Two Canadiens to watch Tuesday night (Pouliot, Kostitsyn)

February 28, 2010

Canadiens LW Andrei Kostitsyn (knee) is slated to return to the lineup for Tuesday night's tilt at Boston. Get him in your fantasy lineup, too.

A tip of the fantasy cap to ESPN.com’s Sean Allen, whose latest Forecaster column contains a note about two Montreal Canadiens who’ve been favorites of the Genius all season: LW Andre Kostitsyn (knee) and RW Benoit Pouliot (shoulder).

Both players are scheduled to return to the lineup for Tuesday night’s 7:00 pm game at the Boston Bruins.

Both players were on fire before injuries derailed their prolific campaigns. True, their scoring touch might not return in their first few games back, as Allen points out. But as faithful readers of the Genius know, we never hesitate to dump our No. 4 defenseman for a speculative add at forward.

In case you’ve forgotten your NHL box scores during the Olympic fortnight, let us remind you:

Pouliot (3.3 percent owned in ESPN, 13 percent in Yahoo!) had tallied five goals and two assists in the eight games prior to his Feb. 5 injury.

Kostitsyn (64.3 percent owned in ESPN, 15 percent in Yahoo!) had logged eight goals and three assists in the 11 games prior to his Jan. 3 injury.

Forced to pick one of the two returning Habs, I’d go with AK-46 (above), who has the pedigree (10th overall pick in 2003) and simply looks like the more lethal scorer to the naked eye.

The only thing in Pouliot’s favor is his positional scarcity as a RW. Still, both Habs are worth keeping tabs on. And both are likely available in your league, especially if your fellow owners have gone to sleep during the Olympics.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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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


About last night (Peverley, Mitchell, Penner) and next week (time to bench Datsyuk, Lidstrom, Lecavalier)

October 17, 2009
Canucks D Willie Mitchell is a +/- diva deserving of fantasy attention.

Canucks D Willie Mitchell is a +/- diva deserving of fantasy attention.

Thrashers C Rich Peverley logged two power play goals as Atlanta won 4-2 in New Jersey. It was the second time this season he scored two goals in one game.

Peverley was not ultra-productive last year (15 goals and 29 helpers in 66 contests) though he did register a +13. Also, he plays center, making him a questionable add in rotisserie formats given his paucity of penalty minutes and unremarkable career PP stats. However, if he keeps up the PP work this season, he is someone to consider in weekly leagues when Atlanta plays four times. He is only eight percent owned in Yahoo! and 11.6 percent owned in ESPN.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent: This box score explains why we love Canucks D Willie Mitchell: In a game Vancouver lost 5-3 in Calgary, he was the only Nuck to log a +1. All his teammates ended up in the negative.

This is no small feat when you consider Mitchell played 21:00 minutes, trailing only fellow blueliner Alexander Edler (25:05, -1) for ice time.

Mitchell was a +29 last season. While the +/- stat has its detractors, Mitchell is proof that it is useful. He is 15.1 percent owned in ESPN and 15 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues. That means he’s yours for the taking if you need +/- help without sacrificing the scoring or PIMs that your forwards bring.

Also: The mighty Nucks are one of six teams playing four games next week (thank you, Sean Allen). Those of you in head-to-head leagues forced to fix your lineup Monday should consider Canucks. The other five teams playing four times are the Sharks, Kings, Oilers, Stars and Blue Jackets.

Aside from Mitchell, the man to add in weekly leagues is Oilers LW Dustin Penner, who scored twice in the Oilers 5-2 home win vs. the Wild last night. He now has nine points in seven games. Penner is 23 percent owned in Yahoo! and only 4.6 percent owned in ESPN.

On the flip side, the Maple Leafs play only once next week. The Capitals, Lightning, Coyotes, Senators, Devils, Red Wings, Blackhawks, Sabres, Flames and Ducks play only twice. From these teams, the only guys I would play are your key Caps (Ovechkin-Backstrom-Semin and Green), your white Lightning (Stamkos, St. Louis), your bona fide Stars (Richards, Neal), your hot Hawks (Sharp, Kane) and your old reliables (Iginla, Phaneuf, Zetterberg).

In other words: Pavel Datsyuk (upper body), Nicklas Lidstrom (only three effing points so far) and Vincent Lecavalier (-5) do not make the cut.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons


A case for benching Jeff Carter?

October 12, 2009
Avalanche D Kyle Quincey might be the top scoring blueliner in fantasy -- for this week, at least.

Avalanche D Kyle Quincey (pictured here in his Kings gear) might be the top scoring blueliner in fantasy -- for this week, at least.

First things first: If you’re in a weekly league and you own any Blackhawks, Kings, Predators or Avalanche, get them in your lineup.

Those four teams play four times this week. The Flyers, by contrast, play once. So chances are even a borderline fantasy player like Kings RW Justin Williams will have a better scoring week than a stud like Flyers C Jeff Carter. Williams plays four times, Carter plays once.

Of course, you can disregard this if you play in a standard rotisserie format. But if you’re in a weekly league where your only chance to set your lineup comes Monday — jump aboard the Kings, Blackhawks, Predators and Avalanche. And all season long, you should refer to the Forecaster column by ESPN.com’s Sean Allen. Each week, he breaks down which teams play the most and least. He also looks at strength of schedule.

Our recommended pickup among the four teams playing four times is Avalanche D Kyle Quincey, who has scored in every game this season. He boasts a 1-4-5 line after four games (including three power play points), not to mention a +2 and eight shots on goal.

In a majority of leagues, Quincey is yours for the taking. He is owned in only 31.2 percent of ESPN leagues and 41 percent of Yahoo! formats. Whether or not he is a fluke doesn’t really matter in weekly leagues — you just want him because he is hot and he is playing four times, starting with today’s 1 pm tilt at Boston. (By the way, Bruins D Dennis Wideman is doubtful to play.)

Besides, whether or not Quincey is a fluke is an open question. Rotowire has its doubts: “He could make for interesting early trade fodder because he quite simply won’t be able to keep this pace up (and the team he plays on isn’t exactly the freshest bunch of guys). Someone may bite and you could end up with a sweet — and more stable — return.”

I’m much more optimistic about Quincey’s long-term value as a No. 4 defenseman. He is only 24 years old and he is coming off a solid 4-34-38 season on a sub-.500 Kings squad. Those 38 points included 27 on the power play (two PPG, 25 PPA). For good measure, Quincey added 150 shots on goal and 63 penalty minutes. Those are rosterable numbers, my friends.

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons