Around the Rink
The league I've been in the longest is a 12-team, head-to-head, 11-category contest we call the Loafer's League. It's a joker's league, family and friends, low stakes. Nonetheless, there isn't any league I want to win more.
Yesterday, that desire to win the league caused me to drop eight players.
It was the last day of the first round and I was down. My only hope was to drop eight players to fill out my roster and play the maximum allowed for a single day. My moves included dropping Henrik Sedin (and the off chance he plays again this season) for Curtis Glencross, dropping Bernier for Dougie Hamilton, Erik Johnson for Jared Cowen (you laugh, but he had a goal and was a plus-2 yesterday)...
It didn't work.
I started the day down 8-3-0 and that's exactly where I finished.
I'll be playing for third place for the next two weeks, probably down a handful of my finer players once the rest of the league eats them up off waivers. That's all right though. I went all-in on trying to win and paid the price. That price probably means that I'm going to take fourth place this year.
To the point. We spend a lot of the year talking about Tyler Seguin's point streak, how well Ben Bishop is playing, the Sedins' slump, Stamkos' injury, Ovechkin on the power play... and what it can come down to is a couple key pickups off waivers. That's what my season came down to. That and timing. I should have gone all-in a little earlier instead of hoping that Martin St. Louis would pull out of his funk.
Players like Crosby, Perry, and Quick get all the ink, but, in fantasy, Zack Kassian can be just as important.
Ok. Maybe that's a little ridiculous. Though, Kassian's 124 penalty minutes is ninth in the league and he has two goals, five assists, and a plus-6 rating through the last four games. My team could have used that over the last week.
More to the point, sans hyperbole, winning a league can often be more about players like Gustav Nyquist, Carl Soderberg, Josh Harding, and Ryan Johansen than the obvious superstars you draft early and hang onto all season. (Especially if you, like me, had to weather injuries to Stamkos, Datsyuk, Henrik Sedin, Bernier, and Gaborik.)
Is this a plug for you to read this column? Maybe. It can't hurt to know that Lars Eller has done absolutely nothing lately while someone like James Sheppard has been on a relative tear. Their season stats don't look as though Shep is a better play this week.
Is this just an anecdote to illustrate what those mid-level guys can offer in dire situations? (I think I could have won my matchup with a different combination of waiver pickups. Hindsight, right?) Maybe.
Is this just an excuse to complain? Probably.
Maybe it's all three. A complaint that illustrates that Crosby wins you Stanley Cups, but fantasy glory is more often won by Bishop and Nyquist type performances.
- Speaking of Nyquist: Wow.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid
Carolina Hurricanes (Cam Ward) at Ottawa Senators (Craig Anderson), 7:30 PM
Florida Panthers (Dan Ellis) at New Jersey Devils (Martin Brodeur), 7:30 PM
Winnipeg Jets (Ondrej Pavelec) at Anaheim Ducks (Jonas Hiller), 10:00 PM
Minnesota Wild (Darcy Kuemper) at Los Angeles Kings (Jonathan Quick), 10:00 PM
Injury News For Teams Playing Monday
Joni Pitkanen, D - (heel) remains without a return timetable
Bobby Ryan, RW - (hernia) is undergoing season-ending surgery
Roberto Luongo, G - will not travel with the club on their two-game road trip
Tomas Kopecky, RW - (concussion) is out indefinitely
Tom Gilbert, D - (hernia) will undergo season-ending surgery
Alex Petrovic, D - (upper body) is on IR
Jonathan Huberdeau, LW - (upper body) remains out
Aleksander Barkov, C - (knee) won't require season-ending surgery, he will remain out indefinitely
New Jersey Devils
Jon Merrill, D - (head) left the game Saturday after a puck caught him in the face
Stephen Gionta, LW - left Saturday's game
Anton Volchenkov, D - (lower body) is likely out
Chris Thorburn, RW - is out indefinitely with a fractured talus
Zach Bogosian, D - (upper body) missed Saturday's game
James Wright, C - (ankle) is out indefinitely
Grant Clitsome, D - (back) is out for the season
Mark Scheifele, C - (knee) has recovered as anticipated thus far
Cam Fowler, D - (MCL) is still dealing with a sprain
Stefan Noesen, C - is out for the season with a torn ACL and MCL
Sheldon Souray, D - (wrist) is out for the season
Mark Fistric, D - (lower body) missed Saturday's game
Keith Ballard, D - (groin) is still dealing with his injury
Cody McCormick, C - (eye) is questionable due to a cut suffered on Thursday
Josh Harding, G - (illness) is unlikely to return this season
Clayton Stoner, D - (lower body) is considered week-to-week
Niklas Backstrom, G - (abdomen) underwent a third procedure Tuesday and will officially be ruled out from returning this season
Jason Zucker, LW - is out for the rest of the season
Los Angeles Kings
They're in good shape.
Zach Parise, LW, MIN: Parise is one of a few players on the Wild who has been playing strong offensive lately. Over the last 21 games he's got 12 goals and 10 assists. While the Wild have struggled, most of their top six have been good plays. Parise, Koivu, and Granlund in particular have been great since the Olympic break.
Patrice Bergeron, C, BOS: Bergeron has an eight-game point streak that includes goals in seven straight. In the last 12 games he has 10 goals and six assists. Bergeron plays both ways and can do it all. He is doing it all.
Tuukka Rask, G, BOS: Another ho-hum day for Rask, he just stopped 49 yesterday en route to a shootout win over the Flyers. Rask has a save percentage over .900 in seven straight games and is 9-0-1 in his last ten starts. His save percentage since the Olympic break is .944. Every game he plays gets him closer and closer to locking up the Vezina Trophy.
Dan Ellis, G, FLA: Ellis is going to get some good playing time with Roberto Luongo out for at least another couple games, but his time in Florida hasn't gone great so far. He has four games under his belt as a Panther and none of them earned him a win. In his five games since the Olympic break he's totaled a .841 save percentage. If you're desperate he's going to get some games over the next week, but even though their upcoming road trip includes struggling teams like the Devils and the Islanders, it's hard to be confident that he won't give up four or five.
Dany Heatley, LW, MIN: Heater took the first healthy scratch of his career on Saturday against Phoenix, which gives you an idea of how things are going for him. In his last nine games he has no goals and a single assist. He's accumulated a minus-6 rating and just three shots in that stretch. He's unlikely to get scratched many times before the end of the season, but things are going very wrong for the vet right now.
Olli Jokinen, C, WPG: As the Jets continue to flounder and work their way toward being officially eliminated from the playoffs, every game becomes a "must-win." Jokinen has not been helping make that happen down the stretch. He's been held without a goal in the last six games and without a point in the last five.
Antoine Roussel, LW, DAL: Roussel is having a breakout year with 13 goals and 15 assists in his second NHL season. His three-game point streak with a goal and three assists makes him appealing, but his real fantasy value comes in the form of penalty minutes. His 193 minutes ranks second in the NHL. Why he's so appealing is that he's not the standard PIM guy, he's scoring and getting decent playing time, averaging 13:12 on the season, but he's seen that number rise recently with injuries on forward and some strong play on his part.
James Sheppard, C, SJS: With only four goals and 16 assists this season you'd be forgiven for thinking that Sheppard isn't playing outstanding. But he's been on a tear. Over the last 18 games he's got three goals and 11 assists. That's most of his production for the season.