The beginning is nigh! Yes my dear readers we’re drawing near to the start of the season so I won’t waste your time with a long blurb to kick this post off. I will say that this list is pretty comprehensive and if you can’t fill out your D based on this list you’re either playing in the deepest of leagues of you’re not very good at this fantasy hockey thing and should take up knitting. I covered as many guys as I could, but when I hit around the 65th rearguard there wasn’t much to say about the last ten guys so they became the honorable mentions. I guess that makes this a top 65 in some ways, but whatevs. There’s 75 names and sets o’ projections so I’m sticking to my guns. Plus, 75 sounds so much better than top 65, you know? As usual if I missed your guy or you have any questions, hit me up in the comments! At any rate, without further ado (there’s that word again), here are the 2014-2015 Fantasy Hockey Top 75 Defensemen:
It all began on a cool winter’s day when the young men from Calgary came down to play the feisty fellas in Vancouver in a nice, gentlemanly game o’ hockey. That lasted less than zero seconds because when the puck dropped all the starters paired off and fought one another. What the eff happened?! Apparently Canucks coach John Tortorella saw that the Flames were sending out their fourth line to start the game. Torts flipped the hell out for no apparent reason and it didn’t end with his usual ranting and raving and turning oh so many shades o’ purple behind the bench. No, Torts decided he needed to have a few more words with those boys from Calgary so he did what every rational, level-headed adult would do; he attempted to storm into their locker room and basically challenged the entire team to a fight, or so much is what I gather in between the seemingly endless stream of obscenities from Tortorella.  In the end 204 penalty minutes were dished out with Jason Garrison, Dale Weise, Kevin Bieksa and Kellan Lain all getting game misconducts. Lain made his NHL debut that night! A short but adventurous start for the kid, eh?! Ladislav Smid, Chris Butler, Blair Jones and Kevin Westergarth also received game misconducts for the Flames. Why does any of this matter? Well, for starters it’s effin’ hilarious and I wanted an excuse to write about it. And here’s my excuse; Garrison and Bieksa racked up some baller PIM that night, so some owners, somewhere, actually benefitted from this madness. If only we could own coaches and they could earn PIM, Tortorella would have just won many a roto team's PIM category in this game alone! Torts should probably be suspended. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night on a short night o’ fantasy hockey:
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: