Thursday, May 08, 2008

Fantasy Selections for Round Three

Round Three of the NHL playoffs starts tonight, so here's the promised update on my fantasy hockey team (in the GlobeSports Fantasy Hockey Playoff Challenge). The challenge lets you pick six forwards, four defencemen and two teams' goalies (one team from each conference) for each round: you then get two points for each goal scored by your players, one point per assist, two points for a goalie's win and an extra point for a shutout. Here's the breakdown of my picks so far and how they've done.

Round 1:

Forward 1: Alex Ovechkin, WSH: 13 points (tied for Forward #1 lead with Jarome Iginla, CGY)
Forward 2: Evgeni Malkin, PIT: 9 points (leader: Vaclav Prospal, PHI, 12 points)
Forward 3: Marian Hossa, PIT: 6 points (leader, Daniel Briere, PHI, 17 points)
Forward 4: Petr Sykora, PIT: 6 points (leader, Alexander Semin, WSH, 11 points)
Forward 5: J.P. Dumont, NSH: 2 points (leader, Ryane Clowe, SJS, 12 points)
Forward 6: Jeff Carter, PHI: 7 points (leader, Joe Pavelski, SJS, 10 points)

Defenceman 1: Nicklas Lidstrom, DET: 5 points (leaders, Mike Green, WSH, and Dion Phaneuf, CGY, 10 points)
Defenceman 2: Mark Streit, MTL: 3 points (leader, Brian Rafalski, DET, 5 points)
Defenceman 3: Niklas Kronwall, DET: 5 points (tied for lead with Shea Weber, NSH)
Defenceman 4: Dan Hamhuis, NSH: 3 points (tied for lead with Mike Komisarek, MTL)

Goaltenders: Montreal (10 points, leader) and San Jose (9 points, tied for lead)

Total points for Round 1: 78
Rank: 17th overall for Round 1

Comments: I did all right here, but Dumont killed me: I figured a 72-point player who was his team's leading scorer during the regular season would be a steal at the fifth forward slot, particularly against an aging Detroit goalie corps. Unfortunately, Dumont disappeared, and so did my production. Also, when did Daniel Briere suddenly decide to earn his $10 million as one of the league's highest-paid players?

Round 2:

Forward 1: Sidney Crosby, PIT: 6 points (leader, Pavel Datsyuk, DET, 10 points)
Forward 2: Evgeni Malkin, PIT: 11 points (leader: Henrik Zetterberg, DET, 14 points)
Forward 3: Daniel Briere, PHI: 5 points (leader, Marian Hossa, PIT, 9 points)
Forward 4: Petr Sykora, PIT: 4 points (leaders, Brenden Morrow, DAL, and Saku Koivu, MTL, 9 points)
Forward 5: Ryane Clowe, SJS: 2 points (leader, Johan Franzen, DET, 19 points)
Forward 6: Sergei Kostitsyn, MTL: 2 points (leader, Jeff Carter, PHI, 6 points)

Defenceman 1: Nicklas Lidstrom, DET: 4 points (leaders, Brian Campbell, SJS, and John-Michael Liles, COL, 5 points)
Defenceman 2: Brian Rafalski, DET: 3 points (tied for lead with Ryan Whitney, PIT, and Craig Rivet, SJS)
Defenceman 3: Niklas Kronwall, DET: 3 points (leader)
Defenceman 4: Mike Komisarek, 1 point (leader, Jason Smith, PHI, 2 points)

Goaltenders: Montreal (2 points, leader, Pittsburgh, 9 points) and Dallas (8 points, tied for lead)

Total points for Round Two: 51
Rank: 38th overall for Round Two

Comments: This round hurt. My picks were still decent overall, but Clowe and Briere returned to normal (read: mediocre) form after I jumped on their bandwagons, while guys I dropped like Hossa and Carter promptly responded with fantastic rounds. Also, Carey Price proved extremely vulnerable to a not-very-good Philly team, as did the Canadiens as a whole. The overall question from this round: who the hell is Johan Franzen and why is he suddenly amazing?

Now, on to my Round Three picks. This round encompasses both the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup finals, leaving entrants with a tough decision: do they stack their teams with players who they think will advance, or do they try and cover their bases with some guys from each team? I'm going all-in, and stocking the lineup with only Penguins and Stars (see my predictions for reasons why I think those teams will win). As each slot only has one player available from each team, this makes the decisions somewhat easier: I've gone from four players at each slot to two. Thus, below is a breakdown of the options at each remaining slot, along with my selection and comments.

