Allow me a brief jaunt off topic, although I’ll make some effort to tie this into fantasy hockey anyway …
I watched the NFL action fairly intently this weekend (FanDuel makes it oddly entertaining), especially when it came to the Dallas Cowboys, a franchise that once routinely tormented my beloved team and now torments my beloved friends in the DFW area.
For many, the headline-grabbing play will be a rescinded pass interference call. It’s certainly the splashier moment for headlines, and I’ll acknowledge that it was the most important moment of the Lions’ eventual, narrow loss to the Cowboys.
To me, Detroit opened up the door for Dallas by passing on a key 4th-and-1 opportunity.
It’s odd. Professional sports head coaches demand total commitment from their players, which often means fighting through incredible pain and fear. Even so, the men who ask other, younger men to fight in the trenches and confront their boogey men are often the biggest ‘fraidy cats there are.
How many times have NFL coaches meekly punted when they had a chance to put their feet on an opponent’s throat? How often are short goal line opportunities passed up for far less lucrative field goals?
The Cowboys went for it in a risky fourth down situation, and although they converted in a remarkably unimpressive fashion, they were rewarded for their courage. The Baltimore Ravens also made some bold moves, which frequently paid off in big ways.
It seems against the point of sports to try to play everything close to the vest and never take chances, but then again, I haven’t had the experience of opening up a newspaper - or, let’s face it, an Internet browser - and see my name dragged through the mud for taking a chance. More ink is spilled about calculated risks that don’t work out that sheepishly playing it safe, it seems, so I guess I kind of get it.
In fantasy hockey (and sports), it often pays to keep a cool head. You don’t want to drop Henrik Lundqvist just because he’s had a bad month.
On the other hand, sometimes it’s also profitable to be bold. For every 10 players who fizzle out - whom you can drop anyway, if such fizzling happens - there’s a Brock Nelson who bucks the trends for whatever reason.
To thinly connect the NFL and NHL thoughts, ponder this: be like a scared NFL head coach when it comes to giving up your blue chips, but be one of the very few who go for it regularly on 4th-and-short with your fringe guys.
Phew, see that, I kinda connected the two ideas. Right? Maybe?
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $20,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday's NHL games. It's just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Tuesday at 7pm ET. Here's the FanDuel link.
DUCKS 4, PREDATORS 3 (SO)
-- I was going to lead with Chicago - Dallas (these recaps don’t generally go in order of importance or anything like that, although sometimes the first one is a game that sticks out to me), but this is a public service announcement: add Mike Ribeiro already.
With his three assists on Sunday, he now has 35 points in 38 games, including five helpers in his last two contests. I know he isn't the best for peripheral stats, but as a fringe roster player, wouldn't you gladly take the strong chances of getting an assist or two each night?
It's hard to believe he's only owned in 46 percent of leagues, warts and all.
-- Maybe it's just widespread ignorance of the Predators, though. Filip Forsberg's still available in 11 percent of leagues, which I assume makes up the amount of people who are just making sarcastic teams that are only designed to fail.
(Sarcastic fantasy leagues are kind of fun in an asinine kind of way.)
-- Forsberg is the obvious winner for "player who's probably happiest that Barry Trotz is in Washington and Peter Laviolette is in Nashville," but Ryan Ellis may not be that far behind. He has one goal and three assists in his last two games, and while he's mainly borderline at the moment in most formats - the Preds have so many interesting fantasy defensemen that it's risky to get someone not named Shea Weber or maybe Roman Josi - it's an interesting sign of growth.
Also, my wife thinks he's the bee's knees.
-- Matt Beleskey has the weirdest useful statline on Anaheim, I'd wager: 41 GP, 17 goals, just five assists, +17 rating, 22 PIM, five (!) GWG and 98 SOG. A really odd jack of all trades.
BLACKHAWKS 5, STARS 4 (OT)
-- Dallas saw its four-game winning streak end. The Stars have lost all three games against Chicago in 2014-15 so far.
-- Nice run lately for Patrick Sharp, who nabbed the OT GWG and an assist. He's on a four-game point streak (three goals, two assists) with a +1 rating, four PIM and a whopping 25 SOG.
