Monthly Archives: August 2011

Don’t forget your Enforcers

Matt Cooke, Todd Bertuzzi and all of those tough guys with bad reputations are turning a new leaf; they have to or face public outcry and discipline. New NHL disciplinarian and ex-Red Wing Brendan Shanahan will make it so. If an illegal hit surmounts to a suspension, the league will release a video of the play, then break it down to formulate a proper decision.

Pittsburgh Penguins pesky winger has been the target of resentment from fans everywhere for his hit on Boston Bruins Marc Savard, who is still experiencing concussion-like symptoms. Bertuzzi has toned down his sock’em robot imitation after the Steve Moore incident, and touted his skills in Detroit significantly scoring last season.

Cooke has been a consistent 30 points scoring for the past few seasons with the Pens, but his reputation needed some TLC. Last season his penalty minutes climbed as his suspensions and poor public profile contributed to his need to reiterate that he was not a nasty guy rather a caring family man. As Sidney Crosby’s health has been disruptive to the Pens and its fans, Cooke still may drop the gloves or take a hit but his role as enforcer must tame for the success of the team. Giving up penalties won’t help Pittsburgh, particularly if Crosby sits out most of the upcoming season. Don’t shy away from Cooke, but give it time for his new face to form.

For Detroit Red Wings fans, the signing of Bertuzzi was a surprise and caused some grumbling. Bertuzzi put up a solid 40-plus point and often scored the game changer. As a fantasy league option, the winger was a hot pick mid-season. His numbers are expected to be fair for the 2011-12 season, yet the 36-year old may be running low.

Bertuzzi and Cooke will meet as the Red Wings travel to Pittsburgh Sept. 21 for a preseason game.

The unfortunate passing of Derek Boogaard and Rick Rypien has brought a lot of attention to enforcer forefront. Though fighting and hits were not the cause of death for either player, it is a reminder to all hockey followers that these tough guys have a purpose and a place on the team. As the New York Rangers rebuild from the tragedy and acquire a tenacious team, both Sean Avery and Brandon Prust are ones to keep an eye on.

Avery has always been the Rangers bad boy
. From his “sloppy seconds” comment creating a surge of bad PR, Avery has rebounded to support same-sex marriage publicly and was recently redeemed from an interaction in Hollywood. Having a tough guy reputation attracts more trouble than these guys stir up. As a scorer, Avery had a great start to the 2010-11 season. His charisma boosts the Rangers to turn up the heat.

Brandon Prust excelled last year. Prust was Boogaard’s roommate on the road, so this season his play will be dedicated to the loss. Prust sat on my roster and produced with 29 pts., 160 PIMS, and 161 hits. If you play in a league that doesn’t reward for hits or penalty minutes, find a new league.

In Philly, your best bet is Scott Hartnell, who also snapped to it early in the season. New Flyers to take a look at include Max Talbot with 66 PIMS and 154 hits; Wayne Simmonds with 75 PIMS and 125 hits; and don’t forget your Chris Pronger who is capable of some enforcement.

In New Jersey, the Devil you may look at is David Clarkson. Though Clarkson tamed his temper last season, he still acquired 116 PIMS and 170 hits.

If you are still on the New York Islanders float, consider Travis Hamonic with 103 PIMs and 118 hits. Hamonic was a late addition to my team and he made the difference in those categories.

If you hold grudges and cannot get over Matt Cooke’s issues, then take Kris Letang as you Penguins pick. The defenseman posted 101 PIMS and 167 hits last season.

Defenders can supply your team with assists and goals, so don’t forget to support your local enforcers.

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Summer Hockey Hype

It’s only August and the hype has begun. After the woozying trades and trash, this summer read like more like a gossip column. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were expelled from Philly for bad behavior, LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi  was irked when he was traded damaged goods by Edmonton, and just recently Sean Avery was busted by the cops in Hollywood for shoving an officer.  

If you are sitting by the pool, then you have plenty of time to begin building your fantasy team. Whether you play in a competitive keeper league or drafting an entirely new team, consider the teams who have revamped their lines. However, buyer beware that not all top players perform as well as expected. Duncan Keith’s award-winning 2009-10 season did not carry the same weight in 2010-11. Sidney Crosby’s health is tenuous- one big hit and he could blowout.

Eastern Conference best bets:

New York Rangers- resigning Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan were crucial. Both players have developed their game and are the workhorses of the team. With Brad Richards joining the mix, the Rangers will be a fun team to watch and get behind. With Avery and Brandon Prust, expect some tough guy presence stopping any intruders near Henrik Lundqvist‘s crease.