Forward 1:
Option 1: Sidney Crosby, PIT
Stats: 2-12-14 in 9 playoff games, 24-48-72 in 53 regular-season games

Option 2: Brad Richards, DAL
Stats: 2-9-11 in 12 playoff games, 20-42-62 in 74 regular-season games

Pick: Crosby

Comments: Crosby's clearly the better player here. Both are playmakers, so they won't give you huge production on the goals side, but Crosby's put up more points in less games during both the season and the playoffs.

Forward 2:
Option 1: Evgeni Malkin, PIT
Stats: 6-8-14 in 9 playoff games, 47-59-106 in 82 regular-season games

Option 2: Mike Ribeiro, DAL
Stats: 3-11-14 in 12 playoff games, 27-56-83 in 76 regular-season games

Pick: Malkin

Comments: Another pretty easy choice, pitting an MVP candidate against a very good player. Malkin's additional goals also swing the scales his way, as Ribeiro is more of a setup guy.

Forward 3:
Option 1: Marian Hossa, PIT
Stats: 5-5-10 in 9 playoff games, 29-37-66 in 72 regular-season games

Option 2: Mike Modano, DAL
Stats: 4-6-10 in 12 playoff games, 21-36-57 in 82 regular-season games

Pick: Hossa

Comments: I love Modano, but Hossa's numbers are a lot better. Modano's just as valuable and perhaps more to his team due to his complete game, but this fantasy pool is all about offense, so Hossa's the pick.

Forward 4:
Option 1: Petr Sykora, PIT
Stats: 4-2-6 in 9 playoff games, 28-35-63 in 81 regular-season games

Option 2: Brenden Morrow, DAL
Stats: 7-4-11 in 12 playoff games, 32-42-74 in 82 regular-season games

Pick: Morrow

Comments: The first Star to crack the lineup. Morrow's been carrying his team offensively, whereas Sykora is a depth scorer (a very good depth scorer, though!).

Forward 5:
Option 1: Jordan Staal, PIT
Stats: 2-1-3 in 9 playoff games, 12-16-28 in 82 regular-season games

Option 2: Jere Lehtinen, DAL
Stats: 4-4-8 in 12 playoff games, 15-22-37 in 48 regular-season games

Pick: Lehtinen

Comments: Lehtinen's clearly the better player here, as Staal's still mired in his sophomore slump.

Forward 6:
Option 1: Gary Roberts, PIT
Stats: 2-0-2 in 4 playoff games, 3-12-15 in 38 regular-season games

Option 2: Niklas Hagman, DAL
Stats: 2-0-2 in 12 playoff games, 27-14-41 in 82 regular-season games

Pick: Hagman

This one's a bit of a tough call, as Roberts is a proven clutch-time performer, but I'm going with Hagman based on his regular-season sniping ability. He's also more durable, as Roberts has missed several games with groin trouble these playoffs.

Defenceman 1:
Option 1: Sergei Gonchar, PIT
Stats: 1-4-5 in 9 playoff games, 12-53-65 in 78 regular-season games

Option 2: Stephane Robidas, DAL
Stats: 1-7-8 in 12 playoff games, 9-17-26 in 82 regular-season games

Pick: Gonchar

Comments: This one's a bit tough. Robidas is the better all-around defenceman, and has actually had a better playoffs offensively (but in more games). However, Gonchar's proven to put points up there, so I'm going with him, as this game's all about offence.

Defenceman 2:
Option 1: Ryan Whitney, PIT
Stats: 0-4-4 in 9 playoff games, 12-28-40 in 76 regular-season games

Option 2: Matt Niskanen, DAL
Stats: 0-3-3 in 11 playoff games, 7-19-26 in 78 regular-season games

Pick: Whitney

Comments: I'm going with Whitney here: he's got the better offensive track record and also plays on a more offensively-minded team.

Defenceman 3:
Option 1: Kristopher Letang, PIT
Stats: 0-2-2 in 9 playoff games, 6-11-17 in 63 regular-season games

Option 2: Philippe Boucher, DAL
Stats: 0-0-0 in 3 playoff games, 2-12-14 in 38 regular-season games

Pick: Letang

Comments: Letang has the better stats, and Boucher's also injured (hip strain) and may not crack Game 1.

Defenceman 4:
Option 1: Darryl Sydor, PIT
Stats: Healthy scratch so far in playoffs, 1-12-13 in 74 regular-season games

Option 2: Trevor Daley, DAL
Stats: 0-0-0 in 12 playoff games, 5-19-24 in 82 regular-season games

Pick: Daley

Comments: Daley is the obvious choice, as Sydor may not even get to play, but he has pretty good stats for a fourth defenceman.

Obviously, I'm going with Dallas and Pittsburgh for goaltending as well. Let's see how this goes.

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