I don't know about you, but I was seriously disappointed with the first episode of HBO's 24/7 Wings-Leafs series.
Watching paint dry would have been more interesting.
Don't get me wrong - the premise works for me. Who wouldn't want the opportunity to see things that no fan - or member of the media - ever gets to see? But I'm sorry - the most memorable bit was a piece of bread stuck in a toaster? At least they were smart enough to unplug it before they stuck a metal object in it.
Then again, sparks would have been nice. Anything.
Maybe I'm different than everyone else, but Dion Phaneuf's wardrobe and Bentley just don't make me giddy. Then again, I did learn something from the OCD-like organization of that walk-in closet. But I digress.
The Wings were - in a word - boring. So were the Leafs. They didn't really express emotion. It was like their current struggles really didn't seem to bother them. Where was the passion? Where was the intensity?
I actually hate reality television, so maybe that's why I was disappointed. Maybe I thought I might actually get some insight into personalities and proclivities, approaches and annoyances. Or maybe it's because I play fantasy and that makes me a fan of individual players more than teams.
Honestly, I was left utterly underwhelmed...disappointed, in fact.
And that started me thinking that those cameras might just drive some guys straight into offensive slumps. I'm sure glad I don't have too many Buds or Wings on my fantasy teams.
I'm looking forward to the Winter Classic and all of the outdoor games this year. But right now, I could do without the 24/7 silliness. I'll give it one more week, but it had better improve. Dramatically.
Now let's take a look at who caught my eye this week.
David Booth, LW, Vancouver (1 percent owned) - My how the mighty have fallen. Booth is a former 31-goal scorer who has been perilously close to a compliance buy-out more than once. He has suffered through injury after injury, and he just hasn't gotten his legs under him in Vancouver. Except maybe for now. He has three points, including two goals, in his last five games after recently hooking up with a power-skating coach. His speed is coming back and that's giving him some space to let that heavy wrister loose. He might never get his pre-injury wheels back, but he's still impressively quick. Other fantasy owners aren't paying attention, but you are. He's a possible risk/reward pick up who might just inject some life into your lineup.
J.T. Brown, LW, Tampa Bay (0 percent owned) - Free agents like Brown are attracted to the Bolts like moths are drawn to light bulbs - predictable, but without a really good explanation. Maybe it's the Martin St. Louis factor. Like Mighty Mite, Brown is small and talented - both were NCAA All-Stars (Brown upped the ante with the Frozen Four MVP award a couple years back). He doesn't have St. Louis' ceiling, but he does have second-line upside in Tampa's system. He's toiling on a lower line right now, but still has four points (one goal, three assists) in his last six games. There's a place for him in deep leagues. Check him out.
Scott Clemmensen, G, Florida (4 percent owned) - Clemmensen has done this before. What's this? Go on a brilliant, yet short, run to carry a club when they needed it most. The Panthers are actually playing solid, smart hockey right now and Clemmensen has delivered four straight wins since Friday the 13th, allowing just four goals in that span. He's not their future in net, but he'll get starting time while the oft-injured Timmy the tool man Thomas is on the shelf. Stick him in your lineup for an injection of goaltending life.
Michael Frolik, RW/C, Winnipeg (9 percent owned) - I was a big Frolik booster when he broke into the NHL - he had 42 goals (and 88 points) in his first two seasons. But the ineptness of the Floridian kitties all but destroyed the kid and he never rediscovered his offense after he was shipped to Chicago. This year, he seems to have found some snipe again … try five points in his last five games and 21 in 36 games this season. That's a pace that will see him match his rookie production of 45 points. Hey - he currently has more points than uber stud Evander Kane (90 percent owned)! Frolik probably won't match the 21 goals from his rookie season unless he gets more power-play time, but a mid-40s right winger definitely has value in deeper formats.
Peter Holland, C, Toronto (1 percent owned) - The knock on Holland has always been his focus - he has tended to lose it for moments in games and that means people think he's undisciplined. He's not. And now that he's in Toronto, he's showing the skills that made him a first-round draft pick. He has exactly what Toronto needs - size and skill down the middle. And he has shown remarkable chemistry with stud winger Joffrey Lupul...to the tune of five points, including a three-point outburst against the Hawks, in his last four games. Holland will get points by osmosis playing with Loops and speedster Mason Raymond - wouldn't those points look good on your roster?
Matt Irwin, D, San Jose (5 percent owned) - Irwin is another free agent signing who has surprised with his solid play. Yah, he's been a healthy scratch this season, but that seems to have lit a fire under him, at least in the last few weeks. Since Dec. 8, Irwin has a goal and four assists in the five games heading into action Saturday. He has good size and a great shot, and he can actually move the puck and thread a needle with his outlet passes. His upside is somewhat limited, but he could be a sturdy 35-40 point producer if he can get consistent power-play time.
Olli Maatta, D, Pittsburgh (5 percent owned) - Admittedly, I've was dismissive of this guy on draft day - he just reminded me of Victor Hedman (68 percent owned), who's been sorely overrated thus far in his career. But injuries have thrust this talented defender into a more prominent role with the Pens and man, has he changed my mind. He has the defensive smarts of a guy like Jonas Brodin (17 percent owned), but it comes in a much, much bigger body. On Thursday night, I snapped up him and his seven points in the last 10 games - that sure was a nice performance against Minny. I've held onto Jack Johnson far too long in one of my leagues - Mr. Maatta is now his rolling in his place. He's worth a sniff. A big, deep sniff.
Michael Raffl, LW, Philadelphia (2 percent owned) - This free agent Austrian has been a complete surprise on the first line in Philly, but then again, a pylon might be successful skating alongside Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. OK, that's an exaggeration. He hit North America this year after a near point-per-game season in Sweden, but I didn't think he'd bring that kind of offensive skill with him. In fact, I had pretty much dismissed him as a viable fantasy option to start the season. But he has seven points (two goals, five helpers) in his last six games while seeing time on the top line. Can he keep it up? Probably not. But he might just be the next Matt Read and there's certainly fantasy value in that.
Michael Ryder, RW, New Jersey (11 percent owned) - Cheap goals - that's Ryder's bread and butter, and he has quietly put five pucks past bewildered goalies in his last nine games. He's not the 35-goal guy he was in Dallas pre-lockout. And he's probably not even the guy he was last season either. But he can give you cheap, single-category support...just beware his impact in other categories. He'll burn you, especially plus-minus.
Mike Santorelli, C, Vancouver (17 percent owned) - I've talked about him before, so I won't spend much time on him now. That is, other than tell you to go check your freaking wire for this guy - he's on fire right now. He's skating with Ryan Kesler on the second line and the pheromones are raging. He has eight points, including two goals, in his last seven games and 12 points in his last 12. And all of those points have come at even strength. Impressive.
Mark Scheifele, C, Winnipeg (6 percent owned) - Hockey body? Check. Elite offensive tool kit? Yup. Willingness to play hard hockey? Damn right. Scheifele has the makings of an elite, first-line center and he's showing off some of those skills right now. He's in the middle of a five-game, seven-point streak that includes three goals. And 11 of his 17 points this season have come in the last 12 games. He's just one point behind Evander Kane (90 percent owned) who has just eight points over that same span. Kane will likely end up with more points over the season, but I know who I'm taking in keeper formats. Seriously.
Brandon Sutter, C, Pittsburgh (3 percent owned) - No, he's not Jordan Staal. But then again, he has more points than Staal at this point in the season and he's on a three-game goal-scoring streak. I just wish he'd use his body a bit more - it'd give him more multi-category value. But right now, he's delivering more value than his trade partner in standard Yahoo! leagues. Deep leaguers should take a look.
Jacob Trouba, D, Winnipeg (3 percent owned) - Trouba entered this season as the top D prospect in all of hockey - yes, ahead of even Seth Jones. He's as blue chip as they come - a minute-munching, number two defender like (dare I say it) Brent Seabrook. His two-point effort Friday night gives him six points (one goal, five assists) and 21 hits in his last nine games. That's elite output. It's hard for rookies to sustain that kind of offensive output and he'll probably settle into a more reliable groove soon. But while the points may go down, the hard hits will not. You really do need to know his name.
Yannick Weber, D, Vancouver (0 percent owned) - Weber is a HUGE risk - yes, the all caps really do apply. He's been a healthy scratch and/or used in limited time in the last while. But he had three points in three games before Thursday's minus-3 debacle against the Stars. That's not bad at all. His fantasy fate will likely be sealed Friday night against the Hawks, so check the box score Saturday morning. What's in his future? One of two things - a benching or 12-13 minutes of ice a night. The latter means cheap points for you, as long as you don't hold on for too long. Like I said, the risk is HUGE.
Back to 24/7.
Did anyone else find it funny that the Leafs were so obsessed with nutrition that they replaced the peanut butter with almond butter? I'll bet they wished they played for the Wings, what with all the wings and beer those guys were ingesting.
Seriously though, I am worried those HBO cameras will cause guys to grip their sticks just a little too tight. Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri each have three-game slumps on their hands. James van Reimsdyk? Four games. Johan Franzen had gone three games without a point before he took that hit to the head.
At least Pavel Datsyuk snapped his slump with a three-helper outing Thursday night. I wonder if that means he'll talk to the HBO cameras.
Oh ya, I forgot. What was I thinking.
Until next week.