Gross Misconduct Hockey Thoughts from a drifter on the hockey landscape

10/29/2009

Armchair GM: Civil War

Last week it was Hockey Wilderness in-fighting as the matchup had me pitted against the head of operations, Nathan.  Instead of it being a spirited Civil War battle, it turned out to be the Fantasy Hockey version of Sherman’s march to the sea.

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Nathan’s squad of Yahoo-drafted fantasy mercenaries did manage to win a few categories and prevent my team from making things really awful (the lead was 11-1 before the weekend) and it also shows that fantasy hockey isn’t completely nerd-proof since categories like game-winning goals are things you just have to hope get you wins.

On the other side of things:  PHEW!

Winning assists and shots on goal by one as well as power play assists by two are tenuous, yet celebrated, victories.  Sure losing goals and power play goals by one is a kick in the teeth, but hey, stuff happens.  The goaltending did the trick for me and new goaltending acquisition Scott Clemmensen did all that he could to try and throw the numbers off completely managing (in his only start of the week) to give up two goals on three shots before being pulled for Tomas Vokoun (who was supposed to have the night off).

As for how the matchup broke down comparatively:

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General Ulysses S. Grant (MVP of the week): How much fantasy hockey love can I heap upon Dallas Stars winger James Neal?  The guy has been a beast and a three goal, two assist week with 4 PIM and 12 shots on goal is pretty awesome.  Now if only I could get some of those goals to be game winners… Oh wait, he did that tonight against Toronto.  Chew on that Second City Hockey.

General William “Tecumseh” Sherman (Supporting the Romp): Give it up for L.A. King Drew Doughty and his five assists and +3 rating, a rating that helped balance out Kimmo Timonen’s -3 for the week.  Sidney Crosby also gets credit for being himself pulling down two goals and two assists as well as 11 shots on goal.

General George Armstrong Custer (Least Valuable Player): It’s tough to be less valuable than Kimmo Timonen is right now, but getting little to nothing of value from defensemen is semi-expected.  A -3 rating, four PIMs and two shots on goal is pretty lame though.  That said, Paul Martin did less than that and that’s why he’s been replaced by Vancouver’s Willie Mitchell.  What do I expect from Mitchell?  PIMs and the occasional point or two as well as not being a +/- nightmare.

hockeywilderness-large VS. secondcity-lg

The Next Battle of Big Horn (As written like a WWE wrestler promo):

I’m looking your way Chicago.  You hear me Second City Hockey? You guys in Blackhawks land might “Commit to the Indian” but I commit to handing your team a whooping.  This very week on this very Internet in this very Yahoo Fantasy Hockey league, all of SBN is going to see what happens when the Frontiersmen run wild on you.

10/19/2009

Armchair GM: Cutting Up Jackets and Feasting on Wings

A Sunday without NHL hockey is getting to be a bit old, two straight weeks without Sunday games makes Joe a dull boy.  Rather it makes me one that has to focus far too much on the NFL and when you’re a Detroit Lions fan there’s better things to do.

So rather than go into hiding and pretend like my efforts to take down the Western Conference elite of Sports Blog Nation are going all for naught, here I am to go and toot my own horn and pick out some MVPs and some players I’m going to put on notice.

Results from Week 1 vs. The Cannon

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While it was just an 8-5 victory, my goaltending chomped on the tailpipe much in thanks to Josh Harding of the Wild getting bombed on and Ray Emery falling from his high horse after earning a shutout in his first start.  Marty Turco was steady but uninspiring from a fantasy standpoint.

Offensively, Drew Doughty was my main man providing tremendous value for a late-round selection tallying a goal and four assists during the first week of play.  James Neal of the Stars carried the goal scoring trophy for the team nailing down three goals.  Brendan Morrow added two goals and three assists and Sidney Crosby showed why it was awesome that he fell into my lap at fourth overall scoring four goals including a game winner.

Who’s on notice after the first week?  Alex Tanguay who scored just one assist (granted it was on the power play) and landing only three shots on goal.  Paul Martin of the Devils finds himself on the hot seat as well tabulating just one shot on goal, an even +/- rating  and one assist (also on the power play).  Josh Harding in his one start for the week managed to earn a 6.01 GAA and a .739 save percentage with only 17 saves.  Ouch babe.

