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Posted - 03/04/2009 :  14:45:18  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Time flies, doesn’t it? It feels like such a short time ago we were debating about whether to select Crosby or Ovechkin first overall in our fantasy drafts, how soon to select Steven Stamkos, and watching owners indulge in their annual ritual of underrating Marc Savard, who (we will go on record as saying) is by far the most under-appreciated player in the fantasy hockey world. Maybe next year he will finally get the attention he deserves and we will see him drafted ahead of Rick Nash, who is usually drafted too soon, but I digress...

In this blog installment, let’s consider three things you should be taking into account as you prepare for your league’s playoffs (if you have them) and playoff pools.

Experience prevails. It’s true. While it is important to keep an eye on those sleepers and to find good value in later rounds of fantasy drafts, history has proven that it is the players that have been there before that usually tend to have what it takes to raise their game to a new level as the season winds down and we shift gears into the playoffs.

History often repeats itself. Paying attention to trends can pay dividends for fantasy owners. Knowing that Jarome Iginla tends to play his best hockey in the latter half of the season and into the playoffs allows you to rest easy when he’s not performing in November, and the same theory applies with knowing that Roberto Luongo and Miikka Kiprusoff are notoriously slow starters. We saw a lot of owners who were prepared with this information obtain Kiprusoff at a bargain price in late October when he was struggling. If you can still make trades in your regular season leagues, target players who are strong second-half performers.

Rookies tend to play their best hockey in the first half of the season. There are always exceptions, but we have seen many examples of a young player bursting on to the scene only to disappear in the second half. A prime example of this is Patrik Berglund in St. Louis. After scoring 16 goals (30 points) in his first 44 games this year, Berglund has only mustered one goal (six points) in his past 13 games. Further to that, his ice-time has dwindled and despite at one point being a hot commodity on deep league waiver wires, he’s become fantasy irrelevant to those in single-year leagues. The main reason for this is because Berglund grew up playing the past three seasons in Sweden’s second highest league, HockeyAllsvenskan, where he played just 71 games over the past two seasons. Simply put, he was not accustomed to the long, rigorous season in the NHL where games start hitting playoff-intensity levels after the All-Star break. Don’t get me wrong, Berglund is going to be a marvellous player for the Blues for years to come and should warrant late round consideration in next year’s fantasy drafts if you can stomach the possibility of the ‘sophomore jinx’.

A few more musings....

- For those of you who own Tobias Enstrom, one of last year’s ‘sleeper’ darlings, it is encouraging to note that in the wake of Mathieu Schneider’s trade to Montreal his ice time has increased. Enstrom is seeing a ton of PP and SH ice time of late, averaging nearly six minutes in each category over the last three games. He warrants consideration in deep leagues down the stretch if he’s available on your waiver wire and you are in need of some help at the defense position. Zach Bogosian is the future in Atlanta, but Enstrom has a solid hold as the bridesmaid.

- This is about a week old, but there was some scuttlebutt about a blog site on Twitter called ‘brianburke’. Apparently someone didn’t get the joke and the site ended up subject to a Globe and Mail story, noting that Burke and the Leafs filed a complaint to Twitter about it. Anyways, check out the blog... it really is worth a chuckle. http://twitter.com/brianburke

- Speaking of scuttlebutt, Don Cherry made some headlines this week with some disparaging remarks about Alex Ovechkin’s animated goal celebrations. I’m sure you have all heard the story but if you haven’t you can here:
http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/story/2009/03/01/hockey-cherry-boudreau.html
I’m not sure what is more sad: The fact that Don Cherry still can’t get over the fact that there are some good hockey players that are born outside of Canada or that hockey fans continue to respect Cherry as an authoritive voice on hockey? This is the same man that man-loves Tie Domi, a fiesty player who used to show off his (pretend) championship belt after beating his opponent in a fight. I really hope that people, myself included, watch Coach’s Corner because we enjoy the car-wreck style entertainment that Cherry brings and not because we endorse his consistent racial slurs and slams about some of the best and most exciting players the NHL has to offer.

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