The NHL is constantly shifting and I have some statistics to back this up that will make your eyes pop out of your head. As a fantasy owner, it is your responsibility to change your mindset and adapt to the way things are shifting. The fact is, scoring is down. Everybody knows that. Just like everybody knows the NHL will tweak a rule or two and scoring will perk back up again.
The goal-scoring rate seems to move in eight- to 12-year cycles before the NHL tweaks or adds a rule or two to open things up again. Then the cycle begins anew – coaches adapt, systems change, goaltenders and equipment get better, etc. By the same token, if scoring gets carried away, the league will move to keep it within the normal range. Over the years a red line was added to prevent two-line passes and then later it was removed. Power plays used to run for the full two minutes before the mighty Habs of the early ’50s made other teams their playthings. Coincidental minors were introduced in the ‘80s because the Oilers were blowing out the opposition.
What we’re seeing now is a steady decline in scoring and you must adapt. If a 60-point player was at the bottom of a winning pro team, you shouldn’t be shy about 50-point players today. In fact, with goals down 11.4 percent since 2005-06, a 60-point player from that year is a 53-point player this campaign.
In 2005-06, you laughed when someone offered you a defenseman on pace for 38 points. This year, 38 is the new 43. If you let good deals slip through your fingers today because your mindset is still stuck in 2006, it could cost you the win.
That being said, you also have to be prepared to do an about-face. If the league makes a change to increase scoring you need to change your way of thinking once again. The league isn’t blind to these numbers. They are as obvious as the nose on Brad Marchand’s face. The numbers go sharply downward when it comes to scoring and sharply upward when it comes to stopping pucks. The amount of shots on goal are virtually the same.
There are lots of good ideas being tested and considered, some more radical than others. Here are two of ideas I’m in favour of:
- After four minutes of overtime, change to three-on-three for three minutes. Or extend overtime to 10 minutes. If more games are solved in overtime and fewer solved in a shootout, that means more stats that count towards your fantasy roster.
- Play the full power play, even after a goal. It was this way once. Just revert to the original rules of hockey.
Other, more radical ideas are not embraced by the purists and I would be surprised if they ever get passed. Ideas such as widening the nets, or angling the posts, etc. But whichever ideas the league does put through, I would expect the goals to revert back to the way they were immediately after the lockout or close to it. Adjust your mindset to today’s game and you will be surprised at how many unappealing offers you’ve been receiving aren’t all that bad. Just be prepared to adjust the other way when the time comes.
The Devils and Column 666
This is my 666th Fantasy Pool Look, so I would be remiss if I didn’t do a little piece on the Devils. Ilya Kovalchuk has 32 points in his past 25 games and 10 in his past five. He’s on pace to top 300 shots on goal for the first time since 2007 when he was with Atlanta (remember that team?). While it’s doubtful (in this writer’s opinion) that Zach Parise will be traded, keep in mind that he has been on the ice for 74 percent of Kovalchuk’s 50 points.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.