Saturday, 20 September 2008

Fantasy Pool Questions

As I prepare for a fantasy hockey pool, started by the gents over at Barry Melrose Rocks, I find myself asking a lot of questions when it comes to player rankings found on the Internet and in magazines. I'm not one to rank Player A over Player B ever, considering my playoff prognostication is worse off than a monkey on TSN. No, this monkey, named Maggie, not James Duthie. I know - sometimes I get them confused too.

I get that Martin Brodeur is a great player. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind that he's one of the best goaltenders in the league. But how many sites and magazines have him ranked as the top goalie in the fantasy world? Clearly, his play suffered down the stretch last season due to him being overworked. So how does he get the top spot?

I will bet that the Devils are going to be close to the top of the Atlantic Division again this season. Dictator Lou and General Sutter will ensure that the Devils remain competitive, even if they have to trap every single team to death. It's a safe pick to have Brodeur on your fantasy team because the Devils will undoubtedly win close to 40 games again this year.

The reality of the situation says that Brodeur's age will have to catch up to him at some point, and this could be the first season we see serious cracks in his armor. He looked tired and vulnerable last season in the playoffs against the New York Rangers. While I'm betting he'll get the Devils off on the right foot, can he really carry the load for 77 games this season without getting tired?

Another team that has serious question marks when it comes to a goaltender's statistics is the New York Rangers. Lundqvist's abilities are second-to-none, but the team that is iced in front of him may take a while to come together. Defensively, the Rangers have no stand-out "stopper" defenceman - a guy who shadows the best player from the other team, and gives him no room to operate.

Wade Redden isn't really the guy you want for that job, and I doubt he's going to be as effective as his bloated salary says he should be. Dmitri Kalinin? Not the guy you're expecting to play the shutdown role. Marc Staal? He could certainly do it, but will the Rangers use him in that role?

I expect Lundqvist to have another stellar season. As a goal, I'd expect him to win 35 games this season, but it will all come down to how well the Rangers' offence meshes together with the new faces, and how the defence is employed on the ice.

All I know is that fantasy hockey leagues are a boatload of fun, and I'm excited to get this one underway. I haven't participated in a fantasy league in a long time, so we'll see how this goes. Updates won't happen often on here, but I'm sure the gents at Barry Melrose Rocks will bring the trash-talk on their site.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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