James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Sweet Sixteen?

Friday, April 06, 2012

Rotoworld programming note: Brian Rosenbaum will host a special fantasy hockey playoff chat on Monday April 9th from 7:30-8:30 pm ET. Playoff pools can be a volatile bunch, so making better decisions is a much bigger deal than nailing your fantasy draft since you (usually or always?) cannot make up for mistakes with savvy add/drops.




My original plan was to leave this announcement until the end of the column, but I figured I’d get this out of the way. I’m afraid there’s some mostly-bad but totally logical news to impart.



I’m a big believer in the adage (is it an adage?) that it’s better to pull the Band-Aid of unpleasantness off fast rather than peeling that metaphorical skin off slowly and feeling every millisecond of agony (using the word lightly, mind you). So with that, here’s the bad part:


The Daily Dose will no longer be daily anymore. It makes sense, after all; with the regular season about to conclude on Saturday, it’s doubtful that you need the same deluge of educated guesses, injury-related estimations and suspension musings. The day-to-day grind might be there for poolies in very specific leagues, but many of those folks are beyond my help (both spiritually and in fantasy terms).


OK, have you successfully fought back the tears yet? Well, dry your eye undoubtedly emotion-wrought reader, for the Daily Dose will morph “American Werewolf in London”/Kurt Russell-John Carpenter “The Thing”-style into a gnarlier weekly version for the playoffs.


Yes, that means that we can laugh together at this year’s flash-in-the-pan answer to Sean Bergenheim and Joel Ward. Yes, that also means we can gape in horror at big upsets (though those were delightfully rare last summer).


In short, the DD will be alive but sleeker – like going from a man-sized sledgehammer to some wicked nun chucks. Keep your eyes open for it and if you just can’t deal with the withdrawals from bad puns and hockey thoughts, here’s my direct content link at PHT (you can also follow me on Twitter by clicking on the link at the bottom of this column).


As the headline caption reads, it’s not really see you later – just less often.


Now let’s win you the last weekend, shall we?



Depending on your league, this weekend might come down to the grimy practice of “gaming” the system – which is especially true if your league commissioner recklessly left no weekly add/drop limits.


If you’re in that lucky group or merely most/all of your moves, the NHL’s ridiculously imbalanced final two days (minimum amount of two games on Friday, maximum amount of 15 on Saturday) could be quite the boon. Obviously, this makeshift strategy hinges on how waiver and add/drop rules work, but you could essentially:


1. Drop fringe guys for solid stray Blues and Coyotes for tonight.

2. Drop those Blues and Coyotes – if you’d like – for free agents for the finale on Saturday.


Sure, it’s a dirty tactic, but it’s also shows that you’re clever like a fox and cold-hearted like a snake. You’re a fantasy assassin. And so on.



The biggest X-factors come in who rests and who plays. The most interesting thing to consider there is that the eight East and eight West playoff teams have been determined, but some have more to play for than others.


  • The New York Rangers have the least to play for as they’ve clinched the No. 1 seed in the East, although it must be noted that John Tortorella dressed the full shebang aside from banged up goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
  • Meanwhile, the No. 1 seed in the West is still up for grabs between St. Louis and Vancouver, who have clinched their divisions.
  • Florida, Washington (Southeast), Phoenix, San Jose and Los Angeles (Pacific) still have a chance to win a division title.
  • Pittsburgh, Philly and New Jersey appear planted in their spots, so they might get a little rest – just note individual situations. On the other hand, Nashville, Detroit and Chicago jostle for positioning in the middle of the West.
  • Chicago-Detroit, Philly-Pittsburgh and LA-San Jose rank among the more intriguing PIM opportunities. (Seriously, Drew Doughty and Joe Thornton fought each other on Thursday.)
  • Tampa Bay-Winnipeg should be interesting because Steven Stamkos is going for goal No. 60 (he netted No. 59 last night).
  • The Avalanche, Sabres and Stars are on what I like to call “angst watch.” They were just booted from the playoffs, so will they throw a lot of knuckles? Sulk? Rest people (kinda doubt this option with just one game left – not really much point in tanking now)? They’re wild cards, for sure.



This Daily Dose is meant to help you in the last two nights/afternoon of the season, but up-to-the-minute info will be HUGE considering all the late decisions to rest people for the playoffs/shut people’s 2011-12 campaigns down entirely. With that in mind, there are a few links that should come in especially handy.


  • Check starting goalies for sneaky adds.
  • Need injury reports in one convenient spot? You probably know where to go, but if not, go here.
  • There’s no specific link for this, obviously, but when in doubt follow game logs. They’ll give you a nice idea of who’s on a hot streak and who is cold if you’re splitting hairs.
  • If you’re a Twitter man or woman, Rotoworld Hockey’s Twitter account is a great way to follow the news.
  • Speaking of news, sometimes a little snark and color might help. Pro Hockey Talk is a good place to go for a slightly different perspective.



While it’s unclear how severe the injury might be, Michal Neuvirth’s leg ailment sure didn’t look very good. Braden Holtby didn’t look too hot in relief (Ed Jovanovski’s tally wasn’t pretty), but he’s almost certainly Washington’s best option for the final – possibly division winning – game of the season, if not the playoffs. Snatch him up if you ned a netminder.



Brooks Orpik’s knee-to-knee hit on Derek Stepan infuriated John Tortorella. It might get Orpik suspended … Cam Atkinson scored a hat trick last night. I imagine it’s a fluke, but Columbus is weirdly hot right now, so go with your gut. (My gut says let it be, though) … David Moss and Alex Tanguay might not play for the Flames on Saturday … I’d guess that James Neal might miss Pittsburgh’s last game. I’m not going to speculate that he hurt himself fighting Andrew Ference, but it seemed like a dumb move for a 40-goal scorer with his value either way … Douglas Murray is just dying to get back into action. Considering the nastiness of Thursday’s Sharks-Kings game, perhaps he’ll get his feet wet during the finale? … It’s kind of hard to believe Pekka Rinne has “just” five shutouts, isn’t it? … So much for resting Kipper: Miikka Kiprusoff played in 70 games again this season. Nothing changes in Calgary, it seems – including talk that they won’t rebuild next season. (Shakes head.)

James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
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