Sooo... I'm bored. And when I get bored, and the Wiki is slow, and there's nothing much to do, I blog about random things. Hence my Book Corner blog, and my "Who's the best Star Trek Movie Villain?" blog (btw, it's Khan, hands down!). Well, now it's time to blog fantasy hockey. As some may remember from last month, I'm in a fantasy league with some friends and friends-of-friends, with a team boasting the confidence-inspiring name "The Ralph Wiggums". Who is in the Ralph Wiggums? Let's check the roster:
Note: In the interests of nerdiness, when possible, links to both The NHL and Wikipedia pages for players will be provided. An asterisk (*) denotes that the player was a draft pick.
- Mike Ribeiro (Dal-C)
- Jason Arnott (Was-C)
- Rick Nash (Cls-L/RW)*
- Brenden Morrow (Dal-LW)
- Tuomo Ruutu (Car-LW)
- Alex Tanguay (Cgy-LW)
- Claude Giroux (Phi-RW)
- Johan Franzen (Det-RW)*
- Jeff Skinner (Car-C/RW)
- Zdeno Chara (Bos-D)*
- Brent Burns (Min-D)
- Jack Johnson (LA-D)
- Nicklas Lidstrom (Det-D)*
- Dennis Wideman (Was-D)
- Mikko Koivu (Min-C) - Koivu is out with a broken finger. On the plus side, he doesn't need surgery, but on the other hand (no pun intended), he'll still be out for about three weeks. Still and all, if the Wild make the playoffs, which as of now it looks like they will, Koivu will be back in action in time.
- Semyon Varlamov (Was-G)* - Great goalie and all, but he started getting injured right as the season began, which is a bad sign. Dropped him and picked up Cam Ward before this could become a chronic problem.
- Mike Commodore (Cls-D)* - Picked him up mainly for sentimental reasons. He's a competent defenseman, but doesn't excel in any areas. Dropped him in favor of Anton Stralman (more on him later) when it became apparent he wasn't going to be racking up the points.
- Rostislav Klesla (Cls -D)* - Much the same story as Commodore. Klesla has put up some assists, but he wasn't really producing when I needed him to, so dropped him for Tobias Enstrom.
- Steve Mason (Cls-G)* - A really good goalie with tons and tons of potential. Won the Calder Memorial two years ago, for heavens sake! But he's having a rocky start this season, and it was really starting to hurt me. So with a heavy heart, dropped him for Backstrom.
- Antoine Vermette (Cls-C) - Marc Savard's long-term injury left me short one Center, so saw Vermette was free and picked him up. Realized a little later that he wasn't the one I wanted, as I was looking to pick up the Center from Columbus' #1 line (aka Rick Nash's line). So dropped him for Derick Brassard (more on him in a sec).
- Michael Cammalleri (Mon-LW)* - A pretty good wing, but he's just been having a slow season. Last week I decided my offense needed bolstering, so dropped him for Raffi Torres.
- Derick Brassard (Cls-C) - Funny thing is, I didn't mean to drop him. As part of the offense-bolstering mentioned above, and on the advice of a friend/commissioner of the fantasy league, wanted to add Matt Cullen. So I went to add him, and meant to drop Zajac, but accidentally dropped Brassard. So now I'm waiting till Wednesday when his waiver is up so I can drop Zajac and get Brassard back.
- Anton Stralman (Cls-D) - All in all a good, solid defenseman, and fairly good from an assists perspective. But my defense is already super-stacked (Chara and Lidstrom, not to mention Whitney, Markov, and Enstrom), so I decided to get a more offensively-minded D, and grabbed Brent Burns.
- Travis Zajac (NJ-C)* - If I'd been paying attention while picking up free agents, Zajac would have been gone Sunday night. But I didn't, and dropped the wrong guy, so he hung around till tonight. I had planned on dropping him and picking Brassard back up, but plans change. I saw a pretty decent center who can produce more than just assists, so I seized the opportunity and signed Jarret Stoll.
- Matt Cullen (Min-C) - So, here's the what's what. There's this guy in our league who's a total "flavor of the week" kinda guy. He picks players up when they start on a streak, then when he thinks the streak is up, he drops them. And he dropped Mike Ribeiro right about the time I realized my centers weren't performing like I want them to. So Cullen got dropped in favor of Mike.
- Andrei Markov (Mon-D)* - And another draft pick bites the dust. Markov started the season on the IR (Injured Reserve, for any non-hockey fans who are, for some reason, reading this) recovering from knee surgery to fix a torn ACL. He started playing again last month, and was doing really well. But then late last week, he had a run-in with Eric Staal in which his recently mended knee was bashed up. He had to be helped off the ice. I was holding out hope that he may not be too badly hurt and may only miss a week or so, but after an MRI and some follow-up tests, it was determined he needs to go under the knife again, and will be out for a "prolonged" and "indefinite" period, and I just can't take the loss, as my one IR spot is full with Savard, who will be back in action sooner than Markov, and will likely produce more. Poor Markov... If he's still free when Savard starts playing again, I'll pick him back up. Till then...
