The hockey season is finally upon us!  While there are only 4 games tonight, it's great for hockey to start.  I will go through a preview of the games tonight and Thursday (11 total games) and will have a recap of all of that action out on Friday morning.  Here's a breakdown of what we're looking to see from a fantasy perspective in the first couple games of the season.
We’re down to the final week of the season and most leagues have already been decided, but for those of you in leagues who are still fighting it out to the last puck drop, I’ll keep posting my daily roundups to keep you informed. Though I only took over Razzball Hockey halfway through the season I have to say I’ve enjoyed writing every word and I hope that I’ve been able to help shepherd a few of you to success this season. If not, well, I only take credit when you win, so don’t come knocking with all that sadface “I lost!” nonsense! Seriously though, it has been and I hope will continue to be a blast. Now then, for those of you still on the hunt for a title, how can we help? Patrik Hornqvist (2 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, 2 PIM, +3) might be an option! To hell with might, he’s the best option you’ve got this late. Even if it wasn't this late, the way he's been playing over the last two-three weeks has been unbelievable. I didn't mention him because there were other, hotter, better bets to ride to a title but I guess I can't deny it anymore. Horny has posted a whopping 10 points in his last five games with no signs of slowing down. Granted, no signs means squat because this kind of play is way above Hornqvist’s head, but while he’s scoring like there’s no tomorrow, you should add him, because in a few days there’s going to be no tomorrow! At least for fantasy hockey leagues this season, that is. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey this weekend:
Tyler Bozak (2 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, even) seems to be working really hard to make up for the fact that he listens to Miley Cyrus. No, seriously, he does! He chose the Leafs’ postgame song once earlier in the year and put on the ole’ wrecking ball herself. That might be why he sucked so hard to start the season despite having the mighty duo of James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel on his wings. Just how well has he been doing? Over the last five games he has four goals and six points with three goals coming in the last two games. Stretch that out a bit more and he has 15 points in his last 12 games and if you look at his whole year he’s rockin’ a line with 22 points in 24 games with a plus-12 rating to boot! This is easily Bozak’s best season as a pro and had the first half not been, well, cut in half, he might be among the league leaders in scoring if it wasn’t for one scary indicator, his shooting percentage which sits at an obese 28.1% so far. Why obese? Because that shiz is not healthy and it screams regression to the mean, that’s why! Sorry, didn’t mean to get uppity there. I digress, his track record to date isn’t that great and with that big shooting percentage gut of his hanging over his belt I doubt we can expect him to continue this torrid pace for the rest of the season. With that being said, he plays with some seriously nasty snipers and even if he slumps a bit he can still live off their table scraps and his TOI has spiked up over 20 minutes per. He’s basically gone in ESPN leagues (~99% owned) but he’s only owned in 33% of Yahoo! Leagues. Oh, Yahoo, you let me down again. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Steven Stamkos (broken effin’ leg) is actually skating already. Yes, you read that right, just one month and three days after he broke his tibia Stamkos was back on the ice. He wasn’t practicing, nor did he wear any gear, but he’s on his feet and looks like he’ll actually make it back before the Olympic break. Jimmy Howard (knee) has a grain-1 MCL sprain and will be out for 2-4 weeks. I’ve been telling everyone to pick up Jonas Gustavsson for weeks now, so I hope y’all listened! If not, he’s still owned in less than 50% of Yahoo! Leagues. Yar. Shawn Thornton (assault and battery) was suspended for 15 games for his vicious attack on the Pens’ Brooks Orpik a week ago. That sounds about right.
Jimmy Howard is on pace to start 75 games for the Red Wings and win just 21 one of them. I don’t think anyone thought Howard would revert back to his 2010-11 form so completely, but the similarities between that abysmal season and this year’s campaign are startling. This isn't about Howard, though, as he's been so bad it has opened the door for a once lauded, since (somewhat) forgotten name to reappear on your fantasy radar! Jonas Gustavsson. As recently as 2009 the Monster was touted as the best goalie in the world outside the NHL. Think about that, the best goalie in the world! So what happened? When he arrived in Toronto expectations were high and he responded by posting a decent rookie campaign with 16 Wins, 2.87 GAA, .902 SV% in 42 GP (39 starts), but the wheels quickly came off and after two consecutive disappointing years he was shipped off to the Wings. Was this a case of not living up to the hype? I don't think so. Rumors have it that the Leafs’ coaching staff tried to eff with his mechanics because they felt his style was too unorthodox for long term success at the NHL level. If true, that could very well be the source of his less than stellar play and likely some injuries as well. This season it appears that the Wings' coaching staff aren't repeating the mistakes of others and the Monster is gobbling up pucks left and right. Last season is a throw away due to the lockout, but this year he looks a hell of a lot better than Howard, doesn’t he? The sample size is still small but he looks absolutely fantastic in limited work so far. If Howard continues to struggle and Gustavsson continues to play well it won’t be long before the Wings start giving the Monster more starts. Does he have a chance to take over the starting job outright? No, I don't think so. Howard has a huge contract and the Wings simply can't afford to relegate him to a backup. Despite that, he’s absolutely worth adding in deep leagues and well worth keeping a close eye on in standard formats. Here’s what else I saw last night in fantasy hockey: