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

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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


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

Todd_Bertuzzi_2005

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.

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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.

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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


Three to watch for Thursday (Bergeron, Demers, Moulson)

October 22, 2009

Not long ago (2005-06), Bruins C Patrice Bergeron tallied 304 shots on goal.

Not long ago (2005-06), Bruins C Patrice Bergeron scored 31 goals and fired 310 shots on goal.

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: C Patrice Bergeron, Bruins

Ownership: 20 percent Yahoo!, 9.4 percent ESPN.

Tonight: The Bruins play in Philadelphia at 7:00 pm EST, the second of back-to-back games for them.

Optimism: Bergeron, 24, has two goals and two assists in his last four games. In last night’s 3-2 victory vs. Nashville, Bergeron scored the game-tying goal and logged 18:35 of ice time — his second highest total of the season. He is in line for more ice time — and power play chances — with C Marc Savard (foot) on the shelf for four-to-six weeks. It is easy to forget that in 2005-06, Bergeron amassed 73 points in 81 games (31 goals, 42 assists), including 29 power play points (12 goals, 17 assists). He also fired 310 shots on goal.

Skepticism: Bergeron has not been a fantasy factor in his last three seasons. Blame injuries, blame dirty hits, the bottom line is he hasn’t racked up numbers worthy of a fantasy roster spot. His teammate, C David Krejci, is a better player and a more viable candidate to inherit Savard’s ice time and numbers.

Player: D Jason Demers, Sharks

Ownership: 12 percent Yahoo!, 5.6 percent ESPN.

Tonight: The Sharks have flown across the country to battle the Lightning in Tampa at 7:30 pm EST.

Optimism: The object of ESPN.com’s Victoria Matiash’s fantasy affection, Demers has posted two assists in each of has least two games, three of which came on the power play as the Sharks devoured the New York metro area. (A 4-1 win at the Islanders last Saturday, followed by a 7-3 demolition of the Rangers on Monday.) All told, Demers has seven assists in seven games — tying him with Flyers D Matt Carle for the lead among blueliners.

Skepticism: Demers averages fewer than 18:00 per game in ice time. He has only launched six shots on goal this season. That’s right: just six. Finally, let’s not forget: He is a 21-year-old rookie. There’s no fantasy track record here. As hot as Demers is, you cannot rule out a severe slump in the second half. Whether he is even NHL-ready is still an open question.

Player: LW Matt Moulson, Islanders

Ownership: 33 percent Yahoo!, 35.1 percent ESPN.

Tonight: The Islanders visit Montreal for a 7:00 pm showdown.

Optimism: With goals in four straight, including one in last night’s 4-3 shootout win vs. Carolina, Moulson is flying out of free agent pools. He now has eight points in seven games (five goals, three assists), not to mention six PIMs and 29 shots. Did we mention he skates with C John Tavares?

Skepticism: The Islanders are 1-3-3. So Moulson’s impressive +2 may not last. Also, the kid turns 26 on November 1 — certainly not too old to burst onto the NHL scene, but perhaps old enough for us to pose the question of whether he has the germ of point-per-game greatness in him. A ninth-round pick back in 2003, Moulson has never played a full NHL season.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


A word on Savard

October 21, 2009

Bruins C Marc Savard (foot) is out 4-6 weeks, but fantasy owners should wait a few games before dropping his teammates.

Bruins C Marc Savard (foot) is out four-to-six weeks, but fantasy owners should wait a few games before dropping his teammates.

Matt Kalman of ESPNBoston and The Bruins Blog reports that Bruins C Marc Savard has been placed on Long Term Injured reserve with a broken left foot.

According to the Bruins, Savard is expected to miss four-to-six weeks.

Do not even think about dropping him; he is the rare fantasy center worth holding onto for a prolonged absence.

The players you should downgrade are RW Michael Ryder and LW Marco Sturm, who are the biggest beneficiaries of Savard’s passing magic.

But do not drop Ryder or Sturm just yet. Wait to see how the Bruins play tonight at 7pm, hosting the Predators, who will be without C Jason Arnott (arm). If the Bruins are deep at any position, it is center. And it is possible Ryder and Sturm will produce if they find themselves flanking C David Krejci or C Patrice Bergeron in the weeks to come.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons