Crashing the Net takes you around the league you almost forgot about and all of the fantasy ins and outs, ups and downs.
In our final Crashing the Net article of the '08-09 season we'll do two things. First, we'll review some of the award winners for the fantasy season, and then we will break down our Fanball Staff Playoff Rankings for those of you in Fantasy Pools for the run to Lord Stanley's Cup.
Alexander Ovechkin, WAS
Though Ovechkin finished second to Evgeni Malkin in the points race, 113 to 110, he was clearly the more valuable fantasy performer as he recorded 19 more goals (56), five more power-play points (46) and six more game-winning goals (10). Ovechkin also led the league with 528 shots (no other skater had even 400). In fact, Alexander actually produced 238 more shots than Malkin. All told Ovechkin has averaged 55 goals and 105 points in his four NHL seasons. he man is flat out the most dominating offensive force in the game.
Mike Green, WAS
Green appeared in only 68 games this season but that didn't stop him from leading all rearguards with 31 goals and 73 points. Green also finished seventh in assists (42), while his plus/minus mark of +24 was tied for fifth at the position. In addition, Green was a power-play monster with 18 PP goals, tied for third in the league amongst all skaters and first amongst blue liners. Basically, Green produced top flight starting forward numbers from the defensive position, and as such there is little argument that he was one of the top-five fantasy producers for the 2008-09 season.
Tim Thomas, BOS
The lead netminder on the best team in the Eastern Conference, Thomas went 36-11-7 for the Bruins. Moreover, Thomas led the league with a 2.10 GAA while his .933 save percentage also paced the league. He finished a bit behind some of the other top flight netminders with only five shutouts, but at the same time it's impossible to downgrade a keeper who was equally amazing in the first half (2.09 GAA, .934 SV%) as the second (2.11 GAA, .932 SV%). Nicklas Backstrom was also strongly considered for the title here (37 wins, 2.33 GAA, .923 SV%, eight shutouts), but we went with Thomas because he led the league in both ratio categories.
David Krejci, BOS
In his first 62 NHL games, David produced all of six goals and 27 points while recording a (-6) mark. So everyone saw this explosion coming, right? Krejci was a second round pick in 2004, and a player the team was hoping would one day take on a substantial role, but the levels he reached in the past season were tremendous as he scored 22 goals and assisted on 51 other markers leading to 73 points. He was also tremendously effective in his two-way play as he led the NHL with a +37 mark. Toss in six power-play goals and 19 points with the man-advantage, and you certainly are looking at a breakout effort.
Anton Babchuk, CAR
Over the course of four partial seasons, Anton had produced seven goals and 26 points in 96 career games. The '02 first-round draft pick exploded on the offensive side of the ice this season with 16 goals and 35 points in addition to his career-best +13 mark this year for the Hurricanes. Babchuk was also one of only four blue liners out of the 14 who scored at least 14 goals to also post a +10 or better rating. In addition, Anton tied for fifth amongst rearguards in goals while his nine power-play markers were tied for eighth. Quite a breakout season for the previously offensively invisible Russian native.
Steve Mason, CBJ
In the 2007-08 season, Pascal Leclaire came out of nowhere for the Jackets to record nine shutouts while producing a 2.25 GAA and a .919 save percentage. Flash forward to 2008-09 and the rookie Mason produced virtually identical numbers on his way to likely nabbing the Calder Trophy (a league-leading 10 shutouts, 2.29 GAA and a .916 save percentage). Mason also piled up 33 victories in his first exposure to the NHL level, and though his play waned a bit as the season progressed (2.53 GAA, .904 SV% over his final 31 starts) his overall body of work was still superlative.
Vincent Lecavalier, TB
After taking a while to finally break out, Lecavalier finally did in 2006-07 as he posted career best numbers across the board (52g, 56a, 108 pts). Lecavalier followed up that monster season with another superlative effort in 2007-08 (40g, 52a, 92 pts) before the wheels fell off the wagon this season. Lecavalier failed to reach 30-goals for the first time since 2001-02 (he finished with 29), and his total of 67 points was a 4-year low. It was finally revealed that he played the entire season with an injured wrist that required season ending surgery in early April, so perhaps we can just consider the drop-off to be injury related leaving his prospects for next season still bright.
