Fantasy Hockey 201: So About Week 1….

You are sitting there at your laptop or on your computer and having the mother of all fits because your team has started out slower than molasses. There is a sense of fairness here as we will actually heap some praise amongst the worthy surprises who have made fantasy owners feel invincible even if its only Week 1. Surprises seem to be endless in supply as well as outright duds.  Without giving this some catchy title, let’s call this something much more lukewarm.

What is presented below is not a Power Rankings of sorts for Week 1. However, it illustrates the idea that there are some players you should just not jump on even if they are going nuts fantasy wise. Questions need to be asked and there will be answers starting NOW.

Time to get your stats ready as Week 1 of the Fantasy Hockey season has come to an end. Let’s just jump into this really quick. Thanks to Yahoo and various sites out there for the latest numbers up until tonight.

Now your leaders for Week 1 in fantasy hockey pools.

Stats come from NHL.com stats page and have been verified.

So it is time to take a look at some of these names and go WHAT THE?  If there is a little bit of panic amongst some for your fantasy teams, there should not be. There are definitely a fair share of surprises for all fantasy hockey owners. For example, here is some of our awards for this week that was Week 1.

Goalie of the Week:

Kari Lehtonen (DAL) — Yes this will create a bit of a stir but the goalie won all four starts and was not expected to. That shot in the arm made quite a few fantasy owners smile. The 2.39 GAA and .932 save percentage made even the biggest pundits take notice.

Lehtonen has made a bit of a splash in fantasy circles.  Obviously health is a considerable concern for Lehtonen but if you are desperate enough, make a play for him. Surely he is not going to win forever but at the very least his GAA and save % will be pretty good for a second or third goalie in your leagues.

Close but no cigar — Tomas Vokoun (FLA), Brent Johnson (PIT), Tim Thomas (BOS)

Offensive Player Of The Week:

Brad Richards (DAL) — Another category for the Dallas Stars as Brad Richards energized the Stars first line with two goals, seven assists, and a +7 to boot. Now granted, Richards will not hit people like Shane Doan did last night but he will score and get points especially with James Neal and Loui Eriksson flanking him. These two young forwards have clearly inspired Richards to perform at this best. His 91 points were clearly not a fluke last year for the veteran.

Richards has an outside shot some think at close to 100 points when all is said and done. He can still do it all even at the tender age of 30. It sure seems like he is older but no he is not. Expect a prime season from Brad Richards no matter where he ends up come the trade deadline.

Close but no cigar — Marian Hossa (CHI), Alex Ovechkin (WAS), Patrick Sharp (CHI)

Defensive Player Of The Week

John-Michael Liles (COL) — This was a tough choice but compared to the other choices, Liles was a big surprise in Week 1 picking up seven assists.  It was what we have expected from Liles for some time and nice to see he could put together a 10-day stretch like this. What may be more encouraging is that Liles is attempting to shot the puck more which is a good sign. Just imagine if the goals come, then his glory days of 45-50 points could even be exceeded this season. At the very least, that may finally get the speculation off his back about those trade rumors. The hard part is can he start scoring goals and follow this Week 1 up. That answer is really anyone’s guess but for now, so far so good.

Close but no cigar — Alex Goligoski (PIT), John Carlson (WAS), Paul Martin (PIT)

Did it feel like a long week to you?

Well it did to us. Ten day weeks are almost as much of a killer in the early part of the year as those two week championships that Yahoo has. That ten day week actually helped in some leagues according to experts.

There were some players who were glad this week was over like Marc -Andre Fleury who did not win once this week. Martin Brodeur won only once, was yanked once, and looked plain ordinary cicrca October of 2007 when he got off to a 3-6-1 start out of the gates. It took a few games for Jarome Iginla to score but he finally did and we are still looking for Andy Greene to equal more wins while Paul Martin got over a bit of a rough start to produce six points in six games.

When you are in many leagues, the key is to keep everything as streamlined as possible but if you are only in a few leagues, it can be just as difficult during the first long week. Why?  Because whether you are a beginner, expert, or somewhere in the middle, Fantasy Hockey is not an exact science. Injuries happen and so do peaks and valleys.

Week 1 can seem like an eternity and feels even worse when you lose or do not do well. The biggest thing that has to be emphasized is that it is early. Sure Week 1 can have you on cloud nine or have you punching walls but the reality is the season hinges on how you work your team from here on out. If you give it another couple weeks, a GM should have an idea of what his or her team can or cannot do then adjust accordingly.

Fantasy Hockey Week Ahead for Week 2

So you may want to sit Shane Doan as he has been suspended for three games for his blindside late hit on Dan Sexton in the Anaheim-Phoenix game on Sunday. Doan was hitting everything in sight last night for whatever reason and just seemed like a captain gone wild.  Either way, he will be pretty much fantasy irrelevant for this week.  The league is definitely sending a message even if some viewed this as a blind and late shoulder hit but the bottom line is bench Doan this week.

