Dropping the Gloves is a new series in which Cameron Chase and Alexander Monaghan share their weekly thoughts on fantasy hockey via email. The main purpose of the article is to entertain so keep in mind that the contents may, or may not, be factual. Feel free to gripe in the comments.
From: Cameron Chase
To: Alexander Monaghan
Subject: Dropping the Gloves: Stealing the Postseason
Big plans for Easter? I like to take this opportunity to see as much of my family as possible… because once the playoffs start, they’ll be seeing very little of me.
The past two weeks of hockey have proved to me that these playoffs are going to be, dare I say, “off the chains”. This year we can expect to see teams that are the obvious power houses of the playoffs (New York and Pittsburgh) and underdogs that have fought the entire year to make the playoffs and have shown nothing but skill and determination in the process (Phoenix and Ottawa).
Now that the fantasy drafts for the playoffs will begin shortly, now is the time to analyze the current rosters and make your top picks. In most leagues (at least in mine) the goalies tend to go pretty quickly and if you’re like me; then you’ve been stuck drafting inadequate starters that usually get knocked out in the first round (I’m looking at you Price and Hiller).
This year, I’ve GOT to do my homework so I’m looking at goalies that are going to steal the spotlight from Fleury and Lundqvist this year.
The goalie I’m looking to for that would be the man with the most generic name in the league: Mike Smith. At this point in time it looks like Phoenix will be going head to head with the St. Louis Blues, who are just nucking futs when it comes to goaltending. If they don’t face the Blues than that means San Jose surpassed them and in that case Mr. Smith will have to face the other un-stoppable force in the Western Conference; the Vancouver Canucks.
Either way, this series will be all about what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object… that object being Mike Smith. But I think you probably caught onto that.
Smith has proved himself to be a primo goalie for the Coyotes; posting 36 wins in 65 games started, acquiring eight shutouts in the process; three of those shutouts came in the past week– at this pace he’s going into the playoffs
with momentum and has a decent chance of pulling off the upset against Vancouver or St. Louis.
I’m also guessing that no one would be keen on picking him up within the first few rounds of the draft; making him an easy pick for 4th or 5th round after you’ve stocked up on power forwards and offensive defensemen.
I know you’re a Rangers fan so let’s say if you were to pick one goalie that could steal the spot light from your precious Lundqvist; who would it be?
From: Alexander Monaghan
To: Cameron Chase
Subject: Dropping the Gloves: Riding the Stretch Run
I’m glad you are going to see your family during the Easter/Passover holiday. Make sure to pray your Flames make it next year. But this time of the season isn’t for marginal, semi-rebuilding teams, it’s for the big boys. Big boys like Lundqvist, who unequivocally will dominate the postseason, winning both the Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophy. He also deserves to win the Hart Trophy– not only because of his awesomeness, but simply because he’s so damn dreamy. But I digress…
Stealing the postseason is the topic and this season there are plenty of options. In the era of the starting goalie, each series may come down to a battle of reflexes opposed to grit, clutch scoring, truculence, etc. that playoff hockey is made for.
My dark horse to go deep this year is an oldie, but a goodie. And by oldie I mean ancient. Martin Brodeur most likely will take on the hapless Florida Panthers in the first round, which all but guarantees a ticket to the second round. Since we’re mapping out the seeds, that would mean facing his buddy across the river in Lundqvist.
Now, Marty is old. He’s got bad knees, probably a bad back. Heck, he’s even got a nasty temper. But facing these Rangers really bring out the best in him. In six regular season matches this season, he went an even 3-3. However, the Quebecer did so with a stellar 1.99 GAA and .916 SV%. He even managed to shut them out over a game.
The soon-to-be 40-year-old could not be more of a long shot to succeed in the playoffs but he has a lot of factors going for him. For one, he has the ability to step up in big games as a guy who has been there before. Second, he could face a very reasonable schedule, and would face the Rangers if both the Blueshirts and Bruins take care of business in the first round.
Hockey is a business of storylines and history being made, with the playoffs the stage in which stars shine. Brodeur likely only has a year left in his body and nothing would be a better fable than going out on top. With his expected first round opponent a veritable push over and their second an inexperienced, rival club, the opportunities are there.
Furthermore, Brodeur won’t play 60 games this season which guarantees fresher legs than in the past. While he was known for his 70+ start seasons in his prime, this savvy veteran, nay Hall-of-Famer, knows his body better now and knows exactly how to push himself. Don’t count Marty out just yet, folks.