The Contrarian – Give Me an F

by Demetri Fragopoulos on May 15, 2016

Have you had a tough time making playoff picks this year? So has Demetri.

These playoffs have not been very good to me. Not with my team selections and not with my own pool, although I still am holding onto a prize position for now.

My only predicted team to survive from round one is San Jose. All the other ones are watching the playoffs on TV like us. I feel like I’m Norm Peterson from Cheers in the Executive’s Executioner episode. You do not want me to call on your favorite team to go into the next round. Muwahahaha!

Here are, with a sense of foreboding, are my picks.

Tampa Bay Lightning or Pittsburgh Penguins

I was scared off with all the injuries that were happening to the Lightning at the end of the regular season. It does not absolve me for picking the wrong team though (twice). They could have easily have packed it in and used the handy excuse of injuries, but instead they played as if nothing would stop them. Fool me once, shame on you. After Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, they have more injuries to deal with.

With the Penguins, I did think that they were a complete team when going up against the New York Rangers, but I had Henrik Lundqvist as the difference maker.  Little did I know it was going to be a negative difference, not a positive one. When they went up against the Capitals, I thought that Washington would show their dominance, but that too was a fallacy.

Both the Lightning and Penguins are playing like complete teams. Players from each line are contributing to their respective success.

The edge goes to Tampa Bay because, despite the injuries, I think they have a bit more stability on defense. Fool me twice…

St. Louis Blues or San Jose Sharks

Similarly, I had the Blues eliminated from the post season. I did not expect them to pass the Chicago Blackhawks or Dallas Stars, but for different reasons. With Chicago, I thought that the demons that have haunted the Blues before would continue. While with the Stars, I thought Dallas would run-and-gun them to defeat. Robby Fabbri has been an unexpected surprise (more on him later).

I can sum up my thoughts about the Sharks with one line: “Frickin’ laser beams!”

San Jose was my Stanley Cup finalist from the start, and I am going to continue with them.


Fallout from Fiala and Fabbri

You might be wondering what this subtitle is referring to. Every now and again, we come to a fork in the road and we have to choose which way to go. My most recent one in terms of fantasy hockey was on August 30 of last year.

It was reported earlier that week that Patrik Berglund needed surgery to repair his injured right shoulder and he would be gone for four months.

I needed to replace him on my keeper roster. While I was looking for someone to get an equivalent number of points, I also was looking for a prospect because my roster is aging.

I searched through my usual sites, the Dobber’s Prospects Report (June) and Dobber’s Fantasy Hockey Guide (August) and came to the conclusion that I was going to pick Fabbri or Kevin Fiala as a free agent.

The Prospects Report did not have Fiala in it because he had played one game in the NHL, but it did have Fabbri and the consensus was that he was the 11th best prospect. Each analyst had him rated and NHL scouts compared him to Zach Parise.

He was given a 50 percent chance on making the club by the Blues GM, Doug Armstrong. However, seeing as their roster was so deep, it would have been very fortuitous if he did play for the whole season.

Fiala was not guaranteed a spot on Nashville’s roster either, but he had one regular season and playoff game under his belt. He played well on their AHL affiliate in 33 games so our writers gave him a 60 percent chance at making the club.

Both have similar physical characteristics and are approximately the same age (both born in 1996).

After being what I thought was fastidious, I took a leap of faith and claimed Fiala. A little over a week later Fabbri was claimed by another owner.

At the time I told one of the other owners in my league, “I thought about [Fabbri] but took Fiala instead. This might be one where everyone goes ‘darn’ in a few years.”

Darn does not begin to explain what it cost me.

If I had taken Fabbri, I would have claimed second place in the regular season. I probably would be guaranteed second place in my playoff pool too.

As it stands now, I earned third place in the regular season, and I am hanging onto second in the playoffs. I could very well end up in sixth or seventh, which would mean no playoff prize for me.

At the time I felt that there were only two tines to the fork, go left (Fabbri) or go right (Fiala). My fatal flaw was that I did not take both players. I could have finessed it by getting rid of Joffrey Lupul to make it happen.

Maybe Fiala flourishes in the NHL next year and things turn out to be fine. But I lost out on Fabbri and it would cost me a lot more to get him now than it would have a year ago. That is what happens when prospects start to bear fruit, even if they have not fully ripened yet.

I get an F, for being fixated on believing that there were only two finite options and another F for not having fortified my roster.

That is enough Fs for me unless I am fortunate to find some future players, from Dobber’s guides, that turn out to be formidable opponents. I sincerely hope you do too, as long as you are not in my keeper league.