit of 4.875 Million, the Capitals cannot find a home for him.

Mark

Monday, December 7, 2009

Just Fantasy Hockey: Week 11 Forecaster

We are officially entering the half way point in most fantasy league schedules. The NHL has seen its first major move in the firing of John Stevens. The Olympics are only 67 days away and the trade deadline will be here before you know it. Before we get too far forward, let’s look at the week ahead.

4 Game Week: Atlanta, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Washington

3 Game Week: Anaheim, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Nashville, New York Islanders, Ottawa, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Jose, Vancouver

2 Game Week: Boston, New York Rangers

Buffalo Sabres: vs. New Jersey, vs. Washington, vs. Chicago, @ New York Rangers.

There seems to be no stopping Ryan Miller this year, as he has all but locked up the starting role for the U.S at this year’s Olympics. Washington is the only opponent this week that could throw a hammer into the works, but it’s hard to question not playing a hot goalie. The Buffalo offence sits 25th overall in goals for and have no players playing at a point per game pace.

Fantasy Spin: Miller remains a must start in all fantasy formats as he boasts the best GAA in the league. Roy, Connolly, Pominville, Vanek and rookie Tyler Myers are leading the charge for the Sabres offensively, although they still struggle at times.

Toronto Maple Leafs: vs. Atlanta, vs. New York Islanders, @Boston, vs. Washington

Toronto possesses the NHL’s worst home offence. In 12 homes games so far this season, the Buds have only scored 22 goals. They lead the league in shots per game with 34.2, but that doesn’t amount to anything more than padding opposing goalies SV%. Kessel has been the only source of reliable Leafs offence since his return.

Fantasy Spin: Kessel has 10 goals in his 16 games this season, but only has 1 goal in his last 4 at the ACC. If your league has shots as a category, he is a must start. Kaberle leads all Leafs in scoring but owns a -7 plus/minus rating.

Philadelphia Flyers: @Montreal, vs. New York Islanders, @ Ottawa, vs. New Jersey

Since returning from their 5 game Western road trip, the Flyer offence has disappeared.
Recording 4 straight losses, two of which were shut-outs, the Flyers decided it was time for a change by firing their head coach. Philadelphia has extremely high expectations this year after trading for Chris Pronger in the off-season to mesh with a highly potent and young offence. They started the season off well, but have fallen on hard times as of late.

Fantasy Spin: This team has a ton of young offensive talent and are a tempting fantasy bunch, but until they find their way with coach Laviolette, they remain risky additions to your line-up. Richards, Carter and Pronger are guaranteed to continue to eat up ice-time regardless of their level of play. Be confident that the Flyers will snap out of this spell at any time and make an impact soon.

Washington Capitals: @Tampa Bay, @Buffalo, Carolina, @Toronto

The Capitals lead the league in goals per game and have the league’s best power play unit at a 24.3%. The Lightning, Hurricanes, Leafs and Sabres sit among the worst in the league in penalty minutes per game so far this year. With Ovechkin back from his two game suspension and Semin returning to his fine form the Capitals should be set for another huge offensive week.

Fantasy Spin: The Capitals offer a wealth of stars and some players on the rise. Activate all Capitals including Laich and Fleishmann as they continue to offer secondary scoring on the best offensive team. Theodore and Varlamov should split duties this week, each having two starts, dress them accordingly.

Brian

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fantasy Boom or Bust Review - Western Conference

With approximately one third of the NHL schedule complete, Just Fantasy Hockey is taking a look at some of the fantasy booms and busts from the first 27 games. We will start our focus on the Western Conference.

Anaheim – The Ducks continue to struggle and look better on paper than they are actually playing. With weaker than average goaltending, the Ducks continue to trim the fat by waiving the dead weight.

Boom – C Perry – Leading the charge with a 19 game point streak, Perry is a fantasy treasure.

Bust – S Koivu & J Lupul – With only 10 points in 20 + games, they are offering no secondary scoring.

Calgary – Tops in their division, Calgary offers a defence first approach that finds them on the right side of winning most nights.

Boom – R Bourque – Averaging a point per game pace, Bourque has added much needed secondary scoring. Look for Bourque to continue putting up good numbers all season when he returns from his injury.

Bust – D Phaneuf – 2 seasons removed from a 60 point season, Phaneuf’s name is stronger than his play. Still a hard hitting d-man, he may no longer be the big point and PIM guy he once was.

Chicago – The Blackhawks are primed to make a deep run in the playoffs and have showed a combination of speed and skill this season. A wealth of fantasy options are to be had on this team.

Boom – D Keith – On the verge of announcing a long-term deal in Chicago, Keith has played his way into consideration for team Canada and has produced at close to a point per game status.

Bust – C Barker - The young rearguard bust into the league last season recording 40 points in 68 games and was a threat on the powerplay. This season, Barker has quietly fallen into anonymity in such a star studded Hawks team.

Colorado – The Avalanche have surprised the entire league. With a young and aspiring team, Colorado is in the playoff hunt and gives an all around effort most nights.

Boom – C Anderson – The main reason the Aves are in the position they are in now is because of Anderson. He has single handily led Colorado into a respectful team when most people never gave him a chance. Look for Anderson to continue to play over his head for the rest of the season.

Bust – M Svatos – Once looked at as a sniper, Svatos’ injury problems and inability to finish has killed his fantasy value. A change of scenery would benefit Svatos.

