007

 

Part two of Lancione's player comparisons in fantasy hockey, using 007 James Bond movies for inspiration

Last weekend, I explored the first 10 Bond movies in an attempt to draw satirical analogies to trends currently developing around the Western Conference. We got through the Sean Connery Era, the George Lazenby one-off and delved into the Roger Moore run of films. We’ll now pick up right where we left off with an epic classic and a personal top three - Moonraker!

 

(~~ Follow Anthony Lancione on Twitter @Anthisdaman)

 

 

007 - In chronological order (Films 11-24):

 

Moonraker

 

Matt Duchene is playing above the moon right now, and pretty much all season long at that. With points in three straight, on the heels of a separate five game streak, Matt has put together a staggering six multi-point efforts over the past three or so weeks. In fact, since December 12th, he’s recorded 17 points—45% of his season total! With 38 points in an equal 38 contests, Duchene has finally become a point-per-game guy; a huge milestone in his career; right on time for Team Canada brass to mull over its group to take to Sochi. He’s certainly been good enough to merit serious consideration. With his current linemates of Nate


Frequency

Strength

Line Combination

47.22%

EV

9 DUCHENE,MATT - 29 MACKINNON,NATHAN - 90 O'REILLY,RYAN


Mackinnon and Ryan O’Reilly, you can expect this pace to continue all season long.

 

 

For Your Eyes Only

 

I’ll take this opportunity to enlighten you with a few hidden gems that you can take to the bank on your imminent next visit to the waiver wire. Ducks’ centerman, Nick Bonino got off to a nice start to the season with points in eight of 13, and then another hot run in November getting on the board in nine of 11. His sizzle simmered down at the end of 2013 going on his longest drought by far on the season (six games scoreless). This prompted many GMs to drop him, as he is now only 20%-owned in yahoo leagues. This is crazy as he sees plenty of time on the top power play unit with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. In fact he set up the former’s OT winner Sunday night and scored the equalizer with less than 90 seconds left to send it to the extra frame in the first place. As such, he’s bounced back to impressive form with five points in his last three games, so grab him while the iron’s hot.

 

Another recently forgotten stud to heat up would be Kris Versteeg. Also, coincidentally, only 20%-owned, he has been logging serious minutes with the NHL’s top player, two months running, Patrick Kane.


Games between 2013-12-15 and 2014-01-05

Frequency

Strength

Line Combination

61.71%

EV

26 HANDZUS,MICHAL - 88 KANE,PATRICK - 23 VERSTEEG,KRIS

9.92%

EV

29 BICKELL,BRYAN - 65 SHAW,ANDREW - 23 VERSTEEG,KRIS

5.16%

PP

81 HOSSA,MARIAN - 20 SAAD,BRANDON - 23 VERSTEEG,KRIS

2.78%

EV

88 KANE,PATRICK - 19 TOEWS,JONATHAN - 23 VERSTEEG,KRIS

1.98%

EV

88 KANE,PATRICK - 16 KRUGER,MARCUS - 23 VERSTEEG,KRIS


In riding shotgun with #88, Versteeg notched 11 points in 11 games heading into the New Year. Despite only garnering a single point in this first three games of 2014, he remains a great free agent choice.

 

 

Octopussy

 

Duncan Keith has been playing like he has eight hands all year. He’s taken back his rightful throne on top of the NHL scoring race amongst defensemen, with 42 points in 44 games. The favourite for the Norris Trophy, which would be the second of his illustrious career, Keith is on pace to torch his career record of 69 points, with a current pace of 78. That would equal Erik Karlsson’s output two years ago for the highest single season total since Saint Nick’s 80-point display back in 2005-2006. He’s showing no signs of letting up either and has been efficient at both ends, sitting only plus-4 points behind partner and league leading plus/minus- man, Brent Seabrook (plus-22). Without him, there’s no chance the Hawks are two-time champs since 2010 or on the verge of another solid run.

 

 

A View to Kill

 

In the same vein as the prior flick, the  Blackhawks continue to sit pretty on top of the Western Conference, and the NHL for that matter. They will attempt for the second time in three seasons to be the first repeat champion since the 1996-97 and 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings. With a league leading 167 goals, but in a three-way tie for 18th in goals allowed, the Hawks’ firewagon brand of hockey remains the most reminiscent of the 1980’s nightly shootout days. Yes, I’m referring to when shootouts meant more than a dozen goals were netted on a given evening. Chicago’s inefficiency at keeping the puck out of the net is rendered irrelevant with the frequency their offensive juggernaut terrorizes opposing netminders. Their plus-43 goal differential remains second in the league, behind only their divisional rival St.Louis Blues. They have not lost in regulation since an embarrassing sleeper against Toronto on December 14th.

