NOTE: You should skip to the “Cooke’s teammates” portion of this first page if you want to know about a player who’s (honestly ...) kind of stupidly available. It would be great if you come back to the beginning, though.
Sports - especially ones brimming with lucky breaks and bounces like hockey - have a way of making you feel silly when you want to claim that an outcome is a “sure thing.” That’s especially true in a single contest, although many of us are preparing to intermittently eat crow once playoff prediction time comes around.
So, if you’ve read this season-long series of columns about fantasy hockey decision making, you probably are aware that it’s dangerous to react too harshly to the valleys (see: Phil Kessel’s early goal-scoring slump) and too eagerly to the peaks (see: anyone who gave up a little TOO much for Viktor Fasth, even if the surprise goalie certainly delivers from a quality-over-quantity standpoint).
It seems that assumptions are dangerous for single-game decisions, too ... especially when it comes to the volatile game-to-game element that is PIMs.
Going into Monday, many probably believed that Matt Cooke would drop the gloves with an Ottawa Senators opponent or two as part of his penance for the (likely accidental) moment that injured Erik Karlsson.
GOOSE EGG COOKED
People got the “chaos and violence” prediction correct - the teams combined for 58 penalty minutes in a Penguins win that hurts the Senators on multiple levels - but, somehow, Matt Cooke kept his nose clean.
Naturally, ducking a fight or two will inspire more than a few people to throw the “coward” word around (if not more volatile phrases), but that’s the 34-year-old pest’s prerogative.
The lesson is that it’s dangerous to leave too much riding on something as unpredictable as one game’s PIM potential. It’s sort of like giving a ton of money over a long period of time to a goalie; most of the time, the risk outweighs the reward.
Don’t get me wrong, with just five games on the docket on Monday, dressing Cooke probably wasn’t a costly move for many (if any) fantasy owners. He even drew a penalty and collected a very nice assist.
Hopefully it serves as a reminder not to get too cute with any single decision, though ... especially if you’re still in a dogfight for whatever trophy is up for grabs (even if it’s a consolation prize).
Really, though, the story of Monday’s 3-1 win for the Pittsburgh Penguins* was the continued success of recently added power forwards Brenden Morrow and Jarome Iginla.
Morrow - So, about that stupidly available guy ... there’s really no reason why any offense-needy fantasy owners shouldn’t give him a long, hard look. Not many have, however, as he’s only owned in 33 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Look, I’ll openly admit that I didn’t think Brenden Morrow had great potential. Sure, I nodded my head when people said that the former Dallas Stars captain would be surrounded by talented teammates. I didn’t furrow my brow TOO much when I heard testimonies about him getting a boost by playing for a contender.
While it’s relevant to note that injuries have increased his opportunities, who cares right now? And, to his credit, he’s not being carried by Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby, either.
The numbers are pretty hard to argue with. In the last eight games, he has five goals and six assists for 11 points. He's even thrown 13 PIM in the mix for good measure. Luckiness or not, he’s really played well after going without a point in his first four games with Pittsburgh.
He’s bound to slow down, but could he keep it going for a week? You won’t find many better options, so it seems like a no-brainer to find out.
Iginla - To little surprise, Iggy isn’t available much of anywhere (somehow he’s available in seven percent of leagues).
Still, he deserves some commendation for a moment. He now has three goals and one assist in the last three games and even generated five PIM in that fight that might have ended Nathan Horton’s regular season.
Overall, Iginla “only” has eight points in 10 games, but he seems to be heating up along with Morrow - sometimes alongside him.
MORE TANK TALK
Monday’s Daily Dose focused on players who still might produce even if their teams are clearly in the “already scheduling golf times” zone. There’s another subgroup that looks to emerge more and more as this week goes on: the teams who have won so much and played so well that “avoiding rust” is about the only goal.
(I mean, unless your team REALLY wants the Presidents' Trophy ...)
Monday produced two more clinched divisions as the Anaheim Ducks locked up the Pacific Division while the Vancouver Canucks took their fifth consecutive Northwest Division crown. (Someone queue up “The Crossroads” for the Canucks, who must be more than a little bit emotional about the fact that this is the last season that they’ll get to fatten themselves up on the pathetic NW.)
The best part about the West is that the top three are set in stone: Chicago’s first, Anaheim’s second and Vancouver is third. Now, I don’t know how that certainty will affect day-to-day decision-making, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see players with bumps and bruises given the night off. We might even see a little more from that Roberto Luongo fellow, too.
My advice, then, is to pay close attention to updates about healthy/semi-healthy scratches. A team might decide to give a breather as last-minute as the pre-game warm-up, so try to check Rotoworld and Twitter once it gets closer to game time.
INJURY NOTES (full list) and QUICK HITS
We all love the idea of Zack Kassian, but even with last night’s goal, he doesn’t seem like a steady scorer ... If there’s any chance to land Johan Franzen, do it. He’s been fantastic lately ... It sounds like Ales Hemsky’s season is probably over a week early than his teammates’ seems to be. The Oilers probably don’t even need to tank at this point ... Dave Bolland left Monday’s game with a lower-body injury and didn’t return. He’s not worth the headaches ... Bobby Ryan missed last night’s game, but it sounds like it was just an illness. If it’s worse, he might not be back in action until the playoffs, so stay tuned for updates ... File Tomas Kopecky under “not worth it,” too ... Jhonas Enroth had a tank-tastic performance: 37 saves and a loss ... Thomas Vanek has four points in four games. When healthy, he keeps scoring ... Derek Morris returned to action for Phoenix.
* - Besides the fact that the Ottawa Senators seem to be slipping down the East ranks in a parallel way to the West’s seventh seed in Minnesota (although the Sens can say that they’re team is doing so while burning far less money).