Fair word of warning: I am not a fantasy hockey expert. At all. I get too caught up in my biases and too emotionally involved in hockey for that. Besides, I still have a full-time job, a wife, and an upper-level philosophy course in addition to writing this blog, so I don't have time to spend making sure my fake hockey teams are consistent winners. So feel free to ask me for fantasy hockey advice, but don't expect it to work.
I am in three hockey pools, all run through Yahoo! Sports, an office pool, a Nucks Misconduct pool, and a pool with friends.
Pool One - Office Pool
Team: Aldergrove Awesome
Week One Result: 7-6-0 Loss
Despite my opponent failing to get the requisite number of goaltender appearances and forfeiting all six goaltender categories, I failed to pick up any of the other categories, giving me a 7-6 loss. Brutal. In a strange coincidence, I picked third in every single pool I was in and decided to go with Steven Stamkos each time. He re-paid me by scoring 4 goals and 2 assists in 4 games. Christian Ehrhoff was my stud on defense, with 2 goals, 1 assist, and 12 shots. Mason Raymond, Jason Arnott, Chris Kunitz, and Martin St. Louis were also solid for me, but it wasn't enough as I came 1 goal, 4 assists, and 4 hits short of my opponent, Sea of dRed. The other categories weren't that close.
My goaltenders put on a fine show, as Bryzgalov, Hiller, and Mason (Chris-wise) all posted solid SV% and decent GAA while putting together 6 total wins. It was completely unnecessary as my opponent forfeit all those categories, but it was still nice to see. Hiller has a terrible team in front of him, but he'll at least get his starts and put up a decent SV%.
Worst player of the week was Dan Carcillo by far. Seriously, Carcillo? -3 and only 4 penalty minutes? That's awful. Still, the Awesome are weak in the PIM area, so I kept him around and added David Clarkson from free agency to replace the woeful Blake Wheeler. Clarkson was solid for me last year before getting injured and I'm hopeful he can stay healthy and rack up some goals and PIM.
Pool Two - Nucks Misconduct
Team: I Miss Kyle Wellwood
Week One Result: 5-2-3 Win
This is a much deeper pool with 20 total teams, so the overall talent level is lower. As above, I got excellent production from Steven Stamkos, but no other player on my team scored more than 1 goal except for Tomas Plekanec, who I had on the bench for one of his goals. Ugh. No matter, I lost the category by 11 goals. Every other category was much more respectable. Tobias Enstrom led the way in assists with 3, Stamkos and Dumont both post +3 ratings, Ryan Kesler added 14 penalty minutes, and all 4 of Enstrom's points came on the powerplay, so I managed to win or tie each of those categories.
As for goaltending, my all backup-but-soon-to-be-number-one trio of Chris Mason, Dwayne Roloson, and Jonathan Bernier put up great numbers, defeating the more name-brand duo of Lundqvist and Halak for my opponents, F U Sweden.
No one was out-and-out terrible this week, but a move was necessitated by the news that Vinny Prospal was undergoing knee surgery. Since I already had Alex Burrows on injured reserve, I picked up Blake Comeau from free agency to replace Prospal. Earlier in the week I accepted a trade of Wojtek Wolski for Steve Ott, a move I'm comfortable with because of my strength up the middle in Stamkos, Kesler, and Plekanec.
Pool Three - Friends Pool
Team: Emily Carr Echidnas
Week One Result: 1-8-1 Loss
Ugly. There's no other word for it. Other than Stamkos, Plekanec, and Nathan Horton, no one on my team can score goals, apparently. St. Louis and Enstrom (can you tell I have some biases in my picks) both kicked in some assists, but it wasn't enough. The team was overall a +5, which is often enough to win, but not this week. Penalty minutes, powerplay points, shots on goal...all woeful.
My one win came from my goaltending, who managed one more win than my opponent's trio, but lost or tied in every other category. Kiprusoff was especially bad and, with how the Flames' season is shaping up so far, he won't get much better. As much as I hate to say it, I hope he gets better. Man, I hate cheering for the Flames...
With the brutal loss to start the season, I panicked and dropped Wojtek Wolski in favor of Josh Bailey. Sure Bailey has had a hot start to the season, but he's as likely to continue potting goals as the Maple Leafs are likely to keep winning. Still, he's got both centre and left-wing eligibility and I'll only need to keep him as long as it takes Alex Burrows to get back in the lineup from the IR...unless he keeps scoring, in which case I'll need to make a tough decision.
But not too tough. It is, after all, just fake hockey. Real hockey is far more important.