NHL

Matchup 2 Recap – Super Disco Breakin’

October 15, 2018

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Well it didn’t take long for the injuries to start hitting our players. From established fantasy stalwarts like JVR, Getzlaf and Perry, to young stars like Pettersson, Patrick and Tuch, this season is proving that you need to be quick on the pickup in free agency.

When replacing an injured player, it’s worth looking at who is replacing them on the depth chart. In Anaheim for example, injuries to Getzlaf, Perry, Kase and Eaves have decimated their forward lines, meaning that players like Max Comtois, Andrew Cogliano, and Ryan Kesler are getting huge minutes and prime power play usage.

Wait, Ryan Kesler is back? Huh. More about him below.

Matchup Recap

Boy did Jace ever lose a heartbreaker, as an empty net goal from Kyle Connor in the last Sunday game put Cal on top. Without that goal, Jace would have won by less than a point! Instead he drops to 0-2, while Cal moves to 2-0. Joining him in the undefeated club is Rhys, Sohayl and Brett, while Brock, Brennan and Davin join Jace in the basement.

Congrats to Kyle/John, who won their first matchup with a monster performance over Chris. Both teams join Frank and Steve at 1-1 on the season.

Player of the Week

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Ryan Kesler is a fascinating study as a fantasy player. He’s never been a true 1C in his career, playing behind Henrik Sedin in Vancouver and Getzlaf in Anaheim. He had two monster years with 75 and 73 points, but hasn’t cracked 60 since 2011.

Last year was a disappointment for Kesler, collecting only 14 points in an injury-shortened 44 game season, and there was some question how long he’d be out to start this season. Some speculated he’d be out until Christmas, and one wonders if the Ducks had fewer injuries if that’d be the case. As it stands he made his season debut this past week, and he’s in that 2C role behind Adam Henrique.

Kesler is also centering the Ducks second power play unit, and averaging almost 19 minutes a game. One wonders how long he can sustain that amount of time considering he’s 34, and just come back from significant surgery.

For fantasy owners he’s probably best used as a short term pickup to fill an injured players spot. And he does come with one bonus: the Ducks play the most off-night games (that is, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday), which can make him just that much more valuable.

Matchup Precap

We’re going to see the standings spread out this week, as our undefeated teams are all facing off together. Cal takes on Rhys, and Brett faces off agains Sohayl. Jace and Brock are both looking for their first wins of the season against Kyle/John and Chris, respectively. One of Frank and Steve will move to 2-1 after this week, and we will see one less basement dweller as Davin takes on Brennan.

NHL

Matchup 1 Recap – It Takes Some Time to Build

October 8, 2018

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As we know, the first matchup of the season is rife with opportunities to panic. It’s important to keep some perspective – your goalie is going to make saves, your star winger will score a bunch of goals, and no, you shouldn’t drop that  first line center to pick up *squints* Warren Foegele just because he had a 3 point night against the Rangers.

However, there are a few things that we’ve noticed already this season. The adjustment to the scoring has created more swings between games, with players hitting more dramatic highs and lows. Goalies especially are susceptible to these swings, as evidenced by Marc-Andre Fleury’s -4.3 stinker against Philadelphia to open the season. Overall the breakdown between skaters and goalies is a little wonky, but don’t forget that scoring is higher during the beginning of the season when teams haven’t tightened up their defensive schemes.

Matchup Recap

It was a nailbiter between Jace and Chris that came down to a single assist from Jake Muzzin late Sunday night to give Chris the victory. Brett, Sohayl, Steve and Rhys all won pretty convincingly over Brennan, Frank, Davin and Kyle/John respectively. Finally, we saw our defending champion Brock fall to our basement dweller Cal – could this be a sign that things are going to be shaken up this season?

Player of the Week

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We’re debuting a new segment this year, focussing on one high performing free agent from the week.

