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I'm getting a lot of thanks for being so bold in the preseason on Martin St. Louis (I had him for 51 points this year). A handful of emails about how that decision (to draft him) won them the pool. After slipping from 99 points to 74, a lot of people had him pegged for a decline. But I noted in the Guide that he had 52 points in 50 games once he returned from his injury last season. Kudos to him for winning the scoring title. He's got two years left on his contract, so there's more to come. And it's a damn good thing for Steven Stamkos owners. Because with St. Louis, Stamkos is a 100-point guy. Without him, he's an 90-point guy.
Alex Ovechkin's 32 goals wins him the Rocket Richard. I faced a lot of criticism for my projection in the Guide, and that criticism came to a head towards late February. I'm very happy that he found his mojo - I hate looking bad when I go out on a limb on an important player. I projected 28 goals and 55 points - he got 32 and 56.
The Jennings - goes to Corey Crawford and Ray Emery. I still marvel over how a goaltender who is 17-1-0 with a 1.94 GAA is the backup. Amazing. And I can't wait to see Chicago face the Penguins in a seven-game series in the Final. Yep. Calling it.
With six goals in his last three games, Nail Yakupov tied Jonathan Huberdeau for the rookie scoring lead and, due to goals, he wins. Does he deserve the Calder Trophy? All year I've heard the name "Huberdeau" and "Brodin" and "Conacher" and "Saad". I've even heard "Schultz" once or twice. And early on, we heard a lot of "Tarasenko". But never once did I hear "Yakupov"…but then, I hadn't been listening, over the weekend.
I had been touting Carl Soderberg as a playoff dark horse, but I'm wavering. Check out his ice time, last five games:
16:10, 15:28, 15:06, 13:09, 12:26
The decrease is obvious. He was a minus-2 Sunday, which probably didn't impress the coach.
Ryane Clowe was unable to practice, and the rumor is that his knee, as well as his head, are the injuries. The head isobviously a concern, given his concussion history. But his knee seems to be the reason for his possibly missing time. The Rangers aren't talking. Chris Kreider has been recalled.
Tyler Johnson continues to dominate at the AHL level. He has five points in two playoff games to put him in a tie for the scoring race lead early on.
Dmitry Orlov has three points in two games for Hershey. The Caps won't call him up unless it's an emergency.
Ryan Whitney, an unrestricted free agent this summer, has already said goodbye to Edmonton. Battling leg, foot and ankle injuries over the past two years, he just a shadow of what he once was. He has the smarts to be a 50-point rearguard, but he would need a patient coach, improved health, and a good defense partner to get there. He should be dropped in most leagues - and picked up again via the waiver wire if necessary (that is to say - don't draft him).
Among the players sent back down to join their AHL team's postseason drive:
Among the players recalled by their NHL team, since their AHL team is out or they are needed (i.e. the "Black Aces"):
Ryan Strome, NYI; Brock Nelson, NYI; Anders Nilsson, NYI; Johan Sundstrom, NYI; Calvin De Haan, NYI; Matt Donovan, NYI; Christian Thomas, NYR; J.T. Miller, NYR; Ryan Bourque, NYR; Hampus Lindholm, ANA; Peter Holland, ANA; John Gibson, ANA; Max Friberg, ANA; Jason Zucker, MIN; Evgeny Grachev, STL, Jimmy Hayes, CHI; Jeremy Morin, CHI; Brandon Pirri, CHI; Adam Clendening, CHI.
You can read all about these prospects over at DobberProspects.com - fully updated profiled on these guys who are monitored closely by over a dozen scouts/writers.
So in my 23-year keeper league, I'm polishing off a short rebuild. I was looking forward to finishing seventh out of 13 - my team is too good to drop, and too young to sacrifice on some kamikaze mission for the top. But then a strange thing happened. I had an insane Saturday - Yandle, Malkin, Neal, Letang, Gallagher? It pushed me up to sixth when I was actually hoping I could sneak down to eighth (better draft position). Then… Kyle Turris grabs two points Sunday, and suddenly I finish fifth? And then I discover that fifth place actually gets prize money? (what kind of sick pool is that, but I digress). Anyway, complete shocker for me, thought I'd share.
As for my leagues, here is how I did. First, the bad and embarrassing news:
1. Last place in the DobberHockey Experts League. And no, I won't be relegated. Too many competitors want to get to the Expert's League to play me. But still an embarrassment. Excuses? Many. But last is last. I guess, once I started sinking quickly, I started focusing on the other four leagues. It all started with my owning Erik Karlsson. It got worse from there. Craig Anderson and Miikka Kiprusoff didn't help with their injuries, luckily I always cover my ass for goaltending - I also had Nabokov. But things went south for good when I rolled the dice on Tanguay and Okposo and helped out Ryan Ma by giving him Ott, since I was leading in hits by a huge margin. But then Ott went nutty. The whole thing was a giant nightmare. Moving on…
2. Let's work our way from worst to best. In the keeper league that I run, I just finished a rebuild and coming off a playoff title from last year. I have Crosby, so I was hanging around up top. I finished fifth and my playoff team isn't half as good as this other guy's - so defending the title is out the window. But I like my team, the pieces are in place, and I should get second-place money in the playoffs to move me up the money list.
3. This is the 23-year league I spoke of. I was caught off guard with that fifth-place finish. I don't see how I can lose the playoff trophy - I have Malkin, Neal, Letang, Dupuis and Bennett. Plus Kopitar and Brown.
4. The Yahoo! Friends league, the daily league that I was whining about early in the season. I can't do daily - it's too hard. Takes too much time that I don't have, I can't keep up with faster waiver-wire players. I forget too often to tinker with my lineup. Well, I ended up nearly winning it. In fact, I had 82.5 points (behind Rotowire's Peter Maingot's 83) and had benched Yakupov Saturday - may have won it for me. One decision. Ah well. I can't do this again next year. Too time consuming. Maybe when the kids are older.
5. The Forecaster (Keep 12) League. I won last year, and defended the crown this year. Back-to-back jacks. The key was paying the price in the offseason to land Marty St. Louis, and then in late February grabbing Alex Ovechkin. I also stockpiled draft picks, and pretty much traded all my extra picks to shore up weaknesses at the deadline - adding Campbell, Ehrhoff and Ribeiro pretty much just for draft picks and waiver fodder.
It would have been nice to win two out of five.
In case you missed yesterday's ramblings from Drance, he recommended you check out this goal: