(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.)
By Brent Lemon
Some things are 'problems' that can be solved, others are ‘difficulties' to be managed. Problems are great since they can be decisively addressed. Difficulties are more slippery. You can't ever solve this kind of issue; you can only mitigate their impact.
I guarantee that your fantasy hockey squad has some difficulties, soft spots that you have to manage week-to-week, but due to scare resources you won't ever permanently address. It's the nature of the game -- good fantasy GMs know they need the waiver wire.
Here are this week's players who might help you out of a few difficult spots (positions as listed in Yahoo!).
Steen outworked Christian Ehrhoff(notes) to gain the puck and score the winner against the Vancouver Canucks Sunday night. Steen's had that kind of week. Scoring three goals and adding two assists, the Winnipeg native has quietly been making a statement recently. A plus-4 for the past week, he also led the NHL over the past seven days with 21 shots on goal. Even if you remember his days with Toronto, consider picking him up. He's free in almost 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Last week, Couture was second only to a certain Sidney Crosby(notes) in goal scoring, lighting the lamp four times and increasing his lead in the rookie-scoring race. Two of those goals were against the Detroit Red Wings. In related news, the city council of his hometown of Guelph, Ontario has just passed a motion to rename the local arts and rec centre the "Couture Cultural City Centre." I made that last part up. But I've been to Guelph, it's possible. He can be yours on the wire in two-thirds of all Yahoo! leagues.
Wow, cue up Boulevard of Broken Dreams, because it must be 2006 ... it's got to be if we're discussing Martin Erat in a fantasy hockey piece. While you're humming away to the song I just stuck in your head, let me tell you that Erat earned five helpers over the past week, and owned a tidy plus-5 rating over the same period. Sadly, unlike his GM, Erat was not recently voted best at his job for the buck by Forbes.com. Erat is owned in only 7 percent of leagues.
I love it when I can bring up seventh-rounders, especially (as in Ferriero's case) when they weren't even signed by the team who originally drafted them- it feels so wholesome, so Hollywood. Ferriero made his San Jose owners pretty happy last week with his plus-5 on top of two goals, an assist, and ten shots on goal. He's looked pretty good since getting the call up from Worcester on Nov 27th; he's getting mid-teens for ice-time. To complete this feel-good tale, I have to point out that San Jose drafted Benn's younger brother, Cody, this past June. The elder Ferriero is owned in 1 percent of leagues, but you'll have to wait if you're looking to have Ferriero bookends -- Cody has yet to crack the show.
Kunitz is a plus-5 and has a goal and three assists in the past week. I'd lead a round of ‘Let's all Ride the Sidney Train', but I hear Chris has this really protective older sister with some anger issues. So instead, I'll just say that as long as Crosby is doing his Gretzky impersonation, you should consider picking up his linemates if you need plus/minus help. Kunitz is owned in 44 percent of leagues.
If you check out who's picked up the most PIMs in the past week, you'll see that Boll's 29 minutes led the league by a Saskatchewan-mile. But be careful, because he picked up 22 of those in an ugly 0-5 loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Boll is owned in an astounding 1% of leagues.
If you need some PIM help, check out Thornton instead. He has picked up seven PIMS in three out of his last four games , and has a total of 48 minutes on the year. There's an ownership issue here. I had to petition Yahoo! to get Thornton on the list ("No, no, not Joe...the other Thornton...and yes, this one still plays for Boston").
Malone banged 17 shots at goalies last week, lighting the lamp twice (on top of two assists). Even better, the Pittsburg-native has made the score sheet in eight of his past ten games, for total of eleven points. He's thinking about getting a tattoo to celebrate, maybe something small. Malone's owned in 44 percent of leagues.
Knuble's tallied 13 shots over the week (for a collective shot distance of 20 feet), and picked up three points along the way. The Toronto-native is on a slower scoring pace than his previous couple of seasons, but he's actually taking more shots. Knuble is owned in 46 percent of leagues.
In case you missed it, the Oilers are on a tear. And the 31 percent-owned Khabibulin has picked up a couple of wins over the past seven days (including a shutout that embarrassed the Leafs in their own building). The 37-year-old is sporting a 0.50 GAA in that period, but he's only faced 64 shots.
Brian Elliot, Ottawa Senators, G
Elliot earned some buzz in the first half of November by piling up five wins in a row. Nobody missed that, but you may have missed what he done recently. In his last three games he's only picked up one win, but he has twice shut out his opponents during regulation time. He's currently nursing a day-to-day upper body injury and is owned in just over half of all Yahoo! leagues.
Middle-of-the-Pack Jack says:
"I knew I should have picked up Havlat in my draft... now he's leading the Wild in points. I need another RW, and it looks like this is finally his year. I gotta get on this bus."
Not a good idea, Jack. Martin Havlat's(notes) has a good run going with 16 points in his last 11 games, but he's a potential injury-bomb ready to explode. If you already own him, then enjoy the run, but trading for guys like Havlat or Marian Gaborik(notes) when they're heating up isn't smart. Their skill and performance drive up the price, while you may be left holding the bag when they go on the IR. If Jack really wanted Havlat, he should have grabbed when he was cold.
I'd write a nice little send off for you, but I have to go shovel some snow, like two-feet's worth for the fourth time this week. Talk about difficulties.
Keep your stick on the ice.
Brent Lemon enjoys sharing his thoughts on hockey, good, bad, or outrageous. 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