Frozen Fantasy: Plumbing Problems

There's nothing worse than a man with plumbing problems. You men are proud – you don't want to talk about those kinds of things. You think you can handle them on your own. But sometimes, those problems are put on full display. And on national television, no less.

Just ask Roberto Luongo.

Luongo left Saturday's game bent over at the waist and clutching his southern hemisphere. You see, it seems his groin went twang when it should've sang after he made an early whip save.

Plumbing – it lets you down at the worst times.

Plumbing is usually super reliable. You don't even think about it until something goes wrong. And when that problem does happen, it's never something small – it's almost always big and it's certainly traumatic.

Luongo is the best netminder in the league. And he's the best goalie in fantasy. And like Martin Brodeur before him, he has been super reliable for his on-ice – and fantasy – owners alike.

Until now.

Luongo has a plumbing problem and fantasy owners are traumatized. Some of you are even in the fetal position. The fix is bloody expensive – it's not like there are stud goalies lying around on the waiver wire. You have to decide if you can just put your finger in the dyke and pray, or if you need to make an expensive move for help.

Let's take a look at some of your options in net and a few others who might help at different positions.

Tomas Fleischmann, RW, Washington (4-percent owned) – Fleischman is a skilled Euro who broke my heart last year. You see, I thought he would break out so I touted him as a sleeper. That didn't work out so hot. Fast forward to this season and he finally seems to be putting two and two together … to the tune of a three-game point streak heading into action Friday night and seven points in his last seven. His consistency level is much improved and he gets time on the Caps' power play. Can you spell points?

Mark Giordano, D, Calgary (1-percent owned) – Despite a promising rookie season, Giordano bolted overseas before last season after the Flames refused to guarantee him a one-way ticket to the NHL. He's back this season and is flashing the same skill set that caught my eye in 2006-07. He handles the puck well and can orchestrate the Flames' transition game. And he has three points – including two goals – in his last four games and 10 points in 23 overall. That's a 35-point pace for a guy overlooked by most Yahoo! owners. Thirty-five points and about 50-60 penalty minutes can help your squad.

Cristobal Huet, G, Chicago (66-percent owned) – The Bulin Wall has a plumbing problem, just like Roberto Luongo. OK, it's not a big problem like Luongo's but it's plumbing none-the-less. So it's the five-and-a-half million dollar man – Cristobal Huet – who'll try to reclaim his crease. After all, Khabibulin stole the spotlight with his outstanding play early this season and Huet has been stapled to the pine. Huet does a great job of smothering shots to the lower part of the net and absorbs them instead of allowing juicy rebounds. He could go on a quick run and if he does, he might be able to show the Hawks they really can trade Khabibulin. Check the wire – he's available in one-in-three leagues. Sure, it's speculative. But you never gain if you always play it safe.

Jason Labarbera, G, Los Angeles (9-percent owned) – Barbie started the Kings' first 10 games and then game way to Erik Ersberg for 10. Then along came Tuesday against Calgary – arguably the Kings worst effort this season – and he was pressed back into action in relief. He got the start and the win Wednesday in Edmonton and his outstanding work ethic might just net him more starts. Remember – he can get "holey" when forced to make fast lateral moves so shooters will soon try to exploit it. But if you're suffering from a pulled groin or a tight … you know, I think you need to take a chance on this plastic doll.

Ryan Malone, LW, Tampa Bay (22-percent owned) – Overrated – that's the word I used in the preseason to describe Malone and he has lived up to (or down to) my every expectation. But he can be impressive in short bursts and he's in one now. Just be ready to bail as quick as you jumped on. Too bad the Bolts can't do that, too.

James Neal, LW, Dallas (1-percent owned) – Neal is no Brenden Morrow. But he is a rugged winger with smart two-way skills and a rocket wrister. And he comes off the wall like a runaway train. He's worth monitoring; after all, he was the game's first star Wednesday night after he potted two goals. He'll be erratic – he is young after all. But he's really clicking on the Stars' new number one line with Loui Eriksson and Brad Richards. And that spells points for Mr. Neal. Keep your eye on him.

Kyle Quincey, D, Los Angeles (6-percent owned) – Quincey illustrates the scouting talent in the Red Wings organization. He was thought to be a defensive guy; that was until he hit La-La-Land where he has eight points in 12 November games and 11 in 18 games overall. Ya, I've mentioned him before but I'd be crazy not to again. You just don't get that kind of production every day.

Curtis Sanford, G, Vancouver (33-percent owned) – I've never thought much of Sanford but he has strung together three straight wins while Roberto Luongo sits with ice on his crotch. He's never been a reliable, long-term option between the pipes and I don't expect that to change now. If you pick him up, you have to nab Cory Schneider, too. Schneider has the real talent and won't hesitate to swipe starts should Sanford swoon.

Cory Schneider, G, Vancouver (5-percent owned) – Schneider has all the makings of a future stud and he's going to get a shot to flash his talents with groin boy out for weeks. Curtis Sanford has started hot but Schneider can easily overtake him. He's a short-term play – Roberto Luongo is still the man in Orca Land. But he's worth stashing for that eureka moment when the Canucks realize Sanford's puck-stopping abilities are, well, "limited."

Trade Target

Marty Turco, G, Dallas (95-percent owned) – I knew Marty had – in a word – sucked this season. But I hadn't realized just how bad he was until I started searching for him in the Yahoo! player database. As of Thanksgiving night, Turco was last in Yahoo! goalie ratings. Yes, he's the worst goalie on the planet – not only is he the NHL's most brutal twine tender but he's even rated below almost 70 minor league netminders who aren't even Yahoo! fantasy eligible! Quite frankly, you'd be better off sticking an inflatable doll between your pipes and blowing it a kiss than rolling this stiff. However, we just need to take a deep breath and remember he's not really this bad. It's then when we'll realize his owners will be frustrated – perhaps despondent – about the Stars' future now that Brenden Morrow has blown his knee. Buy low, my friends, buy low. And throw in that inflatable doll as a topper. Turco has nowhere to go but up. And you can reap the results.

Trade Him … Quick!

Mike Ribeiro, C, Dallas (79-percent owned) – Find yourself a sucker – any sucker will do – and trade this whiner to him (or her) quick. Ribeiro is doomed without his bunk buddy, Brenden Morrow, who is now out for the year. Without Morrow, Ribeiro goes from being a point-a-game guy to barely a 60-point player. And 60-point centers have little-to-no place in Yahoo! leagues, especially ones who'll only get about 40-42 more points in their next 60-plus games. If you don't dump-trade him fast, you'll have no market at all.

Back to plumbing. And its problems.

Somebody has to start talking about plumbing – goalies (and skaters, for that matter) around the league are dropping like flies because of problems in the southern hemisphere. And a lot of them are the elite players. That hurts – literally and figuratively.

There's Luongo, Evgeni Nabokov, Marc Andre Fleury and Nikolai Khabibulin. And don't even mention the name Marian Gaborik to me. Don't do it. I mean it. You won't be pleased by what you get back.

Groin injuries have always happened in hockey. But they have become as typical as the common cold in today's players. Is it overtraining that's causing this? Bad ice, maybe?

All I know is this – I'm tired of waiting on the plumber to bring me satisfaction. Pull up your jocks, I say. And maybe wear a girdle.

Until next week (and happy Thanksgiving weekend).

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