The Cannons were lead by Evgeni Malkin (2g 5a 16 PIM 12 sog) and Alex Burrows (3g 1a 6PIM 23 sog).  Steve Mason and Cam Ward carried the goaltending efforts earning two wins a piece and putting up mostly nice GAA and save percent numbers while seeing a ton of action in the first week.

All in all, a very pleasing effort for the Frontiersmen but that goaltending has to get better.

Results from Week 2 vs. Winging It In Motown

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The trend keeps on keepin’ on.  Another eight victories and only losing out on four against the Red Wings laden squad.  This is when it’s fun to not be a homer.  No, not Tomas Holmstrom.

Since you didn’t get to see how the squads shaped up before, here’s the comparison (click to enlarge).

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As you can see, there was one transaction made by me.  Josh Harding got the boot already in favor of Scott Clemmensen.  Harding has been lit up in two starts for Minnesota and well, if I’m going to have a backup goalie that starts occasionally, I’d prefer it to be a guy who doesn’t have an astronomical goals against average and a minuscule save percentage.  Call me old fashioned.  As it stood, the only thing I struck out on this time were wins.  Turco had a stellar week including a shutout and Emery, while mediocre, wasn’t overly brutal in his one start.

Offensively, the Frontiersmen were beastly although they enjoy the company of the minus rating.  Alfredsson, Knuble and Neal all ponied up the assists and Brendan Morrow did the heavy lifting with the goal scoring.  You really can’t complain when you get consistent offensive work like that each week.  What I can complain about is how miserable Alex Tanguay is.  I know the offense in Tampa Bay is struggling (as will happen when you basically have one scoring line and nothing else) but tallying zero points and a -3 for the week is a good way to end up on a fantasy managers bad side… Especially when you have one of his other teammates setting up at center for you.

Vinny Lecavalier has yet to score a goal and while the three assists this past week were nice, the -4 is a mega kick in the nuts.  Vinny will get his goals eventually, but the pain of his lack of success is being felt in places other than central Florida.  This isn’t to say that Vinny is officially on notice, but it’s just plain old frustrating.

Who is on notice?  Paul Martin of the Devils.   Zeroes across the board and three shots on goal.  At least get kicked out of a game or something man.  Defensemen are thin pickings in the league as it is, but its frustrating to not get anything from a guy that is getting enough playing time to make things happen.

That said, the whining ends there.  +/- is a bit of a crap-shoot category and it can fluctuate from week to week so there’s no real use in trying to plan against that, especially when you can get a lot more out of every single other category possible by playing a guy any given night.  I would like to see the goal scoring pick up though.  You hear me Vinny?

This week I will have my duel with Nathan from Hockey Wilderness, one of a handful of in-house throwdowns.  After reminding Nathan about his team, suffice to say he hates his Yahoo auto-drafted squad.  I’m not about to start counting wins here, but confidence is running high.  Nathan’s “State of Mediocre” pulled a rather Wild-like showing this past week getting shutout by Defending Big D 11-0.

Oh yes, confidence is VERY high.

10/04/2009

Armchair GM: Week One

Filed under: Columbus Blue Jackets,Fantasy Hockey — Joe Yerdon @ 8:08 PM

This is a look at my first week fantasy match-up in the SBN Invitational Fantasy Hockey League where yours truly under the guise of being a part-time Minnesota Wild blogger gets to taken on the elite members of SBN’s Western Conference.  I’ll be making this a weekly feature here and will keep mentioning this until you all get the hint.

This week’s match-up runs from October 1-10th thanks to the Thursday start of the season.  As I teased you all last time when I previewed the season and showed off my team, the link I provided to you to check out the league is not so helpful to those of you who aren’t in the league.

My bad.

This week my opponent are the folks from The Cannon, the Columbus Blue Jackets blog.

