It is time to hop back into it today with a little Fantasy Hockey ONE. First up, let's take a look back at what happened last night with our FANTASY POTN first and then Ian Gooding will give us his Pick Six for the night.
This one was a very easy choice as we went with Lars Eller of the Montreal Canadiens. Besides the cute spin-o-rama goal, he did score three other times as well. He had four goals and one assist on four shots by the way. While Eller may not be a natural goal scorer, he definitely has the talent to surprise a few people. Eller is more than likely only a 20 or 30 goal scorer in this league but his speed is extremely evident. Last night he put on a show for the home crowd that could happen a bit more often in the future. Give the kid credit. He was flying last night and it was great to see for fantasy owners who have rode it out with him.
A LOOK BACK:
Boston SMASH! -- All that anyone needed to know about Boston was answered in their 6-1 demolition over the New Jersey Devils last night. Boston took a pretty good team and just raked them over the coals. Now people forget this is not the first time this year that they did this and nor will it be the last. It is noteworthy that Patrice Bergeron is a star in this league whether anyone wants to notice or not. He does it all, fantasy contributor, great on faceoffs, and elite on defense. It was not like New Jersey even played badly but Boston was just that much better. Tim Thomas made almost an oh by the way 30 saves in the victory. Faceoffs were 29-11 Boston by the way. Look at how fantasy balanced Boston is and that is all you need to know.
The Luongo Job? -- Roberto Luongo made 28 saves last night in Vancouver's 3-0 shutout win against the Minnesota Wild but how much more important is Saturday's game against Boston? Clearly it is a good bit of Vancouver's focus. It will be Vancouver's first true litmus test and more importantly Luongo's for fantasy purposes. When you think of the elite fantasy goaltenders, Luongo's name is sort of only knocking on the door. Beating Tim Thomas would get him back into the conversation. Luongo needs this win far more than Thomas ever will. After all Luongo for fantasy owners starts and ends the season not so well. Thomas is almost the opposite.
SCHEDULE TIME:Thursday, January 5, 2012 TeamsNotes Calgary at Boston 7:00 PM | Gameday
Winnipeg at Toronto 7:00 PM | Gameday
Florida at NY Rangers 7:00 PM | Gameday
Chicago at Philadelphia 7:00 PM | Gameday
Tampa Bay at Ottawa 7:30 PM | Gameday
Edmonton at St. Louis 8:00 PM | Gameday
Dallas at Nashville 8:00 PM | Gameday
Phoenix at Los Angeles 10:30 PM | Gameday
Columbus at San Jose 10:30 PM | Gameday
Now this is a schedule that is more like it! With nine games and some solid fantasy implications, tonight really is the first consequential night of the week, there should be more shifiting in the numbers. It will also be very interesting to see how the Rangers and Flyers come out of the Winter Classic. There seems to be a bit of a hangover for the teams involved in varying degrees. Also here is the list of starting goalies for tonight. By the way no Tim Thomas or Henrik Lundqvist for their respective teams (back to back scenario).
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.
Good luck everyone with your fantasy leagues tonight. It is nice to know that Shea Weber will play tonight and some other players are coming back very soon. Thanks again for reading.
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