The Goods on Fantasy Hockey
by Ian Gooding on 01/07/12 at 03:04 AM ET
Saturday will be an important day with many choices for fantasy owners, as the day features games involving all but four teams (Anaheim, Chicago, Florida, NY Rangers). Included on the schedule is the one and only Stanley Cup Final rematch of the season.
The game of the month happens to be on at 10 a.m. Vancouver time, so I am going to do something I have never done before: go to my friend’s place to watch a hockey game that will be finished before we eat lunch. The reason for the early start time could be that the schedule is created prior to the Stanley Cup Final, or the reason could be that a game this important should not conflict with NFL Wild Card Weekend. Either way, the NHL is missing out on a glorious opportunity to promote a game featuring last year’s Stanley Cup finalists, who are two teams at or near the top of their respective conferences this season, and are two teams that have developed a strong dislike for each other.
About that hatred that evolved in last year’s Stanley Cup Final: I’ve listed two of the more recognizable parties from the final in this edition of the Pick Six, but here’s a personal thought on the rivalry itself. As a Canucks fan, I know that my team has developed the reputation as perhaps the league’s most hated team, using tactics that are unbecoming to those who believe in playing clean, honest, old-time hockey. However, perhaps I was one of the few that watched last year’s finals that honestly felt that the Canucks weren’t the only team on the ice using these tactics. Slapping an opponent several times without any form of penalty? Pushing a player into the boards on a seemingly avoidable hit, causing a long-term back injury? Yes, the dirty play went both ways. And a text message apology is better than no apology – thanks to Nathan Horton and Johnny Boychuk for helping me make that point.
I respect the Bruins and how far they have come as a team over the last few years, as well as how dominant they have been over the past two months (just ask the Calgary Flames, who were steamrolled on Thursday). But I feel strongly that if the Canucks are the league’s most hated team, then the Bruins shouldn’t be far behind. After all, don’t you remember the Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty or the Milan Lucic hit on Ryan Miller, both of which went unpunished? I know what I just said will sound fanboyish to some, but look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are completely objective about your team. I see many hockey fans on Twitter that aren’t, especially those who reply to anyone making a negative comment involving a player on that fan’s team.
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest without biting any fingers (though I may have stepped on some toes), here’s the Pick Six for Saturday. For waiver-wire pickups, keep in mind that Florida and the Rangers do not play on either Saturday or Sunday, while Columbus, Detroit, Philadelphia, and Ottawa all play on both Saturday and Sunday.
Cory Schneider, G, VAN – start
I’m okay with Schneider starting on Saturday against his hometown Bruins (TSN). I really am. But I would have loved to see Luongo in this position, quieting the demons that haunted him in Games 3, 4, and 6 of the final. That being said, the Canucks probably aren’t making a mistake by starting Schneider in this one. With Luongo finally on his game, Schneider hasn’t played much recently (only his fifth appearance since December 1). It’ll be risky facing a team that has exploded for 15 goals in its last two games, but the calm, cool, collected Schneider has what it takes to ruin the Bruins.
Brad Marchand, C, BOS – start
Easily the most irritating Bruin of all, Marchand has been an all-around fantasy stud this season (31 points (15g-16a), +26, and 60 PIM). The little runny-nosed twerp missed Thursday’s whitewash of the Flames with the sniffles, but he wouldn’t miss Saturday’s finals rematch for the world (NESN). His slapfest on Daniel Sedin may be what he is most remembered for in the Stanley Cup Final, but also remember that he scored five on the Canucks during the seven-game final.
Daniel Alfredsson, RW, OTT – start
Like many of you, I think All-star voting is a joke. Do the truly best players ever get voted in? In addition, there always seems to be a major hometown bias. Nowhere is this truer than in Ottawa, where four Senators will start for the Eastern Conference. One silver lining is silver fox Alfredsson, who may be playing in his final All-Star game. A solid argument could be made that Alfie is a deserving All-Star regardless with 28 points in 34 games. A player who appeared to be on the way out of fantasy relevance after last season, Alfredsson should be good for a point or two against struggling Philadelphia goaltending.
Jonas Gustavsson, G, TOR – add/start
Here’s your goalie to add if you need a spot start to finish the week. The Monster is coming off a shutout against Jets on Thursday, so Ron Wilson has decided to ride the hot hand on Saturday (Sportsnet). James Reimer has allowed at least three goals in each of his last four starts and has a 3.01 GAA this season, so his hold on the starting goalie job can’t be as firm as it was earlier this season. The Wings will be a tough test, but I’d still start a goalie who has won two in a row. Yes, for the Leafs.
Ryan O’Reilly, C, COL – add/start
The Matt Duchene injury has created a significant icetime increase for O’Reilly. Despite not earning a point on Friday against Chicago, O’Reilly was on the ice for nearly 20 minutes. By the way, O’Reilly is the Avs’ leading scorer this season with 29 points. Oh really? No, that’s O’Reilly, who is on pace for 60 points, the threshold number of points for centers in shallow leagues.
Steve Downie, RW, TB – add/start
Downie provides massive penalty minute totals (100 PIM), modest scoring (16 points in 35 games), but horrendous plus/minus (-16). But hey, we’ve never known him to be the most responsible player. After ending December with seven points in three games, Downie is back to his old ways (20 penalty minutes on January 3, -3 on January 5). Add him as long as you know what you’re getting into.
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About The Goods on Fantasy Hockey
My name is Ian Gooding, and this is The Goods on Fantasy Hockey. Given my ability to understand numbers, write sentences, and follow hockey, it’s not a surprise to those who know me that I became a fantasy hockey writer. I started writing about fantasy hockey in 2006 for fantasyhockey.com and became the site’s content editor in 2007. Looking to expand my audience, I joined Kukla’s Korner in the summer of 2011 to create the site’s first fantasy hockey blog.
A few times each week, I’ll provide an article called “Pick Six” where I will write about six players that should either be in your fantasy team’s starting lineup or bench for the upcoming game. As well, I’ll provide the fantasy takes on important hockey developments. You can also email me your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow me on Twitter.