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These results are through this weekend’s games and since there were none today, that makes things relatively even… I guess.  The competition between Wild Frontiersmen and Columbus Cannons goes until Saturday’s games.  How do the teams stack up?  Click on the photo to enlarge it and see what the teams look like without straining your eyes.

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Whod’ve thunk it that Ray Emery would be helping me in the goaltending so nicely?  Same for Marty Turco.  Going up against the Cannons with Ward and necessary homer pick Steve Mason is a tall order to say the least but the Bruins helped rough up Cam Ward well on Saturday night making his road to recovery the rest of the week a bit more difficult.

The Cannons are well represented with Blue Jackets and may be the most homeriffic team in the league, but when those guys are Derrick Brassard and Nikita Filatov and Steve Mason… That’s not so bad.  Outside of that though, the offense isn’t particularly terrifying to me from a fantasy standpoint.  After all, Mark Recchi hasn’t been a good pick in fantasy hockey since 2000.  Matt Stajan had a great first game for the Maple Leafs.  The Cannons are loaded on defense but, unlike in the real NHL, defense doesn’t win championships.

As for my merry band of secret lovers, Sid the Kid has done his thing reasonably well and I shake my fist at his shootout-winning goal against the Islanders not counting as a game-winning goal for fantasy purposes.  That would’ve made for a nice bonus.  Speaking of nice bonuses, how about that James Neal in Dallas?  He impressed me last year and got out of the gates fast Saturday night scoring both regulation goals in Dallas’ 3-2 shootout loss against Nashville.

I’ll also allow myself a little time to pat myself on the back for picking Drew Doughty, even though he may end up being a minus machine for me, notching a goal and an assist in the Kings’ 6-3 loss to Phoenix on Saturday night does this Armchair GM proud for a day.

What will I kick myself for?  Not putting a little more faith in Dan Cleary or Brendan Morrison on Saturday but with all teams playing, sacrifices had to be made.  We’ll see if this costs me a point in the goals category this week as both Cleary and Morrison notched goals on Saturday.

As for what to expect for the rest of the week… Like I know?!  It’s the first week of the season so having any expectations at all is silly, but let’s just hope things keep on… keep on truckin’ right now because this is a nice start.  I’ll wrap things up next weekend with a recap of the contest and a preview of next week’s fantasy face-off with the Detroit Red Wings bloggers at  Wingin’ It In Motown.

09/22/2009

Armchair GM: Following Fantasy Hockey

Filed under: Fantasy Hockey — Joe Yerdon @ 4:29 PM

This year, I’ll be taking a weekly look into what my team (Wild Frontiersmen) is doing in the SBN Yahoo Fantasy Hockey Invitational (Western Edition).  I know these types of columns can sometimes make your eyes gloss over because, really, it’s all an effort by yours truly to show how smart/stupid he is and open up the flood gates for a lot of really awesome trash talk.

With my SBN allegiances tied to the Minnesota Wild this allowed me the open door to join the league.  If you’re not familiar with how things are run in fantasy hockey… Well you might want to just come back and visit another time.

In this league, I’ll be competing with my two cohorts on Hockey Wilderness as well as these other tremendous writers at SBN whom I all suggest that you strongly bookmark their pages (links at the bottom of this entry).

Our draft was conducted  over a week ago and while it wasn’t quite the standard trash talk fest, I will say that thanks to the random draft placement generator I had the fourth pick overall.  Considering there are 16 teams in this league, picking fourth is pretty fantastic but my main thought being in this position was, “Aw crap, that means I won’t get any of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby.”  My thinking here being that if you have a top three selection you get one of those guys and guarantee yourself a ton of points.  This meant it was time to form a plan.

In this league, depth is huge and goaltending is a precious commodity since you have to start two goaltenders or potentially lose out on points in your head-to-head matchups.  My plan here was to try and take the league out a whole new door, by picking up dominating goaltending and then duke it out for the offensive points by being sneaky with the sleeper action.  My plan of action here was to fall back on either picking up Roberto Luongo or Miikka Kiprusoff or Evgeni Nabokov first and then maybe, perhaps, getting Martin Brodeur or someone else that plays a billion games in goal on the way back around in the second round and then get a relatively quick turnaround for my third round pick and start loading up on offense.

