This is a pretty fun time of the year in the Fantasy Sports world. We have baseball drafts heating up as the season begins in eight days (Australia games), NFL free agency has blown up this week, March Madness is about to begin in college basketball and the playoffs are about to kick off in Fantasy Hockey.
It’s important to make thoughtful decisions about who should start and who should sit in your playoffs. I’m all for riding the hot player, but not at the expense of sitting a star player or sitting the player who got me this far. One of the questions I have received this week is about sitting Jonas Hiller now that the Ducks are slumping. I might bench him,but not for just anyone. Anaheim is still a good team, but they may actually be looking too much towards the NHL playoffs and now have to focus back on the regular season. Odds are I’m going to continue to ride Hiller but if Darcy Kuemper is out there, it would be a tough choice. But in the end I’d rather lose with the better player than try and be cute. I don’t want to beat myself up for the next six months wondering why I didn’t trust the guy who was on my roster all season. Head-to-Head leagues can be decided by team schedules. The Wild play five games next week. That’s almost unheard of in the NHL, but it also means that you had better make sure to have all of your Wild in the lineup. If there is a Minnesota player out there that is a borderline pickup for you, make the move, even if it’s just to keep him away from your opponents.
Craig Anderson has suffered a shoulder injury and is unlikely to play this weekend. This is the NHL and organizations are generally very coy about how long their players will be out, and you know at this time they will guard that information like it’s a state secret. What we do know is that the injury is not thought to be serious, but he could be out more than just this weekend. Robin Lehner could be a sneaky pickup in daily lineup leagues.
What is going on between the pipes in Dallas? Kari Lehtonen has a concussion and is officially day to day. He is skating and could play as early as Sunday if he receives medical clearance. The bigger question is what happens if he doesn’t play well? At this point in time, I’d stay away from this situation in my playoffs. Thomas has the Stanley Cup experience and if he plays well Friday and Lehtonen bombs Sunday, it’s a nightmare scenario for Lehtonen’s owners. Hopefully you have a quality backup or backups. Dallas will say all the right things, but in the end, they are fighting for a playoff spot and will start the goaltender that they believe gives them the best chance to win. Loyalty tends to go out the window at this time of year.
What about Ryan Kesler? He suffered a knee injury earlier this week and the reports don’t look good. It looks like he could be out awhile. With Daniel Sedin already on the IR and now the loss of Kesler, it may be time to abandon your Canucks. How about Alexandre Burrows, though? He finally scored his first two goals of the season this week. Yippee, thanks for nothing.
Marian Gaborik picked up a goal and assist Thursday night for the Kings, his first points since being acquired. I still would find it hard to trust Gaborik in my playoffs. He is playing on the top line with Anze Kopitar and on the first power play unit, but his style of play doesn’t mesh with Darryl Sutter and I would be worried that Sutter will find a reason to bench him if he’s loafing around on the ice.
Jonathan Bernier had to be removed from the game Thursday after suffering a lower body injury. Like Kesler, the Leafs will examine him more closely when they get home, but this could be a week to week injury, not day to day. Backup James Reimer should be available in most leagues and should be picked up as an insurance policy.
The Lightning have been giving Steven Stamkos some time at wing to ease some of the pressure on his leg. The move seemed to work, as Stamkos scored his first goal since returning from the injury. In some leagues he could actually have eligibility at wing now. That’s just not fair, as high-scoring wings can be much more valuable than their center counterparts in some Fantasy leagues.
Just an FYI here, the Avalanche have announced that Reto Berra (just signed a three-year extension) will start next Wednesday. This is a little strange, as there is nothing wrong with Semyon Varlamov or Jean-Sebastian Giguere. It seems coach Patrick Roy wants to give Varlamov a couple of days off and doesn’t want to play Giguere in back to back games. This will more than likely be Berra’s last start unless there is an injury.
That was a pretty scary sight earlier this week when the Stars’ Rich Peverly suffered cardiac arrest while on the bench after a shift. Thankfully the Stars medical staff sprung quickly into action, and Peverly is expected to have a full recovery. He will miss the rest of the season but that’s not important right now.
Those owners who have Ryan Miller in keeper or dynasty leagues have to be praying that he re-signs with St. Louis. He could easily be a Top 3-5 goaltender next season with this squad.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.
Photo via Michael Zampelli