Crashing the Net
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.
Though Ovechkin finished second to
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.
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%).
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.
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.
In the 2007-08 season,
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.
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.
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).
* Just how good is
* 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.
Pavel Datsyuk DET
Mike Green WAS
Evgeni Nabokov SAN