Originally posted on The Hockey Program  |  Last updated 2/4/12

 

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A LOOK BACK:

Sometimes in fantasy hockey and hockey alike, all you need is one.  Jamie Langenbrunner scored the only goal in a 1-0 St. Louis victory over Los Angeles last night at home.  Any hockey fan almost knew this was destined to end 1-0 or 2-1 based on the styles of game both teams play which is score less, less, and even less.  That was the theme of last night more than anything else as NHL teams combined for a paltry 16 goals.  Maybe the Isles-Sens game had some hope but once the first 20 went by, one had to know where that one was going as well.

Now for the goaltenders it was a great night obviously.  Jaroslav Halak had a rather easy 22 save shutout for the St. Louis Blues.  Chicago played better defensively but still lost 3-1 to Calgary.  Calgary got goals from Olli Jokinen, Jarome Iginla, and Jay Bouwmeester.  Chicago played a very solid 20, had 13 shots on net and 8 scoring chances but was only tied at 1.  The other shoe had to drop and it did but at least Chicago had a little more fight in them and did not roll over like in Edmonton.  Maybe Chicago will get all three phases working again and when that happens, fantasy teams will respond with joy.

It is always funny when unexpected players show up in the fantasy scoresheet but how about Mark Eaton last night?  Now he did not just score a goal (his first since 2009 and yes he has more goals than Scott Gomez), but Eaton notched the game winner for a much needed Islander second point in Ottawa.  The Islanders have to play better at home and get more consistent depth scoring if they expect to contend for a playoff spot and keep pressure off their goaltending which has been very good for fantasy owners of late.

Friday always seems to come down to surviving for Saturday in fantasy leagues and maybe, who knows, it has rubbed off on the players some.  Because whatever happened last night, offenses were just stymied in the worst way.  Let's take a look at today's schedule in the NHL.....

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SCHEDULE TIME:

Saturday, February 4, 2012 TeamsNotes Pittsburgh at Boston 1:00 PM | Gameday
New Jersey at Philadelphia 1:00 PM | Gameday
Washington at Montreal 2:00 PM | Gameday
Vancouver at Colorado 3:00 PM | Gameday
Toronto at Ottawa 7:00 PM | Gameday
Buffalo at NY Islanders 7:00 PM | Gameday
Los Angeles at Carolina 7:00 PM | Gameday
Florida at Tampa Bay 7:00 PM | Gameday
St. Louis at Nashville 8:00 PM | Gameday
Minnesota at Dallas 8:00 PM | Gameday
San Jose at Phoenix 8:00 PM | Gameday
Detroit at Edmonton 10:00 PM | Gameday

It really is the dirty dozen of games on a Saturday with four afternoon tilts plus a late night gem from Edmonton.  St. Louis versus Nashville is going to be something else as seemingly every Central Division game from here on out is going to be.  There are also some really solid matchups early on in the day and the traditional Battle Of Ontario tonight. 

Now when all else seems lost on a Saturday, we bring in the big guns.  Mr. Ian Gooding has been kind enough to show us the way with his latest edition of Pick Six.  Enjoy.

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PICK SIX:

If a player can accomplish the highest single-game point total since 1988, then he should at least be worthy of mention in this little blog.

On Thursday, Sam Gagner shocked the hockey world with an eight, count ‘em, 8-point game against the Blackhawks. Suddenly Sam finds his name alongside two other names that probably ring a bell – Wayne Gretzky and Paul Coffey – in the Oilers’ record book. If he happened to be in your lineup, go buy yourself a lottery ticket. If he happened to be on your bench or you “almost” picked him up from the waiver wire, hopefully you had a box of tissues nearby.

Yet Gagner has slowly trickled down the Oilers’ depth chart in recent seasons, as the Oil has drafted clone-type forwards in Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Gagner had even been pushed down to the third line, often playing less than 15 minutes per game. Slowly he had turned into the forgotten man in the rebuilding effort - but not anymore.

I’ll return to Gagner in a moment as one of my Pick Six players for Saturday, but first here’s what you need to know for this weekend as you plan your lineup.

There are 12 games on the schedule, including four daytime games. The first two games start at 1 p.m. ET, so make sure you have your lineups ready by then.

Six Eastern Conference teams - Boston, Montreal, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington – are in action on both Saturday and Sunday. Four Western Conference teams - Anaheim, Calgary, Chicago, and Columbus - do not play either Saturday or Sunday. Plan accordingly.

So here’s the Pick Six for Saturday, starting with Suddenly Sam:

Sam Gagner, C, EDM – add/start
On Thursday night, Gagner was owned in 6 percent of Yahoo leagues. About 24 hours later, his ownership shot up to 11 percent. Here’s a given: don’t expect eight points every night. However, Oilers coach Tom Renney may now think again about not playing Gagner on the scoring lines. Keep in mind that that the Oilers could take advantage of the situation and trade Gagner in an attempt to construct a better-rounded team. One would have to assume that the return would be a top-4 defenseman, which is a commodity that many other teams are looking to stock up on at this time of year. The sixth overall pick in 2007, Gagner still has the potential to become a universally-owned center in fantasy leagues one day. But before adding him, be sure to consider his stats over the entire season and not just from Thursday.

Mikhail Grabovski, C, TOR – start/trade
Aside from the aforementioned Gagner, Grabovski is as hot as any player on the planet right now. Fresh off being named one of the NHL’s Three Stars last week, Grabo is riding a four-game point streak in which he has scored nine points (3g-6a). He seems like a strong bet to continue that point streak against Ottawa on Hockey Night in Canada, but two events may occur sometime afterward: 1) a cold snap not unlike the one that hit during November (4 points, -3), or 2) a rumored trade out of Toronto, which could diminish his value if he is dealt to a true contending team looking to bolster its third line.

Jiri Hudler, LW, DET – add/start
Hudler might be yet another example of a post-hype sleeper, since many fantasy owners wouldn’t have regarded him that highly after last season’s 37-point output. However, Hudler’s 17 goals this season places him second on the Wings, even ahead of marquee names Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. Hudler also has goals in three consecutive games and would be a strong bet to hit the twine again against a flimsy Oilers defense.

Ty Conklin, G, DET – add/start
With Jimmy Howard sidelined for at least the next two games with a broken finger, Conklin is expected to start the Wings’ next two games, including Saturday’s matchup in Edmonton (mlive). The always-strong Wings are once again the NHL’s leader in points, so Conklin is probably your best bet if you need to find a quick W from the waiver wire, although his season numbers (3.20 GAA, .886 GAA) are hardly flattering.

Johan Hedberg, G, NJ – add/start
If for some reason Conklin has already been scooped, Hedberg is another backup option that has been confirmed for Saturday (Tom Gulitti). Hedberg hasn’t started since January 11, but remember that he is one of the league’s stronger backup options (12-7-1, 2.45 GAA, 2 SO). Conklin is still a stronger start, since Hedberg is facing Philadelphia, but remember that the Flyers are dealing with a few injuries to key offensive contributors.

Chris Stewart, RW, STL – bench
What is it with this guy? That incredible run that Stewart went on last season following his trade from Colorado now seems like a distant memory. With only 20 points in 47 games, Stewart was held to just 13 minutes of icetime against Los Angeles on Friday and 10 minutes two games before that. Since he doesn’t seem to be a significant part of new coach Ken Hitchcock’s plans, Stewart will probably be dangled as trade bait before the deadline. He should be riding the pine if he is still on your roster, although another trade could boost his value again.

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TRADE DEADLINE MUSINGS:

If you ever want to see what a fantasy league looks like that has a ton of trades and rumors almost similar to a real NHL deadline then come check out the second annual NAFHA Trade Deadline Show tonight at 10:30pm ET on Blog Talk Radio.  Brian Sanborn and yours truly will take you on a two hour journey with live updates, potential trade rumors and more all leading up to the Midnight deadline.

There have been quite a few trades already and am sure yesterday's calm will be replaced by a flurry of activity tonight.  Teams are listing the players they want to deal and maybe deal.  One never knows what quite to expect and this trade show may give you an idea of who is going for what as your trade deadlines approach.  We hope you can listen in and check out the action.

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Good luck today and tonight in your fantasy hockey leagues and thanks again for reading.  This shapes up to be some night indeed.

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