Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Puck Stops Here: Back to the Future

We are quickly approaching the most pivotal time of the NHL fantasy season, the stretch run. Teams are in one of three categories, comfortably ahead and preparing for the playoffs, fighting for/keeping a playoff spot, or all but mathematically eliminated. If you fall into the last category, for the sake of your league, don’t give up and don’t trade players to help other teams. If you are comfortably ahead, you need to pace yourself and think about the players who can help you the most during the playoffs. Don’t be fooled by the one-week wonder. Those of you in the middle category need to be watching the waiver wire like a hawk and jumping on anyone with the hot hand. In desperate situations, stream players. It may anger some owners, but at least your trying.

I mentioned him last week and this week I am upgrading him. Unless you are sound between the pipes go pick up Brian Elliott. Elliott has been given the opportunity to run away with the starting gig in Ottawa and he has done just that. In his first five games, he is sporting a 2.18 GAA and a 92.4% save percentage, he also has accumulated three wins and is facing just under 30 shots a game. The only stat he hasn’t helped out in is shutouts. The job is his and he has been pretty solid. He is a very good #3 goaltender, and a low end #2. Chances are he is better than your #3 goaltender, and if that is the case, go get him. Remember, he is a rookie, so expect a couple rough patches here or there.

Danny Briere is going to miss even more time with his tricky groin injury. The timetable is two more weeks, but that is if everything checks out ok in his “exploratory surgery” on Thursday. Look, first it was a torn abdominal muscle, then it was a groin injury, now it has become a lingering groin injury, all of these are related. I just don’t see him contributing for closer to a month, rather than two weeks. If you are fighting for the playoffs, and are on the outside looking in, trade Briere for immediate help. He does you no good in the playoffs if you're not there. If you are comfortably in the playoffs, hold onto him, a healthy Briere for the playoffs could spell trouble for your opponents.

No need to check your calendars, this isn’t the 90’s, but Sergei Fedorov’s play has improved recently. He is no longer feeling any ill-effects from an ankle injury from last season and his play is showing it. Washington has shown they can score, a lot. While teams focus on trying to shut down the Semin-Ovechkin unit, Fedorov’s line is free to do some damage. What makes Fedorov so interesting is he is getting some major minutes on the point during the power play. It is unlikely he will gain D eligibility, but if he does, he is a must add. For now, keep an eye on him and see if he continues to play well.

If Fedorov wasn’t enough to get you thinking about 90’s, the return of Brendan Shanahan and Claude Lemieux will. Lemieux is completely worthless in fantasy, but there is definitely value in Shanahan. Shanahan flat out knows how to score goals and New Jersey seems to have figured out how to produce offense as well. This was just about the perfect scenario for Shanahan. He will be placed on a scoring unit and join the top power play unit as well. He scored a goal in his first game, but more importantly, he had six shots on goal. Don’t drop anyone amazing for Shanny, but he is definitely worth adding.

A couple of quick notes...Ales Hemsky returned from his concussion this past weekend and has four goals and two assists in two games. Hemsky doesn’t carry much name value, but his play certainly does. You may be able to get him fairly cheap for the value he’ll give you in return...Pavel Datsyuk left the game early in Phoenix due to a hip pointer, but it is nothing serious. With the all-star break upon us, he should be ready to go after the break. Don’t let someone talk you into a trade. I recently told a buddy, unless I was getting primo talent, I would never trade Datsyuk.

Enjoy the all-star festivities this weekend. The skills competition is a great way to see how talented the NHL stars really are. As always, please feel free to leave comments or questions, and until next week, The Puck Stops Here.

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Scott said...

Any talk of Briere's injury being a sports hernia?? If so, that would mean even more time away from the ice...

Joe Romano said...

Scott, that is initially what I thought, but I find it highly doubtful that team doctors would not have spotted such an injury yet. Unless it is a new injury, it is pretty hard to high a sports hernia. Briere has always been fragile and I think this is just another instance of that.

Mike Colligan said...

Flyers center Danny Briere underwent successful surgery on his groin/stomach area today and will be sidelined for at least four more weeks, general manager Paul Holmgren said.

Surgeon William Meyers of Hahnemann University Hospital repaired a nerve entrapment, Holmgren said.