Normally, I’d roll out a more traditional end-of-year column in this space as the last Daily Dose of the regular season. Yet, with two per week during the postseason, I figure there is still a lot of ground to cover … so why not have a little more fun with it?
(And, really, I might have done things this way even if it was a normal format or even if this would be the final Dose until 2014-15. We don’t run the tightest ship here at Daily Dose Headquarters, which hopefully is a perk for at least some readers.)
Before I get to the fun stuff, I’d love to learn if the Dose affected any of your habits this season. Did I lead you astray or help you clean up a seemingly lost cause? Were there any interesting combinations of the two factors? Feel free to share your tales of woe and/or wonderment via Twitter or e-mail. If they’re especially entertaining, I might even plop a few down randomly during the postseason.
(Granted, we don’t run the tightest ship here at Daily Dose Headquarters, so the only thing I can really guarantee is a sizeable amount of asides and puns.)
With the 2013-14 season three days away from becoming what could be a fascinating playoffs - with an outright awkward divisional gimmick, if we’re going to be honest with ourselves - I thought I’d roll out some “thank yous” and “farewells.”
THANK YOU - Versatile players: With scoring stuck in quicksand, it’s difficult to stomach points-or-nothing guys once you get beyond the fellows who don’t often settle for nothing. With that in mind, I’ve gained a new sort of bizarro appreciation for the very active “grinders” who give you something in some stats category even if they don’t find the net.
FAREWELL - Mid-tier one-dimensionals - Dovetailing from that observation, what’s the point of grabbing a bland, mid-level guy who won’t really move the needle with his decent points? I’ll be curious to see if Loui Eriksson and the Sedin twins find their ways out of this possible muck next season (I expect more from all three, but … just saying.)
THANK YOU - Scrap heap millionaires: For quite some time, I’ve made it a point to devalue high draft pick goaltending UNLESS I happen to be in a league where the goalie stats almost equal the skater stats (and really, you should say FAREWELL to those leagues, anyway). There are any number of examples to justify such a thought: If you look at the top wins-getters (Semyon Varlamov is No. 1 right now, Ben Bishop is at No. 4, Steve Mason is tied with Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price [!!]) and even the top 30 (unexpected names like Frederik Andersen, Carter Hutton, Anton Khudobin and Chad Johnson join the usuals), I’d argue that you should really narrow down the list of “premium” goalies.
FAREWELL - Excessive patience for tough-luck cases: Of course, opening yourself up to the wild west of unproven goalies means that you’re going to need to take more risks in that area. In that regard, I expect to be a little less patient with “good or potentially good goalies in very bad situations.” It’s not exactly as if I was mining the Edmonton Oilers for netminders - honestly, I can’t remember the last time I added an Edmonton goalie in any fantasy league - but I gave Devan Dubnyk and James Reimer more rope than I probably should have. The latter especially can still turn his career around … but I wouldn’t be too hasty in investing in him doing it. Wait until it starts to happen; many fantasy owners were able to add Steve Mason once it was clear that he’d have a chance for a solid fantasy season, for example.
THANK YOU - Hits category: Look, I’m with the many stats-minded people who think that announcers overrate hits and blocked shots during telecasts. It’s true that to register a hit or blocked shot, the other team needs to have the puck (aside from the occasional ignored interference penalty, I guess?), so it’s hardly a stat that denotes dominance.
Still, I think hits can really enrich fantasy leagues by allowing you to add a different class of player once you get beyond the big stars. It’s reasonably common to find guys who deliver a lot of hits who also get their fair share of PIM and maybe even blocked shots or (blessedly) solid points.
The two (at least once widely available) kings of that array were probably Brandon Dubinsky (49 points, 96 PIM, 184 SOG, 230 hits and 39 blocked shots in 74 GP) and my personal favorite because of how cheaply available he was and probably still is: defenseman Radko Gudas (22 points, 152 PIM, 110 SOG, 266 hits and 135 blocked shots in 71 games [drools]). When you can fill a utility spot or fourth defenseman position with players this diversely useful, well ... *choir sings.*
FAREWELL - Shorthanded points: OK, this one’s a cheat because I’ve hated this stat category for maybe a decade. Yet, with hits presenting a solid replacement, it’s harder to make the “we need to fill the stats categories void” argument in keeping shorthanded points.
To argue how rare these things are, I used Hockey Reference’s nifty tools to see who has the most shorthanded goals (points weren’t an option) in since 2003-04. The answer didn’t surprise me: Mike Richards.
Yet in that massive window of time, Richards only managed 28 shorthanded goals and only four people have more than 20 (Marian Hossa at 26, Martin St. Louis at 22 and Antoine Vermette at 21). There are other "rare" stats that annoy people, but they are easier to come by that SHG; take a look at shutouts in the same timeframe; Martin Brodeur managed 60, both Henrik Lundqvist and Roberto Luongo have 50, three more goalies eclipsed 40 and 30 have at least 20.
THANK YOU - More exciting teams succeeding: I'm not going to lie and say that the NHL is without its scoring problems, but I must strain to recall the last time I saw a more promising-looking set of 16 playoff teams. That's especially true if the Dallas Stars make it. I'm not trying to disparage the Phoenix Coyotes as much as praise the Stars; they're a flawed team that's pretty fun and might make it to the playoffs over a team that - while more offensively capable than they've been in recent years - have become a Cinderella story by sapping out all the storybook drama out games with mind-numbing defensive proficiency and a "take it if it comes" approach to offensive creativity.
In a copycat league, I’m glad to see that there’s at least a chance that a few executives may clue-in to the notion that there are ways to win that don’t always need to involve grinding your opponents (and viewers) into oblivion.
FAREWELL - Those who lose interest in the Dose in the postseason: Thanks for reading this season. There’s no doubt that this column can get a little weird and a little wild at times, but hopefully it provides you with some diamonds in the rough, maybe a few chuckles in the morning or at least something to entertain you while you eat breakfast, pretend to pay attention in class or grumble about another day at the office. It’s been a long, fun, occasionally bewildering ride and I hope we can all do it again next season.
THANK YOU - To those who will be along for the ride in the playoffs.