-- Brandon Saad's also playing well in recent days, scoring four points (3G, 1A) in the past five games. Overall, the 22-year-old has 10 goals and 25 points in 39 contests.
-- Fantastic effort for Erik Cole: two goals, one assist, +1, four SOG and five hits, all in just 13:50 TOI. It seems like he's finding some nice chemistry alongside Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky, as Cole has seven points in five contests. On paper, that's a pretty solid second line, and Dallas could ascend a level or two if they can take some of the pressure off of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.
CAPITALS 4, PANTHERS 3
-- Nick Bjugstad is a goal-heavy guy in the Beleskey mold so far, but that doesn't have to be such a bad thing. I think he's versatile enough to be worth a short-term add (26 percent owned), especially since there's skill there as a first-round pick coming into his own.
-- Andre Burakovsky went from healthy scratch to at least an audition with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom on Sunday. He responded with the game-winner. Honestly, I'd really dig it if Washington kept that trio together, but it seems like Ovechkin and Backstrom's partner is determined by roulette wheel at this point.
LIGHTNING 4, SENATORS 2
-- This is turning into the column where I scold people for not picking up rising performers, I think. Tyler Johnson's mostly owned, but seriously, still available in 13 percent of leagues? Nikita Kucherov (77 percent) should be snatched up. Ondrej Palat (60 percent) as well. This trio is likely to cool down to some extent, yet what part of "two-thirds of this line has more than or the same amount of points as Steve Stamkos" makes you not want to rush to the waiver wire?
-- Victor Hedman's building up steam with consecutive one-goal, one-assist games and six points in his last four contests. He was awesome in 2013-14, but the big Swede shouldn't be a secret to any half-serious hockey fan at this point.
-- Jonathan Drouin ended a five-game drought with an assist last night. He hasn't been the smash success many hoped for, but he's doing just fine for a 19-year-old and has the talent to erupt if others go cold and he gets an upgrade.
-- Matt Carle's at least rising to "intriguing" with a four-game point streak. Not saying add him yet, however.
-- Only one assist in Mika Zibanejad's last six games. It's clearly time to drop him yet still keep an eye on him in case he ignites once more.
OILERS 5, ISLANDERS 2
-- Yes, the score was misleading in this one. I'm glad you asked.
-- Ben Scrivens put forth one of those "Maybe I could be OK on a real team"-type performances.
-- Derek Roy scored his first goal as a member of the Oilers, and his second point in four games with Edmonton. Judging by his two combined SOG, I wouldn't get too excited about his fantasy potential.
BLUE JACKETS 4, AVALANCHE 3
-- Not particularly fantasy-relevant, but quite the night for David Savard. The Blue Jackets defenseman basically deserved an assist as his horrible turnover set up a Jarome Iginla goal about 30 seconds in. He then redeemed himself by scoring the game-winner for Columbus with about a minute left in the third period. Despite a solid seven goals, I wouldn't put much thought into Savard beyond "That's a pretty cool little story."
-- Honestly, I say pull the trigger on Brandon Dubinsky (60 percent owned). He scored his first two goals of the season on Sunday, extending his point streak to four games (2 G, 5A). He brings a nice mix of peripheral stats to the table, too. It seems like he's healthy, so go for it.
-- Trading Ryan O'Reilly wouldn't just end a miserable turn of events, it would also provide some interesting fantasy implications.
HURRICANES 2, BRUINS 1 (SO)
-- Someone stop Anton Khudobin, he's ON FIRE.
(He's won two games in a row to improve to 2-8-2.)
-- Even with a full overtime period, the Bruins only managed 20 shots on goal to Carolina's 36 on Sunday. The B's are pretty depressing right now. Like, "Tuukka Rask openly recommending pregame beers" depressing.
-- I imagine NHL.com's listings on the Three Stars of the Game aren't always accurate, as it would be weird if Jordan Staal as the third star for doing nothing but winning some faceoffs and delivering a single hit in almost 19 minutes of ice time. Did he get the equivalent of a participation medal for this one or something?