Jordan Martinook has taken a slow, methodical route to becoming an NHL regular. Hailing from Brandon, Manitoba, Martinook went from the Drayton Valley Thunder of the AJHL to the Vancouver Giants in the WHL, where he put up a surprising 64 points in the 2011-2012 season. Following that breakout season he was chosen in the late second round of the 2012 Draft by the Coyotes, and spent most of the next 3 seasons playing for Arizona’s AHL affiliate in Portland, Maine.

Martinook became a full-time NHLer in 2015-2016, and had two straight seasons of 3rd and 4th line work, playing a little over 15 minutes per night and collecting 24-25 points per year. His 2017-2018 season was a disappointment however, as his shooting percentage cratered and his icetime was cut, ending the season with a mere 15 points in 81 games. In the offseason we was traded to Carolina for Marcus Krueger, a trade that seemed like both teams looking to rid themselves of players that desperately needed a fresh start.

So far this has been a phenomenal move for Martinook, who has started the season with 2 goals and 1 assist in the first 3 games. He’s been moving up and down the lineup, getting playing time with Jordan Staal and Justin Williams, as well as with young Russian phenom Andrei Svechnikov.

He’s not likely to be a permanent piece of your team, but he’d be worth a look when you need to pick up a left winger to round out your roster.

Matchup Precap

With the Thanksgiving/Columbus Day starts, we’re already well into this week’s matchups. We’ve got Brock and Rhys facing off in a replay of last year’s championship series for bragging rights as well as Brennan-Sohayl, Jace-Cal, Steve-Brett and Davin-Frank. Finally, Kyle and John and looking for their first victory as they take on Chris, who just barely squeaked by Jace this week.

NHL

State of the League Address 2018-2019

September 29, 2018

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It’s year 4 of the Bottom of the Pacific Fantasy League, and I’m stoked to bring you this year’s info. Let’s get to it.

Managers

11 of the 12 managers from last season are returning this year. Brett R has decided to bow out, and I want to take a quick second to thank him for being such an integral part of the league. Brett has been around for several years, and we’ll miss him.

Taking over his team is our first duo, Kyle and John. They are the Sales team at my company, and it took them all of eight seconds to start trash talking me. I think they’ll be a formidable team.

Keepers

As you know, we’ve bumped the number of keepers to 8 this year. I was interested to see how the free agent pool would look with the increase, but it’s actually pretty stocked. There’s a lot of pretty great players available in the first couple rounds, including a couple of “wait, how was that guy not a keeper?” options.

Playoffs

We are keeping the same playoff format with six teams making the playoffs, and the top team in each division getting a bye through the first round. The next four teams are seeded and play each other, with the winners moving on to play the division winners, followed by the championship round.

Rosters

As you can see, there’s been some roster changes. Let’s go through them:

4 LW
4 C
4 RW
5 D (was 6)
2 G
4 BN (was 6)
3 IR

23 total non-IR slots (was 26)

We’ve decided to add a third IR slot because a number of use ran into situations where there were more than two valuable players that were injured on our roster, and ultimately we don’t think that we should be penalized for injuries happening in real life. We have reduced the number of defenseman slots because, frankly, there’s just not enough valuable defensemen in the league, especially once injuries start happening.

Finally, we are reducing the bench slots from 6 to 4 for two major reasons. First, it releases 24 additional players into free agency which has been pretty slim pickings lately. And secondly, we hope this will spur on trades a bit more because you won’t be able to stash as many players on your bench.

Trading

As established last season, all trades must be approved in the system by the Commissioner or a member of the Executive Committee before they go through. Draft picks can be traded at any time, but they are kept track of outside the ESPN platform. You can trade any combination of picks and players, with the only stipulation that there must be an equal number of picks going both ways.