It was a great plan if I do say so myself, of course, my new nemesis in the league, Dirk Hoag from On The Forecheck, one of the more brilliant numbers guys at SBN and anywhere else on the Internet for hockey, was picking third.   As expected, the guys from Nucks Misconduct snag Ovechkin first and the guys from The Cannon take Malkin second.  Dirk, however, must have been operating out of the same playbook I had designed for my strategy as he snags Evgeni Nabokov with the third overall pick.

Now, I won’t get upset at him for this because, hey, if he appears to be running with the same idea I had how can I get mad?  I get to select Sidney Crosby fourth and get off to a rousing offensive start with my team.  I will say that’s a nice booby prize but sometimes the best laid plans just don’t come to fruition.  So, my Plan B is shot and now Plan A.5 is in order and, again, Dirk would come back to snipe me in the third round.  I had Panthers goalie and semi-fantasy stud Thomas Vokoun in my queue ready to go… Until he disappeared from my list because On The Forecheck was on fire blowing my spot up.

Unreal.  So instead, I put my team’s faith and goaltending power in the shaky demeanor of Marty Turco.  I now also have to root for a resurgence of the Dallas Stars on top of all that so I can do well in this league.  Christ.

I give a ton of credit to Dirk as well as to James Mirtle of From The Rink for being really smart drafters (“smart” meaning “they made picks I would make”) and Mirtle, in particular, was in my head sniping out selections a round or two ahead of where I was thinking to pick them.  Thanks… Jerk.

Without further ado, here is the final roster for the Wild Frontiersmen.

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Yes, that is indeed THE Ray Emery as my other starting goalie.  My centers I couldn’t be more tickled about as Lecavalier was my 2nd round pick and my sneaky sleepy choices here include Ville Leino with the Red Wings and Josh Harding who may or may not get more work in Minnesota.

Brenden Morrow I was simply giddy about finding still on the list in the 9th round because in past leagues and seasons, Morrow was always a great guy to have for both goals and PIMs.

Potentially Brutal: Yes, my defense kind of sucks a bit, but so does most everyone elses.  Thankfully, defensemen aren’t judged on their own and are simply there to help try and boost the +/- ratings… Which makes me wonder why I thought Bryan McCabe was a good idea.  Hmm.  At least there’s Matt Hunwick lurking on the bench to take someone’s spot away.   Cough…

Fingers Crossed: Brendan Morrison should be centering the second line in Washington and that could yield some nice results…  Or Morrison will prove that his career has fallen off the map completely and be worth nothing while I scour the free agent list for a replacement.  If he’s healthy and the Caps wingers can pot some goals, Morrison should be able to bounce back well.

Don’t sleep on them: Patrik Berglund and James Neal are two young guys that I’m hoping can build off really solid rookie campaigns.  Neal was a 20+ goal scorer (24-13-37) for Dallas and really emerged when Brenden Morrow went down for the season and Berglund was an offensive spark plug for the Blues (21-26-47) and there’s more than enough room for growth there for the young Swede in St. Louis.

This league is a lot more different than any other I’ve participated in in the past in that there’s so many teams and everyone basically knows the same things so this is a real nice mental test as far as the draft goes.  There’s no doubt that there’s a huge amount of luck that goes into picking a good team as well, but staying well scouted is what helps folks out later on in the draft.

The plan here is to keep this updated to show off on a weekly basis but if you’re curious and want to see how everyone is doing in the league on your own, there is a link to check it out yourself so feel free to scope it out.

Blogs represented in the league:

NHL – From The Rink

Minnesota –Hockey Wilderness

Dallas – Defending Big D & Stars Scene

Columbus – The Cannon

Edmonton – Copper & Blue

Detroit –Winging It In Motown

Nashville – On The Forecheck

St. Louis –St. Louis Game Time

Vancouver –Nucks Misconduct (sweet name)

Colorado –Mile High Hockey

Phoenix –Five For Howling

San Jose –Fear The Fin

Chicago – Second City Hockey

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