Tom Wilson

PHT Fantasy: Teaming with the enemy

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If you’re a fan of the Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings, or civil correspondence, you probably think that Calgary Flames ragamuffin-forward Matthew Tkachuk is just the worst.

With that in mind, you’re probably not going to enjoy today’s advice: it’s fun and often productive to draft your most hated players in fantasy hockey.

Think of it this way. If Tkachuk helps you win your league next season, you can imagine yourself as some evil fantasy hockey baron, emitting a villainous cackle, possibly with a cigar jutting from your mouth. If Tkachuk stinks, then you can continue to despise him, and even blame your larger fantasy failings on that snotty-nosed kid who just won’t stop poking his mouthpiece outsomeone stop him.

(Now, some of you will respond: “But what if winning with villains on your team ends up souring the sweet taste of victory?” Allow me this response: [Points in other direction, runs away])

My personal villain of choice was once Todd Bertuzzi. Do note that this was vintage, All-Star Todd Bertuzzi, and not sad, sort-of-broken-down Detroit Red Wings Todd Bertuzzi.

The strange wrinkle is that a younger version of myself often picked him as a villain even before that ugly Steve Moore incident. As of today, I can’t recall what precisely rankled me about Bertuzzi before that scene; perhaps it was stubble envy?

It’s important to note that Team Villain (not to be confused with Team Putin?) works much better in leagues with PIMs, aka penalty minutes. Now, that’s not to say that every conniving-type will be sitting in the box all the time, it’s just that the Tkachuks of the world bring extra value because they can score and they can infuriate.

So far this season, Tkachuk has 13 points and 29 PIM in 19 games. Last year, he combined 105 PIM with 48 points, and the young forward happens to be part of a Flames line that dominates puck possession. (That latter point doesn’t always translate to fantasy gold … although it could if their continued strong play earns them more opportunities as time goes along.)

When you ponder the PIM-getters, it’s clear that Tkachuk is fairly rare.

[Rotoworld prepares you for the fantasy hockey week ahead]

On one hand, you have guys who can really pile up PIM and can at least secure a roster spot, but their offense isn’t always dependable. Tom Wilson is a prime example; he now has a whopping 674 PIM in 329 regular-season games, yet only 75 points. Wilson is an interesting example of how opportunities can fluctuate for pests who can play, though, as he has six points so far this season. If he can flirt with a point every game or two, then Wilson suddenly rises up the list of ruffians in fantasy.

Antoine Roussel, meanwhile, might be sliding. The Stars antagonist has generated just under 15 goals and 30 points in recent seasons, which is quite lovely when you consider his robust penalties (711 PIM in 359 games). There’s always the worry about a reduced role, and that – or bad luck – is happening in Dallas; so far he only has three points in 2017-18.

There are also stars who sneakily add mid-level PIMs. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both lose their temper often enough to rub fans and opponents the wrong way, and that seems to translate to respectable PIMs.

Still, there are only a few who score while regularly generating 100+ PIM.

Tkachuk isn’t the only “polarizing” player who’s made recent news and also possibly deserves a spot on your fantasy team.

Radko Gudas has been a buried treasure in fantasy leagues with deeper stats for some time now. Oh, and he’s also regularly making waves with … well, his worst-ness.

It makes sense that Gudas is something of an under-the-radar fancy stats darling, as he tends to fill up peripheral categories, even if his point totals are often modest. So far this season, Gudas has 57 PIM in 17 games versus just two assists, yet he fires the puck pretty frequently. With 33 SOG in 17 games, he’s close to two per night. That can help if Gudas is, say, your fourth or fifth defenseman.

[The Rotoworld Hockey Podcast ponders Carey Price’s problems]

As the stats go deeper, Gudas becomes a guy who can help you steal certain categories. He’s delivered 1,097 hits and blocked 533 shots in 286 games, via Yahoo’s handy stats. Via NHL.com’s real-time stats, since 2012-13, Gudas ranked eighth among skaters in hits, and that’s among players who often played about 100 additional games. He comes in 57th in blocked shots, and that’s again while noting that he’s missed some time.

And that’s the thing; with guys like Tkachuk and Gudas, you sort of have to pencil in some lost games. Whether it’s sitting in timeout for a bonehead suspension or getting injured because of their rugged styles, don’t draft or add/drop these guys expecting them to suit up every night.

***

If the last year or so drives any point home, it’s that sometimes the bad guys win.

On the bright side, that can come in handy. When it comes to prestige television and fantasy hockey, rooting for the antihero can sometimes be quite enjoyable.

Though, honestly, cable dramas probably should have curbed that trend after Walter White hung up his undies.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Red Wings, Flames engage in line brawl, ‘old time hockey’

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Matthew Tkachuk hasn’t even completed his second season in the NHL, and he might already have passed the likes of Tom Wilson and Brad Marchand as the league’s premier … “disturber.”

It’s no secret that he has a special ability to make people’s blood boil, with the Los Angeles Kings standing out, even if they’re far from alone. After Wednesday, you can add the Detroit Red Wings to the list of teams that simply can’t stand Keith’s rambunctious son.

Tkachuk was the catalyst or one of the catalysts for quite the wild line brawl between the Red Wings and Flames, with goalies being involved and quite the mess for the Department of Player Safety to potentially have to deal with.

