Friday, April 11, 2008

Fantasy hockey update

Just a quick note about the hockey playoffs: I've entered a team in the challenge, which works on a pretty simple basis: pick one player from each list (i.e. a list of #1 forwards, #2 forwards, #1 defencemen, etc) until you have six forwards, four defencemen and two teams' goalie tandems. You get one point for each assist and two for each goal any of your players score, plus two points for each win your goaltenders put up and an extra point for each shutout. You can also completely retool your roster after the first and second rounds. Thus, I wasn't too concerned about picking teams that could go deep into the playoffs: I was more interested in finding the most offensive player available at each slot, and particularly those playing against teams with weaker defence and goaltending. My players and their performances to date are listed below. So far, I've accumulated 15 points from the first two nights, good enough to put me into a tie for eighth (however, that's a tie with a lot of other people).

Forward #1: Alexander Ovechkin: 0 points
Alexander the Great was a pretty easy choice here, seeing how he ran away with the Rocket Richard and Art Ross trophies and should claim the Hart as well. He's also up against Martin Biron and the Flyers, not the league's best defensive team. The first game is tonight. It's impressive that my team's doing decently when my biggest star has yet to play a game: I'm expecting a solid performance from Ovechkin to help me down the stretch.

Forward #2: Evgeni Malkin: 4 points
I loaded up on Penguins, seeing as they're facing the carcass of the Ottawa Senators, who could be described as defensively-inept at the best of times. Also, any time you can take a Hart Trophy candidate who put up the second-highest points total in the league (106, second only to Ovechkin's 112) as a second forward sounds pretty good to me. The only reason Malkin was available in this slot is each list has only one player from each team, and Crosby was picked as the Penguins' top forward. Malkin's made me look pretty good so far, putting up a goal and two assists in the Penguins' 4-0 win over Ottawa Wednesday. Game Two's tonight, so hopefully he'll keep it up.

Forward #3: Marian Hossa: 1 point
Picked Hossa for most of the same reasons as Malkin: Ottawa can't play defense, and Hossa's got the advantage of playing with a great offensive team. Also, he had better regular-season stats than most of the other #3 forwards (other choices included Sakic, Modano and Bertuzzi). He rewarded me with an assist Wednesday night.

Forward #4: Petr Sykora: 2 points
Again, tremendous value for a fourth forward, especially going against a weak defensive team. Other choices included Hejduk and Shanahan. Sykora scored Wednesday, and should keep that up.

Forward #5: J.P. Dumont: 0 points
I like Dumont for the numbers he put up this year (led Nashville in goals and points with 29-43-72). I don't understand how he's their fifth forward, seeing as he outperformed Arnott, Radulov, Erat and Legwand this year, all of whom are listed above him. Other choices included John Madden, Ryan Smyth and Sergei Federov. He's also playing against Detroit, a good defensive team but one with iffy goaltending in the reanimated corpses of Dominik Hasek and Chris Osgood. He played 19 minutes in the opener last night and got off two shots, but didn't score.

Forward #6: Jeff Carter: 0 points
Carter put up a very respectable 29-24-53 campaign this year for Philly, far better than most of the other options at sixth forward (Rob Niedermeyer, Chris Neil, Sean Avery). Also, Washington isn't known for its defence. We'll see how he does tonight.

Defenceman #1: Nicklas Lidstrom: 1 point
Hard not to go with the league-leader in points by defencemen (10-60-70). Lidstrom's key to Detroit's offence, and Nashville isn't known for great defence. He got an assist last night.

Defenceman #2: Mark Streit: 1 point
I've loved Streit ever since watching him play for the Swiss in the 2006 Olympics. He's had a great campaign this year for Montreal (13-49-62), and I expect him to put up some good numbers against Boston. He had an assist in the Canadiens' 4-1 win yesterday.

Defenceman #3: Niklas Kronwall: 1 point
This was one of the tougher picks to make, as Mathieu Schneider of the Ducks had better stats (12-27-39 vs. 7-28-35). However, I figured Nashville-Detroit would be higher-scoring than Anaheim-Dallas, and Dan Ellis would be more beatable than Marty Turco. So far, Kronwall has an assist and Schneider has nothing, but both teams have only played one game.

Defenceman #4: Dan Hamhuis: 0 points
Again, the possible high-scoring nature of Detroit-Nashville influenced this pick. Hamhuis is a pretty good offensive defenceman as well (4-23-27) this year.

Goalies: San Jose Sharks (3 points) and Montreal Canadiens (2 points)
All that matters in this system for goalies is wins and shutouts: I was the most confident in Montreal and San Jose winning their matchups going in, so that influenced this pick. Nabokov's also pretty good in the shutout category, while Boston doesn't have much offense, so those factors came into play as well.

I'll post perodic updates on the team during the playoffs.

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