Bye bye Boyes?

February 13, 2010

Stars C Mike Ribeiro, a point-per-game machine, is owned in only 57 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

The Blues crushed the Leafs 4-0 on Friday night, but for Blues RW Brad Boyes it was the seventh straight game without a point.

To make matters worse for his fantasy owners, Boyes logged only 13:41 of ice time, despite not spending one second in the penalty box.

Significantly, Boyes’ ice time — he averages 17:02 — has dropped in each of his last five games:

2/4 vs. San Jose — 18:49

2/6 vs. Chicago — 16:59

2/8 @ Colorado — 15:46

2/9 vs. Detroit — 14:34

2/12 vs. Toronto — 13:41

It will be interesting to see how much ice time Boyes logs in Saturday night’s tilt vs. Washington.

Thus far owners have held on to Boyes, despite his recent slump. He remains owned in 86.4 percent of ESPN leagues and 59 percent of Yahoo! formats.

Tempting as it might be to drop Boyes — especially if you can pick up red hot Stars C Mike Ribeiro (pictured above, 80.4 percent owned in ESPN but only 57 percent owned in Yahoo!) — we urge you to keep the faith, based on Boyes’ stellar track record as a scorer in March and April.

To wit: Last season, Boyes scored 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 20 games in March and April. In 2007-08, Boyes registered 18 points (11 goals, seven assists) in 18 games in March and April.

Granted: The upcoming Olympic break could throw a wrench into Boyes’ pattern of second-half performance. Also, the diminution of his ice time is a disturbing trend, one all of his owners should continue to monitor.

Nevertheless, Boyes’ track record suggests that he’ll provide value to rosters in the final two months of the season.

So unless there’s a Ribeiro waiting in your free agent pool, don’t say bye bye to Boyes just yet.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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Bruins at Lightning: For fantasy owners, it’s Tuukka time (and Downie’s day)

February 11, 2010

Why is Bruins G Tuukka Rask (2.01 GAA, .931 save percentage) owned in fewer than 50 percent of ESPN and Yahoo! leagues?

Half the fantasy hockey world is asleep at the wheel.

How else to explain that Bruins G Tuukka Rask (2.01 GAA, .931 save percentage) is owned in only 47 percent of Yahoo! formats and 42.2 percent of ESPN leagues?

In case you missed it — and it certainly seems as if half the fantasy world has missed it — Bruins G Tim Thomas is no longer the everyday netminder. Rask has started four straight, allowing only six goals. He and the Bruins have won the last two of those starts entering Thursday night’s tilt at Tampa Bay.

Rask isn’t the only streaking player fantasy owners need to watch in Thursday night’s Bruins at Lightning clash. Tampa RW Steve Downie (29.2 percent owned in ESPN, 41 percent in Yahoo!) has tallied five assists, +5 and eight shots on goal in his last four matches.

Heretofore, Downie’s primary fantasy contribution has been penalty minutes. With 153 PIMs this season, Downie, 22, has not disappointed. But his four-game point streak has the potential to catapult his value into the must-own stratosphere.

A first-round pick in 2005 (29th overall), Downie has the pedigree to post numbers in non-pugilistic categories too. Furthermore, he is skating on a line with all-world studs C Steven Stamkos (33 goals, 30 assists) and LW Martin St. Louis (20 goals, 46 assists).

In short: Like Rask, Downie deserves a higher level of ownership. Watch him tonight vs. Boston and see for yourself.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


Holy Schenn

February 7, 2010

Blue Jackets G Steve Mason wasn't the only second-year star who shined on Saturday.

Saturday was a superb day for fans of the NHL box score.

There were four shutouts. Marty Turco, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Steve Mason and Craig Anderson, take a bow.

There were nine two-goal scorers. Michal Handzus, Henrik Zetterberg, Brian Gionta, Jamie Benn, Phil Kessel, Luke Schenn, J.P. Dumont, Dany Heatley and Radek Dvorak, take a bow.

Of all these players, the one who most caught my eye is Schenn. A second-year defenseman, the fifth overall pick in 2008, Schenn has played more than 21:00 in every game (all three of them) since Ian White left town in the Dion Phaneuf deal.

In addition to his two goals in Giguere’s 5-0 home shutout of the Senators on Saturday, Schenn notched an assist, two penalty minutes, four shots on goal, and a team-high +4.

Should you drop everything and pick him up? Unless there’s a player you’re dying to drop, not yet. After all, Saturday was the first time Schenn had cracked the scoring sheet since Jan. 18.

But as of yesterday’s performance, Schenn belongs on all watch lists. Especially if you missed out on the Mark Giordano sweepstakes.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


With Cammalleri out, who scores?

February 5, 2010

With Habs LW Michael Cammalleri (pictured here in the garb of his former team) out for six weeks, who will score for the Canadiens?

Habs LW Michael Cammalleri (right MCL) is out for at least six weeks.

The Canadiens have now played twice in his absence, winning 3-2 vs. Vancouver on Tuesday and 3-2 (shootout) at Boston on Thursday.

The injury leaves C Tomas Plekanec without his formerly formidable pair of wings — Cammalleri (26 goals, 22 assists, +10, 15 PPP, 191 shots in 56 games) and RW Andrei Kostitsyn (lower body), who has been out of action since New Year’s Eve with no timetable for returning.

Plekanec is now skating between LW Sergei Kostitsyn and RW Benoit Pouliot. It was this line that picked up the scoring slack in the 3-2 win vs. Vancouver. Kostitsyn staked the Habs to a 1-0 lead on a pass from Pouliot. Plekanec scored the eventual game winner in the third period, assisted by Pouliot and Kostitsyn.

The other Montreal goal came from the third line in the first period, with C Maxim Lapierre capitalizing on a feed from RW Mathieu Darche. All three Habs goals came at even strength.

On its surface, the box score of this game was yet another signal for fantasy owners to grab Pouliot. Still only owned in 19 percent of Yahoo! and 11.7 percent of ESPN leagues, Pouliot was on fire long before the Cammalleri injury. He has tallied 10 goals and three assists in his last 16 games.

As for Kostitsyn, it was a good game, but it seemed like a fluke since he’d gone scoreless in his previous seven contests. Plekanec was not really part of the fantasy conversation, since he is an assists machine who was already a nearly universally owned player (74 percent Yahoo!, 84.7 ESPN).

Then came Thursday’s 3-2 shootout win in Boston. Down 2-0 in the second, the Habs halved the lead on a power play goal from ex-Bruin Glen Metropolit. C Scott Gomez and D Andre Markov recorded the assists. Less than one minute later, the Habs tied it when D Roman Hamrlik scored, assisted by Gomez and Kostitsyn.

In fantasy terms, this game hardly clarified anything. Markov was already a universally owned defenseman. Hamrlik and Gomez have been borderline roster-worthy for several seasons. Metropolit is a classic “good in real life, not so much in fantasy” grinder. But then there was that point from Kostitsyn, making us wonder: Is this 22-year-old with the gifted brother worthy of our attention, now that he’s skating with Plekanec?

Our answer: Yes, but the better fantasy play is Pouliot, who is still out there in the vast majority of free agent pools.

The Canadiens next play Saturday afternoon (2pm) at Pittsburgh, and we’ll be watching to determine if the Kostitsyn-Plekanic-Pouliot line continues to produce.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


Two goalies to watch Tuesday night (Giggy, and the other Chad Johnson)

February 2, 2010

Leafs G Jean-Sebastien Giguere is slated to debut tonight vs. the Devils.

Goalie: Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Leafs

Game: Devils at Leafs, 7pm EST.

Breakdown: By now, you know the deal: This is Giggy’s first chance to shine for the Leafs. If he holds down the Devils, fantasy owners will rush to grab him. As Puck Daddy points out, Giguere, 32, is reunited in Toronto with goaltending coach Francois Allaire and, for that matter, Leafs GM Brian Burke — men under whose tutelage he produced stellar campaigns in 2002-03 and 2007-08.

Advice: No starting goalie — especially one with Giguere’s track record and upside — belongs in the free agent pool. Grab him while you can. He has more value than any No. 4 defenseman on your roster. (And yet, as of Tuesday afternoon, he was owned in only 31 percent of Yahoo! formats and 11.6 percent of ESPN leagues.)

Goalie: Chad Johnson, Rangers

Game: Rangers at Kings, 10:30pm EST.

Breakdown: Rangers starter Henrik Lundqvist (flu) missed games Saturday and Sunday. In Saturday’s 3-2 loss at Phoenix, Johnson, 23, started out slowly — he allowed three first-period goals — before settling in and shutting out the Coyotes the rest of the way. He continued his stellar play in Sunday’s 3-1 win at Colorado, blanking the Avalanche until a third-period goal from Colorado LW Cody McLeod. All told, Johnson, a rookie, stopped 34 of 35 shots.

Advice: If you own Lundqvist, grab Johnson. Prior to missing in action last weekend, Lundqvist had lost four straight. Worse, he had allowed three or more goals in his last three games. The high-payroll Rangers are battling to make the playoffs. They are in win-now mode. The hot goalie is going to play, even if it’s a rookie. Head coach John Tortorella does not strike me as the type who’d provide groundless loyalty to a foundering veteran. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not counting out a resurgence from a star like Lundqvist. But if your fantasy season is riding on Lundqvist, you’d be wise to secure his backup — at least for the next few weeks.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


With Horton out, who scores?

January 29, 2010

Panthers RW Nathan Horton is out for five more weeks. Who will pick up the scoring slack?

Panthers RW Nathan Horton (fractured left tibia) is expected to miss five more weeks. Florida has now played twice in his absence.

Interestingly, the Panthers have won both games. Still, there are signs of a scoring slump.

