Since I've been back from my holiday vacation I've tried to update Blog On The Ice a few times, and I'm sorry to say I don't have the determination to keep it going this season. I made a few mistakes in the way I launched the blog, the biggest being I should have waited until in between seasons and launch with draft analysis. I think this would have been the prime time to get fantasy GMs' attentions and bring in some readers. This would also give me an opportunity to promote the blog while I don't feel the pressure to update it daily (which is a lot of work when you're doing both at the same time). And the fact that I haven't found a single hockey blog to share links with me out of the almost 30 I've contacted is especially disheartening. So to my handful of readers, I apologize. I can't say for sure if I'll start the blog back up after the 08-09 season. I'm going to keep it here just in case. Good luck with the rest of your seasons!
Hope everyone had a good time last night. I've been more busy than I expected since coming home for the holidays and am about to head to Alexandria, Virginia for MAGFest. I won't be home again until Jan 3rd, so hopefully I'll get back into a daily posting routine then. In the meantime good luck to all your fantasy hockey teams in 2009 as we approach the midway point of the season.
Hopefully everyone is enjoying a happy and healthy holiday with friends and loved ones. The NHL takes off for a few days but there have been some games since my last update, so let's take a look at them before leaving out the milk and cookies for Santa.
Antero Niittymaki - Didn't exactly have his best game of the season VS the Sens but did get the win. I'd except Biron to start seeing at least half of the starts soon, and in the long run back to the 60/40 or so split that they had last season. As I've said before though, I like Niitty in deep leagues and would still have no problem owning him while he's backing up Biron.
Tim Thomas - Although rotowire.com inexplicably announced Manny Fernandez as the Bruins' starting goaltender in some newsbit recently, Thomas showed again last night why he's still one of the best goalies in the NHL. While I like Fernandez a lot this season too and could see the two of them sharing a lot of the playing time, but Thomas is never going to be the clear "back up" so it's really nothing to worry about.
Tomas Vokoun - Back to back shutouts, neither against offensive juggernauts in the Predators and Avs, but still, holy crap. What are they feeding the goalies in Florida? He's available in 30% of Yahoo leagues, probably because of the Anderson fiasco. If you're lucky enough to be in a league where he's available, obviously pick him up.
Blake Wheeler - Didn't do much in the last Bruins game, but the game before netted 2 goals, one shorthanded. He isn't getting much powerplay time but his staggering plus NINETEEN makes it easy to look past that. Well worth owning in most leagues.
Rod Brind'Amour - On the other end of the plus/minus spectrum we have Brindy's improbable -23 so far this season. Rod is one of the best two way forwards of his generation so I have to think a lot of this is bad luck and it has to turn around for him eventually. He is coming off a 6 game point scoring streak and a good game last night with a goal and an assist. He's beeen dropped in a lot of leagues, not surprisingly, and will probably end up producing at a nice pace for the rest of the season.
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Another name for the "Owned In Way Too Few Leagues" club, Ponikarovsky has been quietly and consistently on pace for a career season.
Bryan Little - Had his first really good game in a while last night, posting 2 G, 1 PPP, and 4 SOG. He's cooled off significantly in the past month or so, but he has the talent to heat up again soon. Keep an eye on him.
Jon Quick - Enjoyed his first career shutout over the Blue Jackets. Quick has played slightly better in the AHL this season than Kings top prospect Jonathan Bernier, so it's not that surprising he got the call up while Ersberg is injured. I'd be surprised if he stayed up after Ersberg returns, but for the time being he might be good for some spot starts.
Patrik Berglund - Surprisingly only owned in 15% of Yahoo leagues, with Brassard's injury Berglund is now my top pick for the Calder trophy along with Drew Doughty. He has been scoring consistently for two straight months, and while the Blues have struggled he's still a +10.
Marion Gaborik - Will miss the next two games after the break. Is it to rest his groin? Will he be traded? Will you ever draft him again?
Mark Giordano - I've had my eye on this young defenseman all season. He came up and played very well for the Flames last year and hasn't been too bad this time around either. He was 1st star of the game in a nice win over the Ducks last night in a close 4-3 game. His stats for the season aren't very impressive, but his stats last night would have looked good for you, with 1 G, 1 A, +2, 1 PPP, 2 SOG. In very deep leagues, he's worth a look if you're weak at defense.
Mats Sundin - Can't get to Vancouver fast enough for Canucks fans this holiday. A healthy Roberto Luongo is also at the tops of their wish lists considering prospect Cory Schneider hasn't looked all that impressive in his time in the NHL. But hey, if you're going to get blown out by someone in the NHL, it's not too embarassing for it to be the Sharks. At least they didn't let up something like 8 goals to the Dallas Stars. Happy holidays Toronto fans!
Just a heads up, I'm home for the holidays and am going to be pretty busy from now until about Jan 4th. As such updates are going to be less frequent, probably more like every other day. Hope everyone has a good holiday and Santa brings you fantasy hockey greatness.
The Philadelphia Flyers, much like the Calgary Flames, are a team I see building momentum all season. Neither team had a great start but both now find themselves in the top 4 in their conference. The Flyers have been particularly hot as of late, with a 7-2-1 record in their last 10 games (not counting the game going on right now against the Devils). They are a team with a ton of scoring depth, and as such I can see some people wondering just how valuable anyone on their team not named Richards, Carter or Gagne is. Joffrey Lupul? Scott Hartnell? Mike Knuble? How important can these guys REALLY be to your team? Hell, they're playing this well without Danny Briere, should I even bother holding onto him through his injury? What does that mean for those other guys when he comes back? The answer to all these questions is YES. Doesn't make any sense? Too bad. The Flyers are a high scoring team and everyone will get their chances. Coach John Stevens mixes and matches his lines, and rolls them often enough that everyone sees as much time as they need sooner or later. Last season they had 6 players with 20+ goals, this season they already have 6 in double digits not even halfway through. And I think if Briere comes back healthy they'll have 7 players break 20 goals this time around. Don't worry about how they'll all get enough ice time, just pick them up and play them. You'll be happy you did.
Scott Hartnell - Remember what I said earlier in the week about when he gets hot? I'd say scoring a hat trick in 12 minutes is pretty hot. Hartnell will probably hit a dry spell again soon but as long as he's clicking on Jeff Carter's line like this, grab a hold of his lion's mane and ride him as far as you can.
Joffrey Lupul - Lupul is maybe the most maddening of the top Flyers' fowards, because he has the talent to break 30 goals easily, but tends to vanish for two or three game stretches. Still, his offensive bursts like last night make patience a virtue with Joffrey. I recommend owning him in all leagues.
Antero Niittymaaki - He's been filling in for Martin Biron as he recovers from a nasty flu, and has played very well despite giving up 5 goals to the Canadiens earlier in the week. Niitty probably won't be the starting goalie for any long stretches in Philly this season, but he is as talented a back up as there is in the NHL, and like I've said before I like him as a 3rd or 4th goalie in deep leagues. In other leagues you'll probably want to wait and see how Biron does in his first start back before considering Niitty.
Manny Fernandez - Shockingly still available in 50% of Yahoo leagues, Fernandez continues to play extremely well. While the best case scenario for him in Boston is the current situation, platooning with Thomas, splitting time in net for the Bruins isn't a bad gig by any means.
Sergei Kostitsyn - 2 goals last night, a goal the game before, and 9 SOG combined between the two. Has been very, very quiet this season. Deafly quiet. There have been mice at the Bell Centre making more noise this season than Sergei. But if he gets hot, keep your eye on him.
Pavel Kubina - In between practices with his 80s glam rock band he's starting with Mike Smith and Dazzler, Kubina has put together two straight 2 point games. Not available in a ton of leagues but he's out there in some, and if you need help at D he's a very good option.
Todd White - Had a goal in a rare home win for the Thrashers. He continues to produce at a boringly oconsistent enough pace to be relevant.
Loui Eriksson - 18 goals on the season and only 32% owned. I didn't expect this kind of production out of Eriksson but even I think that's just silly. Also take into consideration he's playing on a line with Brad Richards who's heating up a bit lately.
Pekka Rinne - While shutting out the Islanders is no great accomplisment, Rinne being owned in only 15% of leagues is even more of a joke than Eriksson. Considering the amount of goalies splitting time in the NHL this season, even if Ellis is getting more starts, Rinne is very worthwhile in most fantasy leagues.
Manny Legace - A solid win over the Wild in his first game back. If I toot Manny's horn any harder I'm going to have to start a Manny Legace tribute band. Don't let his unfortunate season so far fool you, Legace can tend goal, and tend it well.
Ilya Bryzgalov - Rewarding patient GMs who stood by his struggles with excellent play as of late. Goalie is a fickle position, where good players will look very bad for stretches. But the good ones bounce back, and Bryz is one of the good ones. I wouldn't worry about him (past my general worries about the Coyotes) for the rest of the season.
My apologies for not getting anything up yesterday, but to make up for it here's a video of Sydney Crosby punching a guy in the taint.
Patrice Bergeron - This happened in the game today, but I thought I should mention it right off the bat. Patrice left the game after a blow to the head. He's been playing more of a defensive role this season and has had some sort of nagging hand or arm injury. Basically he wasn't producing much and now the concussion worries are back. I'd drop him in all but keeper leagues. Matt D'Agostini - Looks like this kid is the real deal, with 5 goals in 9 games. He's not seeing a ton of ice time and hasn't registered a powerplay point yet (although I think he's seen some time on the 2nd unit), but on the plus side he is averaging better than 3 SOG/game. I've been hesitant to talk him up but I think it's safe to say he's worth a move.
