(Note: Our friends at Dobber Hockey are back for some fantasy fun. All stats are through Wednesday night's games; this feature will be found on Thursdays here on Puck Daddy.)
Fantasy hockey is à la carte. Some fantasy GMs choose to play in points-only leagues, while others fight it out over long lists of categories. And you just know that somewhere there's a group of knuckleheads competing over hits-from-behind, days on suspension, and slew-foots.
Sound stupid? No doubt. But don't most of us compete over penalty minutes?
Some do it simply because it's been done that way since poolies were drafting the Patrick brothers. While some righteously insist that toughness is part of the game, and PIM are the right measure.
But ever since the NHL (finally) introduced The Real-Time Scoring System for the 1997-98 season, with its bundle of new statistics (including hits and blocked shots), poolies have had choices by which to measure their players' toughness.
While you work though your anger at such heresy, here are some possible pickups to mull over. All positions as listed in Yahoo! Sports.
"Clutterbuck has been a goal-scoring leader in the league over the past seven days." Now there's a phrase that hasn't been written since the 23-year-old's major-junior days in Oshawa. But the prolific checker scored three goals, added an assist, and took 11 shots-on-goal between hammering opponents into the boards last week. Don Cherry must be so proud. Clutterbuck is owned in just 9 percent of leagues -- half of which are based in Minnesota.
The younger Kostitsyn is one of the worst kept secrets in fantasy hockey right now. But at 14 percent ownership, most leagues still haven't recognized Sergei's value. Up until Dec. 1, he had netted three points in 19 games -- but then he put up 20 points in the next 18. Oddly, older brother Andre has completely fallen off the scoresheet -- fueling rumors that there is in fact only one Kostitsyn brother playing in the NHL, and that the Canadiens and Predators have agreed to a cost-sharing arrangement. (We are still pursuing the story, but think "Kostitsyn," "abducted," and "mob connections.") Over the past seven days, "Sergei" has scored three goals, added three assists, but taken only five shots. In fact, he has only 44 shots to go with his 10 goals on the year so far.
Four goals, three assists in the past week. Nope, we don't know how he's doing it either, but 51 percent of you own him and are laughing at the rest of us. But despite being the team's leading scorer, he isn't the Leaf going to the All-Star Game in Raleigh, North Carolina.
With a couple of goals and an assist earned for each letter 'u' in his name over the past week, Tuomo Ruutu must be getting excited about the upcoming All-Star game.
So that makes one person who's psyched, anyway. Ruutu's been enjoying a productive year, and has recently upped his point production even further with 13 points in the eight games since Christmas. He's owned in 32 percent of leagues.
Kulemin has been especially productive during the Maple Leaf's recent uptick in wins. Last week, he added five assists, three goals, and 13 shots-on-goal to his owners' totals. So a pretty good week for the Leaf's third-highest scorer, but he's not the Leaf headed to the All-Star game, either. He can take comfort in being owned in almost a whole quarter of Yahoo! Leagues. Or not.
Over the past 30 days, the top-six plus/minus ratings are all owned by Vancouver Canucks. Yup, in case you've missed it the 'Nucks have been getting it done. Most of those of those six players (with the exception of Dan Hamhuis(notes), who we discussed last week) you aren't going to be able to snag off the wire. The ninth ranked plus/minus rating also belongs to a Canuck and at 6 percent ownership, Jeff Tambellini might be just the guy for you. The Canucks are looking like a large boulder rolling downhill into the second half and you can expect solid plus/minuses from them.
Grabovski has had a hell of a week stacking up six points and 20 shots-on-goal. The Belorussian has put up points consistently since the beginning of November, and been playing some particularly inspired hockey since the middle of December. Poolies have paid attention to his play and he's owned in 55 percent of leagues
but his role in the potential Kostitsyn abduction is unknown. Regardless, the Leafs second-best scorer isn't going to the All-Star game, either. Nope, that honor belongs to Phil Kessel(notes), the Leaf's fifth-highest scorer. While he did put up five goals last week, the former-Bruin only lit the lamp for three goals in November, and four in all of December.
All Star? Really? We're as curious as you are to see what he can do with a quality pivot to work with. And since the corners at the ASG are designated safe zones, it will be interesting to see him venture into one.
PIM Hits and Blocked Shots
Curious who has the most hits this season so far in the NHL? Here are the top-10 hitters with their totals:
1. Cal Cutterbuck - 204
3. Tuomo Ruutu - 161
4. Troy Bouwer - 144
9. Brain Boyle - 131
Want to know who has sucked up the most rubber for the good of their team so far? Here are your leaders with their totals:
4. François Beauchemin - 102
Now here are the top-10 PIM owners this year with their totals.
5. Chris Neil - 107
Which group is the best collection of the toughest hockey players?
Theodore's done a mostly nice job in the wake of Niklas Backstrom's(notes) injury. Posting three wins in the past week (before getting pulled on Tuesday after allowing four goals on 25 shots). Theodore will get the majority of starts until Backstrom's situation is sorted out. Clarity should come shortly as Backstrom was to see a medical specialist this week. But regardless, Theodore owners will get another handful of starts this coming week. His ownership is up, but is still only at 19 percent.
Middle-of-the-Pack Jack says:
I was smart (lucky) enough to snag James Reimer(notes) off the wire last week, and I'm loving the wins, the 1.92 GAA and 178 saves on the season. But obviously it can't last and with old man Giguere coming back, it'll be back to business as usual.
It's hard not to be cynical about the Leafs, but they've got a good thing going right now with Reimer. He's going to start Thursday night, even if J-S Giguere returns. Drafted 99th overall by the Leafs in 2006, Reimer is a big lad and has solid technique. More importantly, momentum and confidence are powerful forces in hockey -- so if you need help in your crease, he's worth a serious look. You'll get more solid numbers yet and the Leafs will have a hard time sending him down while his statue in downtown Toronto is only halfway erected.
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Still mad at us over the PIM thing?
Do you use PIM, do you like PIM? Do you think we should adopt other measures of toughness?
You tell us.
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Brent Lemon enjoys sharing his thoughts on hockey, good, bad, or outrageous. Somewhat surprisingly, his work has appeared in several places, including USA Today publications, and his fantasy hockey column, Lemon Aid, appears every second
Wednesday at DobberHockey.com