Fantasy Hockey: You bonehead!
Ballard-esque blunders unmasked
Welcome to CBCSports.ca's Fantasy Hockey 1-on-1, where every Friday our resident nerds — er, experts — Jesse Campigotto and Jordan Shifman, debate three hot topics of interest for poolies.
In last week's edition, the guys handed out their quarter-season awards. This week, in honour of Keith Ballard's now infamous slash to the head of his own goalie, it's time for Jesse and Jordan to confess their most boneheaded mistakes of the season.
Don't forget, you can use the comments function at the bottom of the story to send your burning fantasy questions to the fellas, who will answer the best ones.
Looking for a league to join? Check out CBC's Hockey Night In Canada Fantasy Pool. It's fun. And you could win a car.
All stats are through Thursday.
1. What's your most Ballard-esque blunder of the season?
Jesse: As usual, I'm incapable of admitting a mistake without first pointing out I was right about something. On draft day, I set up a later-round pick by announcing: "The player I'm about to choose is the key to this league. If he works out, I'll win. If not, I'm doomed." I then promptly selected Thrashers goalie Kari Lehtonen, who was out indefinitely (and is still out) with a back injury. I figured I could ride out his absence. Now I'll concede this was comically boneheaded. Back injuries aren't exactly known for healing ahead of schedule. But the premise for my pick was that Atlanta would be a decent team this year, and I would cash in on the goalie wins. I was right: the Thrashers are sixth in the East. But where I've gone wrong is by continuing to hold onto Lehtonen. In fact, I still have him. And I missed the boat on Ondrej Pavelec, who's getting the bulk of the starts in Lehtonen's absence. Yes, I regret my transgressions.
Jordan: I'm going all the way back to draft day — specifically to Round 18. That's when I selected a player that would underachieve like only a New York Ranger (or Toronto Maple Leaf) can. Through 22 games and a head injury, Chris Drury has just two goals and nine points with a minus-7 rating. Worse, he has just two points on the power play — both assists. That's a far cry from his 20 PP points last year and 37 from 2005-06 with Buffalo. I think Drury needs a good whack in the head to start producing. My only solace here is that he wasn't the worst player taken in the round: David Perron, Shawn Horcoff, Michael Ryder, Mathieu Schneider and Peter Mueller, to name a few, also went in the 18th. But I guess it could be worse. I could own Scott Gomez and his $7.357 million annual cap hit…
2. Who's your pick-up of the week?
Jesse: Let me answer your question with a question: Why does no one believe in Tomas Plekanec? The Habs forward is owned in less than half of Yahoo league, yet leads his team in scoring with 25 points in 28 games. It'd be nice if he had more than six goals, but that number should improve considering his shooting percentage of 9.5 is well below his career mark of 12.0. It's also comparable to his percentage last season, when Plekanec hit the 20-goal plateau for the third straight time. And despite his heavy shorthanded workload, he ranks fourth among Montreal forwards in average power-play time. Make that third now that Brian Gionta is out indefinitely with a broken foot.
Jordan: In last week's Fantasy Hockey Plus/Minus video, I highlighted Stephen Weiss' dominating performances of late. He was hot last week and he's still hot. Though he hasn't produced at all on the power play, he's still a good option at centre. Weiss is currently riding a five-game point streak and has points in nine of his last 10 games. Over that span he's tallied 14 points, and he has five goals in his last three games.
3. Who's your drop of the week?
Jordan: I hate to admit it, but I gave up on Bryan Little this week. I really thought he would turn it around, and I still think he might (and he certainly should), but you have to know when to cut your losses. If anything, I held onto him too long. The Atlanta forward has just 11 points on the season, no power-play goals and no goals of any kind since Nov. 5. I was hoping that Little would benefit from Ilya Kovalchuk's return from injury, but that didn't happen. Even with Max Afinogenov scorching and Slava Kozlov finally earning his keep, Little is miserably underperforming.
Jesse: This is not earth-shattering, but cut the cord on Jason Blake. The aging Leafs forward doubled his goal total by scoring a pair on Thursday night, but those were his first two even-strength goals of the season. And don't expect him to rebound like he did last season, when he potted 25 goals. The opportunities just aren't there — Blake ranks a surprisingly low 11th on the team in power-play time. So if he's not seeing power-play ice, and he's not scoring at even strength, what is he good for? Absolutely nothing.