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Fantasy Hockey: Prime and Pressing Concerns

George Kurtz Staff Writer March 24, 2014 7:31PM EDT
One of the most frustrating tasks of the Fantasy playoffs is making key roster decisions. Those decisions can become even more troubling when you have an injured player that is eating up a spot on your roster. In most leagues you can’t place a player on the injured reserve list unless his NHL team has done so. The problem is at this time of the year is teams don’t always place their players on IR. They seem to only do so if and when they need the roster spot. Take the Detroit Red Wings, for example.  Pavel Datsyuk hasn’t played since Feb. 27 yet the Wings still have him on the active roster. No one wants to release Datsyuk for fear that he will come back for the final two playoff weeks and light the lamp consistently for the team you’re playing against. The problem is you have to get there first. Once the playoffs begin you should be worrying about winning this week. You can solve next week’s problems, next week. Easier said than done, but it’s something you can use to justify a decision.

Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin returned to the Canucks lineup Sunday. Should they automatically be started? In Kesler’s case the answer is yes, as he was the Canucks best player for most of the season and could be again. Sedin, however, is a much tougher decision. He hasn’t scored since Dec. 30 and has been a Fantasy enigma for most of the season. I would think long and hard before green-lighting him. If you have another forward on your team who has been productive I wouldn’t take him out of the lineup. You don’t want to lose in the playoffs because you started a player who may have more name value than Fantasy production at this point.

If you’re relying on any goaltender in Toronto right now I wish you the best of luck. Jonathan Bernier is still iffy to start this week with that tricky groin injury and the Leafs quite obviously have no faith or trust in James Reimer. He was pulled from the game Sunday after allowing three goals on 10 shots in favor of rookie Drew MacIntyre. Head coach Randy Carlyle has very little to say about Reimer and there is obvious tension there. Will Carlyle start the rookie if Bernier can’t go this week? He may have no choice, as the Leafs are dropping in the standings and they may have nothing to lose at this point. Even if Bernier were to go this week you’re probably better off looking in another direction for help between the pipes.

Bobby Ryan (hip) won’t play in the early going this week. This may not be a terrible thing, as he has been in a scoring slump, with only one goal in March. Perhaps this injury will do you a favor and force you to find another winger who is actually putting the puck in the net.

Pavel Datsyuk's status is creating uncomfortable  Fantasy situations. Photo Credit: Louis Capwell

Pavel Datsyuk's status is creating uncomfortable Fantasy situations. Photo Credit: Louis Capwell

Jaroslav Halak was a last minute scratch Saturday due to a lower body injury. If you’re thinking about starting him this week it should be safe to do so as he isn’t expected to miss any more time. The Capitals, as a team, had an impressive west coast swing. They took five out of a possible six points versus the Kings, Ducks, and Sharks. The question is, can they keep it up at home this week in a rematch versus the Kings, and then possibly the best team in the east in the Bruins? Halak isn’t a must-start this week but if you don’t have anything better I’m not against going with him, either. Another Capital, Evgeny Kuznetsov, is a winger who could be a boon to your championship hopes down the stretch. He still isn’t playing with Alexander Ovechkin, but next to AO and Niklas Backstrom, he has the most offensive talent on the team.

Martin St. Louis still hasn’t hit his stride offensively with the Rangers, with zero goals and three assists. But if and when he does get it going the Rangers are going to be a tough team to defeat down the stretch especially now that Henrik Lundqvist looks once again to be a brick wall in net.

The Hurricanes signed Justin Faulk to a six-year $39 million extension Monday. Faulk hasn’t become a must-start in Fantasy leagues, but apparently the Canes believe he will be ready to take that next step in the near future. Personally, I don’t have as much faith.

Don’t be fooled into thinking Pekka Rinne is back to being the Rinne of old. Sure, he had a shutout Sunday versus the defending Stanley Cup champs, but he had also given up 13 goals in his prior three games. He may be the ultimate wild card at this point in time.

If you were relying on Lubomir Visnovsky, and I hope you weren’t, you can probably forget about him for the remainder of the season, as he is once again suffering from concussion symptoms. Visnovsky lost 46 games earlier this season due to a concussion and this seems to be a re-occurrence of that injury rather than a separate event. Either way we probably won’t see him again until September.

With 28 goals and 58 points, Jarome Iginla has found the fountain of youth in Boston. I can’t say I saw this coming, as I actually expected Loui Eriksson to have the better season in September. The only negative for Fantasy owners is that only four of the 28 goals have come on the power play. Iginla is also among the Top 3 in the league in plus/minus, as only his teammates David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron have a better number. He is the definition of a good two-way player and one you definitely should be trusting in the final three weeks.

When it comes to setting your lineup and everything else is equal, I tend to dance with the ones who got me there. I’d rather lose with players I trusted then have to wonder later why I tried to be cute.

As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.



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