I've always been a huge Peyton Manning fan and thought he was the G.O.A.T. before last night. Even though he didn't play well, it was great to see him win a second Super Bowl. I'm glad he said was going to have a bunch of beers after the game as well, although he should pick something better than Budweiser. Wait, I'm supposed to talk about hockey here. Whoops... The weekend had less action than normal due to the Super Bowl but there was plenty going on. Kyle Okposo had the best weekend of everyone. On Saturday, he had an assist in the blowout loss but on Sunday, Okposo went off with a hat trick, assist and eight shots in the 8-1 massacre of the Oilers. He now has a good chance of setting a career high in points, penalty minutes and power play points which is outstanding. At 27 years old, Okposo is about to enter his prime and as long as he stays healthy, he should be a 60-70 point player for the next couple years. Here's what else I saw around the league this weekend:
At one point earlier this season the Carolina crease was an absolutely disaster. Cam Ward was waffling from mediocre play to time on the injured list and Anton Khudobin (1 GA, 31 SV, W) was just plain out with a bum ankle. Fast forward a few months and now the 'Canes have another problem, they've got too much talent and not enough TOI to go around. Some folks just can't catch a break, eh? Ward decided to help clarify the situation and suffered an undisclosed LBI that will keep him out indefinitely, making Khudobin the defacto starter for now. Using the term “defacto” might be a bit insulting at this point with Khudobin winning all three games he has started since he returned from his own injury, which just so happened to be on the same day Ward went down again. Is it a coincidence? Perhaps serendipity? Or maybe the universe just has an awesome sense of humor. At 5’10” Khudobin is on the smaller side, but he more than makes up for that, ahem, shortcoming, with his athleticism, good positioning, steady technique and a boat load o’ Russian brand confidence. No, not Red Army Vodka, the real stuff, and why not? Even on pretty lackluster teams in the AHL (Houston Aeros) he was able to post respectable to good numbers considering the circumstances. He’s continued that success at the NHL level, but in very limited work, first stuck behind Nik Backstrom and Josh Harding in Minnesota, then Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask in Boston. Now he has his chance and he’s making good on it with a season line of 5-0-0/1.99/.940 so far. Couple that with the fact that it has become fairly clear that the ‘Canes don’t think Justin Peters is ready to take the reigns for any appreciable amount of time, and this situation becomes less muddled pretty quickly. When Ward comes back, I figure its Peters who ends up back in the AHL despite his solid season line of 7-9-4/2.38/.922/1 in 20 games, though of late he has faltered coughing up 11 goals in his last three starts, all losses. That only helps solidify Khudobin's hold on the no. 1 spot for now, so go ahead and add him anywhere he's available. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey yesterday:
Paul Stastny (2 G, 2 A, 4 SOG, +2) had his best game since, well, as long as I can remember last night with four points on four shots. Not since he last spent time centering the RPM line with Milan Hejduk and Ryan Smyth has he looked so good. When Stas burst onto the scene back in ’06 he convinced the fantasy hockey world that he’d be as good as gold posting 78 and 71 points in his first two seasons, respectively. He was rolling on into his third year when he broke his forearm, had surgery, recovered, and then returned only to break his foot and need to get that surgically repaired too. Showing real grit and a heaping load o’ talent, he came right back the next year with 79 points in 81 games and made you think injuries? What injuries? He’s good to go! Sadly since then, not so much. Despite staying healthy he wasn’t able to breach the 60 point mark in each of his last two seasons, finishing with 57 and 53 points, respectively.  And then came last season, the lockout shortened season. It’s hard to use last year as any sort of metric because of the wild amount of variables you can’t account for like how hard a guy worked out in the offseason, who he trained with, if he played overseas, the list goes on. Still, when you take Stas’ 40 GP last year and project out over 80 games he was on pace to score just 48 points, a career low. Effin’ eh, what happened?! Nothing much between this season and last considering this four point explosion comes on the heels of a nine game scoreless skid. He’s on pace to break that seemingly elusive 60 point mark this season and normally at this point I’d say don’t count on it, but with as good as the Avs are this season and as good as Stas once was, he might well make it. If not, he could always get Hejduk out of retirement and get the Avs to trade for Smyth, right? Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey yesterday: