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Pre-Season Predictions Revisited (and Revised?)

by chewy 4. January 2011 10:49
 

Making predictions is a dangerous endeavor, as they very rarely pan out, and more often than not do little but make the writer look like a fool.  But since it is the time of season for starting over, I'm taking the liberty of looking back on my mistakes and resolving to make them right as we start the new year.  I'm dragging out my pre-season predictions to see which ones are worth gloating over (if any) and which ones need a few modifications for the new year.

 

Presidents Trophy: Vancouver Canucks

Weak division.   Solid team.

 

No reason to back off this one.  With the recent stretch of hotness, the Canucks find themselves alone atop the NHL standings.

 

Stanley Cup Winner: Pittsburgh Penguins

Nice new banner to hang in that shiny new arena.

 

So far, I'm smelling like roses...

 

Runner Up: LA Kings

Drew Daughty fever.  Catch it now.

 

On a roll… no backing down from the Kings pick either.

 

Hart Trophy, Art Ross & Rocket Richard: Steven Stamkos

Forget Ovechkin, Crosby and Sedin.  Stamkos is the man.  I'm calling a hat trick of trophies.

 

All was going great with this prediction before "the streak" began.  I still see Stamkos walking away with the Rocket, and I'm saying he'll be in the running for the other two.  Crosby has yet to see his annual injury bug show up...

 

Conn Smythe: Sidney Crosby

He'll be lifting the trophies that matters most next spring.

 

Standing pat here.

 

Vezina Trophy: Ryan Miller

Looking for a repeat here, but should have plenty of competition.

 

So Miller is most likely out of the running already.  I'll take my mulligan and pick Tim Thomas to get his second.

 

Norris Trophy: Drew Daughty

Daughty Fever.  Catch it now!

 

Unfortunately, Drew did catch the fever and missed a handful of games.  Coupling that with scoreless streaks of 6 and 10 games, he would have to go on a crazy tear to get back into consideration this season.  I still see him finishing in the top 10 for defensemen, but given the chance would revise my pick to see Nicklas Lidstrom claim his 7th trophy.

 

 

Calder Trophy: P.K. Subban

Something to cheer about in Montreal.

 

The field for the Calder is wide-open right now.  Couture, Skinner, Eberle, Bobrovsky, Crawford, Carlson… any one of these guys could ultimately claim the prize.  So for now, I'm sticking with Subban to make a run at it in the 2nd half of the season.

 

 

And finally, now that we're through the mundane, here are 10 other predictions, sure to come true in 2010-11:

 

1. The Sutters will be out in Calgary by Christmas

Off by 3 days...

 

2. John Tavares will lead the Islanders in scoring by no less than 40 points.

What I meant to say is that nobody but Tavares would actually hit 40 points this season.

 

3. Nathan Horton scores 40 goals.  No other Bruin tops 25.

How about 30?  Stand by the 2nd half, though Lucic may get there.

 

4. Michael Neuvirth and Jonathan Bernier finish the season with 30+ wins each.

Neuvirth may get there yet.  Bernier clearly fell short.

 

5. The Senators will make a deal for a new starting goalie in time for the playoffs.  Let's say… Kiprusoff or Vokoun.

With Elliot clearly struggling and Leclaire incapable of staying healthy, this seems more likely than ever, assuming they're still in playoff contention at that point.

 

6. After being relegated to the press box in December, Mike Modano retires during the Winter Classic.

First half right (though not for the reasons I thought).  Still don't see the Wings having much of a role for him going forward when he gets healthy.  Just move the date forward to June.

 

7. No player over the age of 30 will finish in the top 10 of scorers this season.

Darn you, Martin St. Louis!

 

8. Kari Lehtonen has a healthy season and plays 60 games.

Healthy is a relative term, really.  Still has a shot at 60 games.

 

9. Corey Crawford earns the starting job in Chicago heading into the playoffs.

Ahhhh… I think I got one right.

 

10. NHL announces in February that the Florida Panthers will be moving to Quebec.

Anybody want to bet against it?  Though February is probably a bit premature.

 

 

 

 

On the Mark…

Here are a few players that seem to be panning out as predicted to start the year:

  • Matt Duchesne - "Expect him to be better in his second season ... 70 points are not out of the question"
  • Claude Giroux - "Giroux is clearly ready for a breakout season in the 70 point territory"
  • Loui Eriksson - "Eriksson is quickly becoming the top offensive threat in Dallas… 30-35 goals  "
  • Dustin Byfuglien - "It's a no-brainer that he should top his career high of 36 points"
  • Tobias Enstrom - "Plan on a 55 point season "
  • Michal Neuvirth - "At some point, he'll get a good run going this year "
  • Marc-Andre Fleury - " It all adds up to a potentially hot season for Fleury in terms of fantasy numbers"
  • James Neal - "Could finish in the top 30 this season in terms of total fantasy points"
  • Kris Letang - " this could be the breakout season for Letang"

 

Missing the Mark…

And here are a few that I need to pretend didn't happen:

  • Brad Richards - "He'll surely be drafted way too high by someone else"
  • Sergei Gonchar - "I'd still take a chance on him in Round 2"
  • Shea Weber - "20 goals should be a given this season in Nashville"
  • Martin Brodeur - "Brodeur will be Brodeur once again in 2010. Rank him as high as you please"
  • Erik Johnson - "Look for a big breakout year from Johnson in the 50+ point range."
  • Tuukka Rask - "he has apparently dethroned Tim Thomas for good"

 

Top 10 Events of 2010 that Shaped Fantasy Hockey

by chewy 28. December 2010 17:05
 

It's not right to end the year without a pointless top 10 list.  And since fantasy hockey is what we do here,  here is my contribution, as I present the events that had the biggest impact on fantasy hockey in the year 2010:

 

 

10. Stempniak to Phoenix

A deal that largely went unnoticed at the time quickly became the most significant fantasy trade of the season.  On March 3rd, Lee Stempniak was dealt from Toronto to Phoenix for Matt Jones and a couple picks.  At the time, Stempniak was barely cracking the 3rd line in Toronto and was a non-factor in the fantasy world.  From there out, he was a point-a-game player and almost a goal-a-game player for a stretch in Phoenix.  His hot streak ended with the conclusion of last season, and he may never see that kind of production again.

 

9. Byfuglien Moved to Defense

Isn't Jeremy Roenick a genius?  After Atlanta coach Craig Ramsey announced at the start of the season that newly acquired Dustin Byfuglien would be moved to defense, many in the hockey world openly ridiculed his decision (Roenick being the dumbest).  Turns out the former Selke winner knew what he was doing after all, as Byfulglien has been an absolute beast on defense for Atlanta and fantasy owners.  The move came right around fantasy draft time, so owners who heard (and believed) the news made out like bandits by drafting him in the middle rounds.

 

8. Island Injury Bug

The Islanders weren't expected to win many games, but there was hope at the start of the 2010-11 season that several of their players would be decent fantasy options.  Many of the young guns were clearly on the rise at the end of last season, prompting hope for the new one.  That all ended early on, when the injury news started to strike.  First Streit was gone for most of the season, then Okposo separated his shoulder.  Other injuries crept in to the point where no player on the Islanders roster has much value.   Even John Tavares is going to have to wait for some help before he can be considered a solid fantasy option at this point.

 

7. Gonchar to Ottawa

For the past decade, Sergei Gonchar has been among the top 5 best fantasy options on defense (when healthy).  On July 1st, he was the first big name to show up on the free agent departures, heading north from Pittsburgh to Ottawa.  Many expected his prolific production to go with him, and for that to spark some of the Ottawa forwards on to more points, particularly on the power play.  The move has been a complete bust.  At least in Ottawa that is.  While Gonchar is on pace to be a -43 for the season and the Senators remain one of the lowest scoring teams in the league, the move did open the door for a new superstar to emerge in Pittsburgh: Kris Letang.  Letang was apparently held back by Gonchar's presence in the past.  Now that he has the role of chief puck-mover on the power play, Letang has emerged as a Norris Trophy candidate, and a genuine fantasy stud on defense.

 

6. Dismantling of Chicago

It was inevitable, and the Hawks tried to downplay the impact, but it cannot be denied that the aftermath of the Cap crunch on the Cup winning Chicago roster has had an impact on fantasy lineups.  In Chicago, the most noticeable change is in Norris winner Duncan Keith's numbers.  It's impossible to know how much he misses those players and who he misses the most, but something has been off with Keith this season, and that's a good place to lay the blame.  Also, fantasy owners are still perplexed as to which goalie to claim in Chicago.  Since Chicago had to part with Niemi, there's been an ongoing back and forth with Turco and Crawford.  Perhaps we'll even see Huet back before the end of the year?  In Atlanta, the Thrashers (and their fantasy owners) have benefitted greatly, particular with Byfuglien (see above) and Andrew Ladd.  Ladd never had the opportunity that he now has in Atlanta, and he's producing with a career year in his new setting.

 

5. Nabokov to (and from?) the KHL

Since the lockout, it seems like the leading candidates for the Vezina Trophy change dramatically from season to season.  Each year there are two or three new names that pop up and then fade away.  Over that time, only Nabokov has remained relatively consistent, though he was never truly rewarded for it.  Fantasy owners could draft him with confidence that he would provide very good to great fantasy production each season.  When he bolted for the KHL in the off-season, he left a void on draft lists everywhere.  After just two months away from the NHL, Nabokov recently cut ties with his team, leading to speculation that he may return to the NHL at some point his year.  Stay tuned, as we could see him on the list for 2011 if he lands with a contender in January.

 

4. Penguin Hot Streak

After a horrible losing spell around Halloween, the Pens (and their fantasy owners) were scrambling for options.  Marc-Andre Fleury was showing up on waiver wires, while Malkin and Crosby were sliding down depth charts.  That all changed when the Penguins started to rattle off win after win in November and into December.  Suddenly, Fleury is once again a top-end starter option and Crosby is the undisputed #1 fantasy player, in the midst of an incredible scoring streak that just keeps going.  Many other depth players on the Penguin lineup have likewise seen their fantasy value increase with the streak.  It's amazing what a couple weeks of winning can do.

 

3. Halak Olympic/Playoff Glory

Heading into the Olympic break, the Canadiens were struggling and they weren't finding the answers they needed in the crease.  Price was train wreck and Halak was decent, but hadn't yet emerged.  His Olympic performance opened the eyes of the hockey world as he single-handedly led team Slovakia to the bronze-medal game, and in the process, earned him the #1 job (and a ticket out of Montreal).  His subsequent run in the playoffs made him a top 5 goalie pick for many fantasy owners this fall.  With Halak being moved to St. Louis, the pressure was on Price to shine or leave town.  Remarkably, he has more than risen to the occasion.  It has been a wild ride for both goaltenders in 2010, but ultimately, Price and Halak have both come out as solid fantasy options heading into 2011.

 

2. Kovalchuk Saga

On February 4th, the New Jersey Devils shocked the hockey world by diving into the Kovalchuk sweeps and claiming the "prize" a few weeks before the deadline.  The summer saga was well documented and has had an obvious impact on the Devils misfortune this season (and likely for many to come), but what about the fantasy impact?  Well, for starters, a guy who was a regular top 10 fantasy forward for the past decade has collapsed to the point where he's not worth starting in any format.  And while he (and his contract) can't be blamed for the complete lack of production by other Devil players this season, his contract will surely prohibit the team from bolstering the lineup with complementary talent in the years to come.  Ultimately, this deal was and will continue to be a disaster for the Devils and their fantasy owners.

 

1. The Boston Goaltender See-Saw

Also known as "The Rise (and fall) of Tuukka Rask", or perhaps "The fall (and rise) of Tim Thomas".  No matter how you want to headline it, the story has been big in the fantasy world.  After a subpar end to 2009, Thomas lost his job to the up and coming rookie Rask, who finished the season strong enough to merit Vezina consideration.  Many fantasy owners ranked him among the best going into this years draft, and were ultimately disappointed when the tide turned back to Thomas very early on.  Thomas put last season behind him completely and is the current favorite to see his name etched again on the Vezina.  Owners who were quick to pick him up in the first week of the season have come away with the grand prize.

 

There were many other events that shaped the world of fantasy hockey in 2010.  Chime in and share which ones you think should have placed among the top 10.

 

A Couple Updates

by chewy 9. November 2010 08:10
 

A slow night on the game front, so I'll take advantage of the down time to provide a few updates.

 

War Room Expansion

 

First off, we're making final preparations for our expanded War Room section.  In addition to the generic tips and strategies offered there now, we'll be featuring some very league and site-specific content to help you in your specific league.  We'll be starting with the most popular sites - Yahoo and CBS.  We'll also be centering a lot of attention on daily and weekly play sites, starting with Fanduel.

 

Landshark Fan League

 

We're now a full month into the season, and things haven't quite gone to plan for me in our Landshark Hockey "Fan"tasy league.  Apparently, readers of this site know a thing or two about this game.  Through 4 weeks, we have five teams sitting strong at 3-1 (BigTank, FoolsGold, Brak, Midnight Train Wreck, and MightyMullets), while my lowly Landsharks struggle at 1-3.  Apparently, my 1-2 punch of Devils (Brodeur/Kovalchuk) isn't nearly as potent as I'd hoped it would be.  Last place belongs to the Sky King who has yet to win a contest.  His downfall was a 3rd round selection of M.A. Fleury.