- Jarret Stoll (LA-C) - Yet another victim of my attempt to beef up my offensive line. I know Stoll didn't really have much time, but Dubinsky's been doing well, and seems likely to keep doing well, even if he is a bit streaky. Plus, unlike Stoll, Dubinsky is American! :P
- Raffi Torres (Van-LW) - Sigh... I like Torres. And I like his line. Two former Blue Jackets are on that line (Torres and Manny Malhotra). But Torres and the Vancouver 3rd line were on a tear... and then they slumped. And slumped big. Last week, I lost, and it literally was because of Torres. If I hadn't played him, I'd have tied. So he had to go. Poor guy.
- Ed Jovanovski (Pho-D) - Jovanovski is the one dud on my defense. I have four really good defensemen (two of them are two of the three current frontrunners for the Norris Trophy), and am really, really, trying to find #5. It was Markov... right up until he injured his bad knee again. Jovanovski just wasn't cutting it.
- David Booth (Fla-LW)* - What to say about David Booth? Great player... actually the leader on my team in shots on goal. Unfortunately, he's weighed down by a losing team, the Florida Panthers. So, once someone who is equally talented but not so burdened became available, I nabbed him.
- Andrew Ladd (Atl-LW) - Traded Ladd, who I was very pleased with overall, to a friend who is desperate for some decent left wingers. I had three left wings, plus one utility wing, so I traded him to Matt for a great right winger.
- Niklas Backstrom (Min-G) - Backstrom is great, he just isn't getting the support he needs from Minnesota. Of all three of my goalies, he was the weakest link (and oddly enough, Cam Ward is my strongest link), so I spotted another goalie I'm hoping will do better, and who has a team that is performing stronger.
- Jason Spezza (Ott-C)* - So, Savy (aka Marc Savard) came off the IR, meaning I had to dump one center. Looking at them, Dubinsky was kicking you-know-what, and Ribeiro was holding his own. Unfortunately for Spezza, he's a good player in a bit of a slump, on a team that itself is in a bit of a slump. Looking back, and comparing Spezza to Dubinsky and Ribeiro since dropping him, I don't regret the decision at all.
- Marek Zidlicky (Min-D) - Zidlicky was good. Not great, but good. Unfortunately for him, I've been on a quest to obtain the strongest defensive lineup in my fantasy league, and Zidlicky was in the hot seat, the one spot (freed up by Andrei Markov's season-ending knee injury) that needed a good defenseman, and Zidlicky wasn't up to it. So I dropped him to pave the way for the return of his real-life teammate, Brent Burns. And, FYI, it's official. I do have the best defense in my league. Just this week, my defense has netted me 5 goals and 8 assists. I love my defense...
- Marc Savard (Bos-C)* - Recovered from his concussion and post-concussion symptoms, but he still isn't back to his old self. Call me callous, but I need goals to win, and having a big heart won't put pucks in the net. Dropped him, ultimately for Mikko Koivu.
- R. J. Umberger (Cls-C/LW) - Initially picked Umberger up to take over Savard's spot. He's a good player, currently the #2 goal scorer for Columbus, after Rick Nash. Unfortunately, he's been suffering from the funk the Jackets are in right now (though fortunately Nash seems to be immune) and Mikko Koivu just seemed like a better option.
- Andrei Kostitsyn (Mon-LW) - Kostitsyn is slumping. He's playing poorly and inconsistently. So I dumped him, and picked up Tuomo Ruutu. And as luck would have it, I picked up Ruutu (who has been solid all season) right at the start of a nice little streak.
- Nathan Horton (Bos-RW)* - As much as it pains me to do so, Horton started great, and then crashed. Right now, he's on the same line as Savard, so they were both dragging me down. And last week was a seriously good time to invest in some Carolina offense. So, in addition to Tuomo Ruutu, I got an outstanding young rookie, Jeff Skinner. (Oh, and Skinner can play RW and C! And, as I just learned, he's actually the youngest player in the league. Neat!)
- Erik Karlsson (Ott-D) - Yet another victim of my search for that elusive fifth defenseman to complement my current team now that Whitney is kaput. I've got an epic D, except for that one spot. Karlsson is decent (you don't get selected for the All-Star Game if you aren't), but not good enough, especially not his plus/minus.
- Stephen Weiss (Fla-C) - Picked up Weiss for one game, hoping to score some stats to cement my lead this week. Several other people have done so (one day pickups at the end of the week) with mixed results, so I figured I'd give it a go. Weiss did... well, let's just say he was lackluster. Somehow, Florida lost to New Jersey. So, Weiss is gone, as planned, in favor of someone more long-term.
- Alexander Steen (Stl-C) - Steen was a short-term pickup to make up for Dubinsky being hurt. Dubinsky is back, and Steen did jack crap for me, so he's gone.
