January 7, 2012
Fantasy Fare: First-half flops
By Joel Colomby, QMI Agency
With the NHL schedule closing in on its halfway point, time to take stock of the biggest surprises and disappointments of the season. This week, we’ll look at our top 10 fantasy flops.
10. Milan Lucic BOS: The penalty totals are where they should be but, at his current pace, the goals, assists and plus-minus will fall well short of last year’s 30-30 and almost-30 numbers.
9. Alex Ovechkin WAS: He’d be a lot higher on this list had he not suddenly regained his scoring touch and finally begun to justify being picked in the top three. His owners now counting on a strong second-half.
8. Nikolai Kulemin TOR: From 30 goals last year, winger is on pace for eight this season. Worse, he’s not even getting the quality chances he did a year ago. Only saving grace is that he wasn’t a top-round pick in most drafts.
7. Henrik Zetterberg DET: Thanks to just eight goals heading into Saturday’s game in Toronto, his point totals are more fourth-round pick than first-round.
6. Lubomir Visnovsky ANA: Three goals in his past seven games can’t undo a brutal first half with just 10 points. As the first defenceman to go in many drafts, he has been only a shadow of the guy who led NHL blueliners in assists and points a year ago with a plus-18.
5. Ilya Bryzgalov PHIL, Ryan Miller BUF: Bryzgalov is getting the wins, but his GAA (3.01) and save percentage (8.90) aren’t close to what he put up in Phoenix. Same goes for Miller, only without the wins.
4. Jeff Carter CLB — He and Rick Nash were supposed to set the league on fire as linemates. Injuries haven’t helped, but he has managed just 17 points in the 27 games he has played.
3. Eric Staal CAR — His scoring totals have been cut in half while that nasty minus-10 mark of last season has more than doubled.
2. Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf ANA: Ducks’ top line totalled 245 points last season and were all first-round or early-second picks on draft day. This year, despite recent signs of life, they are on pace for 170 with fantasy-killing plus-minus totals.
1. Sidney Crosby — Yes, we’re well aware that he has played only a handful of games because of ongoing concussion problems. But those who selected him, likely did so very early and are paying for not having a first-round stud to rack up points.
Next week, the halftime surprises.
-- Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis have truly been a one-dimensional fantasy commodities post-Christmas. In those five games, the Stamkos has eight goals but zero assists while linemate St. Louis has zero goals and seven assists. Both are minus-3 in that span.
-- In case you haven’t been following the Maple Leafs coverage closely, Jonas Gustavsson has been annointed the No. 1 netminder until he plays his way out of it.
-- Niklas Hagman is the latest Ducks winger to audition for the Teemu Selanne-Saku Koivu line. Hagman still shows flashes of offensive magic and might be a decent fit, though we still believe that as long as Koivu is centring the unit, it will have its limitations.
Rene Bourque’s five-game suspension comes at a bad time for his owners. The Flames winger was heating up nicely with seven goals in his past 15 games.
We doubt Chris Butler is on many fantasy rosters, to start with, so that ghastly minus-7 in the Flames’ 9-0 beatdown by Boston on Thursday — dropping the defenceman from plus-3 to minus-4 on the season — won’t make much of an impact. Jay Bouwmeester and Mikael Backlund, however, both came out of it minus-5.
GAMES THIS WEEK
4 — ANA, CAR, CHI, LA, MONT, NYR, PITT, SJ, TB, VAN, WASH
All other teams play 3 games
HOT AND NOT
(Skaters the past two weeks)
David Krejci BOS
Mikhail Grabovski TOR
Steve Downie TB
2-3-5, plus-3, 24 PIMs
- - - - - -
Shane Doan PHX
Jay Bouwmeester CGY
Evgeni Malkin PIT
TRAINER’S ROOM TICKER (11 lines)
Barring a late setback to his ankle, Stars D Sheldon Souray (left) should be back in the lineup for Tuesday’s game … Same for Dustin Byfuglien (back) ... Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ shoulder injury should keep the rookie out until early February, but only if it is not dislocated … X-rays showed Kimmo Timonen’s wrist isn’t broken and he is day-to-day … There is talk now that Simon Gagne (concussion) may not be back this season ... Jaromir Jagr, who hurt his groin in the Winter Classic, may be back for Sunday’s game … The Panthers have lost G Jose Theodore (knee) for a couple of weeks … Mark Letestu (broken hand) is out up to six weeks … Brian Gionta and Bryan Little were both expected back Saturday night … Kris Letang (concussion) is finally skating again .
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Flying off the waiver wire in fantasy leagues after rekindling his long-lost offensive touch with 2-5-7 totals his past five games. The plus-11 in that span makes it easy to take a chance on him.
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That four-goal night on Wednesday gives former first-rounder seven points in four games since being moved up to centre Tomas Plekanec and Erik Cole after Christmas. Could this be the breakout the Habs have been waiting for?
Has three goals in his past five games — upping his season total to nine — but is doing it as a fourth-liner, averaging less than 10 minutes a game. Avoid, for now.
The 19-year-old has taken over as the Canes’ power-play point man with Pitkanen out and has notched goals in two of his past three games. Keep an eye on him.
Could regain his fantasy pulse after being promoted to the second line, but you may have to wait until Bourque returns to his wing. A waiver claim off the Islanders in late November, he was 24-22-46 last season in New York.