I love fantasy hockey. But right now, I hate it. And it's because I'm winning.
I must be as nuts as some of you think I am.
I've spent the last three weeks simultaneously loving and hating the likes of Ilya Bryzgalov, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton, Andrej Sekera, Dan Boyle, Dion Phaneuf – OK, I've had a hate on him all season – Steve Mason, Marc-Andre Fleury and about a half-dozen other fantasy stars.
This time of year just about kills me; I suspect I'm not alone.
I'm in the finals of two big head-to-head leagues and I'm pushing for the final four in another. But the guys I own in one league are some of the same guys my opponents are rolling against me in the others.
Did I tell you I hate fantasy hockey right now?
I spent Thursday night praying that Bryzgalov would win but not get the shutout. And that Pavelski would score but not too many times. I never did decide if Marc-Andre Fleury should win or lose.
It's the ultimate love-hate relationship.
I roll Bryz and Pavelski in the Rotowire.com staff league; it's a head-to-head points format. My opponent in the finals rolls Marc-Andre Fleury and Dennis Wideman, two guys I'm rolling in the finals of my other big head-to-head league. And – you guessed it – my opponent in that league is rolling Ilya Bryzgalov and Joe Pavelski. And that stupid shutout might steal a complete category from me in that format.
Argh. I feel like I'm cheering for myself and against myself. And I know you've been there, too.
There's no magic fix here. It's not like you can go into your drafts looking to pick the same roster in every league. That's just stupid.
But I feel your pain the same way you feel mine. Hey – maybe this kind of situation is just the unlucky by-product of our immeasurable fantasy management talent. But I digress…
Now let's take a look at who caught my eye this week.
Blake Geoffrion, LW/C, Nashville (2 percent owned) – Boom-Boom's grandson shares his determination and toughness. And his shot, too. Boom-Boom earned his nickname for that thunderous slapper and Blake has a big one, too. And while his four-goal week didn't come completely on the back of that big shot, Baby Boom did drain a sweet trick Sunday night. His ice time is limited but he has what it takes to make every moment count.
Nathan Gerbe, LW/C, Buffalo (8 percent owned) – His spec sheet says 5-foot-5 and 175 but that first number might be a tad generous. But if Muggsy Bogues could carve out a kick-butt NBA career then why can't Gerbe do the same in the NHL? This guy makes opponents dizzy with his lateral cuts and dangles, and rips rubber as fine as just about any NHL sniper. And right now, he's riding a three-game goal streak (four) with five goals in his last five games. Get him.
Artem Anisimov, C, NY Rangers (9 percent owned) – Double-A has surprising finesse for a guy who's 6-foot-4. And his recent chemistry with Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky has certainly caught my eye. His four-game, six-point streak was snapped Thursday night but I think his sweet touch will continue. His trio is getting time and space thanks to a healthy Marian Gaborik.
David Legwand, C, Nashville (9 percent owned) – Talk about under the radar. Let's be honest – we've all given up on this former No. 2 overall draft pick (1998). That's why I've ignored his recent streak. I shouldn't have; nor should you. He has 16 points (six goals, 10 points) in his last 14 games and 21 – including 13 helpers – in his last 21. He won't deliver much by way of power-play production but he's clearly a solid set-up man.
Danny Cleary, RW, Detroit (29 percent owned) – Cleary has been on my radar several times this season and he's back again. His three power-play points were among the best this past week and he's also delivering top values in SOG and PIM, too. Detroit is hurting without Johan Franzen and Pavel Datsyuk, but Bear is helping to pick up the slack. He can help you.
Torrey Mitchell, C, San Jose (3 percent owned) – It's nice to see Mitchell getting a bit of love – and opportunity – after so many injuries. He missed the whole 2008-09 season with an ugly leg injury, another 19 games with a bum knee to start last season and a full month with one of those quote-unquote lower-body injuries earlier this year. But this role player is shining beside the Sharks' top guns and he has four goals, two assists and a plus-5 rating on a four-game scoring streak heading into Thursday night. He also amped up the shots on goal (18) in that same span, too. It won't last – he just doesn't have the upside. But you just need hot guys in good situations. And that's Mr. Mitchell.
Devin Setoguchi, RW, San Jose (35 percent owned) – The Seto Streak is at it again. His output comes in bunches and he's doing that right now. He's been particularly effective on the power play (four helpers) in the three games heading into Thursday night. And he's ripping pucks on net, too. Great team plus great opportunity equals instant fantasy value.
Radim Vrbata, RW, Phoenix (28 percent owned) – This sniper turned set-up man has two goals and six helpers in his last seven games; half of those points have come with the man advantage. He's deadly coming off the half boards on the PP and he's seriously dialed in right now. Phoenix is driving hard to be the fourth seed in the West and Vrbata is helping to lead that charge.
Brad Staubitz, RW, Minnesota (0 percent owned) – Bitzy is a pylon; there's no other way to describe him. But he's the right man for the job if you're making a run up the sin-bin ranks, at least right now. The Wild – in a word – suck. They're mired in a seven-game winless streak and they're really pressing. And that means Bitzy is going to be far more inclined to try to inspire his mates with his fists. He had 25 PIMs in the five games heading into action Saturday night and those numbers sure could take a spike over the next few games.
Blue Line Help
Jonathan Blum, D, Nashville (0 percent owned) – I love the scouts in Nashville. Year after year, they root out great young defenders and Blum is one on that long list. Is he in the class of Shea Weber or Ryan Suter? Not a chance. But he is the kind of slick QB who will eventually deliver above-average fantasy production in a wide range of categories. He's a little like Tomas Kaberle – smooth with good vision and an excellent first pass. And that ability to orchestrate the PP. Rookie defenders are typically a tough roll but he has four points, including a couple goals, in his last six games. And that makes him valuable right here, right now.
Back to that love-hate relationship.
I already know I'm going to be on pins and needles until Monday and then for another whole week, too. That's a lot of late nights, anxiety and nail chewing.
But the last time this happened I ended up “winning enough” for a spanky new Weber barbecue.
I guess I can life with love-hate.
Before I go, I want to give a shout out to my beer-league teammates on the Canucks in the Pylon Hockey League. We brought home the “President's Cup” on Wednesday night in a confident 4-3 win over the lovable losers, the Maple Leafs. We managed to deliver that win with just nine skaters and a defenseman wearing the pads. Here's to a dynasty, boys, even if we have to wear those gawd-awful yellow 80s jerseys. At least they're not the hideous V.
And best of all? We ran a fantasy pool where we selected players from the league and used the weekly stats from beginning to end. Goals, assists, penalties and arbitrarily-assigned “whiney boy” points all counted. And we kept that in the family, too – our team captain took home that win, too.
Maybe I don't hate fantasy hockey that much after all…
Until next week.