 

In terms of steals so far, Midnight Train Wreck seems to have made the most of his late-round picks, walking away with Tim Thomas and Brent Burns with some late round picks.  A few other late-round steals of note:

  • Intent To Injure - Michal Neuvirth (round 12)
  • Sky Kings - John-Michael Liles (round 15)
  • C21 Guns - Chris Stewart (round 11)

 

As for busts, aside from the previously mentioned Devil picks and the goalie collapse in Pittsburgh, here are a few that sting:

  • Midnight Train Wreck - Tuukka Rask (round 3) and Semyon Varlamov (round 5) - way too early to call these busts, but it's certainly been a disappointing situation.  Yet he's 3-1.  How does that happen?
  • Sky Kings - Simon Gagne (round 6)
  • Stanks18 - Pavel Kubina (round 5)

 

We'll follow up in late December, when the picture gets a little clearer on how this will play out…

Is the Vezina Locked up?

by chewy 5. April 2010 21:19
 

 

Ever since Ryan Miller's magnificent performance in the Olympics, and perhaps a few weeks before, many hockey experts have been tripping over themselves to declare Miller the winner of this year's Vezina Trophy.  If feel good stories counted on equal footing with stats, then that may be true.  However, a closer look at the situation reveals that this year may be one of the hardest seasons in recent memory for the GMs to select a winner.  No doubt, Miller is the front runner for the prize, but there are several over contenders worthy of serious consideration.

 

 

NHL

GP

W

L

Min

GAA

Sv

Sv%

SO

Ryan Miller

BUF

67

39

18

3927

2.23

1890

.928

5

Ilya Bryzgalov

PHO

67

41

20

3960

2.30

1754

.920

8

Evgeni Nabokov

SAN

68

41

16

4009

2.47

1903

.920

3

Martin Brodeur

NJD

73

42

24

4260

2.30

1762

.915

8

Miikka Kiprusoff

CGY

70

35

26

4068

2.27

1810

.922

4

 

When it comes to rating goaltenders, there are four major stats to consider: Wins, GAA, Save % and shutouts.  Taking a look at the top 5 Vezina candidates in these categories only adds confusion.

 

GAA - This is perhaps the most important stats, and this is where Miller shines with a 2.23.  That puts him slightly ahead of Kiprusoff at 2.27, and significantly better than Nabokov at 2.47.

 

Wins - As always, Brodeur is the leader here.  His 40 win seasons are more predictable than the Panthers missing the playoffs.  Miller sits 3 wins behind Brodeur at this point.  Kiprusoff sits way back at 35.

 

Shutouts - The crown jewel for the goaltender is the shutout.  This is the one stat that Miller is most behind on.  He has a respectable 5 on the year, but can't catch the 8 from Bryzgalov and Brodeur.

 

Save % - Once again, Miller takes the lead in this stat.  His .928 dwarfs Brodeur's .915.

 

So who is the odds on favorite with a week left to play?  Time to play the elimination game.

 

Kiprusoff will most likely be the first to go.  It's almost unheard of to give a major award to a player on a non-playoff team, and Calgary is in serious danger of missing the show.    Besides, his 4 shutouts and 35 wins place him at the bottom of the stack.

 

Nabokov will most likely miss the cut as well, based on some serious stretches of inconsistent play.  His wins and save percent  keep him in the running, but his GAA doesn't match up well, and his 3 shutouts shut him out.

 

That leaves us with three worthy finalists: Brodeur, Bryzgalov, and Miller.

 

The reality is that Vezina voting is often tilted toward sentiment and reputation.  That kind of leaves Bryzgalov on the outside.  Despite the fact that he's been one of the top stoppers in the game since leaving Anaheim for the desert, he just hasn't gotten the press that Miller and Brodeur enjoy.

 

So, is it a done deal, or is there still time for Brodeur to hold off Miller for one more season, and add another trophy to his impressive case?  With 4 games to go, it seems unlikely, but possible.  He has matchups with Atlanta, Florida, and the Islanders, which means a shutout or two isn't too much to expect.  If he catches fire and finishes with 9 or 10 shutouts to Miller's 5, it may be enough to give him the nod.  Otherwise, it seems, the experts have been right all along.  It appears that Miller's Time has arrived.

The Shark Returns

by chewy 26. February 2010 22:13
 

In case you missed us… we're back now.  Landshark hockey experienced some painful server issues over the past couple of months, so we bit the bullet and changed our hosting provider.  The process is now complete, so we are now back and live.  Look for new features and insightful, life-changing commentary in the weeks to come as we prepare for the stretch drive. 

 

Sorry for the downtime.  Better times ahead.

Tip o' the hat to BlogEngine.NET --- 1.4.5.0

 
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