The (fantasy) silver lining of Savard’s loss

March 16, 2010

Bruins C Patrice Bergeron has been one of the top centers in fantasy since his teammate Marc Savard (concussion) got hurt March 7.

The Bruins are 1-2-1 in the four games since C Marc Savard (concussion) went down March 7.

Obviously, the Spoked B’s aren’t as potent without their top playmaker.

Still, we couldn’t help but notice that three Bruins forwards have found fantasy relevance in Savard’s absence.

C Patrice Bergeron (27.2 percent owned in ESPN, 26 percent in Yahoo!). In his last four games: three goals, three assists, +5. He ranks No. 29 in ESPN and No. 25 in Yahoo! among all players in the last seven days. Interestingly, Bergeron’s minutes have not increased in the four games sans Savard. But his scoring has. Still, you should be wary of one thing: Bergeron’s hot streak does not include a single power play point.

RW Blake Wheeler (84 percent owned in ESPN, 34 percent in Yahoo!). In his last four games: three goals, two assists, +4, good for a No. 44 rank in ESPN and No. 41 in Yahoo! over the last seven days. Whereas Bergeron’s minutes have not changed in Savard’s absence, Wheeler’s have spiked: He has logged more than 19:00 in each of his last two games. Up till now, he’s been lucky to crack 17:00 in a given contest. However, Wheeler does share one trait with Bergeron: no productivity on the power play in Savard’s absence.

LW Marco Sturm (82.9 percent owned in ESPN, 15 percent in Yahoo!). In his last four games: two goals, two assists, +4, and yes, a power play goal. He ranks No. 12 in Yahoo! and No. 19 in ESPN over the last seven days. However, like Bergeron, he has not seen an increase in ice time in Savard’s absence.

Like most teams, the Bruins face a packed upcoming schedule, a cramming designed to offset the regular season’s two-week Olympic hiatus. Specifically, the Bruins visit Carolina Tuesday night, host the Penguins Thursday night, and then host the Rangers Sunday afternoon.

So, which of these three Bruins — a center, a left wing, and a right wing — should you pick up for the stretch run? None, if your biggest need is power play points. But if your biggest need is simply points in general — i.e. goals and assists — then let positional scarcity be your guide.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


So fresh, so Steen

March 8, 2010

Blues C Alex Steen could help your squad this week if you need an injury replacement for Bruins C Marc Savard (above).

How long will the Bruins be without the stellar services of C Marc Savard (concussion)? Carried off the ice on a stretcher in Sunday’s 2-1 loss at Pittsburgh, Savard was moving his limbs — that’s the good news.

The bad news: Even if he is bodily ready, a head injury is something the Bruins will not take chances with. (It is safe to say the organization recalls how long it took C Patrice Bergeron to return to playing condition.)

Scan your league’s free agent pool for Savard replacements, and there’s one pivot who stands out: Blues C Alex Steen, owned in only2.8 percent of ESPN leagues and 8 percent of Yahoo! formats. How shall we make the case for Steen? Four ways:

1. On fire. In the three games the Blues have played since the Olympic fortnight, Steen has three goals and three assists. In the last seven days, he ranks No. 8 in ESPN and No. 9 in Yahoo! leagues.

2. This is when the Blues get hot. Last season at this time, Blues G Chris Mason went on a hot streak of fantasy-title winning proportions. From March 10 to April 12 of last year, Mason (and the Blues) went 12-3-2.  Those who rode the Blues in March and April were fantasy money down the stretch.

3. The Blues have an easy upcoming schedule. They do not play again until Thursday, March 11, but on that night they visit the Islanders. The next two stops — at Columbus March 13 and at Minnesota March 14 — hardly strike fear in the hearts of owners.

4. Steen has pedigree on his side. The 24th overall pick in 2002, Steen just turned 26 and tied his career high in goals (18), which he set as a rookie with Toronto in 2005-06.

Now, no one is saying Steen is going to morph into a draft-worthy fantasy center in the season’s final few weeks. But he has the talent — and supporting cast — to give your team a lift for the next few weeks. And if you own Savard, your team might need one.

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

Monday night recap (Bergeron, Kuba, White)

November 24, 2009

Bruins C Patrice Bergeron (four assists Monday night) clearly relishes the return of teammate Marc Savard.

Here’s a recap of the three biggest fantasy developments from Monday night’s action:

1. Bruins C Patrice Bergeron tallied four assists (two on the PP, one shorthanded) in the Bruins 4-2 win at St. Louis.  He also led the Bruins with four shots on goal. A big factor behind these stats: the return of Bruins C Marc Savard (16:30 of ice time). Coupled with the recent comeback of LW Milan Lucic — who scored Monday night and now has a goal in two straight games — the Bruins are gradually regaining depth and resembling the team that dominated the 2008-09 regular season. No longer shouldering the scoring load by himself, Bergeron (22.5 percent owned in ESPN, 24 percent owned in Yahoo!) is a must-add if you need help in the assists category.

2. Senators D Filip Kuba notched three assists in the Senators 4-3 OT home win vs. the Capitals. He also led the Senators in ice time, which isn’t directly useful in fantasy but is always helpful to know when evaluating blueliners. It was Kuba’s second consecutive game with three assists. (He also scored a goal Saturday night vs. Buffalo.) And the Senators have now won four games in a row.  Though Kuba was a fantasy force last year — 37 assists, 26 PPPs — he is only 25.4 percent owned in ESPN leagues and 18 percent owned in Yahoo! formats. It’s time to grab him. By Wednesday night you may no longer be able to do so.

3. While the Maple Leafs lost 4-3 in OT at home to the Islanders, D Ian White registered one assist, five shots on goal and 26:02 of ice time. In terms of defensive pickups, I would rank him behind Kuba, but make no mistake: White is playing like a No. 4 fantasy D-man: He has three goals and six assists in his last 11 games. He also ranks in the top 10 among all defensemen with 54 shots on goal. And he is available in 84.5 percent of ESPN games and 73 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Three to watch for Thursday (Greene, Bertuzzi, Bergeron)

November 12, 2009


What's not to love about the statistical upside of Red Wings LW/RW Todd Bertuzzi?

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: D Andy Greene, Devils.

Ownership: 1 percent Yahoo!, 1.1 percent ESPN.

Tonight: The Devils visit the ice cold Penguins at 7:30 pm EST.

Optimism: With D Paul Martin (broken left arm) and D Johnny Oduya (lower-body injury) on the shelf, Greene has led the Pitchforks blueliners in minutes in the last three games — and he is skating on power plays too. He has one goal and four assists in his last four, including three PPPs (one goal, two assists).

Skepticism: A breakout year at age 27? In his three previous campaigns, Greene has never played more than 59 games or tallied more than 10 points.


Player: LW/RW Todd Bertuzzi, Red Wings.

Ownership: 13 percent Yahoo!, 7.0 percent ESPN.

Tonight: The Wings host the Canucks at 7:30 pm EST.

Optimism: We all remember the Bertuzzi of 2002-03: 46 goals, 51 assists, 144 penalty minutes, 42 PPPs (25 goals, 17 assists) and, as if all that weren’t enough, 243 shots on goal. In last night’s 9-1 romp over the Blow Jackets, Bertuzzi tallied one goal and one assist (PP) and led the Wings with six shots on goal. It was the third straight game in which he’s taken at least five shots. With 50 shots on the season, Bertuzzi, 34, is on pace for a career high 250 shots. At bottom, he can help fantasy owners in that category. His track record suggests he can help in a few others. As a bonus, in Yahoo! formats he is eligible at RW and LW. (He’s only an LW in ESPN.)

Skepticism: Can he stay healthy? The last time he lasted more than 70 games was 2005-06, when he had 71 points (25 goals, 46 assists), 32 PPPs (12 goals, 20 assists), 200 shots and 120 PIMs.


Player: C Patrice Bergeron, Bruins.

Ownership: 24 percent Yahoo!, 19.9 percent ESPN.

Tonight: The Bruins host the Panthers at 7:00 pm EST.

Optimism: With 12 points (six goals, six assists) and 45 shots in 17 games, Bergeron is showing shades of the breakout star he appeared to be in 2005-06, when he launched 310 shots on goal and totaled 73 points (31 goals, 42 assists) in 81 games. He is the team’s leading scorer and play-maker with C Marc Savard (foot) still mending and C David Krejci (swine flu) having just returned to action Tuesday.

Skepticism: He has only one point on the power play. If Savard and Krejci return to form, he may not get a big special-teams opportunity in the second half of the season.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Top 13 Injury Roundup (Luongo, Kovalchuk, Gaborik, Sedin, Savard, Toews, Hossa, Elias, Setoguchi, Pavelski, Booth, Williams, Souray)

October 29, 2009

Canucks G Roberto Luongo is only expected to miss one week.

1. Canucks G Roberto Luongo (ribs) is expected to only miss one week.

2. Thrashers LW Ilya Kovalchuk (broken bone right foot) is out four weeks.

3. Rangers RW Marian Gaborik (right knee) missed last night’s game at the Islanders, a 3-1 loss for the Manhattoes. He has not been ruled out of tomorrow night’s game at Minnesota. If he misses that game, don’t sweat it. Start to sweat if he misses Sunday afternoon’s game when the Bruins hit the Big Apple.

