Friday night fantasy feast: Tampa Bay at Washington

March 10, 2010

Don't overlook the fantasy potency of Lightning C Steven Stamkos and his teammates at Washington on Friday night.

The Capitals need no introduction to the fantasy hockey world. They average 3.82 goals per game, tops in the NHL.

On Friday they host the Lightning, who yield 2.93 goals per game (ranking 22nd). The Lightning also rank second in the NHL in penalty minutes, with 1,099 on the season. More on that later.

The last time these two teams faced off in Washington on March 4, the Caps prevailed 5-4.

Right wings Mike Knuble and Scott Walker each scored twice for the Caps, and RW Eric Fehr registered the other Washington goal.

It would seem like an obvious time to snag any Caps right wings from your free agent pool. While that is true, we’re here to tell you: Don’t overlook the Lightning side of the fantasy equation.

Yes, they have lost three of their last four contests. But Tampa Bay has also scored a whopping 13 goals in those four games (including the 5-4 loss at Washington).

In the March 4 game, Lightning RW Steve Downie scored once, C Vincent Lecavalier scored twice and C Steven Stamkos also scored.

Among this trio, perhaps only Downie is available in your league. That brings us back to the penalty minutes. The Lightning find the penalty box against everybody, and Downie (186 PIM) is a big reason why.

Against Washington on March 4, Downie did not log a single penalty minute. But four of his teammates did: Stamkos, RW Mark Parrish, D Kurtis Foster and D Victor Hedman all logged two-minute minors.

On the Washington side, D-men Mike Green, Tom Poti and Jeff Schultz all sat for two-minute minors, as did Knuble, C Nicklas Backstrom and LW Brooks Laich.

All told: This game featured nine goals and 10 penalties (on 10 different players).

In other words, it was a fantasy feast. And the record shows, it wasn’t just the big-name hockey stars dining at the table.

So grab as many Caps and Lightning as you can for Friday night’s match-up.  Then sit tight and watch the numbers roll in.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


With Ovechkin out, who scores? Survey says, Morrison and Fleischmann

December 2, 2009

Caps D Mike Green is money in the fantasy bank...when Ovechkin is on the ice.

Since Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin (knee, behavior) missed six games between Nov. 1-17 with an upper body strain, we actually have a track record of who scores for the Caps in his absence.

Better still: Two of those games came against Florida, a home-and-home Nov. 6 and 7.

Guess who the Caps face Thursday night at 7pm EST?

Before we get to the totals, let’s dispense with preliminaries:

The Caps won both games and did a ton of scoring. They prevailed 4-1 at Florida on Nov. 6 and 7-4 vs. Florida the next day.

D Mike Green missed much of the first game and all of the second game with, yes, an upper body ailment. So if you’re wondering why he does not show up in the totals below, that’s why.

Green’s absence also explains why Caps D Brian Pothier (5 percent owned in Yahoo!, 4 percent in ESPN) posted terrific numbers (one goal, three assists) in these two games. In addition, D Tyler Sloan scored a goal and D Tom Poti and D Shaone Morrisonn each notched an assist.

The best available fantasy beneficiaries of Ovechkin’s absence are Caps C Brendan Morrison (29 percent owned in Yahoo!, 31.3 percent in ESPN) and Caps winger Tomas Fleischmann (23 percent owned in Yahoo!, 15.3 percent in ESPN). Both Morrison and Fleischmann had two goals and one assist in the two games. Caps RW Mike Knuble (two goals, three assists) was more prolific than both, but he will not be available for Thursday night’s game, still nursing a broken finger. Plus, he’s not available in most fantasy formats anyway.

The sneakiest play here is Panthers D Dmitry Kulikov (1 percent owned in Yahoo!, 0.4 percent in ESPN). In the two Ovechkin-free games, he was Florida’s leading scorer (one goal, two assists).

Anyway, here are the Washington totals:

Goals (11)

Morrison – 2

Knuble – 2

LW/RW Tomas Fleischmann – 2

One goal apiece for Pothier, Sloan, C/LW Brooks Laich, C Mathieu Perreault and LW Quintin Laing.

Assists (19)

Pothier – 3

Knuble -3

C Nicklas Backstrom – 3

RW Chris Clark – 2

Laich – 2

One assist apiece for Morrison, Morrisonn, Fleischmann, Poti, RW Eric Fehr and RW Matt Bradley.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

The Verdict on Matt Stajan, Brooks Laich, Patrick Sharp, Andy McDonald

October 3, 2009
In one night, Capitals C Brooks Laich became a fantasy hockey darling.

In one night, Capitals C Brooks Laich became a fantasy hockey darling.

What’s not to like, fantasy-wise, about Maple Leafs C Matt Stajan, the 25-year-old who potted two power play goals vs. the Canadiens opening night? He is only 14 percent owned in Yahoo! and 13.2 percent in ESPN leagues.

Janet Eagleson endorses Stajan as a free-agent pickup. She cites his decreased body fat and time on the power play. Rotowire is not as optimistic: “Both of Stajan’s shots found paydirt, a trend that’s not likely to continue for someone who’s scored 73 goals in 391 games in his career.”

Our verdict? Don’t bother with Stajan. He has never scored more than 60 points. His contributions in other categories — penalty minutes, +/- rating, and shots on goal — are negligible. He might reach career highs, especially once RW Phil Kessel (shoulder) returns in six weeks. But even if he reaches 70 points, he is not going to score enough to be a No. 2 fantasy center, particularly in head-to-head formats, where you’ll want to allocate that roster spot to a center who is playing more games in a given week.

A far more enticing free-agent pickup as a No. 2 pivot is a player Stajan will be facing tonight at 7 pm in Washington: Capitals C Brooks Laich. On opening night at Boston, Laich tallied two PP goals, one assist, and five shots. He is already 55 percent owned in Yahoo! and 92.3 percent owned in ESPN leagues — so if you wanted him, you’re probably too late.

Laich’s point totals and shots on goal have increased in each of the last three seasons, which is more than we can say for Stajan’s. In fact, the-26-year-old Laich scored 23 goals and launched 185 shots on goal last year, numbers Stajan has not come close to.

If you missed the boat on Laich but are eager to log your first transaction, another pivot to consider as a waiver-wire No. 2 is Blackhawks C Patrick Sharp, who scored a timely goal in last night’s Finland game, which Chicago lost to Florida in OT, 4-3. Sharp is only 47 percent owned in Yahoo! but ESPN’s players are hip to him (98.3).

In addition to playing for a strong team, Sharp has a 36-goal, 209-shot season on his resume from 2007-08. That season, he finished as the 18th-ranked center in all of fantasy, with a +23 mark and 55 PIMs. That is the sort of track record you want (but seldom find) in a free agent pickup. It certainly explains why ESPN players have already invested heavily in Sharp.

The other pivot I’d recommend — and this guy is flying way under the radar, owned in only 22.2 percent of ESPN leagues and 29 percent of Yahoo! — is Blues C Andy McDonald, who has LW eligibility in Yahoo!. A proven point-per-game producer when healthy, McDonald had a scintillating training camp. He also notched an assist in his season debut last night, a 4-3 victory over the Red Wings in Stockholm.

Today at 3:00 pm, McDonald and the Blues are up against the selfsame Red Wings in the selfsame town. I’m expecting another assist or two, and I am starting him with confidence.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons