It might seem obnoxious to say that sports often act as a sanctuary from the harshness of reality, but that doesn’t mean such a thought isn’t valid. Let’s not kid ourselves; all these must-win games aren’t really must-anything, when it comes down to it* … and every now and then, that bubble bursts.
The health issues facing Tim Bozon and Rich Peverley along with Terry Trafford’s death bring about a wide array of thoughts. Personally, I find myself pondering the limitations of human beings and the risks involved in this sport (on and off the ice). More broadly, it made me think about the highs and lows that ambitious people often face.
I’ve already discussed some of the not-really-fantasy-related things that popped into my mind on Tuesday, but heavy subject matters emerged once again last night, so bear with me as I rummage through some of these thoughts.
There are a lot of eye-roll-inducing clichés out there - like that sanctuary bit - that can also be true here and there, but I believe that that especially optimistic slogans draw groans and cynicism because they seem impractical. Many Big Thoughts tend to ignore the little day-to-day challenges that can really pile up and drag things out. There’s a reason why movies reduce grueling training down to short-and-snappy montages: that stuff is all work and no fun.
In other words, chasing your dreams can end up being a very messy process.
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It’s easy and reasonable to get discouraged, but as scared as I am by the idea of Peverley’s story ending in tragedy if he resumes his NHL career, I can’t help but admire his willingness to jump through hoops that many people never would.
Whether he ever plays again, I think there’s a lesson to be taken from that. Don’t let other people bully you out of your dreams, especially if they’ve compromised themselves into obvious misery. Even if it seems like a certain amount of misery is just part of any gig.
Apologies for the messy path that I took to explain that you shouldn’t be discouraged by the often-messy path one must follow to fulfill ambitions, but I’d be glad if it gave a few of you a little bit of in-cubicle inspiration. It’s been a while since I’ve generated some game notes, and these will be shorter than many other ones because of that preceding diatribe, but hopefully you’ll find a useful nugget or two in the following quick bits nonetheless.
PITTSBURGH 2, WASHINGTON 0
-- It says a lot that the Capitals went with Jaroslav Halak in back-to-back games even though he lost to a Penguins team that was noticeably out-shot on Monday. Maybe two losses in two nights gets Braden Holtby’s foot back in the door, though?
-- After going pointless in his first two games with Pittsburgh, Lee Stempniak has three assists in his last two games and looks like he's getting decent playing time with Sidney Crosby. There are worse gambles out there than the former Flames forward who has a lot to gain thanks to his expiring contract.
DALLAS 3, ST. LOUIS 2 (OT)
-- Hate to do this but, I'm leaving this entire section blank to emphasize that it's a wise idea to grab Tim Thomas while you still can. He's still only owned in 41 percent of Yahoo leagues, so if you need any goaltending help, that's a great place to start.
(Pauses, fidgets, waits for you to add Thomas.)
EDMONTON 4, WILD 3 (SO)
-- I'd be tempted to add Mikael Granlund in deeper leagues, as it seems like he's continuing his upward trend after a star turn at the Olympics with six points in his last six games (then again, he had a five-game point streak in which he tallied two goals and six assists from Jan. 23 - Feb. 1, so it's not like he's been slumming it). The tiebreaker might be in FW (quite a few nights close to or above double digits there lately) and maybe even blocked shots (37 so far this season, not awful for a young forward). Not a bad consideration, especially if you're a Wild fan looking for a deep league guy to enhance your rooting interest. While I'm not going overboard about him now, many agree that he seems like he could be a significant contributor in the future.
-- I'm unabashedly pro-David Perron in fantasy, and it seems like many owners have seen the light, as he's owned in a solid 65 percent of leagues. He scored his 24th goal of the season, but it's the peripherals that make him so fantastic: 58 PIM, a respectable 172 SOG and 84 hits to go with that nice offense and a 19:15 TOI average. /tips cap
NASHVILLE 4, BUFFALO 1
-- Craig Smith hit the 20-goal mark for the first time in his NHL career last night. It’ll be interesting to see how far his impressive shot takes him long-term, whether that’s with the Predators or not.
-- Drew Stafford scored a goal in exactly 23 minutes of ice time last night while Tyler Ennis had an assist in 24:17. Keep an eye on guys like these based on the someone has to score for Buffalo theory.
COLUMBUS 4, DETROIT 1
-- David Legwand seems like he’s fitting in fairly well in Detroit, even if that three-point game on March 7 probably inflates his good work (four points in as many games with the Red Wings). He’s not exciting, but he’s not half-bad either, especially in FW formats.
-- Nathan Horton is frustrating because he doesn't get many SOG, so he can be pretty useless if he doesn't get a goal or an assist. He has been throwing his body around a decent amount lately (seven hits in his last three games) and gets his sporadic PIM, too. Not a must-have, but probably worth watching if he starts to heat up a bit more offensively.
NEW JERSEY 2, PHILADELPHIA 1
-- If someone told you Jaromir Jagr had 21 goals, 57 points, a +19 mark and six GWG through the entire 2013-14 season, you'd probably be impressed. He has about a month to improve on those impressive numbers, too.
-- I've criticized the Devils for being a little too nostalgic with starting Martin Brodeur this season, but give him credit where its due: he's now on a four-game winning streak and functions as a perfectly useful backup.
CAROLINA 3, NY RANGERS 1
-- Am I the only one who sort of forgot about Jiri Tlusty a bit this season? To be fair, he had two more goals (23) last season than he has points (21) in 2013-14 despite playing in nine more games so far this season thanks to the lockout. In case you couldn’t tell, I’m not recommending adding him at this point.
SAN JOSE 6, TORONTO 2
-- The dodged bullet of the night goes to James van Riemsdyk, who generated a serious scare when Dion Phaneuf missed a check on Patrick Marleau and leveled him instead. It *seems* like everything is OK, though.
-- Nice to see Martin Havlat showing some life ... but I'm not sure I trust him not to get injured just yet.
-- For all the hype Logan Couture (understandably) receives, I feel like Joe Pavelski's outstanding work is obscured. He now has 34 goals and 65 points, a +24 rating, 28 PIM and 174 SOG in 66 games this season. Wow.
-- Also wow: Antti Niemi already has 32 wins. Depending on your format, I bet that's a serious steal for many of you.
PHOENIX 3, FLORIDA
-- Brandon Pirri was Florida's only goalscorer last night, but the thing that really caught my eye was that he hasn't been shy to shoot with his new team. After a goose egg in his debut on March 4, Pirri fired five SOG on March 7, two on March 9 and five again last night. He has 12 SOG in his last three games, which isn't half-bad since he only has 46 in 32 games overall this season. That's not license to grab him (the tie generally goes to "no" with Florida players at this point, honestly) but it's interesting if heavy shooting becomes a habit of his.
-- Radim Vrbata has the hot hand lately even though he's had much better SOG totals in other stretches. In the last four games, he has four goals (and two assists) on just six SOG. That's some serious luck, but he's often underrated in fantasy because he plays for the often low octane 'Yotes.
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* - Aside from people with livelihoods riding on such big wins and losses.