Scoring

Skaters
Goal: +3.5 (was +3)
Assist: +2.5 (was +2)
Faceoff Won: +0.1
Faceoff Lost: -0.1
Shot on Goal: +0.2
Short Handed Point: +1

So the big deal here is that we’ve eliminated the Power Play Point and Penalty Minute categories. Penalties are pretty obvious – no one likes them, and they’re pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But the Power Play Point was hotly debated in the Committee, and eventually we came to consensus: it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to give a bonus point on a goal or an assist that is scored 5v4 or 5v3, which is much easier than scoring 5v5. The best players will still tend to get power play time anyway, which increases their chances of scoring goals and assists.

The Short Handed Point bonus remains though, since it’s harder to score 4v5 than it is at full strength or on the power play.

To balance out the points lost by removing the PPP, we’ve increased both goals and assists by half a point each.

Goaltenders
Game Started: +1
Win: +1 (was +3)
Goal Against: -1.5 (was -1)
Save: +0.2 (was +0.1)
Shutout: +3

All five categories for Goaltenders remain, but they’ve been rebalanced to reflect better on how goalies actually are performing. The biggest change is that we’ve reduced the value of a Win from 3 to 1. Why? Wins are more of a team stat, because it relies on the skaters scoring goals. We’ve also increased the value of Saves from .1 to .2, and Goals Against from -1 to -1.5. This actually makes it easier for our goalies to catch up, as it takes 7.5 saves to negate a goal allowed compared to 10 saves this season.

This will help good goalies that are stuck behind bad teams most of all. Take a guy like Robin Lehner, who is a career .917 goalie but because he’s in Buffalo, he can’t get a win to save his life. Under the new system, his points earned will be much more reflective of his actual skill.

Despite all the changes, the breakdown of points earned by Skaters/Goalies remains pretty close to the 90/10 split that we currently have. My estimation has goalies worth slightly more currently, closer to 10.5-11, but not so much it throws our balance out of whack.

See you at the Draft!

NHL

Matchup 20 – Oh My Sweet Carolina

February 26, 2018

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It’s trade deadline day in the NHL, and while James Duthie is going his best to fill airtime, we’re looking at playoff scenarios and who still has a shot at the playoffs.

Also keep in mind that each of the non-playoff teams are entered in the consolation bracket to decide final rankings. In the interests of fair play, I’d remind everyone that we require all teams to set rosters in the last few weeks to give everyone a fighting chance.

Matchup Recap

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We had two tough losses for playoff-chasing teams, as Brett D lost a squeaker to Rhys and Steve couldn’t match Chris’ firepower.

The biggest game this week came right down to the wire, and Brock came away with the victory to pull himself up the standings. What does this mean? Let’s look at it below.

The other games went as expected – Jace beat Davin, Sohayl beat Cal, and Brett R pulled off his fifth victory of the year against Brennan.

Projected Playoff Bracket

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With just two weeks left, we can now start gaming out all the various possibilities.

#1 Sabretooth Chickens (17-3) – bye
#2 Jean Claude Van Damphousse (14-6) – bye

#3 Phantom of the Pacific (12-8) – #6 Bo Knows Hockey (11-9)
#4 Frank the Tank (12-8) – #5 Fists of Fuhry (12-8)

The team rundown went over gangbusters last week, so lets go through it again.

Sabretooth Chickens (16-3)

Last week Chris was in the playoffs with a lock on the first round bye, and nothing has changed.

Jean Claude Van Damphousse (14-6)

His win this week and Frank’s loss has essentially locked in the bye for Sohayl. Sohayl owns the tie breaker with head-to-head record against Frank, so he’s now just cruising to the end of the season.

Phantom of the Pacific (12-8), Frank the Tank (12-8), Fists of Fuhry (12-8)

These three teams are, at this point, relatively comfortably in the playoffs. As all are one game up on Brock and two games up on Brett D and Steve, there’s not much room left to catch them. If any of these teams win one of their two remaining matchups, they’ll be in.

Thus, matchup opponents come into play here. Rhys and Frank are probably going to win this week as they are facing teams already out of the running, while Jace is matchup up against Brett D, who is fighting for his life.

