Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Puck Stops Here: Happy Thanksgiving

Welcome back to another exciting edition of The Puck Stops Here. I would like to direct all readers to the article Mike Colligan recently authored about the absurdly disastrous Tampa Bay Lightning situation. It is a really interesting read and reminds us that failing to separate business from sports usually leads to disaster. Sure, sports is a business, but handle the sports part right and the fans, and their money, will follow.

This past weekend saw two major injuries take place and there is a third that revealed a little more information to the fantasy world. Before tackling each, I would like to complain about the Bill Belichick approach to injuries that NHL teams are employing this year. It seems almost impossible to get any information about injuries that aren’t season ending. Numerous players have been day-to-day yet have missed weeks without any information. For example, Brodeur started with a bruised elbow and ended up with surgery and is out 3-4 months. It is atrocious policy for the NHL to allow this to continue, passionate fans care about injuries (not just gamblers) and, with the NHL struggling, the NHL should try to please their fans, not annoy them. On to the injuries.

Brendan Morrow, LW, Dallas: This injury hurt me, bad. I was able to get Morrow surprisingly late in just about all my drafts and now I am left with nothing. This isn’t quite Brady going down, but it is pretty painful. Morrow is an official fantasy stud and many teams will be left with gaping holes at left wing. Ok, that didn’t take any kind of expertise to know, what you need to know is how to attempt to fill that hole. I look to Sean Avery or Loui Eriksson. I think each will be given a role to fill the void left by Morrow and each is capable of being a solid fantasy contributor. Eriksson currently is filling in on Morrow’s line and has a point in each game. Avery will get a chance if Eriksson struggles, but even if he doesn’t, Avery will get significant minutes on the second line and may see his numbers grow a little as a result. I like both as LW pick-ups who may be available to add. Also, take a look at Alexer Ponikarovsky, Todd Bertuzzi, and David Booth.

Roberto Luongo, G, Vancouver: Luongo’s injury didn’t look bad but his reaction was painful to see and he needed to be helped off the ice. Vancouver started by playing the recent injury game but has placed Luongo on the IR demonstrating this will be a longer variety of “day-to-day”. Be thankful Vancouver placed Luongo on IR, replacing him is impossible, but at least you don’t have to drop anyone in the process. Without knowing who is available in your league, I recommend Luongo’s replacement, Curtis Sanford. In his two outings since Luongo went down, Sanford held the Pens to 1 goal and Detroit to 2 goals. That is impressive and shows he may be reliable while Luongo is out. Vancouver plays a pretty strong defensive game and I think Sanford should be serviceable until Luongo returns. At the very least, Sanford is convenient, put Luongo on the IR, add Sanford and drop Sanford when Luongo returns, you won’t have to worry about dropping him.

Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Pittsburgh: The injury to MAF has been much of a mystery to fantasy players and Penguins fans. He has been marked with the dreaded day-to-day label but this is looking like an injury that will keep MAF out at least 2 or 3 more weeks. Speculation has ranged from high ankle sprain to muscle pulls. I wouldn’t be shocked if it was a high ankle sprain, but the fact that MAF has tried to practice tells me it may not be quite that serious. However, he still hasn’t made it through a full practice with the Pens and the team is considering shutting him down. The problem is, while all this is going on, fantasy owners are keeping dead weight on their roster because the Pens refuse to put MAF on the IR. Listen, MAF isn’t coming back in the next couple of weeks and you need to find a replacement. Find your least valuable player and look for Sabourin. Aside from this evening, Sabourin has looked pretty good and is a serviceable replacement until MAF comes back.

***Thursday morning note*** Nikolai Khabibulin, G, Chicago: Bulin left the Chicago game early last night. The Blackhawks have already labeled him as day-to-day but there isn't much information yet. I want to point out the injury because, if Cristobal Huet is available in your league, he is the replacement for Bulin if it is a long term injury and may help ease other goalie woes as well.

I hope everyone has a happy and safe Thanksgiving. As with any article, feel free to post a comment or question. Until next week, The Puck Stops Here.

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