Fantasy Hockey Cheat Sheets: Shot blockers

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shotblockin.jpgWhile 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, Shots on Goal leaders, Hits leaders.

Today’s entry: Blocked shots.

With this being the fifth cheat sheet, we’re finally weeding through the obscure hockey stats. One of the most “unsung” (and, frankly, insane) duties in hockey is blocking a shot. If you cannot develop at least a begrudging respect for a guy who lays down in front of a 100 mph slapper, then I don’t know if we can see eye-to-eye.

I stated before that if you need to choose hits or blocked shots as a category, go with hits. I looked at the top 10 shot blockers of the last three seasons and all 30 entries were taken up my defensemen. Hits are more of a mixed bag. Still, you might have it as a category, so here are the top 10 shot blockers of the last three seasons. Also included: their hits, goals and shots on goal to give you a quick snapshot of their overall relevance.

(I’m going to put together an “all-around” post or two anyway, but the more information the better, right?)

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My guess is Stephane Robidas might get picked up in a few more fantasy hockey leagues next year.

Two other names from 09-10 that jumped out to me were Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen. They didn’t hit the top 10 in 08-09 or 07-08, so I wonder if a coaching change indicates that they’ve been asked to block more shots. Both guys are already strong fantasy hockey defensemen, so being strong in “jack of all trades” categories can only be good for their value.

snuffoutthepass.jpgAs usual, I decided to see which players consistently ranked in the top 10 in those three years. Keep in mind, though, that Jay McKee is still looking for an NHL contract and Niclas Havelid is playing overseas.

Keith Ballard: 3, NR, 10
Greg Zanon: 4, 3, 7
Mike Komisarek: NR, 4, 1
Anton Volchenkov: 8, 8,2
Niclas Havelid: NR, 6, 6
Jay McKee: NR, 7, 9
Roman Hamrlik: NR, 5, 4

Anton Volchenkov is now a member of the New Jersey Devils, but chances are he’ll still put his body in front of high-speed shots in Newark too. Mike Komisarek could be a candidate for a bounce back year after he shared in the Maple Leafs’ collective misery last season. Keith Ballard could benefit in many areas after leaving the Florida Panthers for Cup contender Vancouver, although people felt that way about Jay Bouwmeester in Calgary last year so don’t get too dreamy. It’s great to see Greg Zanon rank highly in one fantasy hockey category since he’s widely considered to be a defenseman with considerable – but very subtle – skills.

So, those are the guys you need to look out for if your league adds blocked shots as a category. We hope you find these cheat sheets useful. Expect to see some more in the future, but feel free to tell us if there are any categories (or strategies) you’d like us to clear up.

Milbury, Jones: Tkachuk walked the walk; Kings’ response was embarrassing

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The Los Angeles Kings got revenge on Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames on the scoreboard on Wednesday. But was that 4-1 win enough?

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones provided a lengthy “overtime” segment on NBCSN that brought about some really fascinating takes on the situation between Tkachuk and the Flames versus Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings.

Watch the full video above, as it’s worth your time.

A few interesting lines if you’re (tsk tsk) skipping it:

Milbury: Believes that Doughty didn’t “do enough,” noting that star players sometimes have to stick up for themselves. On the other hand, Tkachuk showed that he can “walk the walk.”

He also gave the Kings a “C-, D+ if not worse” for their overall response. “Fight your own battles,” Milbury said of Doughty.

Jones disagreed to some extent, believing that Kings teammates won’t look at Doughty differently. But Jake Muzzin? He believes that Muzzin’s frequent defensive partner (at least over the years, maybe not this season) backing down from a fight was an embarrassment.

Spicy stuff.

For what it’s worth, Drew Doughty has one career fight (against Joe Thornton [!] in 2011-2) while Jake Muzzin’s lone bout came against Andrew Desjardins in 2012-13, according to Hockey Fights. Does that mean they shouldn’t have dropped the gloves on Wednesday? Milbury and Jones seem to believe that they should have answered the bell.

For more, check out a collection of the early violent moments and Tkachuk’s attempted shot at Doughty. The Kings win is summarized in greater detail here.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.