Bo Knows Hockey (11-9)

As it stands right now, Brock owns the final playoff spot outright without having to go to tie breakers. Brock’s win over Frank this week was absolutely huge, and facing Brett R this week leaves Brock in a great position to put more distance between himself and Brett D and Steve.

Connor’s Cup (10-10), Going for the Calder! (10-10)

For these two teams, it’s simple: win or go home. Any losses in the next two weeks and they’re out. But both have a clear path to the playoffs.

Steve would lose tiebreakers against Jace, Frank and Brock, so he needs virtually all of these matchups to break in the right direction if he wants to make it:

  • Rhys has to lose against Brennan this week and against Steve next week
  • Brock has to lose against Davin this week and Brett D next week
  • Brett D has to lose against Jace this week

If any of these flip the other way, Steve is looking at the consolation bracket.

For Brett D, his path is a lot more straightforward: win this week against Jace, and win next week against Brock. That final matchup is looking like the pivotal one to decide who goes forward and who goes home.

Matchup Precap

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So as we wind this down, there are a couple of pivotal matchups we’re watching. First, Brett D (10-10) needs to beat Jace (12-8) to keep his playoff hopes alive. Steve (10-10) needs to beat Brett R (5-15) and he’ll also be watching to see if Brennan (4-16) can beat Rhys (12-8) to keep Steve’s playoff hopes alive. Brock (11-9) will be facing off against Davin (4-16) to lock in his playoff spot, while Frank (12-8) is facing Cal (9-11). And while it won’t affect any of the playoff seeding, I’ll be closely watching was could be a preview of our final, as Chris (17-3) takes on Sohayl (14-6).

NHL

Matchup 19 – No Disguise

February 19, 2018

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We’re solidly in the final stretch of the regular season, and the playoff race continues to change and fluctuate every single week. We’re talking a lot about the playoffs later in this post, but it’s becoming increasingly possible that we’ll end up with the final spots determined by tie-breakers. Let’s recap the list of tie-breakers:

1 – Overall record
2 – Head-to-head record
3 – Overall fantasy points
4 – Division record
5 – Overall points-against
6 – Coin Flip

It’s unlikely we’d get passed the third tie-breaker since we go to decimal places, but heck, stranger things have happened.

Matchup Recap

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Best Forward: Nikita Kucherov 26.8 (Cal)
Best Defenseman: Dougie Hamilton 19.2 (Steve)
Best Goalie: Antti Raanta 24.3 (Free Agent)
Best Individual Performance: Nikita Kucherov 12.2 (Cal)
Best Team Performance: Jean Claude Van Damphousse 215.9

It was another disappointing loss for the second best team in the league this week, as Brock’s terrific 192.4 point performance wasn’t particularly close to enough to beat Sohayl.

Convincing victories were put up by Steve, Frank and Brett D or Cal, Jace and Brett R respectively, but we had a couple of nailbiters. First, Davin just about put away Rhys before faltering on Sunday, and we just about had the biggest upset of the season as Brennan just about pulled off the upset over Chris.

Projected Playoff Bracket

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If the Playoffs Were Today

This weeks matchups have clarified the playoff picture a bit, and are giving us a clear indication of what scenarios could happen in the final three weeks.

#1 Sabretooth Chickens (16-3) – bye
#2 Jean Claude Van Damphousse (13-6) – bye

#3 Frank the Tank (12-7) vs #6 Connor’s Cup (10-9)
#4 Phantom of the Pacific (11-8) vs #5 Fists of Fuhry (11-8)

In the Hunt

#7 Bo Knows Hockey (10-9)
#8 Going for the Calder! (10-9)

Even though he’s sitting just 9-10, we’re going to remove Blades of Glory from the playoff conversation. It’s clear based on his firesale at the deadline that Cal has turned his sights on next year’s draft, so that helps to narrow our focus in this section. So now with just three matchups to go, what do we know about each team?