Columbus – Once thought of as a defensively tight, the Blue Jackets have become as porous as a teenager. Fantasy owners are feeling the pain of owning Calder winner Steve Mason and are left wondering if it will last all season.

Boom – A Vermette – Never regarded as an offensive threat, Vermette is hovering at a point per game rate and a plus 2 on the season. He is proving to be a sleeper fantasy option.

Bust – D Brassard – Oozing with potential, owners of Brassard were expecting an outpouring of offense. Pegged as Nash’s centerman, Brassard has struggled thus far netting 16 points in 26 games.

Dallas – The Stars have returned to respectability after an injury plagued season last year. Staying healthy and having their young players develop quickly has allowed the Stars to remain in the hunt for a playoff spot.

Boom – J Neal – Neal has managed to avoid the sophomore slump so far. With 22 points in 23 games, 11 of them goals, Neal is second in Stars scoring and has be a pleasant surprise to fantasy owners.

Bust – M Niskanen – Hoping Niskanen would be their powerplay quarterback, he has statistically disappeared. With 8 points in 26 games, Niskanen has taken a step back and is not a fantasy option any longer.

Detroit – The defending Western Conference champions look to be finally coming back down to earth. The loss of key components, injuries and father time not on their side, Detroit will continue to struggle.

Boom – H Zetterberg – Locked up long-term, Zetterberg is the only Wing to be playing at a point per game basis. It’s hard to deny his talent and Zetts should continue scoring, even if no one else is.

Bust – The rest of the team – Owners of Red Wing players have lived through many fantasy rich seasons. With Lidstrom, Rafalski, Osgood and even Datsyuk struggling, owners are left holding their breath waiting for them to snap out of it. It can’t go on forever right?

Edmonton – With coach Quinn at the Helm, things looked bright for the Oilers early on. That was until the wheels fell off and injuries had decimated the club. Quinn has the young Oilers playing well but are mired in a deep slump.

Boom – D Penner - This could be Penner’s year to finally reach his potential. With 30 points in 27 games, 15 of them goals, Penner is a fantasy option once again.

Bust – S Horcoff – Pegged as the number one center, Horcoff has 11 points in 23 games and is a horrendous -10. He should only be considered as a reserve player in the deepest of leagues.

Los Angeles – The Kings have pieced together an impressive group of talented youth and veterans. Poised at making a playoff run, the Kings need to learn how to break out of a scoring slump that has hit them since Smyth’s injury.

Boom – R Smyth – Never shying away from a physical game, Smyth has ignited young sniper Kopitar and is playing at a point per game pace as well. Look for Smyth to continue playing well once he returns from is injury.

Bust – A Frolov – Not a favourite of coach Terry Murray, Frolov has been in and out of his doghouse all season long. With 18 points in 27 games, Frolov has played on all three lines and has failed to find chemistry with any of them.

Minnesota – Fans in Minnesota were excited to learn about the new direction that the team was going to go in the off-season. A high tempo, fast paced and less trapping game has left fans scratching their heads wondering what went wrong.

Boom – A Brunette – An always consistent Brunette is once playing close to a point per game pace. With 21 points in 26 games, he is one of the few Wild players playing well.

Bust – M Havlat – With 9 points in 21 games, a – 16, and injured again, Havlat may just be the biggest bust in the entire league. Jump ship now on Havlat as it appears he will not get any better.

Nashville – One of the lowest scoring teams in the league, Nashville is as only as good as their goaltending. The Predators could use a goal scorer to add feeble scoring, so until they can get a scoring boost they will be a hot and cold team.

Boom – JP Dumont – Has always been a silent scorer, Dumont leads the Preds in scoring with 19 points in 21 games. A brief injury sidelined the winger for a bit, nut he has returned and is consistent.

Bust – M Erat – Never a high scoring threat, Erat has always been a decent depth player, until now. With 10 points in 24 games, Erat has fallen down the Predators depth chart and most fantasy rosters.

Phoenix – The turn-around from one of the worst teams in the league to respectability is under way. Even though the fans aren’t coming out, the Coyotes currently sit 7th in the West and should challenge for a playoff spot all year.

Boom – I Bryzgalov – The lifeline for the Coyotes, Bryzgalov has an impressive 14-8-1 record with a 2.12 GAA. He is a must have on any fantasy roster if he can remain white hot.

Bust – P Mueller – With only 4 points in 24 games, Mueller could use a change of scenery. Even though he had loads of potential, Mueller offer little in the way of fantasy value.

San Jose – The President’s Trophy winners last season are up to their same old tricks. The high flying Sharks are deep and dangerous. The young prospects have played well thus far and the veterans are tops in the league in scoring.

Boom – P Marleau – After being stripped of his captaincy in the off-season, Marleau has rebounded and is off to an incredible start. With 33 points in 29 games, he leads the team in goals scored.

Bust – ME Vlasic – With a dismal 9 points in 29 games, Vlasic has lost powerplay time and confidence along the way. On pace for 25 points, Vlasic should not factor in as a fantasy option this season.

St. Louis – Possessing a wealth of potential doesn’t always equate into winning hockey games. The Blues are loaded with very talented young players and key veterans that do not seem to be finding chemistry yet.

Boom – E Johnson – Healthy once again, Johnson leads the Blues in scoring and averages 22 minutes of ice time a games. Johnson should continue to be in the top 10 of defensive scoring.

Bust – P Kariya – Although none of the Blues players are living up to potential, a healthy Paul Kariya was supposed to offer up somewhere close to 7o points. With 11 points in 25 games, he will be lucky to hit 50 points.

Vancouver – The injury bug hit the Canucks hard already this season. Welcoming back their injured stars will help Vancouver shoot up the standings and become a force once again in the West.

Boom – M Raymond – With this being his third season with the Canucks, Raymond is already close to surpassing his 23 points he scored last season in 72 games. The speedy winger is proving to be a great depth player for Vancouver and your fantasy team.

Bust – K Bieksa – The hard hitting, oft-injured Bieksa has seen his point totals drastically slashed this season. With Ehrhoff and Edler getting the majority of the powerplay time, Bieksa still offers PIMs as a fantasy upside.

Mark

Monday, November 30, 2009

Just Fantasy Hockey: Week 10 Forecaster


Heading into December the condensed schedule is having an impact on teams as they are experiencing longer than average road trips and back to back games. With injuries already a major problem in the league, the tight scheduling will help your fantasy team streak forward or lag behind if they falter.

4 Games - Anaheim, Colorado, Columbus, Detroit, Florida, Nashville, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Toronto


3 Games - Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, New Jersey, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Jose, Vancouver, Washington


2 Games - Carolina, Edmonton, New York Islanders, Philadelphia, Phoenix

Toronto - vs. Buffalo, @ Montreal, @ Columbus, @ Boston

A big week for the Leafs will end with Phil Kessel’s return to Boston. Look for Kessel to continue piling up the shots as well as adding to his goal total. Leadign scorer Tomas Kaberle is at a point per game pace and will continue to produce on the powerplay. With Toskola on the shelf, Gustavsson should get 3 of the 4 starts of the week.

Pittsburgh - @ New York Rangers, vs. Colorado, vs. Chicago

The reinforcements have returned from the infirmary and Pittsburgh is healthy once again. With the return of Gonchar, Eaton and Orpik returning, their blueline is once again healthy and potent. Alex Goligoski returned with a 2 point night but is questionable once again with another injury. Be sure to reserve him for this week until he can come back at 100%. Crosby continues to roll as he had a 5 point night against the Rangers. Look for him to continue his hot streak this week.

Nashville - vs. Calgary, @ Minnesota, @ Chicago, vs. Minnesota

Pekka Rinne continues to help the Predators rebound from a dismal start to the season. With 4 games this week, Rinne should see 3 starts with Ellis seeing 1. Shea Weber continues to lead the Predators in defensive points with 15 and is their catalyst on the powerplay. JP Dumont has quietly led the Preds in scoring averaging close to a point per game.

New Jersey - vs. Vancouver, vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Detroit

The Devils have the fewest goals against in the league and are starting to light the lamp more often. With the return of Patrick Elias, the Devils are quietly producing point per game players. Parise, Zajac, Langenbrunner and Elias are all averaging a point per game pace so with Clarkson out 4-6 weeks with an injury, they should continue to challenge Pittsburgh for the divisional lead.

Edmonton - @ Detroit, @ Dallas

With only two games this week, the Oilers are looking for any kind of relief they can get. The injury bug has decimated the club and they will lean more heavily on Penner, Brule and goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers. Having only 2 wins in the last 10 games, look for Edmonton to struggle on this road trip as they seem demoralized with leading scorer Ales Hemsky and starting goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin out.

Mark

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Just Fantasy Hockey: Rookie Report

It's been a few weeks, lets take a look at how the NHL's top rookies are impacting your fantasy leagues.

James van Riemsdyk (RW), PHI - 18GP, 6G, 12A, 18P
JVR is now the only rookie averaging at least a point per game. The 21 year-old has however slowed down of late and he may be starting to tire from the pace of the NHL. Remember, this kid just spent 3 years playing college hockey and isn't used to a full NHL schedule. He has just 1 point in his past 3 games and played only 11:13 against Colorado.

Fantasy Impa
ct:
If you have JVR, I would recommend trading him to an owner who buys his impressive start. He'll struggle with the grind of the NHL season and may even see a late-season demotion to the AHL. Sell High and get an asset that will help you all season.

John Tavares (C), NYI -
24GP, 9G, 10A, 19P
Tavares has struggled of late with no points in his last 3 games. His ice-time in those games had fluctuated from 15 minutes to 21 minutes. When this kid is going, he is gonna get the ice-time and with ice-time comes points. Tavares will continue to have hot and cold stretchs throughout the year but will get to play through the tough times. The Islanders are investing in this 18 year-old and fantasy owners can feel comfortable doing the same.
Fantasy Impact:
Try to jump an a Tavares owner during one of his dry spells. This kid is for real and should have a Stamkos-type finish to the season. Grab him off an impatient owner if you can.

Artem Anisimov (C), NYR - 23GP, 5G, 6A, 11P
Okay, the numbers still aren't great but it is the ice-time that encourages us with Anisimov. He is on an upward trend and played 16:45 against Columbus -puttinh up 1 goal and 2 assists. He also saw some time playing with Marian Gaborik. We have been telling you about this guy for a while and if you don't act soon, you may lose out on an impactful rookie.
Fantasy Impact:
Grab him off waivers if you can, he is the rookie that may have the biggest upside the rest of the year - outside of Tavares.

