Here on Fantasy Hockey 201, we crave a little controversy because when you break it down, being boring is just not good enough. A big congrats to Steven Stamkos who is our October Forward Of The Month. All he did was score 19 points in 10 games in October. To add gravy on top, he had seven points on the man advantage, put 39 shots on net, and even scored a couple game winners for Tampa Bay.
If you really wanted a player to take it next level, it was Stamkos who was setting the world on fire in the last six weeks of last fantasy hockey season. This was indeed possible and some even saw it coming. The Florida debacle was the only game he was even held pointless. What is scary is that he could be better. Imagine if Simon Gagne had put anything together at all other than some comic relief in October? Just think of the possibilities. Stamkos got our vote and by a wide margin by the fans.
Our October Goalie Of The Month probably should have been Tuukka Rask right? Wrong! However, you do score partial credit because you did get the team right.
All Tim Thomas has done is shocked the hockey world in October and this had to be acknowledged. Imagine the Rask owners smart enough to handcuff with Thomas. They must be happy right now.
In six starts, Thomas has a 0.50 GAA and .984 save percentage with three shutouts. Boston has been buoyed by Tim “The Tank” Thomas and Thomas credits most of his resurgence to Tuukka Rask himself. If imitation and adaptation help, then obviously go for it. Thomas has not only done it well but has definitely made an impact on fantasy owners in October and could into November and beyond.
Do not expect Rask to go down quietly however. This could be a 1A and 1B situation still yet. Stay tuned but so far Thomas has done what few Boston goalies have not done since 1975 and that is lose your job then gain it back.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS
Joe Thornton (San Jose Sharks) — Yes he is a -3 but he does have 15 points. Even if a third of those points came against a Devils team that resembles the sisters of the poor, it is still news. The five goals and ten assists have been a pleasant surprise. Well the five goals have been anyway.
What is key is how Thornton does in the next two months because many think this could be a resurgence to elite status for Jumbo Joe who has been under 100 points for far too long according to some. Do not count me on the 100 point bandwagon yet but if he continues to find a way to stash a few in the net, he will be right around the century plateau in April. One overlooked stat is that Thornton is around 55% on faceoffs usually and wins a ton of them so do take notes in those deeper category leagues.
Patrick Sharp (Chicago Blackhawks) – We called this one in August. Ten goals in October later and the ex-Philly product is making people forget about all the scoring that was traded away if even for a little while. Even the injury to Marian Hossa has not really slowed Sharp down and his 16 points ties him for second in the NHL in scoring.
What I like about Sharp is his willingness to play an inside/outside game. Few forwards do that these days. Imagine what Sharp might do with last year’s roster playing like this.
The thoughts are scary in all honesty. Sharp has taken that next step and fantasy hockey owners better realize it quick because it may already be too late, even for next year.
Chris Stewart (Colorado Avalanche) — Oh my! Just imagine when this guy gets really good. Sixteen points and two hat tricks later in October and Stewart has vaulted himself into that class of player that at least screams best player on the team. He is a beast of a man who battles hard night in and night out. Stewart does not shy away from contact which means he hits people (also good for fantasy owners).
Stewart weighs almost 230 ladies and gentlemen and has some speed that a 230 pound player should not have. His presence in front of the net cannot be denied either and his shot is above average which makes him lethal. Teams who try to cover him and his shot often forget he can pass very well too.
When he is on, Stewart is very on. The question now is does Stewart sustain this level of play? My answer is that time is coming soon.
THAT LONG WALK OFF A SHORT PIER
Simon Gagne (Tampa Bay Lightning) – No points, no goals, no nothing. Gagne now has a stiff neck and ego and so do fantasy owners that hoped he would stay healthy again.
The reality is he is not all that hurt other than mentally. Hopefully in November, he can snap out of it because so many were counting on point a game production from him. Do we even mention the -8? I guess we just did.
There really is not much more to say here other than my God, you crapped the bed and there is no Depends big enough to help.
Alexei Kovalev (Ottawa Senators) – Kovalev is probably wishing he was playing in Russia because his numbers show it. He does have five points in his last six games, but honestly it is only a matter of time before he goes into the drink again. Fantasy owners became so frustrated with him last year that they just jumped ship anyway or most did. This recent outburst will spark some fleeting interest but that is about it.
People have to realize at 37 that Kovalev just is not the same player. Any player that turns it off eventually has it all go out on him at some point. That is a tough thing to overcome.
Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh Penguins) — Brent Johnson has a 1.16 GAA. That is not a misprint.
Fleury has a 1-5 record with a 3.35 GAA and .863 save percentage. For awhile there, it seemed Fleury was giving up a goal on the first or second shot. He cannot buy a win and his confidence has to be hurting. Note I did not say shot yet.
Fleury starts out very slow before heating up. That is a French Canadian goalies’ M.O. Everyone knows Fleury is a Cup winner but right now he looks like an AHL backup.Once he gets a win or two with a solid result, he should be okay or at least that is what fantasy owners hope for at this point.
If better things do not come, maybe Johnson is a good handcuff till Christmas? Maybe.
The entire New Jersey Devils offense — They have scored 20 goals in 13 games and now will not have Zach Parise for three months after knee surgery. This collection is so bad that even one of their better players was functionally benched last night against Vancouver. Though admittedly things could get better with just one or two goals in succession.
The Devils have a league worst -22 goal differential and there are no fantasy surprises really. Yes Matt Taormina has been pretty good but after falling all over himself last night, that cannot be good. Even Ilya Kovalchuk has few answers and his three goals are not exactly what people expected. The shots are there at around 30 a clip but the goals are not.
New Jersey has scored two or less goals in 11 of 13 games this year. There is not much more to say about this other than OUCH!
We do have to make our list of the dearly departed from fantasy rosters. Please note Alex Burrows is back for Vancouver and paying dividends with “THE TWINS”.
- Zach Parise (out three months — meniscus)
- Dion Phaneuf (lower body)
- Jordan Staal (staff infection, hand — out 6 weeks)
- Anton Volchenkov (nose and neck — may be back this week)
- Marian Gaborik (shoulder — skating and back in two weeks or less)
- Jason Pominville (concussion — likely back Wednesday)
- Ryan Miller (out against Boston…stay tuned)
- Marian Hossa (shoulder — out two weeks)
- Dave Bolland (Ribs — may be put on IR)
- Craig Anderson (Knee, on IR, and timetable TBD)
- Peter Mueller (PCS, may be gone for season)
- Drew Doughty (Concussion — may be back very soon.)
- Josh Harding (Blown out knee — done for season)
- Ryan Suter (Leg and on IR)
- Half of Devils team mentally or physically hurt
- Mark Streit (Shoulder — out till March)
- Kyle Okposo (Shoulder — may be back by first wk of December)
- Vinny Prospal (Knee — Out till December)
There are some other bumps and bruises as well but looking ahead to November…..I have three rookies that I will name to keep an eye on and we will track them to see how they do.
YOUR NAMES TO WATCH:
Sergei Bobrovsky (PHI), John Carlson (WSH), Michal Neuvirth (WSH)
Good luck fantasy owners out there and bring the questions, we will be glad to answer. But wait here comes some more.
Is there one forward or one goalie you feel is going to stick out this November, tell us in the comment section. If you get even one right, we will kindly mention you on the show as being a true fantasy prognosticator. November promises to be a wild month, no pun intended of course.