- Ryan Whitney (Edm-D)* - Out for an as-yet unknown period of time. Could be just a month, could be the rest of the season. It's an ankle injury, but we won't know more till a specialist can run some tests, and the specialist can't run the tests till the swelling on Whitney's ankle goes down, which will take about two weeks. It sucks too, because Whitney, right up until his injury, was the league leader in assists for defensemen. Oh well... fingers crossed. UPDATE - reports are still frustratingly sketchy, but Whitney went in for surgery, and that's all we know. It looks like he'll be gone the rest of the season, but who knows? Dropped him to free up a spot on the IR for a player who'll be back sooner. He was briefly picked back up when Dubinsky got better, but then Enstrom got hurt, so Whitney's gone, this time for the duration.
- Tomas Kaberle (Tor-D) - Picked Kaberle up as a quick fill-in for the injured Enstrom, and Kaberle served me well. One goal and three assists in the four games he played on my team. A point-a-game pace is pretty outstanding, especially for a defenseman. But Enstrom is back and kicking butt. He got an assist in his first game back, so I had to decide who to dump: Kaberle, or Jack Johnson. And while Kaberle has done much better than Johnson in the short term, long term Johnson is a bit better, and even more importantly, Los Angeles is a better team this season than Toronto. So Kaberle is out...
- Brandon Dubinsky (NYR-C) - A great centre and all, but he's really tapered off, and I need some serious offense at the moment. So, after the trade deadline I took a chance and dropped him (ultimately) for Jason Arnott, who was traded from New Jersey to Washington. Should pan out well, I hope...
- Tobias Enstrom (Atl-D) - Dropped Enstrom as part of my play-off roster changes (I clenched a playoff spot in my league, now it's just a matter of jockeying for a better position). So I dropped him for Dennis Wideman, a phenomenal defenseman who got traded from crappy Florida to great Washington. After having learned how the playoffs work though, and given that Enstrom seems to be turning it around now, I may pick him back up.
- Andy McDonald (Stl-C/LW) - Picked McDonald up mainly to help fill a hole in the offense left by Mikko Koivu being hurt. Dropped him for a couple of players, eventually settling on Alex Tanguay.
- Patrik Berglund (Stl-C)
- Brad Marchand (Bos-C) - Picked him up to keep three straight centres. I kind of wish I'd picked Valtteri Filppula instead, but maybe next week... I eventually decided that two dedicated centres (Ribeiro and Arnott) and one "part-time" centre (C/RW Jeff Skinner) would be fine, and dropped Marchand for another LW.
So there you have it, folks! The Ralph Wiggums! We're stacked for defense, have some seriously solid goaltending, and are starting to get to where I'd like to be for offense. If there's anyone else contributing to the Wiki who is in a fantasy NHL league, I'd love to hear about your team, and maybe we can talk shop! :) Or if any hockey fans in general have comments, let's hear 'em! Ditto for people with an interest in, but not much knowledge of, hockey. If no one wants to comment (entirely possible), I'll just keep puttering away, stroking my own ego! :P
So, playoffs started in my fantasy league today. And, while my team got off to a pretty poor start this season, we really picked it up later on, most notably with a six-week winning streak from 27 December-13 February, then a one-week loss followed by another four wins. So, my team made the playoffs in the #6 seed for my league.
Week one (hopefully of several) pits me against 'Out to Work', the team run by Glenn. I'm actually pretty nervous about this, as he's the opponent I've fared most poorly against so far. In all, I'm 1-2 against him, though if you take all the stats, I actually fared pretty well, coming out 17-16-0 over him. (the results for each week are as follows: Week 1, Glenn won 9-2. Week 8 Glenn won 7-4. And Week 15 I shut Glenn out, beating him 11-0!) Glenn has the flashier team, with the bigger-name forwards, including both the Sedin twin, Steve Stamkos, and Eric Staal. I'd give him a marginal edge over my more workmanlike forwards, as the biggest names I have are Rick Nash, Johan Franzen, and Claude Giroux.
His goaltending I'll rate as slightly more consistent than mine, if not necessarily better. Whereas my #1 Goaltender is Henrik Lundqvist, the phenomenally talented goalie of the streaky New York Rangers, his is the somewhat less talented but still good Jimmy Howard of the powerhouse Detroit Red Wings. Rounding out his netminders he has Tomas Vokoun of the Florida Panthers and Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators. And I'd take Cam Ward and Kari Lehtonen over those two any day. Still, Detroit is a formidable foe, so I'd say we're about even on goalies, with Glenn having the edge in consistency (Howard consistently good, Vokoun consistently poor, and Rinne consistently moderate), while I have the advantage in sheer talent.
Finally, defense. In this category, I have a clear edge. My defense is the best in the league, and consistently puts up points for me. For example, in one week (the week of Dec 27-Jan 2), my defense got me 7 goals and 16 assists, for 23 points. This is about what most other people's entire teams do in a week. Now, in all fairness, that was my best week yet. Last week, my defense got a more modest but still respectable 2 goals and 8 assists, for 10 points. Still not too bad. Glenn's defense is competent, but that's it. His defense would be great in a real-world game, while mine would be outstanding in a real-world game, but has the added benefit of being optimized for a fantasy format. So I;ve got the edge here. So, fingers crossed!