Needless to say we are at the crossroads of the 2014-15 hockey season. That is right. Fantasy hockey playoffs start for quite a few people in head to head leagues this week. Most everyone else starts next week. Questions have been flying in and so have the injuries. The intensity of play has picked up which means predictably, scoring is slowly heading downward. Playoff like games are already occurring and that should keep on going over he final 26 days or so of the regular season.
The questions were three this week. Now the first one is an opinion I am sure few will agree with but here it goes.
Will 3 on 3 OT in any form make the game more exciting?
It is going to give fans a reason to get off their seats. Whether it is a three minute session after a four minute four on four remains to be seen but the AHL has definitely seen less shootouts. It will be fascinating to see what percentage drop there is come season end but imagine the danger of many odd man rushes. If anyone remembers playing 3 on 3 pickup hockey, think of how much faster the pace was. Purists will not enjoy this as they derided the 4 on 4 format in the first place. However, more and more GM's are growing increasingly tired of the shootout. Even at three minutes of 3 on 3, there will be quite a bit of excitement generated.
However, there is one nagging thing. how do you generate more scoring in general? 3 on 3 will be a nice boost for some fantasy owners but how do you elevate the product so that less games go to overtime or the shootout in the first place? That may be for another time as they say.
Fantasy hockey playoffs are starting, what do I make of all these injuries?
Again this is the time of year where you almost hope your playoff format does not go more than three weeks because if it does, one is likely to be affected by enough injuries to make significant impact. Tampa has a triplet injury special going with all three players out at least a couple weeks or more. Pittsburgh has Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist out at least a week with injuries and Sidney Crosby is battling some nagging illness and is day to day. That is just for starters. On the bright side, see who is on the mend. I believe Dustin Byfuglien is practicing with Winnipeg and other players are close to returning too so hopefully you can alleviate some of your IR worries only to yes place more players on it anyway. It really is a time of year for survival more than anything else.
The best tip is to check waiver wires. Obviously 99% of leagues have seen their trade deadlines come and gone. In deeper leagues it is going to be rough for everyone to replace injuries. Be first and be bold. It is win or go home anyway so you have nothing to lose.
The DFS world has embraced Andrew Hammond, when does the run end?
That answer is a mystery. Truth be told I picked up Hammond on a whim the first game he faced the Montreal Canadiens and figured what is the worst that could happen. When he stopped 40 of 42 shots and won, I thought it was a nice story but it probably would not last all that long. Fantasy hockey fans....we are at ten plus starts now and still the Hamburglar keeps going. His 10-0-1 record is Patrick Lalime like but his .955 save percentage is Carey Price over the last few months like. The numbers are otherworldly and yes he has not given up more than two goals in any of his starts.
One of the keys to his success has been Erik Karlsson and the improved play of the defense. Yes teams may be getting shots on net but they are less in the danger areas than they were before. That is vital to a goalie's success because if he can see it or somewhat see it, then its not going in nine times out of ten. Give Dave Cameron some credit too as Ottawa really has turned on a switch here.
What happens next? Eventually Hammond will start giving up some goals but the improved confidence of the team may be enough to keep them going on this run. Will it be at the current pace though? That does not seem likely. Either way, it's going to be a fun final weeks.
See you next week fantasy hockey fans and thanks for reading!