Over the past two months I’ve spent a fair time looking at some of the more impressive teams this season, most notably
What could I have been thinking? Actually I can still defend at least some of my reasoning behind the picks…to a point. Some things just haven’t worked out as hoped, and of course some injuries along the way haven’t helped. There’s even still a shot at the playoffs for both – despite their bad starts, Florida is only six points out of eighth and L.A. five points back (of course they each have to climb over numerous teams…) and at least in the East I’m hardly convinced that the Islanders and Capitals will retain their positions for the year.
In my season preview I had called out Olli Jokinen and Nathan Horton as being the emerging leaders of the team, but overall neither has performed up to expectations (although Horton has been hot of late). Jokinen has been ok, but his 13 goals and 29 points are still well behind his 38-goal and 89-point pace of last year, and his -3 is well off his +14 pace of last season. This was also to be Todd Bertuzzi’s big comeback opportunity but a chronic back problem led to surgery and his missing all but seven games so far – at this point he may miss up to another two months, making this season nearly a complete bust. Jay Bouwmeester has also suffered from inconsistency in his fourth year, which I expected to be his break out season. I still believe in Bouwmeester as having the skills and leadership to be a top-five defenceman in the league, and his team-leading 25-plus minutes per game is at least some evidence that the Panthers’ brass believes in him as well.
Back to goaltending, it appears that coach Jacques Martin has finally arrived at the decision to make Alex Auld their guy, as Auld has started the majority of games lately; overall he’s been in 20 while Ed Belfour has been in 16. I’m not sure anyone expects the 41-year old Belfour to be more than a backup at this point so it would seem to be imperative to let Auld establish himself at the number one option.
I still like aspects of the Panthers’ team – for one thing, they seem to have the Buffalo Sabres’ number having defeated them soundly at home last week and giving them troubles all of last season. I may have overestimated the depth on the team, and since the aforementioned top players have all played at least somewhat below expectations, there has been nobody to fill the gap. Unless Bertuzzi comes back early and unexpectedly returns to his former fearsome point-per-game pace, this team looks like they have some tweaking to do in the offseason and are not yet ready for the step up to the playoffs.
So how about the
Yet all is not grim for the Kings – despite their woes, close to the surface there are the makings of a strong young team emerging. General Manager Dean Lombardi essentially made no bones about this being a longer-term project, and is building to compete in two or three years. The Pavol Demitra for Patrick O’Sullivan deal with
As opposed to
TalentedMrRoto.com ICE Experts League - update
It’s been a while since I’ve updated how the experts league is going…and with good reason. I fell from what I thought was a safe ninth place to 12th (last) quite dramatically about three weeks ago and I’ve remained there. In the +/- category I took a huge hit and went from 12 points (first) to six in just a few days. My otherwise-acceptable offense was dormant and with my beyond-horrible goaltending all season (thank you Dan Cloutier), it all added up to a deep cellar showing. It was time to make a big move, and finally made a deal for Roberto Luongo. It cost me, though, as I sent Evgeni Malkin to Ray Flowers at Fantasyhockey.com (with incidentals Vinny Prospal also coming my way and me eagerly unloading Martin Gerber, ending my pitiful expectations of him coming around this season).
As much as I love my controversial first-round pick, Malkin for Luongo was a no-brainer for me, as I had been trying desperately to get results from the likes of Gerber and Auld. Last in wins and goals-against, and second-last in save percentage, I have nowhere to go but up as my goalies now consist of Luongo and Kolzig as starters, with Auld and Garon on my bench. I don’t need four goalies, but finally feel comfortable with my starting two, and I’ll wait a few weeks to see if Garon gets healthy or Auld starts winning before letting the odd man go. Now if I can just get Mark Bell to contribute something during this season (and justify my sixth round selection of him) I might have a shot. At eleventh place.