It's playoff time in the AAtJ league. I'm well aware that listening to someone babble on about a fantasy league that you have nothing to do with is as painful as listening to someone tell you about the dream they had last night, so I'll keep this brief.
I learned a few things by being in this league. 1) Yahoo sucks. 2) my goalie approach completely works, until your #1 goalie, THE #1 goalie, misses several months with an injury. 3) You're going to struggle if you have just one top 20 defenseman. 4) I liked the points format, but still prefer category head-to-head. 5) Yahoo sucks.
The league was top heavy with John Fischer winning his division and the President's Trophy at 17-4. The 2nd and 3rd place teams in that division were Alex Potts (15-6) and C.J. Turturo (12-9). Meanwhile, I somehow managed to win the other division with a mediocre 11-10 record, while the only other team to make the playoffs from that division was Shane Kinsley, who had an identical record, but lost the division via tie breaker. Because of our division's ineptitude, Brian Franken snuck into the playoff fray from the other division with a 10-11 record.
Fischer and Potts were awarded byes, with me facing off against division rival Kinsley and Turturo taking on Franken in first round action. Best of luck to everyone except Kinsley.
You can read the post-draft breakdown of each team here if you care to see how all of that compares to where we ended up 20+ weeks later. I can tell you that my team desperately missed Carey Price.
We have a busy schedule this week with almost half of the league playing 4 games and no team with the easy 2 game week.
4 Game Teams: Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets
Two Game Teams: None
* Jamie Benn - 2 Goals (2 PPG), 3 Assists (2 PPA), 13 Shots, 7 Hits, 4 Blocks
Getting 4 of 5 points on the power play is nice for your fantasy team, as is the 13 shots and 7 hits. I may have said this before, but Benn is the poor man's Alex Ovechkin when it comes to fantasy hockey. And that is perfectly okay. Despite being 2nd in the NHL in points, this is just Benn's second Star of the Week award - the previous being a #1 star in week 8.
** Joe Pavelski - 3 Goals (1 PPG, 2 GWG), 2 Assists (1 PPA), 8 Shots, 4 Blocks
This was a nice week for Joe Pa in regards to points, but the secondary stats were a little off the mark for him. In 4 games, he had just 8 shots, which is under his season average, but that is a reach as far as complaints go. So I don't end on a feeble negative, I'll mention that he has 6 goals, 5 assists, and 28 shots in the last 10 games, which is right in line with his usual.
*** Vladamir Tarasenko - 3 Goals, 3 Assists (1 PPA), 10 Shots
He's a great example of an awesome hockey player being just a pretty good fantasy player. If he's not getting points, then he's worthless. This week, he got points. While the Blues have been struggling a bit to put pucks in the net (18th in Goals For with only a few teams having more played games), Tarasenko is exactly on pace to match his 37 goals from 2015.
Rankings: 12 Points - Patrick Kane, 8 Points - Sidney Crosby, 7 Points - Joe Pavelski
* Brent Burns - 2 Goals, 3 Assists (2 PPA), 10 Shots, 5 Hits, 6 Blocks
He's our #1 defenseman for the 2nd week in a row and now has 5 goals (1 PPG), 6 assists (2 PPA), and 28 shots in the last 7 games. If he stays healthy, he's a lock to finish 2nd to Alex Ovechkin in SOG. His league best 288 shots by a defenseman is 77 more than the next best (Erik Karlsson), and his 25 goals is 6 more than the next best defenseman (Oliver Ekman-Larsson). He's very good. That's the point I'm trying to make here.
** Kevin Shattenkirk - 2 Goals, 1 Assist (1 PPA), 12 Shots, 6 Blocks
This season, he's a noticeable tick or two behind what he did with the handful of games he played last season. He played 56 games in an injury shortened 2015, but managed to score 8 goals and help out on 36 others. This year, he has 12 goals (more) and 25 assists (far less) in 60 games. With that said, the fact that he's remained healthy is worthy of a hat doff. Well, he's remained less injured, anyway.
*** Mark Giordano - 3 Assists (1 PPA), 15 Shots, 7 Blocks
Speaking of injury prone players staying healthy. After missing 21 games last season, Gio has played every game for the Flames this season. He's pretty much right on pace with his performance last season, too. He is slightly behind in total points and hits, but his goals are up and his blocks are way up.
Rankings: 14 Points - Erik Karlsson & Brent Burns, 12 Points - Kris Letang, 9 Points - Oliver Ekman-Larsson
* Semyon Varlamov - 3 Starts, 2 Wins, 1 Shutout, 101 Saves, 1.35 GAA, .962 SV%
In the 5 games previous to this week's sampling, he won a single game, was yanked in 2 of them, and gave up 13 goals in 7 periods of hockey. Then this week he does this. I don't know. It's guys like Varlamov that make me question the validity of any "research" I do for this fake hockey game. This is his 3rd time making the list, but all 3 have been #1 stars.
** Martin Jones - 3 Starts, 2 Wins, 83 Saves, 1.68 GAA, .943 SV%
This could've been a perfect week for him if he didn't have that Thursday night matchup against that particular visiting powerhouse. He faced just 15 shots in that game, but missed two of them. That was two too many. Jones is just an okay #1 fantasy goalie, but he's a terrific #2. This is Jones's first time on the list since Week 7.
*** Petr Mzarek - 3 Starts, 2 Wins, 72 Saves, 1.67 GAA, .935 SV%
He had almost identical stats to Jones and Jonathan Quick, but he was slightly worse/less good than Jones and just slightly better than Quick. He's another solid #2 fantasy guy, but not a great #1.
Rankings: 15 Points - Corey Crawford, 11 Points - Craig Anderson, 10 Points - Jonathan Quick, 9 Points - Semyon Varlamov, Martin Jones, Henrik Lundqvist
Mike Smith - 1 Start, 1 Win, 1 Shutout, 44 Saves
He's back on the ice after missing 3 months with some sort of torso injury. If you're in desperate need of a goalie, he might be a decent fill in considering he's going to get 95% of the starts from here on out. Granted, those starts will be for a not so good Coyotes team... and he was not so good himself, before the injury.
Zack Bogosian - Last two weeks, 8 Games, 4 Assists (1 SHG), 25 Shots, 11 Blocks, +4
He's been logging a lot of minutes lately (approximately 2 minutes/game more than his norm) and has been doing pretty good with them. He's also putting a lot more pucks on net, too. In the last two weeks, he's averaging over 3 per game, which is twice his normal output. It wouldn't be wise to count on that continuing, though.
DEVILS FANTASY VALUE
Keith Kinkaid - 3 Starts, 2 Wins, 1 Shutout, 76 Saves, 2.28 GAA, .916 SV%
In the comment's section of last week's article, I told someone to pick up Calvin Pickard to fill in for Cory Schneider instead of relying on Keith Kinkaid. Well, Pickard didn't start a single game this week, while Kinkaid completely stunted the Kings and Sharks during his trip out west. Don't overlook the 6 goal thumping he took at the hands of the Penguins, though. Regardless, I retract my Pickard > Kinkaid stance, because at the very least, Kinkaid is going to start every game. Neither are good options, though.
Kyle Palmieri - 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 8 Shots, 7 Hits, 4 Blocks, +4
This is an excellent fantasy stat line for a 3 game player. He hit all categories noticeably well, including his plus 4, a Devils Forward best. Now that Lee Stempniak is a Bruin and Mike Cammalleri is still injured, Kyle is the only Devil skater worth owning.
Travis Zajac - 2 Goals, 3 Shots, 3 Hits, 5 Blocks
The Devils scored just 6 goals this week, and he scored 1/3 of them despite only putting 3 shots on goal. By the way, does everyone know that Bobby Farnham is 5th on the team in goals (not counting Devante Smith-Pelly)? Fact.
Other 2 Point Players -
Devante Smith-Pelly had the game winner in the shutout against the Sharks and had the loan assist on the Tyler Kennedy first period goal against the Kings. He now has 3 goals on 7 shots and 2 assists in his 5 games as a Devil. Reid Boucher had an assist in back-to-back games this week, which were his first points in 4 games.
Many of you may be starting playoffs this week, so the best of luck to you. My condolences to anyone who is already setting tee times.