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Ice Chips: Week 17

January 26, 2007 | By Mike Chen | comment on this post
Forget about his spear of Sidney Crosby; New York Islander left winger Jason Blake should be lauded for his goal scoring.
With 24 goals, just four behind his career best, Jason Blake has emerged as one of the biggest surprises in fantasy hockey in the first half.

Not much in the world of fantasy hockey news since the league’s been off for nearly a week. In the meantime, let’s take a look at some fantasy pick surprises and disappointments so far this season:

Surprises

  • Jason Blake: Sure, he may have gotten more press lately because of his supposed spear of Sidney Crosby, but the big news about Blake is that the speedy forward entered the All-Star break tied for third in goals.
  • Alexander Semin: Everyone knew that Semin (“The Other Alex”) would be a great player for the Washington Capitals. No one knew, however, that he’d be on pace for 45+ goals. He’s kept pace with his buddy Alexander Ovechkin despite the lack of press, and Semin is providing a little bit of a challenge to Evgeni Malkin for the Calder Trophy.
  • Ray Whitney: At the beginning of the season, you figured that Eric Staal and Erik Cole would be leading the Carolina Hurricanes. Whitney was pegged in for a good season, probably 60 to 70 points at best. Well, we’re halfway through the season and Whitney has eclipsed the point-per-game pace.
  • Peter Budaj: Jose Theodore was given every chance to try to prove that he’s still a No. 1 goaltender. Theodore’s inconsistency, however, opened the door and Budaj was more than happy to step in. With a .911 save percentage, Budaj’s taken over the majority of the starts for Colorado and it’s not looking like he’ll be giving it the job anytime soon.
  • Chris Mason: It seems that Tomas Vokoun keeps giving Mason the opportunity to be a hero. With Vokoun out, all Mason’s done is lead the league in save percentage and create a bit of a goaltending controversy in Nashville with Vokoun’s return to the lineup.

Disappointments

  • Jonathan Cheechoo: It’s always hard to follow up a Rocket Richard Award season, but Cheechoo’s awful start had him on pace for less than half of his goal total from last season. He started to pick things up after the turn of the calendar year, but don’t expect him to get anywhere near the 56 goals he scored last year. Cheechoo will probably top out around 35, but there’s no reason why he can’t rebound next year.
  • Rick Nash: Ken Hitchcock is in the process of transforming Nash into an all-around player. That’s all well and good but that hasn’t helped Nash’s scoring which is what fantasy owners care about. This season’s a wash for Nash, but Hitchcock’s good influences should have Nash competing for the Richard Trophy next season.
  • Simon Gagne: You could blame the bulk of Gagne’s problems on two things. First, the rest of his team is absolutely awful. Second, Peter Forsberg can’t stay healthy. When Forsberg is playing to his capabilities, Gagne’s getting the puck at a regular rate. Without Forsberg, defenses key in on Gagne and — even worse — Gagne looks disinterested.
  • Milan Hejduk: Remember when Hejduk was the best goal scorer in the NHL? That was a long time ago and even though Hejduk is technically in his prime, he’s sure not playing like it. Injuries hampered his start this season, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that he’s been invisible for large chunks of the year.

Outright Disasters

  • Martin Gerber: Take one goalie with 40+ wins, add in a pre-season Stanley Cup contender and what do you get? One of the worst fantasy picks of all time. Gerber has been so bad and let in so many soft goals that the Sens can’t give him away for free. He can blame the Sens defense and their loss of Zdeno Chara all he wants; all I know is that Ray Emery has that same defense in front of him and he’s doing okay.
  • Mark Bell: How do you go from scoring 25 goals on a horrible team to possibly (at his current pace) less than 20 points for a full season on a great team? So goes the season of Bell. It’s possible that his pre-season DUI is affecting his psyche, but Ron Wilson has given Bell all of the opportunities in the world to be a great player. He just hasn’t taken advantage of any of them.
  • Todd Bertuzzi: Bertuzzi may not have fallen into this category if he had played more than just a handful of games. Part of the Panthers’ problem is consistent scoring, and seeing that Bertuzzi’s been out for most of the season, Panthers fans and fantasy owners have been beyond frustrated.

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