Philadelphia Flyers– sign Jaromir Jagr. Who knows what to expect? He could be great or gruesome, but you don’t want to be left behind on this one. He snubbed other teams to join the Flyers because of their Cup contention coup. Max Talbot, Claude Giroux and a roster full of hot taletn can be yours if you do your bidding carefully.

Buffalo Sabres- coach Lindy Ruff is still calling the shots on ice, and with newly acquired talents look out. In net, Ryan Miller is one of the best in the NHL. Christian Ehrhoff and Robyn Regehr will lend the blueline some direction helping Tyler Myers this season.

Carolina HurricanesJeff Skinner and Anthony Stewart are just two young players to watch in Carolina. Skinner, who won the Calder for rookie of the year, is first line, Stewart 3rd or 4th. Other young talent, Jamie McBain and Chad LaRose need to go on a watch list.

Tampa Bay Lightning– re-signing Steven Stamkos was a necessary requirement before GM Steve Yzerman could go golfing. With Stamkos secured, the Bolts will be out for blood this year. Vinnie Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis may be already drafted, so consider Ryan Malone and Teddy Purcell for a stong support system.

Pittsburgh Penguins- with or without Sidney Crosby, the Pens put the pedal to the metal. All energy, all the time. Kris Letang should be on your list. Tyler Kennedy rocked last year and must be a consideration, same for Chris Kunitz and James Neal.

Boston Bruins– I’d sweep up Dennis Seidenberg. Tim Thomas is an obvious choice, but secured by keeper leagues. If the Stanley Cup win was it, then don’t go overboard with the Bruins. However, there are some good bets here in Rich Peverley, Patrice Bergeron, don’t forget Brad Marchand. I’ve found Shawn Thornton, Andrew Ferrence to be good for fights and scruffy play. Milan Lucic and David Krejci have inconsistent seasons but make good trade fodder.

Western Conference best bets:

Los Angeles Kings-  has a great building process in Hockeywood.  Anze Kopitar will be ready come ice time, and with Mike Richards as the extra kick, look out! Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty are key defensemen. Jonathan Quick in goal is a great pick. Captain Dustin Brown didn’t let me down. Justin Williams was the sought after Kings player in our league rightly so.

Detroit Red Wings– always on the list due to the talent they foster. Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Nick Lidstrom are tops on any list if you can get them. Goaltender Jimmy Howard may be a task to acquire but worth if you can make a trade after the season starts- sell low. Johan Franzen and defensemen Niklas Kronwall should be noted for scoring and hits.

Vancouver Canucks– they just couldn’t wrap it up, but that has been their issue. Lessons learned may help Ryan Kesler and the Sedins in creative ways to win. Consider Alex Burrows, Kevin Bieksa and don’t be wary of goalie Roberto Luongo if you can get him.

Edmonton Oilers– I say this because the whole world will be watching the Taylor Hall/Ryan Nugent-Hopkins dynamic. Grab either player and be patient. Hall took some time to warm up and was passed all over fantasy leagues as owners became restless with his growing pains.

Chicago Blackhawks “Car Bomb”Carcillo  will explode in Chicago enforcing the Hawks second revival. This is a tough team who wants the Cup badly. Patrick Sharp is signed and you should do the same. He’s a quiet player who has his ups and downs, but delivers overall. If you can acquire Patrick Kane of Jonathan Toews, then work your magic. Andrew Brunette is a watch list candidate to see if he can generate something.

St. Louis Blues– I pick them every year due to the talent that passes through. Chris Stewart stands out for the Blues. David Backes is a sturdy candidate but can be unpredictable. Kevin Shattenkirk,Alex Steen and Andy McDonald did well last season and are good choices in the second to third-round. Remember to put Alex Pietrangelo on your list as a stellar young defenseman, and keep an eye on Matt D’Agostini.

Don’t see your team? Oh, well, take a look at some of the choice picks to find your best bet:

Logan Couture (San Jose Sharks)– The Sharks can beat the Detroit Red Wings in the playoffs, but can’t seem to get further than that. Couture was nominated for the rookie of the year and deservedly so. Grab him before someone else does. Usually a second-round pick now that he’s on the radar.

Jamie Benn (Dallas Stars)– Benn broke out last year and was quite dutiful to fantasy owners. If he lands in your queue, consider if you need a productive 3rd liner.

Devin Setoguchi (Minnesota Wild) – great during the playoffs with the Sharks. Minnesota has been on everyone’s radar to be big but remains in the middle. Perhaps Setoguchi can spark some oomph.

Your dream team is in your hands. Not all goes as according to plan and your backup choices can make the difference in all areas from trades to suspensions of a key player. Study the new and improved rosters if you haven’t been keeping up with the transactions this summer.