Wade Redden, NYR
Redden spent the first 11-years of his career up north with the Senators before signing a huge money deal to join the Rangers. Alas, his first season in blue didn't go as hoped as he scored a career-low three goals while producing 23 points, his lowest total since 1998-99. He was also non-existent on the power-play with only eight points, the first time since his second NHL season that he didn't produce in double-digits with the man-advantage. In addition Redden, long a double-digit plus/minus defender, slipped to a (-5) rating this season, the worst mark of his 12 NHL seasons. It won't take much for things to improve next season, but his first year in New York was clearly an unmitigated disaster.
Marty Turco, DAL
Over the previous five years Turco averaged 36 victories a year, so if you only looked at his total of 33 victories this season you wouldn't feel too disappointed. Unfortunately his ratios took a total nosedive. Turco not only posted a career worst 2.81 GAA, he also posted an abysmal .898 save percentage that tied his career low as well. Considering that he owns career marks of 2.26 and .911, those who waited for the inevitable turnaround in his play this season were surprisingly left unfulfilled this season, though to be fair he was a serviceable goalie in the second half of the season with a 2.46 GAA and a .914 SV% over his final 32 starts (he still was under .500 at 14-15-3).
* Sidney Crosby has dealt with a few bumps and bruises over the years, and as a result his scoring totals aren't as high as they could have been. Still, his average of 1.37 points per game the past four years leads the league, just slightly ahead of the man he will almost certainly always be linked to -- Alexander Ovechkin (1.30).
* Just how good is Marian Gaborik when he is able to drag his weary body onto the ice? Over the past four seasons he has scored 123 goals in just 207 games meaning he has averaged 0.59 goals per game. Only two skaters can better than mark in Ovechkin (0.68) and Ilya Kovalchuk (0.5943, just slightly ahead of Gaborik's 0.5942). It remains to be seen just how big a deal Gaborik will receive this off-season though as he has averaged a mere 52 games a year during this time period.
* Nicklas Lidstrom fell just short of a fourth straight season of 60 points with 16 goals and 43 assists. Still, his goal total tied his four year high, while his plus/minus mark of +31 was his third straight season of at least +30. Lidstrom also leads all defensemen with a +132 in the past four years, a number that is more than double the next best option on the list (Chris Phillips at +56).
* Zach Parise emerged as a dominating force in this fourth season with 45 goals, 49 assists, a +30 mark and 30 power-play points. In each of his four seasons his goal, assist, point, plus/minus and power-play goal marks have improved (he had 14 PP goals this season.
* Marc Savard has averaged 90 points a season the past four campaigns. Overall, his total of 359 points is sixth best in the league behind Joe Thornton (421), Ovechkin (420), Crosby (397), Pavel Datsyuk (368) and Dany Heatley (362).
* Speaking of Thornton, in addition to leading the NHL in points the past four seasons, he also leads the league with a total of 316 assists (Savard is second with 269). In fact, if you removed every goal Thornton scored (105), he would still average 0.97 points per game (his assist per game total).
The playoffs are finally on the cusp of beginning the most grueling drama in sports. Nothing in sport matches the sacrifice that NHL players make in the grueling run to 16 victories. The physicality and the speed of the game, not to mention the drama of sudden death overtime or Game 7 are simply unparalled in their intensity.
For those of you interested in continuing your fantasy quest into the post-season, here are our suggestions for playoff pools. As you will note, our rankings are part strategy and part guess work. Given that playoff pools are set up for the long run, having a luminous star may not always be the best option. Sometimes a strong secondary scorer on a team primed for a long playoff run is a better option than a flat out fantasy All-Star.
With that in mind, here are the playoff rankings for forwards, defensemen and goalies from the hardest working staff in the fantasy hockey universe.
Contributing writers: Paul Bruno, Ken Castro, Ray Flowers, Eric Meliton and Kent Wilson.
