James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Sink your teeth into solutions

Monday, April 01, 2013

Quick note: If there wasn’t an obvious storyline for today’s Daily Dose, I was probably going to run with some dopey “April Fools” gimmick for this column. Since the idea has legs for at least one more day, drop me an e-mail or let me know on Twitter if you think that’s a good idea. If there’s an overwhelming argument one way or another, I might (or might not) do it.


One other note: Brian Rosenbaum’s running a trade deadline-related Rotoworld chat between 5-6 p.m. ET on Wednesday. It will be a great way to get instant analysis of that (hopefully?) crazy day’s events if you want to make moves on the fly.


OK, now that we’ve got those PSAs out of the way, let’s “sink our teeth” into the big story of the weekend. (Sorry.)




In what turned out to be the second most gruesome sports injury clip of the weekend,* Sidney Crosby took a one-in-a-million Brooks Orpik shot to the choppers.


Actually, in a weird hockey way, the “choppers” might have been a “better” scenario. Instead, Crosby’s jaw was also broken - he didn’t just lose some teeth - meaning that he’ll have a much higher chance of missing significant time.


The Pittsburgh Penguins are only saying that he’s out indefinitely, and that’s reasonable. This is one of those cases when it really does take a little while to figure out how wrong everything really is; he also underwent what sounds like legitimate surgery, so I’d bet they want to make sure he avoids infections before unleashing him in the germ-infested ecosystem that is an NHL locker room.


(Seriously, those guys spread flus like nobody's business.)


Anyway, I would say that in all likelihood, you’re going to be without Sidney Crosby in the fantasy playoffs. They’re coming up for many of us, so that’s a real tough break.


Still, you (presumably) got to the playoffs because of your ability to think on your feet, read Rotoworld and the Daily Dose and deal with injuries anyway, right? It’s not just because you made a slight gamble that Crosby would be healthy up until this point … right? Right?


Well, even if you’ve been riding him (or Chris Kunitz) like a mule, I’ll try my best to help you stave off disaster. Just don’t expect me to find you a guy who has almost as many assists as Steve Stamkos has points, OK?


To make this within the realm of moderate reason, I’m going to look at a few categories that Crosby dominates and see if there a few free agents who can fill that need.




Matt Cullen - Look, I’ve mocked Cullen for being a contract year guy, but so what? He’s having a great season, especially since February rolled around; I’d say he’s an underrated reason why the Minnesota Wild have gotten it together.


After scoring just two points in seven January games and building up with nine points in 12 February contests, Cullen scored 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 15 March contests. It seems obvious that he has great chemistry with Devin Setoguchi, so ride that train to productivity.




Brandon Saad - Much like Cullen, I think there is a lot to be gained with guys who’ve had red-hot months like Brandon Saad. Most fantasy leagues have that sort of search “filter,” so use that for your own purposes - even if you’re not trying to salve Crosby wounds.


Anyway, Saad is “sexier” in some ways than Cullen because he plays for the Chicago Blackhawks, although I’d be more comfortable with the Wild forward because he seems more clearly planted in a key role.


That is evident in his split stats. Saad had zero points in six January games, four points in 13 February games and then exploded for 15 in 14 March contests. Why not see if he can keep riding that wave? If not, drop him for someone else who’s hot.




Jump for other Crosby category stuffers


* - I haven’t actually seen footage of the NCAA player whose shin apparently shattered through his leg, so I’m not going to pull an old school Internet messaging move by linking it on you. Instead, you should click on that PSA link because it’s amazing. (He-Man!)


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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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