Sabretooth Chickens (16-3)

Chris is in the playoffs and has a lock on the first round bye. Easy peasy.

Jean Claude Van Damphousse (13-6), Frank the Tank (12-7)

Sohayl looked like he was cruising to the first round bye, but Frank is now just a single game back. Sohayl is facing Cal (9-10 but tanking), Chris (16-3), and Brett R (4-15) in his final matchups, so we can reasonably predict he’ll win two of those three. If he wins all three, he’ll lock up the first round bye. If he wins two, he’s still sitting okay as he’s beaten Frank in both their head-to-head matchups this year, so he takes the tie-breaker. But if Sohayl loses two of his last matchups, he leaves the door open…

So here’s Frank’s path to the bye: he has to win all three remaining matchups, hope Sohayl loses twice, and he’s looking at Brock (10-9), Cal, and Chris (16-3). That’s some tough sledding. Frank is pretty close to locking up a spot (a win this week against Brock will probably do it), but it could come down to the final week against Chris.

Phantom of the Pacific (11-8), Fists of Fuhry (11-8)

Jace and Rhys have a one game buffer over the remaining contenders, with Jace holding the higher seed due to winning both head-to-head matchups this season. Jace also appears to have the easier schedule; both have matchups against Brett D (10-9) and Brennan (4-15) remaining, while Jace plays Davin (4-15) this week while Rhys finishes up the season against Steve (10-9).

Ultimately for these teams, any two wins (but especially against Brett D) should be enough to lock up a playoff spot.

Connor’s Cup (10-9), Going for the Calder! (10-9), Bo Knows Hockey (10-9)

And this is where it gets fascinating. If all of the teams ahead of them take spots as currently stands, Brett D, Steve and Brock will be competing for the final playoff spot. And it’s interesting to look at their remaining schedule, because there are very different paths to victory.

For Brett D, he’s looking at a brutal schedule facing Rhys, Jace and Brock who are all trying to lock up playoff spots. But in adversity, there is blessing – because he’s playing teams that he’s trying to chase down in the standings, a win for him means a loss for his rivals. It’ll also be important for tie-breakers, as he’s 0-1 against both Rhys and Jace, and 1-0 against Brock. And if it comes down to fantasy points as a tie-breaker, it’s going to be tight – all of Rhys, Brett D, Jace and Brock sit within a 56.8 point window, which can easily be made up over the final three weeks.

Brock faces Frank (12-7), Davin and Brett D to finish the year, and he has an interesting position in his division. Brock is just one win behind both Rhys and Jace, but he owns the head-to-head tie-breaker against Rhys while Jace owns it against him. For Brock, he’ll be cheering hard against Jace in hopes of making up ground and sitting with the best tie-breaking options. Ultimately Brock needs at least two wins if he hopes to crack the playoffs, with that season-ending matchup against Brett D looking like it’s going to be vitally important for seeding. Lots at stake with that one.

Steve has arguably the toughest route to the final spot. He has matchups against Chris, Brett R and Rhys remaining, and he’ll need to pull off at least two wins in order to have a shot – it’s looking like a win against Rhys would be necessary to having a hope of making it in. If it comes down to tie-breakers, Steve lags behind in fantasy points and has split the head to head matchups with most of the teams he’s chasing…except Rhys. Going up 2-0 against Rhys could be the difference between going on and going home.

Matchup Precap

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As promised, we’ve got some dynamite matchups this week to determine playoff seeding. Brock (10-9)  takes on Frank (12-7), Rhys (11-8) takes on Brett D (10-9) and Chris (16-3) takes on Steve (10-9) in the most compelling competitions. We also have Sohayl (13-6) looking to solidify his bye against Cal (9-10), Jace (11-8) against Davin (4-15), and Brett R (4-15) against Brennan (4-15) in the battle of the basement.