For the season, Florida averages 2.61 goals per game, placing them in the middle of the NHL pack (16th). However, in each of these wins — 2-0 vs. Toronto Jan. 23 and 2-1 vs. Montreal Jan. 26 — the Panthers scored only twice.

Throughout the season, the line of Horton (17 goals, 29 assists), C Stephen Weiss (19 goals, 25 assists) and LW Michael Frolik (13 goals, 17 assists) has carried the Panthers attack. (Though Frolik is listed as a C/RW in both ESPN and Yahoo! fantasy formats, the box-score reality is that he has skated and scored all year with Horton and Weiss.)

In the 2-0 win vs. Toronto, both Frolik and Weiss tallied assists. On Florida’s first goal, Weiss and D Dennis Seidenberg helped LW Cory Stillman on a power play. On Florida’s second goal, Frolik and C Gregory Campbell set up LW Kenndal McArdle.

So, after one game sans Horton, the short list of Wally Pipp candidates was Seidenberg, Stillman, Campbell and McArdle. Alas, none of this mighty quartet cracked the score sheet in Florida’s 2-1 win vs. Montreal. It was C Shawn Matthias who scored both Panthers goals, the first of which came on a third-period penalty shot (and thus was unassisted). On his second goal, the assists went to RW Michael Repik and C/LW Dominic Moore.

In other words, it was a march of fantasy no-names.

And so, after two games sans Horton, here’s what we know:

1. While nine different Panthers registered a point, not a single Panther scored in both of the games.

2. The Panthers visit Washington Friday night, so there’s no reason any of them should be in your lineup anyway. You can safely return Frolik, Weiss and G Tomas Vokoun to your lineup Sunday, when Florida hosts the Islanders.

3. If there’s a fantasy commodity on the Panthers to monitor, it’s LW Rostislav Olesz. Dobber called him out on Yahoo! last week, writing:

“His bigger-than-deserved contract alone is reason enough to keep an eye on him. If the team thinks so highly of Olesz, then it goes without saying that he’ll get his chances. He has six points, six PIM and is a plus-4 in his last six contests, making him one of the better wingers to own in the past two weeks. He has the talent to keep up a similar pace, albeit slightly slower.”

Granted: Olesz (13 goals, 13 assists) is no star and he has not scored in his last four contests. But he has continued to put shots on net — 130 this season and at least two in each of those last four games. And he gets ice time: at least 15:00 per match. He has pedigree — seventh overall pick in 2004 — and he is only 24 years old.

More pertinent to fantasy players, he is only 0.6 percent owned in ESPN and three percent owned in Yahoo! formats. No need to pick him up yet, but keep an eye on him to post numbers while Horton’s gone.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


Buy low on Krejci

January 23, 2010

The hockey world has forgotten the might of Bruins C David Krejci (51 assists, +37 last season).

The hockey world — fantasy and otherwise — is down on the Boston Bruins.

Justifiably so: Following Thursday’s 3-2 home setback to the hardly mighty Jackets, Boston had lost six straight and seven of eight. A team once ticketed for a No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference and sneaky Cup contention is now on the verge of missing the playoffs.

What are the fantasy ramifications of the Bruins’ slump?

The main one is the availability of Bruins C David Krejci, who is now only 46 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues and 82.3 percent owned in ESPN formats.

Aside from his stellar 2008-09 numbers (22 goals, 51 assists, +37, 19 PPP), Krejci (for my money) passes the “naked eye” test as a playmaker. Much like banged up teammate Marc Savard (partially torn right MCL), Krejci (at his best) is the hockey equivalent of a point guard with superb anticipation, feeding pinpoint passes at opportune moments to open teammates.

But this year, Krejci — slowed by early season recovery from a hip problem and a recent lower-body malady that sidelined him from the 2-1 win at San Jose Jan. 14– has not been the same. He only has 18 assists in 46 games.

That’s why now is the time to buy low — or snag him if he’s a free agent.

Also, Savard has skated well in practice lately. He is slated to return for the Jan. 29 tilt at Buffalo. But it would not shock The Genius if he returned this weekend — perhaps even as soon as Saturday’s game vs. Ottawa. (But please, take note: that is just our sourceless speculation.)

Whenever Savard returns, he will join the offensively challenged Bruins’ top line, giving Krejci more of a chance to post numbers against opposing scrubs. All the more reason to roll the dice on a Krejci pickup.

Here’s the other reason: Quietly, even against opponents’ top lines, Krejci has posted numbers. Despite the Bruins’ slump, Krejci has six assists and one goal in his last nine contests. And as our boy Matt Kalman reports, Krejci missed a wide-open net in Thursday’s 3-2 loss — and he regrets it.

No, he’s not setting the world on fire, but he is warming up. In the previous six games, he had gone scoreless. For little or no risk, he is well worth your fantasy dime. How many other 50-assist guys can you acquire on the cheap?

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons