James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Zero from Heroes

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


There are only a few go-to rules in fantasy hockey - and by extension, the Daily Dose - but practicing patience is one of them. (Of course, one of the other strategies I advise following is sort of the opposite: it’s often profitable to manipulate the lack of patience from others by acquiring struggling players in buy-low trades.)

Now, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t sting to sit there watching one of your top picks flail in the wind. Especially in a shortened season that’s already rapidly approaching the quarter-mark.

To me, two players represent some of the most angst-filled situations, even if they’re probably damaging their fantasy teams a bit less than really high picks like Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk: Phil Kessel and Shea Weber.

Before we break down their similar struggles, please note that you can purchase the Season Pass by clicking here and that it’s not too late to join and play Yahoo! hockey.

PHIL THE FACILITATOR?

Say what you will about Phil Kessel, it’s not like the embattled American winger is dogging it. (Despite what your local red-faced pundit will say.)

To some, nothing he does will make up for the fact that he stunningly still lacks his first goal of the season, but you’d have to have a coal-plated heart not to feel for the guy. Most importantly, all signs still point to relief on the horizon.

Also on the bright side, he contributed nicely to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. Sure, he didn’t find the net, but he assisted on two of the Buds’ tallies. That gives him six assists in 10 games, which makes his twine-shyness a lot easier to stomach.

Studying the stark zeroes for Kessel and Weber made me wonder if shots on goal are a good enough measure of their frustrations. To better illustrate those frustrations, I thought I’d also list the pucks they sent on a wayward journey from the net (also known as missed shots).

Phil Kessel - 42 shots and 16 missed shots
Shea Weber - 22 shots and 13 missed shots

Kessel’s 42 shots lead the NHL while those 16 missed ones is tied for third overall. The guy is obviously frantically sending rubber at goalies and it just isn’t working out. Unless he has some weird curse on him, he’s bound to figure it out.

But yes, I understand why you might be getting antsy right about now.

WEBER STUCK

Shea Weber is making just under $8 million per season thanks to that killer contract he was inked to during a turbulent offseason. (It’s hard not to wonder if both the Flyers and Nashville Predators wish that David Poile just took the draft picks instead of matching the offer sheet.)
Like Kessel - and any number of struggling/unlucky guys such as Kovalchuk, Ovechkin, Tyler Seguin and so on - I expect Weber to get things together.

Yet also like Kessel with injured linemate Joffrey Lupul, it’s clear that Weber misses his partner in crime. While one must note the small sample size, it seems as if both Ryan Suter and Weber are better off together than apart.

Either way, Weber’s owners’ frustration must really be building, because he’s not necessarily contributing as much in the peripheral areas that help some defensemen stay afloat.

Those 13 PIM are nice, but seven of them came when he got into a skirmish with Jared Boll on opening night. For a big, rugged blueliner, Weber doesn’t really pile up PIM that much, historically speaking. He only had 46 last season, 56 in 2010-11 and 36 in 09-10. (He did have 80 in 08-09, though.) Generally I'm sure the Predators prefer Weber to be on the ice, but fantasy owners wouldn't mind the variety that would come from a few trips to the box.

Twenty-two shots on goal aren't bad for a defenseman, but he's generally been a little closer to three per game. His +21 rating from last season is likely an anomaly as he's only been in the double digits one other time (+13 in 06-07). I'm not a fan of the plus/minus stat, but when Weber isn't doing much, a +1 is undeniably disappointing. (You could do worse than his 20 hits, however.)

Again, it'll get better. He's had four straight seasons of 16+ goal and 43+ point production. I will say that I'm more confident Kessel will approach his usual output than Weber, who's on a team that's really struggling for scoring.

Hate to twist the knife, but you'd think Weber would have at least gotten a secondary assist in Nashville's 6-1 drubbing of St. Louis, though.

In case you’re wondering, Evander Kane leads the NHL in missed shots with 22, five more than the nearest players and only five less than the 27 SOG he’s collected so far. (Requisite joke: maybe he should buy LASIK surgery with all of that fancy Vegas money.)

More fantasy fun after the jump.


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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.
Email :James O'Brien



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