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


The fantasy case for Corvo

March 4, 2010

Capitals D Joe Corvo, pictured here in Canes candy, is a must-add fantasy blueliner.

Scan the NHL’s plus/minus rankings.

The top three players — and five of the top nine — are Washington Capitals. Further down — ranked No. 13 with a +23 — is Caps RW Mike Knuble.

Of the six Caps among the league’s best in +/-, two are defensemen: Jeff Schultz (+37) and Mike Green (+29). Then there are Caps D-men Tom Poti (+19) and John Erskine (+16), no slouches either. Even Shaone Morrisonn, the Caps No. 5 D, is a +11.

All of this bodes well for new Caps D Joe Corvo, acquired Wednesday from the Hurricanes at the deadline.

Corvo has always been a terrific +/- player. He is a career +43 despite his -6 this year with the wretched Canes. So statistical evidence strongly suggests he’ll be a boon to fantasy owners in an important category.

Moreover, Corvo has surpassed 12 goals and 20 power play points in three seasons of his seven-year career. He has eclipsed 150 shots on goal in four separate campaigns. These are numbers you don’t often find in defensemen, let alone players surrounded by a cast like Washington’s.

Because Corvo, 30, has not produced this season — 12 points in 34 games — his fantasy ownership has dwindled to 35 percent in Yahoo! formats and 55.1 percent in ESPN leagues.

That will probably change after his debut vs. the Lightning tonight at 7:00 pm EST. So grab him now, before you miss out on a chance to upgrade your fantasy blue line at no cost.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Raiding — and ducking — the Capitals

January 16, 2010

Capitals D Jeff Schultz, all six-foot-six of him, leads the NHL in +/- (+27).

If you own one of the fantasy cogs of the Maple Leafs D — Ian White, Tomas Kaberle or Francois Beauchemin — then you felt the wrath of the Capitals on Friday night.

White (-4), Kaberle (-2) and Beauchemin (-2) saw their already awful +/- worsen as the Caps cruised to a 6-1 home win.

It is always wise to bench your goalies against the Caps, whose 3.63 goals per game lead the NHL by a wide margin (the Blackhawks are next at 3.16).

We have reached the point, however, where it’s wise to bench your D against the Caps. If you own any Flyers blueliners, be warned: Philadelphia visits Washington on Sunday at 3:00 pm.

In their last six games, the Caps (5-1) have scored 31 goals: 4, 5, 8, 4, 4 and 6. Of these 31 goals, 23 came at even strength. And that’s why opponents of the Caps have seen their +/- plummet.

On the flip side, investing in the Caps D is a great way to bolster your own +/-. Former first-round pick Jeff Schultz (available in 96 percent of Yahoo! and 96.4 percent of ESPN leagues) leads the entire NHL at +27. He also has four assists in his last five games, making him even more worthy of an immediate add. In the past month, the 23-year-old ranks No. 46 in Yahoo! and No. 33 in ESPN among all defensemen.

Then there’s his teammate, Tom Poti. Though Poti’s +12 isn’t as gaudy as Schultz’s, Poti’s career resume and overall fantasy numbers make him a better across-the-board add. In the last month, Poti has tallied two goals, six assists, +8 and 14 penalty minutes. These numbers have made him the No. 2o D in Yahoo! and No. 19 D in ESPN during this span.

Still, Poti’s ownership levels are staggeringly low: He is rostered in only 4 percent of Yahoo! and 4.9 percent of ESPN leagues. When you consider what Poti, 32, has accomplished in his 12-year career — three  seasons with 10 or more goals, consistent penalty minutes and power play productivity — it is a wonder how the fantasy community has ignored him in 2009-10.

Trading for Caps D Mike Green is next to impossible. But if you pick up his teammates, you’ll reap plenty of fantasy benefits between now and the end of the campaign.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Three to watch for Thursday (Grabner, Morris, Schultz)

October 29, 2009

Every Thursday, the Genius will list three players to monitor for fantasy relevance. As a rule, the players will be owned in fewer than 50 percent of Yahoo! and ESPN leagues.

Player: RW Michael Grabner, Canucks

Ownership: 5 percent Yahoo!, 2.9 percent ESPN.

Tonight: The Canucks visit Los Angeles at 10:30 pm EDT.


Can Canucks RW Michael Grabner continue to kick fantasy ass tonight at Los Angeles?

Optimism: Only 22, the former first-round pick has become a shot machine in his last four games (5, 6, 7, 2). In those games, he has two goals and two assists, all of which were PPPs. Rob Higgins, fantasy expert for the Toronto Sun, recently wrote: “He’s playing with Vancouver’s best all-around forward in Ryan Kesler, on the team’s fastest line and is the Kobe to Kesler’s Shaq. He likes to shoot and can finish. As long as his context is a Top 6 one, in the NHL, he will point enough to help.”

Skepticism: Grabner has done a lot of his scoring by being in the right place at the right time in front of the net. He deserves credit for this knack, but how sustainable is the cherry-picking for a 180-pounder?

Player: D Derek Morris, Bruins

Ownership: 9 percent Yahoo!, 7.1 percent ESPN.

Tonight: The Bruins host the Devils at 7:00 pm EDT.

Optimism: There was a time when Morris — a first-round pick back in 1996 — was a must-own fantasy blueliner. Granted: That time was 2002-03. Still, in his first season with the Avalanche, Morris put up numbers: 11 goals, 37 assists, +16, 68 penalty minutes, 28 power play points (nine goals, 19 assists), and 191 shots on goal. Lately, Bruins fans have glimpsed the Morris vintage. In his last three games, Morris has one goal and four assists, not to mention a +2 and seven shots. It’s no coincidence these three games marked the return of D Dennis Wideman from a left shoulder injury.

Skepticism: Morris has not amassed more than 30 points in a season since 2003-04. He is also no guarantee for PP productivity. Only one of the five points on his recent three-game binge was a PPP.

Player: D Jeff Schultz, Capitals

Ownership: 1 percent Yahoo!, 0.4 percent ESPN.

Tonight: The Capitals visit Atlanta at 7:00 pm EDT.

Optimism: In fantasy football, you want a piece of the Saints. In fantasy hockey, you want a piece of the Capitals, who score 3.56 goals per game (third). Schultz, 23, a first-round pick in 2004, has one goal and four assists in his last three games, not to mention four PIMs and a staggering +5.

Skepticism: Schultz isn’t sniffing the power play and he is averaging fewer than 18:00 of ice time.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons