Hey! Did you miss us? We're back! After taking the All Star Break off and enjoying the scenery a little, we strike back with a little Fantasy Hockey ONE today. It was nice to recharge the batteries but now is the time to start looking at those fantasy hockey teams as Week 16 continues for most but a new week starts for a select few (it just depends on your league). The good luxury for those who started off poorly in a long Week 16 is that there are six nights to make those deficits up. The playoff push for those in a vast majority of leagues starts right now. With about six or seven weeks to go until the fantasy playoffs, it is a must to get that fantasy team going in the right direction. Every matchup is critical, even for the teams in top positions (seeding is important too).
It is great that the league comes back with a vengeance tonight. That means most fantasy rosters will be full. Even better, there are some really solid games on the docket which will make it feel a lot like a Saturday. Rangers-Devils, Blackhawks-Canucks, and Winnipeg-Philly 3, are just a few of the highlighted games. Fantasy implications are plenty. If you have Center Ice or are just a hockey fan in general, tonight is like hockey nirvana. Let's get down to looking at the schedule first. That may be a good idea.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
|Ottawa||at||Boston||7:00 PM | Gameday
|NY Rangers||at||New Jersey||7:00 PM | Gameday
|Winnipeg||at||Philadelphia||7:00 PM | Gameday
|Toronto||at||Pittsburgh||7:00 PM | Gameday
|NY Islanders||at||Carolina||7:00 PM | Gameday
|Buffalo||at||Montreal||7:30 PM | Gameday
|Washington||at||Tampa Bay||7:30 PM | Gameday
|Nashville||at||Minnesota||8:00 PM | Gameday
|Detroit||at||Calgary||9:00 PM | Gameday
|Anaheim||at||Phoenix||9:00 PM | Gameday
|Colorado||at||Edmonton||9:30 PM | Gameday
|Chicago||at||Vancouver||10:00 PM | Gameday
|Columbus||at||San Jose||10:30 PM | Gameday
Now this is more like it National Hockey League! There are also several returns expected tonight in the NHL as well. So please check your fantasy rosters accordingly. If there are news boxes, click on them. The intriguing aspect of a night like this is seeing how some teams come out of the All Star Break itself. Some will come out sluggish because they are rested and some will come out sluggish because they had several players who participated in All Star Weekend. Either way, expect a little more sloppy play than usual on this night as some find their way.
With tonight being so big, we bring on Ian Gooding and his Pick Six as always to add a little guidance in the fantasy hockey quagmire.
After a five-day layoff, it’s back to fantasy hockey mode on Tuesday. All teams are back in action, with the exception of Dallas, Florida, Los Angeles, and St. Louis. With the other side of the All-Star break signaling the stretch run, roster decisions become that more important for fantasy teams who have an eye toward a league championship.
Here is your Pick Six for Tuesday, the last day in January:
Brendan Morrison, C, CHI – add/start
Even with Jonathan Toews set to return to the Blackhawks’ lineup for Tuesday’s showdown with Vancouver (ESPN), new acquisition Mo could see top-6 minutes against his former team. He recorded only 11 points in 28 games this season for Calgary, but trades more often than not increase a player’s short-term value. Morrison is expected to center the Hawks’ second line alongside returning All-Star Marian Hossa. If you have the roster space in a deep league, he’s worth a flier.
Paul Martin, D, PIT – add/start
Martin had an unspectacular start to the season, but he has posted points in five of his last six games. Despite the return of Kris Letang, Martin is still seeing power-play minutes along with 25 minutes in the Pens’ last game on Tuesday vs. St. Louis. I added him as an injury replacement on one deep league team, but I won’t hesitate to drop him if another long column of goose eggs appears underneath his point total.
David Desharnais, C, MON – add/start
Desharnais was mentioned in my Midterm Report as a recent pickup. He scored two goals and added one assist in a surprising 7-2 explosion over Detroit on Wednesday. Playing on a new top line with Max Pacioretty and Erik Cole, the 5’7” center has quietly accumulated 35 points at the All-Star break, which is tied for second on the team.
Lubomir Visnovsky, D, ANA – start
Visnovsky may have been dropped in a few leagues, but he is on the comeback trail in January (7 points a +5 in 11 games). Injury and poor play by Ducks led to Viz’s poor start (only four points at mid-December). The Ducks have only two regulation losses in January, so Visnovsky needs to be back in lineups and near universal ownership again.
Roberto Luongo/Cory Schneider, G, VAN – bench
Who can forget when a panicked Canucks team surprised everyone by turning to Schneider during Game 6 during their emotionally charged first-round series with the Hawks last season? Sure, Schneider didn’t fare so badly before leaving the game in the third period with cramps (allowed three goals), but he did not have an easy time against the Hawks on November 16, allowing five goals. The Canucks are giving Schneider another opportunity against the Hawks on Tuesday (TSN), so you’ll have a chance to use him. Based on those numbers and the history between the two teams, whether you’ll want to use him is another matter.
Ryan Whitney, D, EDM - drop
Although he has recently returned to the Oils’ lineup, Whitney has only three assists in 18 games. He has missed 17 games with a perpetually sore ankle that could affect his mobility for the rest of his career. Expect Whitney to be a plus/minus liability (-6 this season) as the young Oilers still struggle, so he is someone to pass on right now if you are looking for help on defense.
TRADE DEADLINE DEBATES:
Here is a bit of a new focus that we will have every so often on the column. Whether you are buying for a championship run or selling for next year, this will be for you. Keep in mind, not every trade deadline is right near the NHL Trade Deadline. Some start as soon as this week ladies and gentlemen so again keep an eye on your league's rules and regulations.
Also be aware of what your team truly needs. Buying or selling does not matter unless you actually make trades that help your team. Surely one is going to have to give up something they may not want to necessarily but for the short and long term, it may be for the better. The best thing to do is assess your team's needs and wants. Hell, make a list if you have to. For perspective, I have seen leagues where 20-25 trades are made on deadline day alone. That sounds like an eye popping number for most but if you see it enough, most of the trades are relatively minor with a few major ones sprinkled in.
Then there are the leagues where the deadline almost goes by with a whimper rather than a loud roar. Those may be the leagues where a person can make a best out of a trade situation. What will you see in this part of the column? There will be some potential trade offers as well as some trades that go through. We hope it is a fun and different experience for the fantasy hockey GM (no matter if they are a beginner or an expert).
Tonight we continue the banter as Weekly Slapshot returns at 9:30pm ET via The Program. Good luck with your fantasy leagues as the NHL is back and again thanks for reading everyone.