I apologize. This was supposed to coincide with the release of the new Bond movie, but I wanted to finish the previous series before taking on something new. We’ll take a look back at the past Bond films, but with a Western Conference fantasy twist.
Before the good stuff let’s take a look at a few:
- Sammy Pahlsson regains the Western Conference lead in faceoff wins with 288. Paul Stastny is taking advantage of Joe Sakic’s absence and now is second with 287 followed closely by Shawn Horcoff at 286.
- Mikko Koivu has the most power-play faceoffs won in the Western Conference with 72.
- Paul Stastny, Milan Hejduk, and Andrew Ladd all picked up seven points this past week.
- Stastny, Jonathan Toews, Hejduk, Ryan Smyth and Dustin Penner, were all ranked second, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh respectively this week in Yahoo rankings.
- Andrew Ladd (3%) and Dustin Penner (34%) are both readily available on Yahoo leagues and might be catching fire soon.
- Dustin Brown maintains the lead in the Western Conference with 92 hits.
- Kyle Wellwood upped his shooting percentage to 36.7%, you’d be silly to expect that to be sustained for the course of a full season. Alex Frolov is firing at 25.0% and Tomas Holstrom is also at 25.0%.
- Teemu Selanne now has 13 power-play goals, and he just keeps on churning them out. Patrick Sharp potted three this week, while Patrick Berglund, Kevin Bieksa, and Kyle Wellwood all notched two.
- Dustin Brown is firing a ton of bombs on opposing goalies as he maintained his Western Conference lead with 120 shots on goal. He’s second to only Alex Ovechkin who has a blistering 153. Marian Hossa is fifth overall with 113 and Devin Setoguchi is eighth with 98.
- Marian Hossa fired 18 shots on goal this past week, followed by Jarome Iginla at 17 and Milan Michalek at 15.
- David Backes overtook Sean Avery for the NHL’s PIMs lead, he how has 79 on the season, Backes also has 11 points in 25 games, so he’s starting to round out into one of the better across-the-board players in fantasy hockey. If he’s still available on your waiver wire, be sure to pick him up. Daniel Carcillo is now beginning to pick up the PIMs pace as he now is tied with Shane O’Brien for second in the NHL with 78.
- Minnesota isn’t as airtight on the PK as they were earlier in the season, they now drop to 88.7% on the PK for the season.
- San Jose now gains the leading ratio in five-on-five situations with a ratio of 1.34. St. Louis is the worst in the Western Conference with a rating of 0.84, which explains why many of their star players are deep in the minus category.
- Detroit leads the Western Conference with an average of 11.0 minutes in penalties per contest. So don’t look for any big PIM producers in a very disciplined Detroit line-up. Anaheim is averaging the league high of 19.2 and Vancouver is second last while averaging 18.3. Both teams are near or under the 80% mark on the PK, so would think that doesn’t bode well for the coaching staff.
- An interesting stat that I never paid attention to, San Jose is 7-0-0 when being out shot by their opponents, St. Louis is last at 5-8-2. San Jose is 15-3-2 when out shooting their opponents, while Anaheim is last at 3-6-1 when out shooting their opponents, but is 12-4-0 when being out shot by their opponents…
007 - In chronological order:
Dr. No has to belong to the Oiler’s Eric Cole. Cole was acquired in the off-season from the Hurricanes for defenseman Joni Pitkanen. In 26 games so far for the Oilers, Cole has registered three goals, five assists, 31 penalty minutes and a measly 48 shots on goal. He’s also only currently firing at 6.3%, but his career average is right around the 12.6% mark. So perhaps after the Christmas break, Dr. No can turn the season around to become Dr. Yes.
From Russia With Love
Forget Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Alex Semin, Slava Kozlov, and Andrei Markov. Sent personally from Moscow, Russia is Alex Frolov. He currently has 19 points in 26 contests while averaging just over 18 minutes of ice-time and 3:15 on the power-play each contest for the Kings. Frolov is a very streaky player so he might drive a few owners insane with his various hot and cold streaks. If your team is feeling cold, you might want some warm loving from the big Russian.
Goldfinger himself is the Flames’ captain Jarome Iginla. It seems that everything he has touched this season is turning into gold. He currently has 32 points in 27 games, which is on pace to surpass his career-high of 96 points in which he tallied in the 2001-02 NHL season. He’s tired for second in the league for power-play points and 11th for total shots on goal. His 21:37 TOI average is ranked third amongst the Flames, but his 5:29 on the power-play is tops amongst all Western Conference forwards. Let’s see if Iggy can keep his golden Midas touch for the duration of the full NHL season.
Thunderball is the King’s Captain Dustin Brown. Brown leads the Western Conference with 92 hits in 26 contests. Brown is currently on pace for 53 points, but Anze Kopitar and the Kings have been sluggish to begin this season, so a higher total is expected by the end of the season. Brown is only behind Alex Ovechkin for the most shots on goal, so if he can improve upon his current 6.7 shooting percentage, look for the goals to be start flooding in fairly soon.
You Only Live Twice
Wayne Gretzky lived once as a Hall-of-Fame NHLer, now he gets to live the life of a NHL coach. Unfortunately, it’s been a rough ride for him, as the Coyotes have struggled immensely this season. They are ranked 23rd overall in terms of goals scored per game at 2.56 and shots on goal per game at 28.1. Their power-play has also been abysmal, firing at only 13.6% this season. On the bright side, their team defense is ranked 16th overall as they have a 2.89 goals allowed per game average. Once, the Coyotes offense finally clicks, I’m sure Gretzky will better enjoy his second life.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Three players came into mind for this section. Patrick Marleau, Devin Setoguchi and Joe Pavelski. The trio has 82 points amongst them, but they have a grand total of 12 penalty minutes between them. They are playing like fantasy hockey Queens rather than Kings. I’m pretty sure owners are pretty happy with their point production so far this season, but they would be much more impressed if they got some PIMs along with the points as well. How funny would it be if three players from the same team were on the ballot for the Lady Byng trophy at the end of the season?
Diamonds are Forever
But goal-scoring is not… Mikko Koivu is on an unbelievable pace, He has 29 points in 26 games for the Wild this season, and it’s just not going to be possible for him to maintain that production for the duration of the season. His career-high has only been 54 points, and to expect him to nearly double that this season is a pretty tall task. If you own him, see if you can deal him to get a more dependable legitimate scorer. The girlfriend told me to chuck this in, Christmas is coming, and diamonds are a girl’s best friend...
Live and Let Die
Sean Avery shot himself in the foot with is recent comments about fellow NHL players, which might just have ostracized himself out of the league. He was handed a six-game suspension from Gary Bettman, but that probably won’t be as harsh as what the Stars will do to him. There were many rumblings that many of his teammates don’t want to welcome him back into the club. They stated that he was a nuisance in the dressing room and was more of a distraction than a benefit to his team. The Stars are best served to demote him to the AHL and then cut him in the off-season than to keep him active on their roster for the remainder of this season. If you own Avery now might be the time to let him die on the waiver wire.
The Man with the Golden Gun
Kyle Wellwood is the man with the golden gun. He’s firing at a blistering 36.7% so far this season. Last season, Mike Ribeiro fired at a league-high 25.2%, you just can’t expect Wellwood to fire a full 10% higher than last season’s leader. Every gun will eventually run out of bullets, and Wellwood’s is nearing on empty. His career average is 13.8%, and he’s currently nearly firing at three times that rate. Unsustainable I tell you, unsustainable!
The Spy Who Loved Me
Elisha Cuthbert. She loved Avery, now she loves Dion Phaneuf. Or is there a plot afoot? At first, one may have thought so given Phaneuf's minus-3 rating against the Stars the evening after the Avery comments were made. Two games and five points later, and it would seem that the Avery spy plot has been foiled...
Shea Weber is playing over the moon right now. He has 25 points in 26 games for the Predators and doesn’t seem to be letting up. He is a genuine talent in the NHL, but his production, much like many others in this column, is simply unsustainable. You could make an argument that Niklas Lidstrom finished last season with 70 points in 76 games played, so why can’t Weber do the same. The main difference is that Lidstrom was backed by the league’s third best offense last season (3.07 goals/game), Weber is not (16th, 2.77 goals/game). Also Lidstrom had help from two phenomenal all-stars in Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg last season. Weber has a fairly solid but incomparable Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont. Weber will be solid for the rest of the season and has the perfect situation for him to succeed in, but tailor your expectations for Weber for the rest of the season.
For Your Eyes Only
If you haven’t read a few of my past columns, now is the time to catch up. I’ve mentioned a few players to keep an eye on for recent coming weeks and for the most part they all seemed to have panned out. Kyle Quincey is a big favorite of mine, and he seems to be responding well in LA. He has 16 points in 23 games, while averaging just under two shots on goal per game. Quincey’s also averaging 22:20 in total ice-time and 3:15 on the power-play. Once the Kings’ offense begin to click, Quincey’s production will skyrocket and will have a Mike Green-like impact this season. If he is still out there, don’t hesitate to pick him up. Andrew Ladd seems to have also developed some chemistry with Martin Havlat and Dave Bolland. Ladd was once a fourth overall pick from the Hurricanes, which means he does have some offensive upside. He picked up seven points in the past three contests, and is currently only 4% owned in Yahoo leagues. If you don’t have room for him right now, you might want to keep an eye on him, but be prepared to pull the trigger on him very soon if he has another solid game this week.
