I have six days to make up a 5.5-point deficit in the Yahoo! Friends and Family League. I still think it can be done, a notion I shared with my editor Monday via Yahoo! Messenger. A game-winning goal here, a shutout there – I'm telling you I can pull this off. His reply: Good luck – Seemed a little dismissive to me. Didn't read like a "go get 'em" good luck. More like a "yeah right" good luck. Had me down for a while, but then it occurred to me that maybe that's all you can say at this point of the season. Set your lineups and hope for the best.
So I'll leave you, for the regular season at least, with a good luck of the "go get 'em" variety. Thanks to everyone who has checked in weekly and a special nod to those of you who have taken the time to write in. I've dabbled in a few sports in the fantasy space, but the passion of hockey fans is unmatched. Here's one final weekend update before the close of the regular season and the start of the greatest tournament in sports.
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
Patrick Sharp scored his 20th goal of the season Sunday. Nothing too exciting about that. He joins about 100 other players who have reached that plateau. Here's what's interesting: nine of his 20 goals have come in the last 12 games. Now we're talking more elite company. Over the past month, only Jonathan Cheechoo, Mike Modano and Vincent Lecavalier have as many or more goals than Sharp, a right-wing eligible player who has been centering Chicago's No. 1 scoring line of late. It's the move to that line that triggered Sharp's current streak. Ever since coach Denis Savard slotted Sharp between Martin Havlat and Rene Bourque, the former Flyers draft pick has been on fire.
He's still a reach in standard fantasy formats, but there is upside. He's eligible at both center and right wing. He's a decent two-way guy who will pitch in some penalty minutes. If you're chasing games, the Blackhawks are one of 10 NHL teams with four games remaining. Then, of course, there's the nine goals in 12 games thing. Now if he could just get Havlat going.
As anticipated, Jack Johnson joined the Kings and made his National Hockey League debut Thursday. The defenseman &ndash selected No. 3 overall by Carolina in 2005 – didn't score in either of his first two games. So the number that matters in fantasy leagues – no goals, no assists, one shot, minus-1 rating – aren't too impressive. There is good news, however. Johnson played nearly 20 minutes in both games and is seeing time on the power play. A quick snap shot against San Jose Sunday beat goalie Evgeni Nabokov, but rang squarely off the post. He's a good bet to land on the scoresheet in the Kings' final two games against the struggling Coyotes.
One-timers: Montreal defenseman/wing (and Skinny favorite) Mark Streit has five points in his last five games. … David Clarkson has three goals in his first seven career games as a New Jersey right wing. – Erik Johnson decided not to join the St. Louis Blues this season. … PIM hunters need look no further than Chicago's David Koci, who has 88 penalty minutes in nine NHL games. … St. Louis defenseman Barret Jackman has five assists in his last three games.
BARGAIN BIN: Top player available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
Mike Smith, G, Dal – Coach Dave Tippett split Dallas' two weekend games by design, starting Marty Turco against Nashville and turning Smith loose on the Red Wings, a team that has dominated Turco. The result was a win for both goalies, but the move was a sign Tippett is willing to turn to Smith in crunch time. Turco lost Monday in a game that had huge Pacific-Division ramifications, so we should see Smith either Thursday or Friday as the Stars play on back-to-back nights.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Petr Kalus, RW, Bos – If your league uses shooting percentage – and it shouldn't – then Boston's rookie is looking pretty good with three goals on three career shots. Kalus had 30 points and 105 penalty minutes with Boston's AHL affiliate before his recall.
Frantisek Kaberle, D, Car – He started slowly after coming back from injury, but Kaberle has five assists and 10 penalty minutes in his last nine games. Nothing spectacular, but steady is just fine in a No. 4 defense slot.
Bryan Allen, D, Fla – Allen has registered a point in 12 of Florida's last 24 games. For the mathematically challenged poolie, that translates to a 40-point pace over an entire season. He's also one of 22 defensemen to register 100 penalty minutes on the season.
Alexei Yashin, C, NYI – Best-case with Yashin is you traded him when his value was at an all-time high around the holidays. Heck, even if you did, he may be on the waiver wire. Yashin has been cut loose in more than half of Yahoo! leagues. Value shoppers should take note of his six-game point streak (2 goals, 5 assists).
Mike Fisher, C, Ott – Fisher finished the weekend with two goals, one assist and a plus-5 rating in two Ottawa wins. The Skinny has pitched this guy a few times in this space, but he remains available in about 95 percent of Yahoo! leagues despite having goals in more than half his last 25 games.
Mike Riberio, C, Dal – With six goals and five assists in his last seven games, Riberio is one of the hottest widely available centers in fantasy leagues.
Brett Lebda, D, Det – Niklas Kronwall is out for the rest of the regular season, which should translate into more ice time for Lebda. The Red Wings were without both Kronwall and Nicklas Lidstrom Sunday, and Lebda responded with a goal and an assist.
Kyle Calder, LW, Det – Long-time readers may blame his eight-game pointless streak on his recent inclusion in the Bargain Bin. More realistically, the returns of Dan Cleary and Todd Bertuzzi have eroded his productivity.
Ryane Clowe, RW, SJ – Clowe's fantasy value survived a few line shuffles, but even though coach Ron Wilson is probably plenty happy with his play alongside Marcel Goc and Steve Bernier, the minutes and power-play time just isn't there to justify a roster spot.
Yahoo! Friends and Family League
Puck junkie Brandon Funston makes a surprise appearance in third place. By his own admission, it might be a career high-water mark. A little stretch-run fine tuning lands Drew Stafford and Dustin Brown on Team Romig. More moves to come, I'm sure.