Welcome to a special holiday edition of the Sunday Ramblings! As a Christmas treat I’ll share a fantasy war story with you right off the bat.
Last night I started Ilya Bryzgalov over Kari Lehtonen (I didn’t want to start either, but my opponent’s goaltender Curtis McElhinny was just good enough against Philadelphia that I had a .002 save percentage deficit and a .15 GAA deficit). My reasoning of course was that the Sharks are a nominally better offensive team than the Blues. Hey, it’s not like Lehtonen has been lights out or anything this season!
Of course, Lehtonen proceeded to save 37 of 39 shots faced while Bryzgalov stopped 21 of 26. So that awful decision quite literally cost me my fantasy week…
Honestly are we even sure the guy the Edmonton Oilers signed is Ilya Bryzgalov? Maybe Bryzgalov was abducted by Aliens and he’s been replaced by some reflex-less avatar. Would help explain this goal against…
Okay I’ll put aside my own Fantasy Hockey related anger this morning and recap last night’s action. We’ll start with the afternoon games of which there were three on Saturday night.
Calgary visited the depleted but oh so impressive Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday afternoon and lost because Crosby. Curtis Glenncross appeared to sustain a knee injury as his injury-plagued season continued.
Last weekend I suggested that Penguins defender Bortuzzo might be able to do a “poor man’s Radko Gudas” impression over the next few weeks (with all of Pittsburgh’s regular top-four out of the lineup). If you took my advice you’ve been a happy fantasy owner this week, and Bortuzzo managed two assists, two hits, and was a +1 on Sunday…
The Penguins at the moment are basically the Black Knight from Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Except way more successful.
The Penguins have won seven games in a row, including four this past week. At the moment they’re without Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, Deryk Engelland and Rob Scuderi. But they’re winning games with an AHL blue-line because that’s what good organizations do: they have the depth and quality elsewhere to tread water with a depleted lineup.
The likes of Jon Hynes (who coaches the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Penguins), Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma deserve a good deal of credit…
Antoine Vermette’s heroics keyed a late Coyotes comeback victory over the Ottawa Senators, a critical result for the Pacific Division team. Vermette also blocked a shot with his head in the games final minutes, and I was pretty worried about him while watching the game. Then he scored the overtime winner, completing his hat-trick and I figured he was probably OK.
Hell of a performance from the former Senator, even if it angered some of Ottawa’s unwashed. It was also a necessary one for an undermanned team desperate to keep pace in hockey’s most difficult division…
We knew that Ottawa’s goaltending would regress somewhat this season, but did we know that they’d morph into a complete tirefire defensively? Perhaps some people realized the extent to which the Senators defense was playing over their heads last season, but I’m not one of those people.
At the moment the Senators are the third worst defensive team in the league by goals allowed and only the New York Islanders and the Edmonton Oilers are worse. They’re on pace to allow over 270 goals against. Massive steps backwards from the likes of Jared Cowen and Peter Wiercioch have hurt Ottawa significantly, as has the clubs decision to roll with Craig Anderson rather than Robin Lehner (who is, simply, out performing him).
Oliver Ekman-Larsson managed 6 shots and 3 hits, so he had a useful fantasy day despite going pointless. OEL’s Fantasy Value has persisted this season even as his underlying numbers have cratered somewhat. Meanwhile Cory Conacher ha