Early Season Panic or Praise

Tim Lucarelli




As each new hockey season progresses, fantasy hockey poolies are eager to dominate their pool. While the season is still young, everyone wants all of their star players and their sleepers to absolutely dominate. Despite hearing from the masses to be patient and against their better judgment, some folks pull the trigger far too early on the slower starters. Conversely, if a mediocre guy has a couple good games, their fantasy owner wants a king's ransom. Let's take a look at some of the slower or hotter performing Eastern Conference players thus far and what we can take from the good and the bad.


Alex Ovechkin, LW, WAS – After only two points in four games, it could be quite tempting to think AO isn't the dominating force he once was. Just remember that back in 08-09, Ovechkin also tallied two points in four games, while being held off the scoresheet in three of those four. Ovechkin would end up scoring only five points in October that year, but still scored 110 points on the season. Take a deep breath and make sure not to sell him low. There's a reason you took him number one overall.


Dennis Wideman, D, WAS – Wideman is off to a great start, scoring a point in each of the first four Caps games. Still, he has Mike Green taking the lion's share of the power-play time and Green is in a bit of a slow start himself (two points). As the season progresses, Wideman should still have a pretty good year, but Green will certainly be top dog in Washington.  If someone is willing to overpay for Wideman, don't be afraid to pull the trigger.


Evgeni Malkin, C/RW, PIT – Malkin has only played in three of the six Pittsburgh games, but has scored four points in those games and won 22 out of 54 faceoffs. Malkin is a dangerous scoring threat, with or without Crosby in the lineup, but there is an injury risk. The reason Malkin has missed half of his team's games thus far has reportedly been due to soreness in his surgically repaired knee. Proceed with caution.


James Neal, LW, PIT – Neal is a very solid player who has a league-leading five goals early on (tied with Kessel and Tavares – both of which have played fewer games). Neal's best season came in his sophomore campaign where he posted a stat line of 27-28-55 with 200 shots in 78 games. James certainly has the opportunity for a career year in Pittsburgh as he will almost certainly be skating with one of Malkin, Crosby, or Staal. His 24 shots are on track for a 328-shot season and if he can shoot 250-275, he should have a very good chance to a