The Goods on Fantasy Hockey
by Ian Gooding on 01/05/12 at 02:54 AM ET
What were you doing when you found out that the score was 5-1 Russia at the World Junior semifinal on Tuesday? 6-1? I have to admit: I gave my son a bath, read him a story, and put him to bed.
When it seems like it’s over in Canada/Russia World Junior games, it ain’t over. Canada learned that lesson holding a 3-0 lead heading into the third period of the 2011 gold medal game, and we all remember the Mark Visentin collapse. As well, hockey fans from both sides of the border can remember the 2010 gold medal game, when both the Canadian and American starting goalies were pulled. No matter which goalie is in net during World Junior games, no lead is safe. Therefore, when it comes to medal round games, I’m picking all shooters and no goalies in my pool.
So sharing the spotlight with Russia and Sweden (and Canada/Finland for bronze) on Thursday will be 18 NHL teams. Which players deserve our attention?
Jamie Benn, LW, DAL – start
After a mini-slump, Benn is back to early-season form with points in eight of his last nine games. Thanks to a three-point night against Detroit on Tuesday, Benn has five points in his last two games. Nashville will provide a tough test on Thursday, but it’s imperative that Benn is back in your starting lineup.
Evander Kane, LW, WPG – start
In case you haven’t noticed, Kane has lit the lamp 18 times this season. Shooting the puck has never been a problem for E-Kane, but he is currently in the top 10 in the NHL with 142 shots on goal. He has basically been a point-per-game player since late October, so he has officially reached must-start status. More goals shouldn’t be a problem for Kane as long as he continues to shoot the puck (overused hockey cliché, anyone?)
Tuukka Rask, G, BOS – start
Rask owners need some notice whenever it is Tuukka Time, so here it is. Since Tim Thomas started on Wednesday, Rask is expected to start Thursday against Calgary (CSNNE). Should Rask be outstanding against the Flames, there is even a chance that he could start Saturday in the long-awaited Stanley Cup Final rematch with Vancouver on Saturday. Rask has been the league’s strongest backup goalie this season with a 1.61 GAA and a .945 SV% in 13 games.
Carl Hagelin, LW, NYR – add/start
An out-of-nowhere Swedish sleeper, Hagelin has seven goals and a +10 in 19 games this season. Included in the total is two 2-goal games during December and two 2-point games in his last four games. He’ll need an increase in icetime before he can be considered in shallow leagues (averaging less than 13 minutes per game), but deep leaguers could give him a look.
Cory Potter, D, EDM – add/start
With a goal on Tuesday vs. Buffalo, Potter has points in five of his last six games. The neverending injury problems of Ryan Whitney and the current day-to-day status of Tom Gilbert will mean that Potter will log major minutes for the Oil, at least for now (23 minutes on Tuesday). Keep in mind that he will be a plus-minus risk on a team with an inexperienced defense.
Ilya Bryzgalov, G, PHI – bench
The Flyers benched Bryzgalov and his Thermos on Monday for the Winter Classic, and so should you for the Flyers’ Thursday matchup with the first-place Blackhawks (the Flyers’ starting goalie for this game is not known at the time of writing). Sure, there are enough jokes about the universe, being lost in the woods, tigers in China, and Siberian huskies by now, but I’ll concentrate on the recent stats: Illy has allowed 16 goals in his last four games. Following a six-game win streak, he has not won a game since December 13. Personally, I think “flake” is a better word to describe him than “bust”. After all, he’s not carrying out the irreparable damage to your fantasy team that Steve Mason or Dwayne Roloson are. But he certainly can’t be your best option right now.
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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 email@example.com, or follow me on Twitter.