4. No need to think about Canucks LW Daniel Sedin (foot) until November 6 or thereabouts.

5. No need to think about Bruins C Marc Savard (broken left foot) until November 14 or thereabouts.

6. Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews (concussion) did not practice yesterday and is not expected to play tonight at Nashville. He may also miss Friday night’s game vs. Montreal. You need not worry unless he misses the Nov. 5 game at Phoenix.

7. Blackhawks RW Marian Hossa (right shoulder) is practicing. Based on all we have read, the Genius projects the Nov. 15 game vs. the Sharks as his return date.

8. Devils C/LW Patrick Elias (groin) has not yet practiced with the team. He may start doing so next week. Until then, keep him in your IR slot.

9. Sharks RW Devin Setoguchi (leg) has missed the last two games. The Sharks host the Avalanche tomorrow night, and he may be back — check the San Jose Mercury News to see if he returns to practice.

10. Sharks C Joe Pavelski (left foot) has returned to practice. He could return to real games any day now.

11. No need to think about Panthers LW David Booth (concussion) until November 10 or thereabouts.

12. Kings RW Justin Williams (lower body) has missed four straight games. He could return tonight vs. Vancouver. He has practiced this week.

13. Oilers D Sheldon Souray (concussion) still is not skating. No need to think about him until Nov. 5 or thereabouts.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Bruins sans Savard, Penguins sans Gonchar, anybody seen Hartnell?

October 24, 2009
Bruins C Dennis Wideman is back, and teammate Derek Morris has reaped the fantasy benefits.

Bruins D Dennis Wideman is back, and teammate Derek Morris has reaped the fantasy benefits.

Quick: Which Bruin has scored the most in C Marc Savard’s (foot) absence? LW Steve Begin, who tallied the game-winner Wednesday in Boston’s 3-2 win vs. Nashville and scored the game-tying goal in Thursday’s 4-3 shootout loss at Philadelphia. Perhaps this isn’t too surprising. Begin seldom skated with Savard anyway; he doesn’t have to adjust to the loss of a gifted pivot.

The other Bruin scoring in Savard’s absence is D Derek Morris, who notched an assist Wednesday and one goal and one helper Thursday. But the Morris streak probably has more to do with the return of D Dennis Wideman (shoulder). Though Wideman did not score in these last two games, he was +1 in each contest and he consumed around 20:00 minutes of ice time. Don’t be surprised if Wideman finally cracks the scoring log when the Bruins visit Ottawa tonight at 7 pm EST.

Last night was the Penguins first game without D Sergei Gonchar (wrist), who like Savard is out four-to-six weeks. The box score didn’t look too different (two goals for Crosby, two assists for Malkin, one helper for Goligoski), except Goligoski played a whopping 26:22 — well above his 21:39 average. Interestingly, it was Crosby who also got a bump in minutes, logging 25:50 (he averages 21:08). We shall see if these playing-time patterns continue tonight with the Penguins hosting the Devils at 7:30 pm EST. Though the Penguins prevailed 3-2 last night against the Panthers, they did fall behind 2-0 in the first and did not score until Crosby’s power play goal in the third.

Some links and quickies before we go:

  • Has anyone seen Flyers LW Scott Hartnell? In his last three games he has not scored, he has no penalty minutes, only four shots on goal, and a -2. The former first-round pick, lest we forget, was a stallion last season, scoring 30 goals and amassing 210 shots on goal and 143 PIMs. In other words: This is a guy you want to trade for.
  • Very quietly, Yahoo! granted Blackhawks C/RW Patrick Sharp the RW eligibility he so richly deserves. What’s funny is that in ESPN formats, Sharp is only eligible at LW.
  • Speaking of Yahoo!, there are some great nuggets in Scott Pianowski’s Red-Light District column from yesterday. My favorite tidbit: His advice to take a shot with Devils RW Nicklas Bergfors (former first-round pick, 20 shots on goal in his last five games including an eight-shot effort Oct. 17).
  • Another Saturday, another great day to consume Sean Allen’s Forecaster. The following teams are playing only twice next week: Kings, Flyers, Flames, Thrashers, and Lightning.
  • The tough questions: Given they are only playing twice, do you bench your mighty Flyers (Carter, Richards, Pronger, Carle), your white-hot Lightning (Malone, Stamkos, St. Louis), your five Kings (Brown, Doughty, Smyth, Kopitar, Williams), your lone Thrasher (Kovalchuk), your solitary Flame (Iginla)?
  • My tough answers: In head-to-head leagues where you are forced to set your lineup Monday, bench all of the above except Kovalchuk, Kopitar, Smyth, Stamkos, Carter, and…amazingly…Malone. The only forwards worth playing in two-game weeks are the ones with hat-trick potential. Otherwise, you are better off rolling with someone like Islanders LW Matt Moulson, who plays four times next week. Moulson is nowhere near (say) Iginla as a player, but he is likely to outproduce him next week since he’s playing four times and Iginla is playing twice.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons