The Fantasy Norris Trophy goes to…

April 28, 2009
The real life Norris Trophy is worth debating. In the Fantasy Norris, there's no contest.

The real life Norris Trophy is worth debating. For the Fantasy Norris, Capitals D Mike Green has no competition.

Washington Capitals D Mike Green was easily the best fantasy blueliner this season.

Green went through the entire season without a dry spell. In 55 of his 68 games, he tallied either a point or a penalty minute. Only twice did he provide neither a point nor a penalty minute in back-to-back games.

As good as Boston Bruins D Zdeno Chara was, he had three significant fantasy dry spells: that is, on three occasions, Chara spanned four straight games without a point or penalty minute.

Likewise, Detroit Red Wings D Nicklas Lidstrom had two four-game dry spells.

Our point here: Green had no dry spells. His longest droughts lasted two games.

Moreover, Green’s 31 goals were eight more than anyone else at the position. (Edmonton D Sheldon Souray and Nashville D Shea Weber each notched 23.)

Green’s 38 power-play points ranked second, behind only Montreal D Andrei Markov (39).

His 243 shots on goal ranked fourth, behind Calgary D Dion Phaneuf (277), Souray (268) and Weber (251).

His 42 assists ranked eighth and his +24 ranked fifth.

Fans of actual hockey, please don’t misunderstand: Game 7, win or go home, I’d prefer Chara or Lidstrom on my team. But in fantasy hockey, Green obliterated his competition this season. We’ll see how far that gets him and the Capitals tonight vs. the Rangers.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


Four for the last dance (Manny Fernandez, T.J. Oshie, Ryan Callahan, Brad Stuart)

April 10, 2009
Need goals on the last day of the season? St. Louis Blues C T.J. Oshie is your guy.

Need goals on the last day of the season? St. Louis Blues C T.J. Oshie is your guy.

If the most important thing in your life your league championship is coming down to the wire, you need to focus on the final day of games — Sunday, April 12 — and figure out which free agents can get points for your squad.

There are only four games April 12: Detroit at Chicago (2:00 ET), St. Louis at Colorado (3:00 ET), Boston at NY Islanders (5:00 ET), and NY Rangers at Philadelphia (5:00 ET). Here’s a list of one player in each game who might make the difference for your fantasy squad:

T.J. Oshie, C, St. Louis Blues (88 percent available in Yahoo!, 97 percent available in ESPN). The NHL’s rookie of the month in March, Oshie has five goals and nine assists in his last 13 games.

Manny Fernandez, G, Boston Bruins (64 percent available in Yahoo!, 18.6 percent available in ESPN). Yet another example of how ESPN ownership stats are skewed, Fernandez is probably a free agent if you play in an active league with competitive owners. It would be more than reasonable for the Bruins to start him at the Islanders on Sunday, so that their new franchise goalie, Tim Thomas, can rest up for what might be a long playoff run.

Ryan Callahan, RW, New York Rangers (94 percent available in Yahoo!, 92 percent available in ESPN). All we will say of Callahan is this: no one owns him, yet he has 15 points in his last 14 games.

Brad Stuart, D, Detroit Red Wings (97 percent available in Yahoo!, 44.3 percent available in ESPN). Yet another example of how too many ESPN owners draft teams and never touch them again, Stuart is a fantasy scrub — make no mistake about it. But he occasionally displays a scoring touch, he gets ice time, and he’s playing Sunday. If you need scoring from the D spots on your roster, he’s someone to consider.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


Don’t sleep on the Oilers (Gagner, Kotalik, Grebeshkov, and even Gilbert)

April 6, 2009
Edmonton Oilers C Sam Gagner, pictured here with Team Canada in 2007, has notched five points (two goals, three assists) in his last three games.

Edmonton Oilers C Sam Gagner, pictured here with Team Canada in 2007, has notched five points (two goals, three assists) in his last three games.

We’re big fans of ESPN.com’s Forecaster column, written by Tristan Cockcroft. But this week, we respectfully beg to differ with the Forecaster’s indifference to the Week 27 schedule of the Edmonton Oilers. (Of course, we also wish Oilers D Tom Gilbert would update his blog more frequently.)