On to other Lace Em Ups and Ride The Pines.

LACE EM UP

Sidney Crosby (PIT) – Captain Obvious could have called this one but Crosby drools at the mere sight of playing Ottawa. As a matter of fact, the last time Ottawa saw Sid The Kid, he was torching them worse than General Sherman could ever do to Atlanta and the South. Crosby has ten points in his last five outings against Ottawa and with no Pascal Leclair…oh really it doesn’t matter who is in net for the Senators, Crosby is licking his lips. (Update: Crosby tallied a power play goal and an assist in the Penguins’ 5-2 win last night over the Senators)

Henrik Lundqvist (NYR) — This one sounds a bit odd with Marian Gaborik being out, but Lundqvist often plays best when the chips are down. Consider this one of those situations. Everyone realizes how hot Lundqvist was at the end of last year where there was little margin for error. Although he has given up 13 goals after three games so far, I expect a much sharper Lundqvist this week and that is always good for your fantasy team. (Update: Lundqvist gave up three goals and made 34 saves in the Rangers’ 3-1 loss to the Avalanche last night)

John Carlson (WAS) — There is no fluke here. Carlson was poised to make a huge leap from last year’s limited engagement and has six points to show for his efforts so far. Carlson has an above average slap shot and can play physical in all zones which increases his fantasy value. Expect another good week for JC as the schedule remains favorable for Washington. A home and home with Boston and Atlanta highlight this week for Washington.

David Booth (FLA) — Booth started a bit slow but notched two goals against Tampa Bay over the weekend. He is clearly Florida’s best player and can light it up with Michael Frolik and Stephen Weiss. Look! Florida will be very inconsistent all year and at times will ride Vokoun until his skates fall off but the Panthers have some talent on this roster. Expect Booth to be close to a point a game with injury concerns being his only real potential downfall.

Patrick Sharp (CHI) – Sharp actually has a shot at leading the Hawks in scoring this year even with the likes of Hossa, Kane, and Toews in the land of Blackhawks. Sharp has the talent to excel in all situations unlike Marian Hossa and has an abundance of confidence after last year’s Stanley Cup Finals. Expect a solid week out of Sharp as the heat continues to emote from his hockey stick. Could he be the NHL Player Of The Month?  Possibly. (Update: Sharp scored the game-winner for the Blackhawks against the Blues last night)

RIDE THE PINE

Alexei Kovalev (OTT) – He is worse than Olli Jokinen if that is believable. There is really not much else to say other than he has no points and not much hope of a productive season. Maybe he will end up in the KHL next year or Montreal. Who knows what the enigma will provide us.

Martin Brodeur (NJ) — A hard one to stomach but facts are facts. The Devils are off until Thursday and this team was horrid after long stretches of rest last year. You can expect more of the same and may want to stay away from Brodeur or stash him on your bench for the next few weeks as he works out the kinks from his latest binge eating experience at Krispy Kreme’s.

Clarke MacArthur and Phil Kessel (TOR) — Quite bluntly, the fantasy magic carpet ride ends for a week as Toronto eventually hits reality. Kessel will score a bit more than MacArthur but not by much. There will be other spurts when these two light it up during the season. Do not fret but for now not stud but not necessarily a good idea to give them top billing on your fantasy roster.

Steve Mason (CLB) – Now if you have him, shame on you but Mason and even Marc-Andre Fleury are two goalies you should let ride the pine this week.

IN SUMMARY

Expect another week of surprises and keep an eye on injuries daily. That cannot be emphasized enough as they are coming fast and furious. Do not forget suspensions as well.

Good luck this week and by all means, fire away some questions. They are always good to answer.

See you next week.

First up, will MacArthur be this year’s Lee Stempniak?

That answer is no. There are some noticeable differences. For one, Stempniak went nuts in March and early April in clutch time for fantasy owners. MacArthur is doing this in the first week. Four goals will get you noticed but then again Steve Sullivan and Derek Roy also have four goals and they are not being petitioned for fantasy sainthood yet, are they? We forget Brendan Morrow too. Lost in all of this hoopla over surprises was the fact that Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos who both scored 50 goals also have four tallies in the early going. They may be safer bets in the early going.

Is Nikolai Khabibulin going to keep playing like he is now?

That answer is also no. Eventually Khabibulin will end up in jail for driving more drunk than Dominik Hasek on his worst day.  He will serve a 30 day sentence and pretty much become fantasy persona non grata at that point. The shutout in his first effort against Calgary was nice. However even minor league goalies could shutout Calgary. Okay maybe not but Khabibulin is close to his highest selling point right now.

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