 

 

The Living Daylights

 

In the Living Daylights, Bond was in charge of aiding a Russian defector and must prevent an unknown sniper from killing him before he reaches the West. That seems like a very similar job title for NHL defensemen1. The Western Conference’s leading shot blocker is Chris Butler of Calgary, with 107. However, in five less games, teammate and fellow blueliner, Kris Russell has only two fewer blocked shots, so he should get the majority of the kudos here. Its especially true because he is exactly doubling Butler in goals and assists, owns a plus-16 rating versus Butler’s minus-1, takes more shots and has a higher shooting percentage. Not to mention, Russell has spent precisely half the time in the sin bin as Butler to date. What I’m saying is, without Russell, the Flames are 99.9% percent beating provincial rivals, Edmonton, in the race for the West basement. 

 

 

Never Say Never Again

 

This flick was a blast from the past where Sean Connery was called back from retirement for one last hurrah, despite stating years earlier that he would never reprise the role ever again. Carlo Colaicovo was traded to St.Louis a half decade ago from Toronto, in the now famous Alex Steen trade, in a package for the unbelievably gifted Lee Stempniak, or so interim Leafs GM, Cliff Fletcher thought so. After a decent initial run with St.Louis, Carlo went for a cup of coffee in Detroit, where he was bought out and left for dead as free agency came and went last summer. As did the start of the NHL campaign, with no suitors around until walk-on Ryan Whitney was cut by the Blues. At that point, the familiarity of Carlo became a viable option as he was signed mid-season to minimum deal as a depth man. Unfortunately he only has a pair of assists in 10 games, and a plus-1 with 12 blocked shots; a shell of his former self offensively. Please stay clear, and delete from your memory the millions of dollars Ken Holland paid for him just last season.

 

 

License To Kill

 

Arguably my favourite James Bond movie ever created, despite the cheesiness of the 80’s, this plot is boss…just like Josh Harding has been all year. Seemingly nothing can keep this guy down. Not a terrible, crippling disease, not a couple bouts with the flu, nor even a fluke stepping-on-the-puck incident. He’s seemingly been given a license to kill, as no henchmen (A.K.A. superstar forward) has been able to penetrate his fortress with much regularity, shooting down Western and Eastern Conference foes with more regularity than anyone else in the conference all year long. With a disgusting GAA of 1.66, Harding is far and away the NHL leader in stonewalling snipes.

 

Goldeneye

 

Patrick Sharp’s recent hot streak has seen him shoot up the NHL scoring leaders and brought him from a depth afterthought to a virtual lock for Team Canada in a matter of a couple weeks. He’s already the top sniper in the West with 25 to his name, while sporting a 14.2% shooting percentage. This is not far removed from his career average of 12.3%. In fact he’s achieved year end percentage as good or better twice before, so he’s a great bet to continue to flourish, especially with the Hawks top six going the way they are. Even once the inevitable market correction settles in, I foresee his average output to be far greater than what we saw out of him through the season’s first 10 weeks or so, even as an eventual drop-off of his current incredible form occurs.

 

 

Tomorrow Never Dies

 

I can hardly believe we’re now riling up for round three of the epic goalie controversy in St.Louis we’ve become accustomed to between Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. Only the infamous Luongo/Schneider battle rivals it. Every time Jaroslav seemingly takes the throne back, it's only a matter of time before injury rears its ugly head and ‘backup’, Elliott takes the ball and runs with it so long that Halak loses his alpha dog status. A decent start to 2013-14 for Halak has been derailed for the moment, as his peripherals have festered down to an OK 2.40 GAA and mediocre .907 SV%, whilst Elliott’s numbers have soared to a 1.85 GAA & .928 SV%. Elliott has won five straight starts, plus earned a ‘W’ in relief in between, for six in a row overall. That two week stretch also includes two donuts for safe measure.

 

 

World is Not Enough

 

The World may not have been enough for Bond super-villains, just the same as pushes for the president’s trophy and second round playoff appearances will not be enough for your San Jose Sharks. The topic of the Sharks being world beaters in the regular season and mediocre when it counts has been well documented over the past handful of campaigns. Sure, the Sharks finally reached the Western Final in back to back seasons in 2009-10 and 2010-11. However, they’ve dipped back to early round exits the past two. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dan Boyle’s futures remain in limbo heading into this summer. A final four appearance is again required this year, at the very least, or that ‘choker’ moniker will not be going anywhere anytime soon; whereas the veteran trio may instead be headed somewhere soon.

 

 

Die Another Day

 

Despite both being well north of 40, Teemu Selanne and Ray Whitney live out what is in all likelihood, the final year of both their two decade NHL careers. The former’s combination of other-worldy skill and remarkable speed for a man his age never ceases to amaze me. However, the production has truly come to a near halt. With only a measly 11 points in 34 games, Selanne is saving his legs for the Sochi Games and keeping himself conditioned in co-operation with Bruce Boudreau for one last Cup run. If you have him now and are in a shallow league, you can probably get away with dropping him and re-adding him after the Sochi Games.

 

On the other hand, Ray Whitney has produced slightly better than the Finnish Flash with four points more in the same number of games. However, despite an output of nearly a point every other game, his outlook is much more bleak as he is being depended on less and less on a Dallas team who has been thriving on the power play without his expertise. The kid line of Tyler Seguin (41 points), Jamie Benn (36 points) and Valeri Nichushkin (21 points) has been running amok and are the top three scorers on Dallas. Keep in mind, the latter’s 21 point output may seem underwhelming, but don’t let it fool you as he had spent much of the year with extremely limited minutes in the bottom six, before finding life on this power line.

 

 

Casino Royale

 

Make yourself comfortable at one of our roulette, poker or blackjack tables here at Casino Royale. Where to gamble… oh where to gamble away your precious fantasy dollars/max transactions/max games played units, etc?? hmm. Minnesota you say? Well they may be on fringes of the western playoff picture, but Ryan Suter, among others, are really starting to pick it up of late. A big reason for the Wild’s inability to carve a place amongst the top half dozen teams in the conference thus far, can be attributed to the subpar production out of the gates from Suter and the injury problems to Parise and Granlund.

 

Two of these issues have been solved though, with Ryan finally potting his first of the season, two nights before new Year’s Eve….then his second on New Year’s Eve…followed by his third…his fourth and his fifth a few nights later. Hell of a week I’d say! His sudden re-discovery of his goal scoring touch came right after a seven game stretch in late December where his recorded a helper in each. That even usurps topdog, Duncan Keith over that span, overall. Meanwhile, Mikael Granlund has returned with points in five of seven, and has been an excellent 58.7% on the draw since draw-ing back into the lineup.

 

 

Quantum of Solace

 

After winning the Stanley Cup back in 2007 with a core of Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan, Pronger, Niedermayer, Teemu and Giguere, it looked as if though that group lost its hunger. Perhaps they did, after losing the aforementioned hall-of-fame defensemen, dealing Ryan and seeing Giguere playing out his final years in mentor roles around the league. However, the core members: Selanne Perry, Getzlaf and even assistant bench boss, Scotty, seem to have revitalized their passion to gun for another ring.

 

The Ducks are for real---technically the president’s trophy favourites (with equal points as Chicago, but with a game in hand). After all, they STILL have yet to lose at home in regulation despite 19 tries in the DuckPond. Ride the coattails of the following supplementary players whom very well may be taking up residence in your league’s free agent list: Silfverberg (in shallower pools), Cogliano, Bonino (I repeat) and Perreault. Come playoff pool time, even throw Teemu and Saku into the mix, when their veteran savvy (and increased ice time) surely will come into play.

 

 

Skyfall

 

Bond's loyalty to M is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. Whilst MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost. Likewise, the curse of the Atlanta Thrashers regime is back to haunt the Winnipeg jets reincarnation as the playoff drought appears set to continue. One postseason appearance in the past 14 seasons seems likely to become one in 15, as the Jets sit a single point out of third last in the conference, with more games played than anyone ahead of them in the NHL. Aside from Kane, Wheeler, Little and Big Buff, stay away from Jets players…far away!

 

 

Footnote: 1 Excerpt from Ryan Ma’s original piece from 2008


Check out Part 1 - Shaken, Not Stirred - here


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