The Olympics will shut the NHL down from 2/9-2/24 with the Carolina at Buffalo game, which was cancelled this past Tuesday due to the polar vortex (this is actually a thing), the only game to be played on 2/25, before the schedule picks up in earnest again on 2/26. Now, I like the Winter Olympics, I truly do, but this will be a terrible time for someone like me. What will I do during this downtime? As much as I like the Olympics, those games will be played during the middle of the night. The NFL season will have just concluded about a week earlier with the Super Bowl. It will still be too early to really get into baseball, and I’m not a basketball guy. Sure, I will talk to league members about trades in the hockey leagues I participate in, but there will be no games to watch and no lineups to adjust. I’ll just end up obsessing over my teams and tinkering with possible moves I could make. This will be the worst two weeks of the year for me; nothing else will come close. I might actually have to spend time with the family or write an extra column or two just to keep sane, heaven forbid, the life of a Fantasy geek. I do support the NHL playing in the Olympics, so please don’t think that I don’t want the best players there. I just want the best of both worlds and I’m enough of a pessimist to believe that any player that gets hurt over in Sochi will certainly be on one of my Fantasy teams and probably deal me a death blow in that league.
Whether or not you should care if one of your Fantasy players was selected to represent their country in the Olympics can depend on a few factors. Obviously, there will be risk of injury by those players participating in the games. Someone will get hurt. It’s just a matter of how many and how long they will be out for. The good news is that at least you don’t have to worry about those players being rusty when the games resume. However, you do have to worry about how the extra six to ten games will affect their play come the end of the season, especially for goalies like Jonathan Quick and Roberto Luongo, who will both be coming off injuries to play in these games.
Now that the Sabres have finally named a new general manager, Tim Murray, it’s time to start wondering if and when Ryan Miller will get traded. NHL teams won’t have much to do during the Olympic break either, so one would have to think there will be plenty of trade talk going down as teams get prepared for the stretch run.
It’s starting to look more and more like Steven Stamkos will be able to participate in Sochi, which leaves little doubt that unless he suffers a setback he will return to the Lightning and your Fantasy team when games resume.
I took a chance with my Fantasy lineup this week, a chance I know and preach never to take. I need to start three centers and I have four on my roster, but Mikko Koivu went on the IR on Monday, and with Detroit not playing their first game until Thursday this week, I wasn’t able to hear any definitive word on how long Pavel Datsyuk may be out for. I decided to roll the dice and start Datsyuk rather than pick up a center off the waiver wire and put him in my lineup. That didn’t work out so well, as Pavel missed the game and could be in danger of missing quite a few more if you believe the Wings. I know better than this, especially in a weekly lineup league, never risk the zero.
The Canucks were playing it coy with Roberto Luongo, as well. We knew he was hurt after playing in his first game back from a groin injury. What we didn’t know before the lineup deadline was what the injury was and how long he would be out for. Well, the injury was to his ankle, and although initial reports were that the injury could be substantial, it seems now that he may just miss a week or two. Once again, Eddie Lack is a necessary get here, although, he was thoroughly unimpressive in the Canucks 5-4 shootout loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. You can also bet the Canucks would like Luongo to skip the Olympics and get some rest, although, that seems unlikely.
The Sharks and Fantasy owners were hit with some rough news this week when it was announced that Logan Couture would be out until after the Olympic Games after undergoing hand surgery. Couture is the second Sharks center to go down for a significant time, as Tomas Hertl was lost to a knee injury the week before. This necessitated some lineup juggling, as Joe Pavelski was moved to the top line with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns while Patrick Marleau was moved down to the second line, and although he is logging huge minutes (over 22 per game) he is also not playing with the most talented of Sharks forwards. His offensive numbers should eventually suffer, while Pavelski should get a lift.
The Islanders lost Evgeni Nabokov again to a groin injury. Normally, this really wouldn’t be worth reporting, but Nabokov was playing well for the Isles and may have been worth a pickup had he not gotten hurt. The injury is not supposed to be a major one however and he may only be out for another 10 days or so.
Anton Khudobin has taken over the starting role for the Hurricanes. He has started four of the past five games and only allowed seven goals during those games. Now, he has only started seven games this season due to injury, but has a 1.84 GAA and .943 save percentage in those games. Khudobin was signed during the offseason to push Cam Ward for the starting job and that is exactly what he is doing. With the way Justin Peters has played, look for Carolina to be big players in the goalie trade market, as they have already let it be known that they would trade any one of this trio for the right return.
As always, you can feel free to follow me on Twitter-@georgekurtz.