Ryan Whitney - Very close to returning from injury. If you're in a league where someone doesn't have him stashed on the IR, make your move now. This will also take away from Goligoski's value for all of you that own the dopey looking wunderkind.
Ruslan Fedetenko - Points in five straight games. They have to find some wingers to play next to the centers in Pittsburgh, and as I've said before, Rusty actually has a little talent and could click on a line in a big way.
Simeon Varlamov - Was sent back down to the AHL after another impressive win. Today Brent Johnson gives up 3 goals and Jose Theodore 4. You do the math. Sooner or later Varlamov will be the starting goalie in Washington, and with a team with a young nucleus like the Caps, Varlamov is a goalie I'd want to own in any keeper league.
Manny Legace - And for the GM looking for goalie help in the immediate future, we have Emanuel Legace. He's available on FA in over 50% of Yahoo leagues now and is just about to come off the IR. Legace's had injury problems this season and the Blues have had their struggles, but make no mistake he's still a good goalie that can help you in any league.
David Krejci - Notched his first career hat trick Thursday night. Officially on the "Should Not Be Available In Any Leagues" list.
Tuomo Ruutu - I kind of hate the dude, but holy shit look at his profile picture on Yahoo.
Paul Stastny - Apparently read my post on Monday about how he's due to score more goals, and has one in three straight games since. It's cool being right on a prediction like that, but it also kind of sucks because there's no chance you're buying low on him now.
Johan Franzen - On the other hand, Johan Franzen scored his 14th goal of the season and thinks I'm a bold faced liar. Strong words, Johan.
Derick Brassard - In 4 minutes of ice time he scored his 10th goal of the season, was in his first NHL fight VS Jame Neal, and went down with a shoulder injury that will sideline him for a month. Busy guy. We appreciate that you'll drop the gloves Derick, but if it leaves you looking like this, stick to going after the Calder Trophy when you get back.
RJ Umberger - 1 G, 2 A, +2, 2 SOG in the same game. I know I just wrote Umby off a little while ago, but he has goals in back to back games. If Brassard goes on the IR and you're looking for someone to replace him, I'd be happy with Reginald Julius Umberger.
Pascal Leclaire - Finally gets a chance to start a game and make a case for himself in the goalie battle with Steve Mason. Proceeds to let in 5 goals on 17 shots against the Dallas Stars. Team battles to take the game to a shootout, which Leclaire loses. Ouch.
Kyle Turris - Had his first mutligoal game of his career Thursday night. Turris has been a very small blip on my radar all season, but there hasn't been much to talk about. Maybe things will start to pick up for the kid.
Drew Stafford - 1 G, 1 A, +2, 1 PPP in a dominating win against the Kings. Stafford is another guy I'm looking at if/when Brassard goes on the IR.
Joey MacDonald - Looks like he's a few weeks away from outliving his fantasy hockey usefulness. If you have Joey Mac it's time to start looking at other options for your goaltending. On the plus side it doesn't sound like Roberto Luongo will be back anytime soon, so look to Sanford and Schneider for your fill in needs.
Rene Bourque - 1 G, 1 A, +1, 5 SOG, 2 PIM in a tough loss to the Blackhawks. I've been talking up Bourque for deep leagues all season, but it's just about time to upgrade that to all leagues.
Very nice move by the Vancouver Canucks to retire Trevor Linden's number last night. Although he hasn't been retired that long, there's no doubt that Linden will go down as one of, if not THE greatest Canuck of all time. He was a favorite player of mine growing up, and as such I thought I'd put up this video they played at the ceremony. Typical schmaltzy tribute song aside, it's a nice send off.
Steve Mason - Absolutely steals a game from the Sharks, stopping 47 of 48 shots, and still isn't even owned in 60% of Yahoo leagues. I just don't get it. Unless 40% of GMs are inactive. Which, knowing Yahoo fantasy sports, isn't too hard to believe.
Travis Zajac - 1 G, +1, 3 SOG last night. Zajac isn't going to set your world on fire but he continues to consistently produce. He sees almost no powerplay time but at only 11% owned he's probably available in some leagues deep enough where he could be useful.
Drew Stafford - The former 1st round pick has points in 4 straight games. He's been playing next to Derek Roy for a while who's no slouch. If he stays hot he's a RW worth a look.
Andrew Brunette - Netted his 10th goal of the season last night and now that Gaborik's back they have Brunette on a line with him centered by Mikko Koivu. I like the odds for his production to increase dramatically in the near future.
Patrick O'Sullivan - Points in six straight games now, with 8 SOG to go along with his 8th goal of the season last night. With the way Patty O's played of late I would not leave him available in any leagues. He's shooting too much, putting up too many points, and has been a nice boost at plus/minus to boot.