Pavel Datsyuk DETJoe Thornton SANAlexander Ovechkin WASEvgeni Malkin PITMarc Savard BOSSidney Crosby PITMarian Hossa DETHenrik Zetterberg DETJeff Carter PHIJarome Iginla CGYMike Richards PHIPatrick Marleau SANNicklas Backstrom WASZach Parise NJDAlexander Semin WASRyan Getzlaf ANADaniel Sedin VANMichael Cammalleri CGYSimon Gagne PHIEric Staal CARMartin Havlat CHIHenrik Sedin VANCorey Perry ANADavid Krejci BOSDevin Setoguchi SANPatrik Elias NJDJohan Franzen DETRick Nash COBPatrick Kane CHIJonathan Toews CHIRay Whitney CARPhil Kessel BOSRyane Clowe SANScott Hartnell PHIOlli Jokinen CGYMilan Michalek SANJoe Pavelski SANTravis Zajac NJDTeemu Selanne ANAJamie Langenbrunner NJDMark Recchi BOSBrad Boyes STLAlexei Kovalev MONRyan Kesler VANJiri Hudler DETBobby Ryan ANABrian Gionta NJDTuomo Ruutu CARScott Gomez NYRKris Versteeg CHIChris Kunitz PITRod Brind'Amour CARMichael Ryder BOSDaymond Langkow CGYSaku Koivu MONJordan Staal PITPavol Demitra VANBill Guerin PITMats Sundin VANAlex Burrows VANMilan Lucic BOSChris Drury NYRMike Knuble PHIBlake Wheeler BOSBrooks Laich WASKristian Huselius COBNikolai Zherdev NYRAlex Tanguay MONMikael Samuelsson DETPetr Sykora PITPatrick Sharp CHITomas Holmstrom DETPatrice Bergeron BOSValtteri Filppula DETNik Antropov NYRJoffrey Lupul PHIViktor Kozlov WASDavid Backes STLR.J. Umberger COBDavid Perron STLTodd Bertuzzi CGYChuck Kobasew BOSPatrik Berglund STLRuslan Fedotenko PITErik Cole CARTomas Fleischmann WASSergei Fedorov WASDaniel Cleary DETJason Williams COBMichael Nylander WASAndy McDonald STLSergei Samsonov CARAndrew Ladd CHITomas Plekanec MONKeith Tkachuk STLCurtis Glencross CGYCraig Conroy CGYAntoine Vermette COBJonathan Cheechoo SANDave Bolland CHI
Mike Green WASDan Boyle SANNicklas Lidstrom DETZdeno Chara BOSBrian Rafalski DETDennis Wideman BOSSergei Gonchar PITRob Blake SANScott Niedermayer ANAChris Pronger ANANiklas Kronwall DETDion Phaneuf CGYBrian Campbell CHIChristian Ehrhoff SANKimmo Timonen PHIKevin Bieksa VANAndrei Markov MONDuncan Keith CHIKris Letang PITJoe Corvo CARAlexander Edler VANCam Barker CHIPaul Martin NJDJoni Pitkanen CARFedor Tyutin COBMarc-Edouard Vlasic SANAdrian Aucoin CGYBraydon Coburn PHIMichal Rozsival NYRMattias Ohlund VANBrent Seabrook CHISami Salo VANAnton Babchuk CARRyan Whitney ANAMathieu Schneider MONMatt Carle PHIMatt Hunwick BOSRoman Hamrlik MONBrad Stuart DETDerek Morris NYRMark Stuart BOSBrett Lebda DETRandy Jones PHICarlo Colaiacovo STLJohnny Oduya NJDJames Wisniewski ANAAndrew Ference BOSJordan Leopold CGYDennis Seidenberg CARSteve Montador BOS
Evgeni Nabokov SANTim Thomas BOSMarc-Andre Fleury PITRoberto Luongo VANCam Ward CARMartin Brodeur NJDJose Theodore WASMiikka Kiprusoff CGYMartin Biron PHISteve Mason COBChris Osgood DETNikolai Khabibulin CHITy Conklin DETCarey Price MONJonas Hiller ANAHenrik Lundqvist NYRChris Mason STLAntero Niittymaki PHIJean-Sebastien Giguere ANACristobal Huet CHIJaroslav Halak MONScott Clemmensen NJDBrian Boucher SANManny Fernandez BOSManny Legace STL