Fantasy Hockey Cheat Sheets: Shots on Goal leaders

While Pro Hockey Talk doesn’t specialize in fantasy hockey (our Rotoworld cousins do, though), we still think that there are areas where we can help you, the budding imaginary general managers. For that reason, we’re going to discuss different philosophies, strategies and cheat sheets as fantasy drafts begin to increase around North America.

Previous entries: Penalty Minutes, Faceoff winners.

Today’s entry: Shots on Goal.

alexosoghero.jpgWhile many people roll their eyes at the debate, I still think that Sidney Crosby vs. Alexander Ovechkin will ultimately be the “Magic vs. Bird” debate for this NHL generation. I agree that other great players such as Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin and so so on deserve a bigger piece of the spotlight, but Crosby and Ovechkin are still on the top of the mountain.

That much remains true in fantasy hockey, too, especially if you don’t choose frivolous stat categories (more on that soon). With Crosby developing into a more trigger happy player, his mixture of normal stats plus FW and SOG get him back in the No. 1 pick argument in my mind.*

* – That being said, as long as Ovechkin doesn’t suffer an off-season injury, I would take him in most leagues (especially if they are wise enough to have winger/position categories … leaving all forwards labeled ‘F’ is no fun). The logic is simple: great left wingers are a lot harder to come by than great centers. That’s another discussion for another day, though.

All that out of the way, Ovechkin’s SOG make him the No. 1 option in leagues that include that stat. His 2009-10 numbers might look tame to you compared to his previous seasons, but keep in mind he won the imaginary shooting frequency title by 20 shots even after missing 10 games in 09-10. That’s still 5.1 shots per game, which would equal 419 overall. Here are the top 10 SOG leaders from the last three seasons, with Ovechkin the clear king of that category. (Stats via NHL.com.)

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In case you want a nice snapshot of which guys are consistent SOG-heavy players, here are the players who made a top 10 list at least twice in the last three years. (This includes their rank for 09-10, 08-09, 07-08; NR means “not ranked” although they might have been as high as #11.)

Alex Ovechkin: 1, 1, 1
Zach Parise: 2, 3, NR
Jeff Carter: 3, 4, NR
Henrik Zetterberg: 4, 5, 2
Vincent Lecavalier: 8, 9, 7
Ilya Kovalchuk: 9, NR, 10
Eric Staal: NR, 2, 8
Jason Blake: NR, 7, 5

pariseandcarter.jpgExpect big SOG numbers from Parise and Carter since they’re going to be free agents after this season. Greed is good when SOG are concerned. I’ve always been a big fan of Zetterberg in fantasy hockey because he earns a ton of FW and often gains C/LW eligibility**. If he wasn’t so injury prone, so handsome and so devoted to playing for the Red Wings he’d be my hero.

** – This means you can play them at center OR left wing. Not every fantasy league allows you to do this, but players who can earn this opportunity warm my dorky heart.

My guess is Eric Staal would have contended for the top 10 if he wasn’t fighting injury problems last season. One might think that Lecavalier is primed for a minor bounce-back year merely based on the fact that he shot at a mediocre 8.1 rate last season. Jason Blake is notable for being one of those guys who only justifies his fantasy existence with SOG, but he has to be healthy to do so.

I’ll leave you with these last two thoughts: if you have the No. 1 pick in a league with SOG, just draft Ovechkin. Number two: if you are a commissioner for a fantasy hockey league, don’t make shooting percentage (or S%) a stat category. It is really dumb.

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    ‘It’s all my fault’: Mike Babcock takes responsibility for penalty box blunder

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    Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock is often regarded as the best coach in hockey, but even the best make silly mistakes sometimes.

    During last night’s game between the Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets, Babcock’s error forced his team to play an extra 1:54 shorthanded.

    Early in the third frame, Roman Polak was given a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct for boarding Oliver Bjorkstrand (Polak is scheduled to have a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Thursday morning). Instead of sending someone to the penalty box to serve the major infraction, Babcock decided to leave the box empty.

    Coaches aren’t obliged to send someone to the sin bin right away. During any stoppage in play before the end of penalty, they can send someone to finish serving the infraction. Unfortunately for the Leafs, Babcock never did.

    So when Polak’s five-minute major expired, the Leafs couldn’t simply throw someone onto the ice from their bench, they had to wait for a stoppage in play.

    Toronto players tried to ice the puck a couple of times, but that didn’t work. So finally, Brian Boyle flipped the puck into the Columbus bench to get a whistle, but not before his team spent nearly seven straight minutes shorthanded.

    They ended up winning 5-2, but they held a slim 3-2 lead at the time.

    Luckily for Babcock, his penalty killers did an incredible job, as they only allowed one shot on goal throughout the kill.

    After the game, he took full responsibility for what happened.

    “I’m doing better now, but can you imagine?,” said the Leafs bench boss, per the Toronto Sun. “It’s all my fault, me, the two assistants on the bench, two in the video room and 15 players on the bench. And we can’t get that done right? Often it happens and you just fire a guy in the box. It could have cost you. It will never happen in my lifetime again, I will never wait to put a guy in. But our penalty kill was really good.”

    PHT Morning Skate: Ovechkin will be rocking incredible custom skates for Russian Heritage Night

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    –With only a few weeks remaining in the regular season, we’re starting to get a better idea of who will be in and out of the playoffs. With that being said, The Hockey News put together a list of five players that could benefit from playing on another team. Devils goalie Cory Schneider is at the top of the list. Schneider’s been solid since joining New Jersey, but the team hasn’t had much success. (The Hockey News)

    Erik Karlsson has always been known as an offensive defenseman, but this year, he’s made several defensive improvements to his game. The changes have made him so effective that his head coach, Guy Boucher, believes he should be in the running for a Hart Trophy. (Canadian Press)

    –The Washington Capitals will be hosting a Russian Heritage Night tonight. During the pre-game warmup, Alex Ovechkin will be rocking these custom skates honoring his home land and his American home. He’ll be auctioning off the skates too. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)

    –The New York Islanders trailed the Rangers 2-1 heading into the third period, but thanks to goals by Nikolay Kulemin and Andrew Ladd, they were able to come out on top. You can watch the highlights from last night’s “Battle of New York” by clicking the video at the top of the page.

    –Vegas GM George McPhee chatted with Sportsnet’s Gene Principe about being able to build a team from scratch. McPhee called the experience “fantastic” and “really neat”. He also discussed his vision for the team and how he’s approaching the expansion draft. (Sportsnet)

    –The Detroit Red Wings have been a model franchise for quite some time, but they’ve on the verge of going through some pretty big changes. First, Joe Louis Arena will be closing its doors and secondly, their long playoff streak will be coming to an end this season. Sports Illustrated takes a deeper look at the old barn and the third-longest playoff streak in pro sports. (Sports Illustrated)

    –Many people feel like the Calder Trophy race will come down to Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine, but Bob McKenzie says there’s more than two worthy candidates because Zach Werenski has been equally good this season. But who is McKenzie leaning toward?

    Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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    Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

    McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

    With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

    1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
    2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
    3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
    4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

    As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

    Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

    The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

    Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

    Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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    Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

    Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

    McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).