Ryan O'Reilly (C), COL - 24GP, 4G, 13A, 17P
As we speculated earlier in the year, O'Reilly has come back down to earth. He was never a big scorer in junior and anyone expecting him to be a point-per-game NHL rookie had another thing coming. O'Reilly has 3 assists in his past 7 games, but more importantly, his ice-time has been on a downward spiral - averaging just 13 minutes over the past 2 games. He is a good two-way forward but he could very well struggle to post 45 points this year and is no where near being a point-per-game player.
Fantasy Impact:
If you haven't already, trade O'Reilly to an owner who hasn't noticed the recent slide in points and ice-time. O'Reilly's overall numbers are still good so he should remain marketable for a little while longer.

Michael Del Zotto (D), NYR - 23GP, 5G, 11A, 16P
Del Zotto continues to impress on the Rangers' blueline. He has 3 points in his past 5 games and is still among the offensive leaders on Defence. Importantly, MDZ is averaging close to 20 minutes as the season progresses. The rookie is being trusted in more situations which should only help with his development. He has shown that he is more then just a PP specialist and should continue to blossom.

Fantasy Impact:

Now would be a good time to acquire the young rearguard. His insane production to start the year has expectantly cooled off but he is still a fantasy-worthy rearguard. See if you can get him off a foolish owner who thinks MDZ is regressing.

Chris

Fantasy Hockey Tweet-Off

JFH recently participated in the "Fantasy Hockey Tweet-Off" at Fantasy Hockey Scouts.

The purpose of the "Tweet-Off" is to ask 5 Fantasy Hockey experts to answer 8 questions with answers no longer then a tweet.
Take a look and let us know how we did?


Chris

Monday, November 23, 2009

You Rub My Back, I'll Rub Yours.

Montreal trades Guillaume Latendresse to Minnesoa for Benoit Pouliot.

A good deal for both teams as they swap once-promising youngsters in the hopes that a change of scenery will ignite a fire.

Fantasy Breakdown:

Guillaume Latendresse:
Latendresse stormed onto the scene in 2006-2007, scoring 16 goals as a 19 year-old. A big winger with good speed, Guillaume used his size to bang bodies and create space for him and his linemates. Latendresse has since battled injuries and hasn't progressed from that impressive rookie year. He has struggled this year with just 2 goals and 1 assist in 23 games averaging just 11:23 of ice-time a night.

Advice:
The change of scenery should help as he will no longer have to play under the microscope of Montreal. Watch him over the next few weeks to see if he can regain his confidence.

Benoit Pouliot:
The 2005 4th overall pick has developed at a snail's pace. Pouliot was tabbed as a poor man's Vincent Lecavalier in his draft year, a lanky, skilled centre that just needed to add some muscle. Although he never scored more then 65 points in the OHL, Pouliot was viewed as a late-bloomer who projected well as an NHLer. Since the draft, he has struggled to put up points at any level. Benoit had his best year statistically in the AHL last season with 24 points in 30 games. He earned a regular spot with the Wild this year but has struggled to take advantage of the opportunity with just 4 points in 14 games - averaging a mere 6:58 of ice-time.

Advice:
A quick start in Montreal could save his career, but we're betting against it. Keep an eye on Pouliot but he should be in the AHL by January.

Chris

Just Fantasy Hockey: Week 9 Forecaster

Nov 23rd-29th

We enter week 9 slowly approaching the halfway point in most fantasy leagues. This week is the busiest week of the NHL schedule with more teams playing 4 games then 3. Moreover, most of the action occurs Monday through Saturday which means most of your guys will be playing on the same night. So playing your match ups this week is the key to success.

Let’s check out the week ahead.

4 Game Week: Anaheim, Boston, Calgary, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Nashville, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis.

3 Game Week: Atlanta, Buffalo, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, New Jersey, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington.

Teams to Watch:

Anaheim: Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Phoenix

The Ducks are the only team playing all 4 games at home. While that is a good thing for the Ducks offense it is quite the opposite for their defence. Anaheim sits dead last in GAA at home with a GAA of 3.50

Fantasy Spin: Hiller is struggling and will be pressed on home ice. There are better fantasy options in net this week. Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan are solid plays in any fantasy format.

Colorado: Philadelphia, Nashville, @Minnesota, Minnesota

Daily leagues are all about maximizing your match ups and here is your best chance. Great week for your Avs as Philadelphia is in the midst of a 5 game road trip, Nashville has the worst offence in the NHL, and they finish off the week with a home and home series against the League's 5th worst offence.

Fantasy Spin: Anderson should get 3 of the four starts and is a must play this week.

New York Islanders: @Toronto, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, @ New Jersey

The Islanders surprisingly have a favourable match up defensively and could offer some solid numbers this week. The Isle’s enter the week as the 4th best defensive team at home allowing just over 2 goals against in their 9 games so far this season. With two homes games against Toronto and New Jersey, who are both in the bottom half of league scoring, the Islanders could put up strong numbers.

Fantasy Spin: Look for Roloson and Biron to split the starts in the upcoming week.

Pittsburgh: @Florida, Montreal, @New York Islanders, New York Rangers.

Be careful playing your Penguins this week because they are facing some pretty hot teams. In addition, the Penguins surprisingly have the 13th ranked offense and have been struggling of late. Finally, the Pittsburgh blue line is banged up right now with Letang and Goligoski out, while Orpik and Gonchar just got back into the line up.

Fantasy Spin: Fleury has just 2 wins in his last 6 starts with a GAA and SV% of 3.32 and .885 respectively. There are better options in a busy week. Crosby and Malkin are good but not as strong plays when looking at the choices owners have in the up coming week.

Brian

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nikita Filatov: Russian Off to KHL

Coach Hitchcock strikes again.

Columbus Blue Jackets' winger Nikita Filatov has been loaned to CSKA of the KHL. The 19 year-old scored just 2 goals in 13 games this year for the Jackets, averaging a mere 8:07 minutes of ice-time a game. Columbus did the same thing to the young Russian last year, as he saw limited action in just 8 NHL games while spending most of the year in the AHL - though he did net his first NHL hat trick.

Notorious for bringing along young talent at a snail's pace, Coach Ken Hitchcock refused to give Filatov big minutes to show what he can do - evidenced by his season-high of 14:06 in a 9-1 loss to the Red Wings. Filatov was often lining up on the 4th line and receiving minimal powerplay time. Hitchcock does not like to expose his young talent to big minutes until he feels they are responsible in all three zones. Second year winger Jakub Voracek seems to be miles ahead of Nikita in this field as he is playing in all situations. Hitchcock did the same thing to another teenage star in Gilbert Brule which stunted his offensive development before trading him to Edmonton in the off-season.

Fantasy Impact:

If you own Filatov in a keeper league, this is actually good news. He will go to Russia and get the ice-time he needs to develop his elite offensive skills. Remember, coming out of the 2008 Draft, Filatov was thought to have as much offensive upside, if not more, as #1 pick Steven Stamkos. Filatov will also likely play for Russia at the upcoming WJHC in Saskatoon and should be one of the more dominant players. Lets face it, his game was not developing while getting limited ice-time under Ken Hitchcock. The Jackets realized it and so should you. Hold onto this kid, he could regain his confidence and end up beign the rookie of the year next season.

Chris

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Just Fantasy Hockey: Week 8 Forecaster

Week 8 brings us another moderate week in the NHL schedule, allowing owners to choose from plenty of teams playing 3 games. With only 4 teams playing 4 games this week, owners in leagues that offer weekly roster changes will have to look at the best match ups available to maximize roster spots.

4 Game Week: Florida, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Tampa Bay

3 Game Week: Anaheim, Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Nashville, Montreal, New Jersey, New York Islanders, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Toronto, Washington

2 Game Week: Minnesota, New York Rangers, St. Louis, Vancouver

Teams to watch:

Pittsburgh: Anaheim, @Ottawa, @ Atlanta

This schedule couldn’t have come at a better time for Malkin and Crosby owners. With Malkin just back in the line up and Crosby breaking his pointless streak, the Penguins now face three teams that just cant keep the puck of out the net. The Ducks currently rank 26th in total defence while Atlanta and Ottawa sit 18th and 19th respectively, so look for the Pens to capitalize.

Fantasy Spin: The Penguins have been banged up the last couple of weeks and are now slowly getting healthy. Look for Malkin and Crosby to lead the way with an extremely strong week.

Philadelphia: New Jersey, @Los Angeles, @San Jose, @Phoenix

The Flyers offer the best option for owners looking to take advantage of a team playing 4 games this week. Philadelphia has played 11 of its first 16 games at home and now embark on their first major road trip. They play 8 times in a 13 day stretch starting with New Jersey. Six of those 8 games are on the road.

Fantasy Spin: The strong Flyers offense will be tested in the upcoming week and Ray Emery should have a moderate week as he played extremely well over the past two weeks. Play all your Flyers this week but be weary of the long road trip ahead.

Atlanta: Boston, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay

The leagues #1 offence entering week 8 has three home tilts on tap this week. Kovalchuk is the only big name on the Thrashers team but they offer many lesser “name value” guys who contribute on a fantasy level. Pavelec continues to post decent first year numbers with a 3.02 GAA and a .924 SV% over the last two weeks.

Fantasy Spin: Kovalchuk is a must start this week, while Peverly and Antropov have been hot of late and should get some consideration.

New York Islanders: @Boston, @Minnesota, @St.Louis

This week has serious fantasy value written all over it for Long Island. The Wild, Bruins and Blues sit 25th, 26th and 28th in goals per game giving Roloson and Biron an apparent easy week between the pipes. With Dipietro’s return on the horizon, the Islanders will be shopping Biron and will likely showcase his talents against weaker offensive teams to maximize his value.

Fantasy Spin: If you are looking for a cheap, good play in a league that has 2 Goalie spots, Biron is your guy. He will likely get 2 of the 3 starts this week and has been strong of late, putting up better GAA and SV% than Roloson.

Buffalo: Florida, Boston, @ Ottawa

The Sabres have the NHL's second best GAA and face three teams in the bottom half of total offense. Ryan Miller has been hot all year and should get all three starts this week.

Fantasy Spin: Miller is a must play this week and should continue to put up stellar numbers against teams that just cant seem to light the lamp.

Brian

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Just Fantasy Hockey - Between the Pipes - Week 7


There were a couple of major moves with Hiller and Ward falling out of the top five this week. Both Ward and Hiller are on struggling teams right now which is softening their fantasy value. All three new entries to the top 20 are goalies which have strengthened their hold on the majority of future starts for their respective teams.

Let’s check out the rankings and see who made the biggest jumps and falls.

