After the Sentinels were demolished in week one by the Sharpshooters from Saskatoon, we bounced back to .500 with a solid second week. In the two weeks since, however, our offensive woes have been on full display. Week three saw us take four full nights of action to crack the 10-point barrier, and though we made a valiant comeback effort last week against the California Wave, our current record stands at 1-3.
Even moreso, perhaps, than our offense, we continue to be a victim of my pre-draft plan to go heavy on goaltending. As I pointed out in my last post, the theory is, and remains, sound. But things could not possibly have gone more wrong. The Sabres' Ryan Miller struggled early, and has been hurt for the last 10 days. Tuuka Rask has been relegated to almost exclusively a backup role, and Marc Andre-Fleury ... well, there's just not a whole lot to say about him. He looks nothing like the Olympian and Stanley Cup winner he was the last two seasons, and every time the Pens' coaching staff gives him an opportunity to break out of his funk, he gets shelled. I think he actually has *negative* points for the year.
During a brief three-day period when Semyon Varlamov was healthy, I was able to flip him to Edmonton for Jonathan Toews, a move that has worked out decidedly well for us certainly, but still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I guess bad luck runs in circles beyond only my squad.
However, if -- and it's a big "if" -- there's a bright spot, it comes in the form of rookies.
In just about every fantasy hockey draft I've done, I've had the most fun in the first couple of weeks of the season, as the hotshot rookies and other new players who went undrafted try to stake their claim for a lineup spot. It's a lot of speculation involved, as last-years first rounder could start on the first line out of camp, but struggle and get demoted, or worse, sent back to junior or the AHL.
As this year's fantasy waiver wire opened up, I knew I was in need of some offense, and I knew I'd probably be able to find a rookie or two who'd be able to stick. The only question was who? In a deep league like ours, the obvious names -- Eberle, Hall, Seguin ... even Kadri -- all went in the draft. So if I was to hit paydirt, it was going to be in the form of a real hidden gem.
An early stab at some defensive help -- Anaheim's Cam Fowler -- hasn't panned out. He's getting minutes, but is hardly an offensive force, even for a defenseman. After reading that P.A. Parenteau was going to be getting first-line time with Tavares with Okposo out, I jumped at him, and he's actually been solid, though has tailed off a bit of late (perhaps as a result of Schremp returning).
But I did manage to knock one out of the park -- an 18 year old kid who was drafted 7th overall (about 15 spots higher than projected) by Carolina: Jeff Skinner. Obviously, by virtue of his draft position, the 'Canes saw something in him that others didn't, and it's paying off for them, just as it is for the Sentinels. When I heard he was going to make the team out of camp, I thought about grabbing him right away, but I was concerned that he'd only stay for his 9-game audition before being returned to the OHL. But after two games, I decided that I couldn't afford not to take the chance.
As the team's leading scorer, the Hurricanes are no doubt thrilled with how Skinner has played so far. Indeed, so am I.