There is only about a week and a half to go in the fantasy hockey season. Yes, some leagues do have an off-season but a majority do not. This will be a two part series as next week we will conclude all of this but not quite in one neatly wrapped bow. The fun is this. No one knows just how wild this ride could become.
Most will wonder what could have been if Sidney Crosby had stayed healthy and did not lose his season to a second concussion. Just think of the potential risks of what occurred from the first to the second concussion. There is always blame. to go around when a marquis player is lost like this especially when it was preventable. One can understand why Crosby wanted to wait until he was absolutely 100 percent. Yes there was understandable outrage and a clear protocol was established by Pittsburgh and its medical staff.
The problem involved this one center fact. How did everyone miss the first concussion? Well no one expected it to happen to Crosby for one. Should he have been held out against Tampa Bay as a precaution? That answer is undoubtedly yes now but surely Crosby wanted to play. He was on fire and well on his way to a 130 point season which had not been done since the early 1990’s. Fantasy numbers that would have been a bastion for owners that never was to be.
There is no way anyone could get 66 points in 41 games in this league this year in any span. Fantasy owners scrambled admirably in his absence and we know he is gone for the rest of the regular season and who knows how long in the playoffs. Personally, I would not want to be anyone on the Penguins Medical Staff truthfully. That would not be anything I could wish even on my worst enemy.
So in a hint of what may be to come, the biggest fantasy bust this season may just be the Pittsburgh Penguins and their medical staff. Notice we said may. It is unknown how long Crosby would have missed after the first hit by David Steckel but we know now how long the second more dangerous hit by Victor Hedman has kept him out. Hindsight is always 20-20 with these things and is why we said may.
The Crosby conundrum is what leads us to the final ten days. For the people that have survived losing their best player, I salute them personally. Nothing like that is ever easy. Injuries have hit some teams harder than others but the ones that have survived have done so because they adapted better than everyone else. As a matter of fact, no team I have seen has had fewer than five injuries on their squad at some point during the season. Some have had too many to count.
Think about it, the injury ticker was at 153 just a little over a week ago. Yes it has come down a good bit but the number is still over 130. That is very high and considering there are 25-30 players out with head or concussion issues right now and you are talking a recipe for bigger problems. Fantasy hockey GM’s have had to think on the fly and literally on a wing and prayer at times.
Now comes the time to get on down to the end. What is the end? Simple, it is the end of the regular season or the fantasy hockey playoffs. Even if one is in a roto league, this is your playoffs.
So with 10 days left, what can you do with your fantasy team? We have three quick and easy steps to follow and also we want some input on the injuries, schedule, the whole fantasy nine yards on how we can do this better next season as well. Do not fret, we will be working well into the summer for the fantasy hockey fan.
Now about those three steps:
Step 1: Adapt to any additional injuries
This is going to happen, trust me. Look at a typical night lately in the NHL when there is 10 or more games and you will see at least six to ten potential injuries or more. Just look at some players in the last night or two that have gone down to injuries and add them to the pile. The key again is to scour that waiver wire and look for players that may be returning. Even a player like Daymond Langkow will be back for the weekend when many thought (yours truly included) that he would be out for the rest of the season with a broken vertebrae.
Also it is important to see how long these players will be out. Not only can you follow beat writers on Twitter but you can now follow us two ways here including via @dailyfaceoff but also you can follow our accounts via @TheProgramBTR and now yes @InjuryNinja. The latest information will be provided and up to the minute updates on players that may or may not have been injured. Included will also be players coming off of injury that you may be able to pick up potentially before anyone else does.
That is the essential part here to remember to keep one’s wits. If you manage that long enough, players will be available despite injuries. Yes injuries happen and they are apart of the fantasy hockey fabric. If you think sensibly, do not panic, and make some shrewd short term pickups, one has a leg up on the rest who usually panic over every single injury (no matter how minor or major that players may play of a role).
Step 2: Try to ride what got you there
This cannot be emphasized enough. Nothing frustrates a fantasy hockey GM more than when another GM just inexplicably tries to blow up their team just to win a league. Especially if these are keeper leagues, blowing up a team for success never works long term and almost always backfires even in that season of action. Before you make a move that has far reaching long term effects, think deeply about what you are really giving up. Ask yourself is this really a long term risk I am willing to live with? If that answer is yes, then do it but never look back. The worst decisions are later lamented by the GM that goes, “I should never have done that, what was I thinking”? That has been uttered far too many times for me to count.
Riding what got you there means just what it says. If you bring it to the dance, be prepared to dance with her until its over. Do not leave her there and ride the wave so to speak.
Now one thing we forget to note often here is roto leagues that have positional limits. If you rode too many players and tried to cram your stats but have limited appearances left, then there is a problem. A GM has to maximize the few appearances left so the max is not reached too soon. In that case, find the positions where you will not max out as fast and use your best players there if you can. For whatever reason, acquire talent in a position that ONLY is needed for a certain category or two. The minute you try to tinker too much is the time one has lost already. Truer words could never be said here.
The waiver wire is only there at this time of year for injuries and temporary short moves born out of necessity and not panic. Panic does not win leagues, brains do. When you dip into that waiver wire pool, look for players that are playoff ready or finishing the season off hot, they usually will not slump over the last few games if they are riding a streak. Corey Perry is a golden example. He has 15 goals in his last 10 games and with the team he has around him, Perry will not slow down much if at all.
Again, just keep an eye on the surroundings without mortgaging your team’s future. If it is a one year league, still be careful because making moves for the sake of making moves often does not work. Be smart, look at the waiver wire options wisely and then make the best decision based on need and not want. Too many decisions are made based on want and that is the one thing that can kill your fantasy team in the late stages as the end approaches.
Step 3: Do not ride the negative waves.
Yes Spicoli from “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” would be proud here. Be the gracious winner and loser, especially if you are in a keeper league. The difference between winning and losing is such a marginal difference now. Mostly everyone has the same information or can get access to it. Searching for that new information no one has become so difficult.
If things do get a bit down, just let it ride. Whether you are playing out the string or going for the title, often there is little that can be done. It can always be worse and remember to go for it when needed but be cautious most other times. Safe is death but lunacy is death too in fantasy leagues. Finding that balance is the most crucial difference between winning and losing.
So next week in Part Two (THE END), what are we going to go over? Well simply it will be the final weekend and the last true push. We will tell you who you may just be able to pick up in leagues and how to maybe find others as well. Good luck if you made it this far and if you have any questions or suggestions on waiver wire adds or drops, let us have it here in the comment box. We want to hear from you, the fantasy hockey fan. Keep the faith and thanks again.