(Ranking system is based on expected performance in standard fantasy hockey league categories including Wins, Shut Outs, GAA and SV %)

Goaltender - Current Rank - Last Week Rank
H. Lundqvist - 1 - 1
R. Luongo - 2 - 2
E. Nabakov - 3 - 4
T. Thomas - 4 - 7
M. Brodeur - 5 - 8
M.A Fleury - 6 - 6
R. Miller - 7 - 10
N. Backstrom - 8 - 9
I. Bryzgalov - 9 - 12
J. Hiller - 10 - 5
C. Ward - 11 - 3
C. Anderson - 12 - 14
R. Emery - 13 - 17
N. Khabibulin -14 - 11
P. Rinne - 15 - 20
T. Vokoun - 16 - 19
C. Osgood - 17 - N/R
M. Kiprusof f - 18 - 16
C. Huet - 19 - N/R
S. Varlamov - 20 - N/R

Cam Ward - His value just keeps on slipping. Posting a awful GAA of 3.62 and .863 SV% over the last 6 starts with 0 wins he is no longer worthy of a top 5 spot. To make matters worse, Carolina’s offence ranks dead last in the NHL. Unless Ward can start to steal some wins, he will continue to fall.

Tim Thomas - Thomas’ owners are finally getting what they paid for at the beginning of the season. He seems to have “righted his ship” with posting a GAA of 1.99 and a SV% of .929 over his last 5 starts. However, he only had 2 wins over that same span, but that and extensive injuries, has contributed to the Bruins struggling offence. When Savard and Lucic return to action they will bolster the offence and it will give Thomas some much needed support.

Craig Anderson - The Avalanche seem to be hitting the wall after their hot start. Anderson last week had 2 starts with zero wins with a GAA and SV% of 3.04 and .909 respectively. He is still a good fantasy option, but he will be subject to hot and cold streaks on a young up and coming team.

Chris Osgood - Osgood is on pace to start 63 games this year, that’s a far cry from the 46 and 43 games he started over the last two years, which has limited his fantasy value. Howard’s ineffectiveness has only increased Osgood value.

Pikka Rinne - Rinne now has the firm hold of the starting job in Nashville. His time share scenario with Ellis has handcuffed Rinne’s value. Look for Rinne’s value to rise if he can show that he is up to the challenge of being a starter once again. Last week he had 2 wins in 2 starts, a shut out, a GAA of 1.01 and GAA of .961.

Tomas Vokoun - Vokoun was scorching hot last week posting 2 shut outs in two games, which came at the hands of Carolina and St. Louis, which rank 30th and 23rd respectively in total offence. Until he can prove he can play better against more potent offences, he will stay in the 15-20 range at year end.

Brian

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Just Fantasy Hockey - Week 6 Rookie Report

Time for our weekly segment that takes a look at the movers and shakers in this year's Freshman Class.

James van Riemsdyk (RW), PHI - 10GP, 2G, 11A, 13 PTS
We have a new leader in the Rookie scoring race as JVR put up 6 points over his past 3 games. While he is averaging a mere 13:01 a game, the Flyers are ensuring that when he is out there, he has some skill to play with. A natural goal-scorer, JVR should start finishing more as his confidence grows.
Fantasy Impact:
JVR is having a very productive start to his career and his ice-time should gradually grow as the season progresses. That said, this is a talented team that is fighting some injuries. Expect his production to slow down as he hits a wall or two throughout the year. He should finish near 60 points and have a strong shot at the Calder.


Semyon Varlamov (G), WSH - 5GS, 5W, 3.20GAA, .895SV%
Varlamov is a perfect 5-0 to start the year, but his peripheral numbers leave much to be desired. After an outstanding stretch in last year's playoff run, Varlamov was one of the most hyped picks at fantasy drafts this September. Expected to assume the #1 job in Washington for the next decade, Coach Bruce Boudreau broke camp by stating he would split starts with Varlamov and incumbent Jose Theodore. In fact Theodore started the first game and had been the better goalie up until last week.
Fantasy Impact:
Look for Varlamov to slowly grab more starts and his numbers should improve - slightly. He will finish the year with a ton of wins but don't expect great GAA and SV% numbers with that suspect Caps' defence. Owners invested too much in Varlmov at the draft so they won't be selling anytime soon.

Tom Wandell (C), DAL - 14GP, 2G, 4A, 6PTS
Wandell has emerged over the past week with 3 points in his past 2 games - including playing a career-high 19:23 against the Panthers. The Swedish Centre is developing nice chemistry with hyped phenom Fabian Brunnstrum on the Stars 3rd line. Wandell was a late pick in the 05' Draft and put up 41 points in the SEL last year. He is averaging 15:19 a game and the Stars coaching staff are impressed with his overall game.
Fantasy Impact:
Keep an eye on Wandell. No one in your league will know him but he could be a valuable depth centre on your fantasy squad with decent upside - a classic late-bloomer.

Artem Anisimov (C), NYR - 15GP, 3G, 4A, 7PTS
Anisimov continues to produce with minimal ice-time - averaging 9:45 a game. Out of the top 10 rookie scorers, Anisimov is averaging at least 3 minutes less of ice-time a game...and he's 7th in scoring by the way. It should be noted that Anisimov played a career-high 16:20 this week against MIN - a game Marian Gaborik missed due to injury.
Fantasy Impact:
As we have stated all along, Anisimov will produce with limited minutes but will be the main beneficiary of the first long-term injury to Marian Gaborik. It will happen and when it does, grab Artem before a rival GM does. He should finish with 45+ points.

Jonas Gustavsson (G), TOR - 4GS, 1W, 3.21GAA, .892SV%
OK, the numbers don't look great and the team isn't winning but trust us on this one. "The Monster" has already wrestled the #1 spot away from incumbent Vesa Toskala. Gustavsson seems to be getting more confident with each start and Toronto's D will only get better. He has a huge frame and lightning quick reflexes.The Monster should spend more time in net then out of it this year and challenge Varlamov for top rookie goaltender honours.
Fantasy Impact:
Again, this is a buy-low situation. The Leafs are a decent team, despite their horrendous start. They will play .500 hockey the rest of the way and Gustavsson will get the majority of starts. Grab him now and you could have yourself a solid #2 Fantasy Goalie for a cheap price.

Chris

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Just Fantasy Hockey - Week 6 Forecaster


After a busy week 5, things slow down a little in week 6. With only a handful of teams playing a busy 4 game fantasy week, many teams play a standard 3 game schedule. It’s key for owners to maximize their line ups with teams with favourable match-ups.

4 Game Week: Atlanta, NY Islanders, Phoenix, Tampa Bay.

3 Game Week: Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Los Angeles, Montreal, New Jersey, NT Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Jose, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington

2 Game Week: Chicago, Minnesota, Nashville, Ottawa

Teams to watch

Philadelphia: Tampa Bay, @Buffalo, St. Louis
The Flyers should capitalize as all three opponents rank in the bottom half of goals for. With the Flyers potent offence which ranks 4th overall, look the Flyers to have an extremely strong week.
Fantasy Spin: Play all your healthy Flyers with confidence. Gagner and Briere remain out with injuries for this week. Ray Emery should continue his strong play of late with the possibility of Boucher getting his second start of the season against the Blues.

Washington: @New Jersey, @Florida, Florida
The Caps have a tough challenge to start of the week with a match against the Devils, but they should finish off strong. AO and company are 2nd in the league in goals per game, while the Panthers are 2nd worst. The goaltending scenario seems to be getting clearer with the edge going to Theodore.
Fantasy Spin: With Ovechkin’s injury status unknown going into Monday, fantasy owners should consider him day to day and dress the super-star for the week. If he misses the game against the Devils and returns for the back to back against the Panthers, he should still have a very successful week. Look for Laich, Semin and Fleischmann to contribute while AO is out.

Phoenix: Los Angeles, @Colorado, Chicago, @Anaheim
The on ice success of the ‘Yotes this year has surprised most people, especially after all the off ice turmoil that surrounds the team. Phoenix continues to play well and there is no reason why the leagues number one defence shouldn’t continue. Phoenix currently sits 21st in scoring and will have a tough week against Colorado and Chicago who sit 2nd and 5th respectively in team GAA.
Fantasy Spin: Find better options for your Phoenix forwards, but Bryzgalov is a must start every game this week.

Atlanta: @Montreal, Columbus, @New York Islanders, St. Louis
The Thrashers, on paper, have the most favourable match-up for any team playing four games this week. The Canadiens, Blue Jackets and Islanders all sit in the bottom third in Team GAA, and with Kovalchuk out, the question is can the leagues 6th overall offence keep on clicking.
Fantasy Spin: With Kovalchuk out, the play of Rich Peverly has contributed to the Thrashers success. Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec’s strong play continues to give the Thrashers a means to win night in and night out.

Nashville: @Anaheim, @ Los Angeles
The Predators offence sits dead last in total offence and the only real fantasy story going on in Nashville is between the pipes. Rinne recorded a shut-out in week 5 and looks to have taken the lead for the number one goaltending spot.
Fantasy Spin: Rinne has outplayed Ellis of late and with a light schedule may get both starts this week. Strong play from J.P. Dumont and Shea Weber are Nashville’s primary fantasy weapons right now.

Chicago: @Phoenix, @ Colorado
Jonathan Toews should not factor back into the line-up this week after he continues to suffer from concussion like symptoms. Huet has played strong of late, which provides the Black Hawks with the confidence needed to excel at their offensive style of play.
Fantasy Spin: Patrick Kane and Sharpe continue to lead the Hawks in the stat department with Barker and Keith leading the d-men in points. With the defensive systems that Phoenix and Colorado play, look for the games to be low scoring and tightly played.

Brian

Players to Watch - Week 6


Tomas Fleischmann (C) – Washington
Has seen time on the top powerplay unit since his return.

Steve Reinprecht (C) – Florida
One of the only Panthers consistently producing at the moment.

Daniel Winnik (C) – Phoenix
The young center has 6 points in his last 5 games.

Phil Kessel (RW) - Toronto
Should make his Leafs debut this week providing some much needed finish to the line-up.

Erik Cole (LW) – Carolina
Returning from injury, hopes he can help jump start a stagnate Hurricanes offense.

Michael Grabner (RW) – Vancouver – 0G – 0A - 0PTS
Alex Goligoski (D) – Pittsburgh – 2G – 1A - 3PTS
James Wright (C) – Tampa Bay – 0G – 0A - 0PTS
Wayne Simmonds (RW) – Los Angeles – 0G – 0A - 0PTS
David Perron (LW) – St. Louis – 2G – 1A - 3PTS

Mark

Just Fantasy Hockey: Saturday Night Round-Up

There were 11 games in the NHL last night. Lets break down the key fantasy performers in each.

BOS defeats EDM 2-0
Bruins Centre Vladimir Sobotka had a goal and an assist in just 10:12 of ice-time. Sobotka was one of JFH's "Deeper Sleepers" as he was expected to lock down a spot on one of Boston's top 3 lines after the Phil Kessel trade. The talented pivot had played very well in the AHL over the past couple of seasons but couldn't crack the deep Bruins' roster. With the injury to Marc Savard, Sobotka has become the 3rd line centre in Beantown and is developing great chemistry with hulking winger Blake Wheeler. Sobotka has 3 points in 5 games, while averaging just 10:34 of ice-time. Look for his icetime to gradually rise and his production should follow. Our "Deeper Sleeper" projection of 39 points is still quite possible. Grab him off FA if you need a depth centre with upside.

PHI defeats CAR 6-1
Philly Dman Matt Carle had a goal and 2 assists while playing 24:38. Carle is off to a great start this season with 12 points in 11 games. More importantly, he's averaging 25:07 a game as he is finally being trusted to play in all situations. Carle has struggled since setting a career high of 42 points in his rookie season with San Jose. Since then, he has been moved to Tampa Bay, then Philly as he struggles to find consistency in his game. The 25 year-old now looks very confident on the Flyers' blueline. He has always had great offensive instincts but now looks to be bringing them every night. While he won't keep this pace up, Carle should be able to set new career highs this year. See if you can get him off an owner who thinks his hot start is just a mirage.

ATL defeats OTT 3-1
Thrashers' Goalie Ondrej Pavelec absolutely stood on his head in this game stopping 50 shots for the victory. The Thrashers are high on this 22 year-old goalie and expected him to battle incumbent Kari Lehtonen for starts this season. Well, with Lehtonen assuming his natural position on IR, Pavelec has had the opportunity to run with the #1 job and he hasn't disappointed. Pavelec comes with a pedigree as he was a 2nd round pick in 2005 and has been dominant at the AHL level. Grab this youngster if you are in a keeper league as his future looks bright.

NJ defeats TB 2-1
Not a lot of fantasy news in this game, but Lightning winger Steven Stamkos did notch his 10th of the year. He now has 10 goals and 15 points in just 11 games and looks to be the Lightning's most dangerous forward each game. Stamkos is the real deal and will be treated with superstar status entering next year's draft. See if you can trade for him now as he will only get more expensive as the season progresses.

MTL defeats Toronto 5-4
Leafs Dman Tomas Kaberle put up a goal and 3 assists in this game. He now has an amazing 10 points in his past 4 games and leads all NHL Dman with 17 points this season. While Kaberle won't keep up this torrid pace, we always expected him to have a bounce back year. Surrounded by tougher players, Kaberle is feeling more confident and comfortable with his role on the ice. His great vision should allow him to flirt with 60 points this year. Grab him if you can but don't overpay for the past 4 games.

NYI defeat BUF 5-0
A bit of a shocker in Long Island as the Isles spanked one of the League's hottest teams. Islander winger Jeff Tambellini scored a hat trick in only 13:14 on the ice. Tambellini now has 6 goals and 7 points in just 8 games, while averaging a mere 11:54 a night. Tambellini tore up the AHL whenever he was down there, but hadn't been able to solidify a regular spot on the Isles. He played 65 games with the big club last year but only registered 7 goals and 15 points. A highly-skilled winger, Tambellini could find himself playing with John Tavares in the near future. Keep an eye on him and be ready to pounce if his ice-time increases.

MIN defeats PIT 2-1
Not much to talk about here, other then a great game by Wild Goalie Niklas Backstrom. Backstrom made 34 saves for his 5th victory of the season. He has great numbers with a 2.50 GAA and a .916 SV%, however his 5 wins in 12 games is his downfall. Backstrom is a top goalie if your league features GAA and SV% categories but is nothing more then an average goalie in leagues that only reward Goalie Wins.

FLA defeats STL 4-0
Panthers' Centre Nathan Horton had a goal and an assist in 19:47 of ice-time. Horton now has 7 points in his past 3 games and 10 points in 12 games on the year. Horton is putting it together after a slow start and is on pace to flirt with his career high of 62 points. Horton always seems to run hot and cold but would be much more valuable if he gets traded out of Florida. That said, at 24, he could be primed for a breakout year. If you can get him cheap, go for it.

NSH defeats DAL 4-2
Pred's winger JP Dumont had 2 assists in 17:15 of ice-time and now has 11 points in just 9 games.
If you take out his 5 point game against OTT, Dumont has 6 points in 8 games which is about what you can expect from the crafty veteran. See if you can sell high on Dumont as he has never been a point-per-game player and is not about to at 31 years of age. His career high is 72 points so don't expect any more then that, regardless of his hot start.

PHX defeats ANA 3-2
Another of our "Deeper Sleepers," Ducks Dman James Wisniewski had an assist and 2 fights for 10 PIMS last night. Wisniewski now has 9 assists in 9 games and 16 PIMS while averaging 25:24 of ice-time. He is playing in all situations, including time on a talented Ducks PP. James has always possessed grit, skill and smarts, but has struggled to stay healthy for an entire season. If he can stay healthy, he could be a top 20 Dman this season. Grab him off FA if he is still there or see if you can get him cheap off an owner who doesn't appreciate Wisniewski's great start.

DET defeats CAL 3-1
Big story here is a decent performance from Wings Goalie Chris Osgood. Ozzie made 20 saves for the victory, putting in his best effort of the season. There has been a lot of talk about the Wings needing another goalie but be patient with Osgood. He has always been a hot and cold goalie and had a tough start to the year. If he can string together a couple of good games, he'll keep his stranglehold on the #1 job. Keep a close eye on this situation.

Chris