Teemu Selanne is playing like he has eight hands. 13 of his 14 goals have come from the blistering Ducks’ power-play. He is 38, turning 39 in July, but he has shown that he still has plenty of hand-eye co-ordination to put the biscuit in the back of the net 40 times this season. If your league counts power-play goals make a hard push at trying to acquire this guy for your fantasy squad.
A View to Kill
Detroit is standing on top of the league with a 30.3% power-play efficiency rating. For many teams that would definitely be a view to kill for. Detroit was firing at nearly 33% a few weeks ago, and has come back down to Earth in the past two weeks. Look for it to drop a bit further under the 30% mark in the next few weeks. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with Daniel Cleary now that Tomas Holmstrom returns back to the lineup. Cleary developed a bit of chemistry with Datsyuk and Hossa on the top-line for the Wings, while Holmstrom was recovering from a back injury.
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 defensemen. Zbynek Michalek leads the NHL in blocked shots with 95. He only has nine points in 26 contests, which means he doesn’t have much offensive fantasy value, but if your league counts blocked shots, you might want to give heavy consideration to Michalek.
Licence to Kill
Jacques Lemaire has the licence to kill all offensive talent in Minnesota and turn them into defensive pawns, which is why Niklas Backstrom has been reaping the rewards this season. Backstrom has a 2.25 goals against average and a .925 save percentage along with 14 wins under his belt. He also has three shut outs and could arguably be tagged with the best goalie to own in fantasy hockey mantra. The Wild players will continue to play quality defense in front of Backstrom, so he should maintain similar numbers for the duration of the season.
Marian Hossa has the golden eye this year as he has potted 15 goals in 26 games, which translates to 47 for a full 82-game season. Playing alongside Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg will certainly provide enough support for Hossa to hit and perhaps surpass that mark. His current 13.3 shooting percentage is right in line with is career 13.0 mark, so there aren’t any anomalies to be wary of regarding his stats.
Tomorrow Never Dies
The goalie battle between Chris Mason and Manny Legace probably won’t die this season. Both goalies have played well and challenged each other to perform to the best of their ability. Mason has strung together a few solid wins, but it’ll most likely be a split duty situation for the rest of the year in St. Louis. The other goalie tandem that may not die this season is the goaltending situation in Nashville. Pekka Rinne and Dan Ellis seem to be battling each other for the number one gig. Rinne has strung together a series of good outings and might just have stolen the number one gig away from Ellis. If you own Ellis it would be wise to handcuff yourself with Rinne.
The World is Not Enough
With the way the San Jose Sharks are playing, the world may not be enough. The Sharks have 11 players that are in double digits in scoring this season and look well rounded enough that they may make a serious run at the Stanley Cup this year. An interesting fact, Mike Grier is outscoring Jonathan Cheechoo, what da? If you own Cheechoo now might be the time to cut bait. Cheechoo is also making $3.0 million this season and $3.5 for the next two seasons, which isn’t too hefty of a price tag for teams to take a gamble on, so you might just see him get dealt to another team that is desperate for a sniper. Ethan Moreau and Marc Pouliot or Tom Gilbert for Cheechoo seems like a reasonable deal that would benefit both teams.
Die Another Day
Mike Modano is just refusing to die and wither away. The 38-year old now has 20 points in 26 games and is on pace to finish this season with 63 points, a feat that he hasn’t accomplished since the 2005-06 season. The Stars had an abundance of depth entering this season, but with the rash of injuries and bone-headed comments their depth has quickly vanished. Although Modano has been very serviceable this year, he will most likely be unable to maintain that production for the rest of this season. If you own Modano you might want to use his hot start to your advantage and see if you can pawn him off for some legitimate scoring. I’d see if you can target Shawn Horcoff, who’s been on a bit of a hot-streak as of late. Both players have a similar stat line, so if your trading partner is big on stats, it might just be tempting enough for them to bite.
Welcome to Casino Royale, where you can take a few gambles on your fantasy squad. The first players that you might want to gamble on are all of the Canucks. If you read my last column, I mentioned that their entire team is pretty much a statistical anomaly. If you are looking to gamble your fantasy season at Casino Royale, stick with Canuck players. The second players that you could gamble on are the Oilers’ goalies. The three-headed monster looks like they will be splitting time the entire season. It will be very lucky of one of them earn 20 wins this season. The third and perhaps biggest gamble could be on the Coyotes, they have the offense, but it’s just a matter of them developing the right chemistry so that they click. If you can buy-low on the Coyotes offense you might just due for a big pay-day at the end of the season.
Quantum of Solace
After winning the Stanley Cup last year, you would think the Red Wings would be suffering from cup hangover, but this has not been the case. The Wings have been firing on all cylinders since the start of the year, and look like they are ready to repeat as champions once again. You can take some solace on your fantasy squad if you own Hossa, Datsyuk, Zetterberg and now Jiri Hudler as they will most likely carry your fantasy squad this season.