Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gonna Fly Now

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.

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