Why we disagree with The Forecaster: the Oilers are fighting for their playoff lives. Their upcoming opponents — the Los Angeles Kings (vs. 4/6) and Calgary Flames (vs. 4/10, @ 4/11) have much less on the line, and have been playing like ass besides.

Moreover, when the Kings visit the Oilers on Tuesday night, it will be a back-to-back game for the Kings. And while the Kings destroyed the Phoenix Coyotes 6-1 on Saturday night, that win broke a three game losing streak; in fact, in their last 12 games, the Kings have religiously followed this pattern: lose three, win one. They’ve done it three times. In other words, they’re not just 3-9 in their last 12. They are consistently on the losing end.

Then there are those Flames: They’ve lost four of their last six contests, most recently getting shut out 4-0 Saturday night at the Minnesota Wild. Tell you what else: That was the third time the Flames have been shut out in their last six games.

And all of that is why I’d load up on any free-floating Oilers in your league’s free agent pool. Specifically:

  • C Sam Gagner (90.7 percent availability in ESPN leagues, 71 percent availability in Yahoo! leagues). He has two goals and three assists in his last five games, not to mention three power-play points. The sixth overall pick in 2007 is playing like he wants to make the playoffs.
  • RW Ales Kotalik (68.6 percent available in ESPN, 78 percent in Yahoo!). Now playing on the first line with stud and namesake Ales Hemsky, Kotalik has six goals and four assists in his last 10 games.
  • D Denis Grebeshkov (94 percent available in ESPN, 94 percent available in Yahoo!). His last four games: two goals, one assist, +4, six penalty minutes. That’s more productivity than you’d get from Gilbert.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


Four for Friday (Armstrong, Craig Anderson, Frolik, Connolly)

April 2, 2009
No longer a Penguin, Atlanta Thrashers right wing Colby Armstrong is finally playing like a first-round pick.     No longer a Penguin, Atlanta Thrashers right wing Colby Armstrong is finally playing like a first-round pick (21st overall, 2001).

No longer a Penguin, Atlanta Thrashers right wing Colby Armstrong is finally playing like a first-round pick (21st overall, 2001).

No time for conversation. There are six games left in the fantasy regular season and four under-owned players who can help you Friday night:

1. Colby Armstrong, RW, Atlanta Thrashers (96 percent available in Yahoo! leagues, 97 percent available in ESPN leagues). The former first-round pick has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his last five games. He’s a whopping +7 in that span. The Thrashers may not be playoff-bound but they they rank ninth in scoring (3.03 goals per game) and have been especially potent lately, tallying 24 goals in their last six games. They’ve also won three in a row and four of five. But all of that might change Friday night at 7:30 in Atlanta, when they host another red-hot squad, led by…

2. Craig Anderson, G, Florida Panthers (75 percent available in Yahoo!, 90 percent available in ESPN). How on earth is Anderson so widely available? He has led the Panthers to three straight wins and coach Pete DeBoer has endorsed him as the starting goalie until he loses. Like the Thrashers, the Panthers have been on fire offensively. They have scored 15 goals in their last three games. So it could be a while before Anderson loses his job. And one reason the Panthers offense has played so well lately is…

3. Michael Frolik, C, Florida Panthers (97 percent available in Yahoo!, 99 percent available in ESPN). The 10th overall pick in 2006, Frolik, a rookie, has two goals, three assists and a +5 rating in his last four games. He is 21 years old and now has 20 goals this season. Keeper-league owners, pay attention.

4. Tim Connolly, C, Buffalo Sabres (75 percent available in Yahoo!, 65.2 percent available in ESPN). Lest you think we only have a jones for the Thrashers-Panthers tilt, we call your attention to Connolly: four goals, two assists, and +5 in his last four games. The Sabres host the Washington Capitals on Friday night at 7:00, and the game should be high-scoring: Neither the Capitals (2.86 goals allowed per game, ranking 19th) nor the Sabres (2.83 goals allowed per game, ranking 14th) have a stingy defense.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons