The final week of fantasy hockey action before the highly anticipated Olympic competition in Vancouver is here, and now puckheads everywhere are being forced into taking a two-week vacation from their love for the fantasy hockey!
This is a statement week in your league, regardless of scoring type. You really want to be able to step it up this week and go into this fantasy vacation on a high note.
This past seven days we have seen much of the same from most of the usual suspects in fantasy puck action, including the two biggest guns of all, Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. The NHL’s schedule this week was capped of quite nicely with an incredible come-from-behind win by the Caps on Sunday afternoon vs. Crosby’s Penguins. To no one’s surprise, A.O. and Sid put on an offensive showcase, making it worth ever cent of the $300 bucks that tickets were selling for outside the arena. An epic showdown at the 2010 Games is looming for these two combatants. It all comes to a head in the next two weeks. Are you still sad about not getting to play fantasy hockey for two weeks? Don’t be – check out ctvolympics.ca for a great weekly pool you can participate in during the Olympic tournament.
4 games: Anaheim, Colorado, Edmonton, Nashville, New Jersey, NY Islanders, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Vancouver
3 games: Atlanta, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Boston, Buffalo, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, NY Rangers, Pittsburgh, Washington
2 games: Toronto
Keep your eye on the newly acquired Dion Phaneuf and the suddenly decent Toronto Maple Leafs, even though they play in only two games this week. Both Phaneuf and the back-to-back shutout man himself, J.S. Giguere are loving life in T.O. thus far. If Giggy managed to slide by on your waiver wire this week without being picked up, he’s a much healthier option at this point than a Chris Osgood/Rick DiPietro/Carey Price type. He’ll continue to get the bulk of the load after the Olympics when the Leafs try to salvage their disappointing season. Off the ice is a different story, as it’s always exciting in Leafland with Brian Burke around.
This deal is going to go down in one of two ways over the course of the next few years: 1) Dion Phaneuf becomes a perennial Norris candidate or 2) He becomes Bryan McCabe.
If you ask me, I think Brian Burke pulled a fast one over Darryl Sutter and capitalized on Sutter’s desperation. Phaneuf is an impact player who the Calgary Flames will spend years trying to replace. Flames fans will be calling for Sutter’s head if this deal does not pay dividends immediately. Meanwhile, Brian Burke has officially put his stamp on the Toronto Maple Leafs future this season with the acquisitions of Phil Kessel and now Phaneuf. The future looks bright in Toronto for the first time in a very long time.
The NHL has been downright cruel to teams so far this season in trying to squeeze in more games prior to the Olympic break than usual. Look at how many teams are playing in four games again this week, which is a prime example of how things have been. The travel has been horrendous for many teams.
Just ask the Vancouver Canucks. Their current 14-game road trip has just kicked off, and already their top line of Alex Burrows and Daniel and Henrik Sedin has gone quiet by only posting one point collectively in the past seven days. The Canucks desperately need to finish on a strong push going into the break and so does Roberto Luongo, who in seven days time will join Team Canada, where he will certainly see at least some playing time.
I’ll take the Canucks to win two of four this week and we will see if that top line can wake up and continue their all-out assault on NHL goalies.
If you have been following The Week Ahead all season long here on fantasyhockey.com, then you know about my slight man crush on Steve Stamkos. I predicted in the preseason that he would score 40 goals this season, and he has not let me down one bit. With 31 goals now, Stamkos is on pace to blow my prediction out of the water and continue proving to everyone that he deserved to be a part of Team Canada. I love Team Canada’s roster, but how a guy who is has scored like Stamkos has for the past 12 months is left at home is a mistake. Wayne Gretzky did it in 2006 with Sidney Crosby on the then taxi squad, and now Yzerman has done it with Stamkos, who will undoubtedly be a massive part of Team Canada at the next Olympics if NHLers wind up playing.
ONES TO WATCH
Jason Chimera – The Capitals have not lost since acquiring the gritty winger from Columbus. He’s owned in less than 20 percent of leagues, but is contributing every night and putting numbers up on the fantasy board consistently. Chimera gets virtually no power-play time with the Caps, so keep that in mind if power play points are a stat in your league. If you want that, you need Mike Knuble, who somehow is still available in some leagues. (Shaking head)
Bobby Ryan – It may not be to the level of my Stamkos man crush, but close. The finish Bobby Ryan will have to this NHL season is going to help propel him up the superstar ladder. Ryan is now seeing full-time action with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry giving the Ducks arguably the scariest line in the NHL. Too bad the other three lines are terrible.
Ilya Kovalchuk – The Kovalchuk trade to New Jersey makes the Devils unlike anything the Devils have ever been during all of their success in the past 15 years, and that’s downright scary offensively. Kovalchuk and Zach Parise are the poor man’s Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but it may just work.
John Tavares – Drop him already. Unless you’re in a keeper league, you need to drop him from you roster. With so much talent at center available on most wires, better help is widely available.
Phil Kessel – Kessel seems to have been energized since the callup of Tyler Bozak and now even more so by the addition of Phaneuf. He was red hot this past week, and is still an absolute beast in the shots on goal category.
Ray Whitney – A deal with the LA Kings is reportedly in place for the scoring winger from Carolina. Whitney, 37, wants a three-year deal worth a reported $10M in order to waive his no-trade clause, which is not what the Kings or anyone else wants to pay. My guess is he goes to LA, and then back to Carolina this summer via free agency at a much lower cost than his asking price of $10 million for three years. Whitney’s fantasy value will stay the same no matter where he ends up.
Good luck this week and enjoy the Olympic break!
For fantasyhockey.com, I’m Tim Arnold, the fantasypuckdude