Luke Witkowski might have enjoyed the carnage, but it’s reasonable to wonder if an automatic suspension is coming his way, specifically. You can see the scene in the video above this headline, and also below.

Check out the brawl from two perspectives, with one making more of a point to place blame on Tkachuk:

Yeah, that was something. Hopefully your fantasy leagues include PIMs.

For fans that want to see a rematch, well, we’ll need to see if the bad feelings can survive the statute of hockey anger limitations.

The brawl probably takes some attention away from the Red Wings absolutely drubbing the Flames by a score of 8-2. It’s been quite some time since Detroit lit up the scoreboard like this:

Via the box score, here’s how the penalties shook out (although sometimes the league will tweak these after the fact):

For all we know, this brawl and blowout could be something the Red Wings look back on if they make a playoff run.

This was the second contest of a five-game homestand, with Detroit grabbing a point in losing to Columbus in a shootout on Saturday. That’s not all: the Red Wings play 10 of their next 12 games at the swanky new digs in Detroit from Nov. 17 – Dec. 15.

Perhaps throttling the Flames and that rash of violence will light a fire under a Red Wings team that likely bristles at people who believe their best days are behind them?

As far as the Flames go … maybe this could wake some players up?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Fight: Patrick Maroon vs. Tom Wilson, a mix of MMA and boxing

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As much as opponents need to “keep their heads on a swivel” against Tom Wilson, the Washington Capitals’ heavy-hitter has to be alert in his own right.

According to Hockey Fights’ listings, Wilson engaged in his fifth fight of the season, and we’re only a little more than a month into 2017-18 as of Nov. 12. At this pace, Wilson may catch his career-high of 14 bouts from 2013-14.

Throwing so many big hits makes Wilson a big target, and in some instances, that means bringing a team’s bigger bruisers his way. Edmonton Oilers winger Patrick Maroon ended up “addressing” Wilson on Sunday; as Sportsnet’s announcers note, Maroon showed off an MMA-style takedown and then later switched to boxing in their normal fight.

Being that he’s moonlighting as a top-line forward with Connor McDavid most nights, Maroon hasn’t dropped the gloves all that often. Perhaps he decided to make it clear to Wilson who he’d need to deal with in the event that anything happens to number 97?

Either way, it’s a fairly entertaining set of skirmishes during what is, as of this writing, a grinding 0-0 stalemate between the Oilers and Capitals.

The game is currently scoreless in part because of this disallowed goal, by the way:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Video: Tom Wilson fights after his latest big hit

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Whether you view him as a dirty hitter or an aggressive player, the bottom line is that opponents must be alert when Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson is on the ice.

Tuesday provided the latest example, as Sam Reinhart got lit up by Wilson. His Buffalo Sabres teammate Jake McCabe responded immediately by dropping the gloves with Wilson.

Probably most importantly, it seems like Reinhart is OK. He returned to the action and created some plays, including making a saucy move in the third period (though he was unable to score in that instance).

You can watch the hit and the short bout in the video above this post’s headline.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Tom Wilson keeps trying to beat up the Schenn brothers

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There are probably plenty of players across the NHL that have a healthy dislike for Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson. He is physical. He is always kind of close to crossing the line. His job is to make you mad and get under your skin.

The Schenn brothers, Luke (Arizona) and Brayden (St. Louis) just might be at the top of the “we don’t like him” list given that there seems to be some sort of individual feud brewing between them and Wilson that keeps boiling over into a fight.

During the second period of the Capitals’ 3-2 overtime win against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night Wilson had yet another run-in with Luke, fighting him behind the net in response to Schenn dropping one of Wilson’s teammates, Chandler Stephenson, along the boards.

In a vacuum it’s not really that noteworthy of an incident.

Not really a huge fight and certainly not a necessary one given the circumstances. What makes it noteworthy is that this is the fourth time in his career that Wilson has dropped the gloves with one of the Schenn’s, including the third time with Luke.

If we go back to February 2016, when Luke was playing defense for the Los Angeles Kings, we see this incident where Wilson gives Schenn a shove from behind and sent him flying into Jonathan Quick.

Naturally, that led to a fight.

But there is more! If we go back to March 5, 2014 we find a line brawl where Wilson had his pick of the Schenn brothers to fight as both Luke and Brayden were on the ice for a line brawl that erupted midway through the first period.

Taking a break from actual fights, back on December 17, 2013, Wilson came flying in off the top rope and drilled Schenn into the boards on a play that left him shaken up. It did not result in Wilson fighting Schenn (he did end up fighting Nicklas Grossmann) but he was given a five-minute major for charging and ejected from the game.

Then, finally, we have the first documented incident of Wilson-on-Schenn violence when they dropped the gloves immediately off of a faceoff in a 2013 preseason game during Wilson’s rookie season.

According to the people that vote on the fight videos on hockeyfights.com (why do you vote on this?) Wilson has been a decisive winner in pretty much all of the fights except for the one against Luke when he was in Los Angeles.

If you’re curious, Wilson and the Capitals will see Luke and the Coyotes again on December 22 and then get Brayden and the Blues on January 7 and April 12.

There seems to be a good chance one of them will get into a fight.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.