Fantasy Recap: June 7
By CHRIS NICHOLS -- SLAM! Sports
Tampa 2 Bay Calgary 1 (Tampa Bay wins series 4-3)
Hearty congratulations go out to both the Tampa Bay Lightning and to the Calgary Flames for a highly entertaining Stanley Cup Final series. Playoff ratings may have been down, but that is certainly not a reflection of the quality of the product. We should be so lucky to have Finals like this each season.
The sad thing is that this may be the last NHL game for awhile. Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow: no matter what the differences are between your two sides, you both have to realize that any lockout or strike will be disastrous to this game. Work it out guys.
In his past 17 games, Brad Richards was only held without a point three times. His seven game-winners set a playoff record and were no doubt a key in him taking home a well-deserved Conn Smythe... Nik Khabibulin was downright awesome in the third period and is clearly the reason why Tampa was able to fend off a furious Calgary assault. Khabi has erased any questions about who is the number one guy in Tampa and that is great news for fantasy owners headed into next season, as the John Grahame worries appear to be over for now... Ruslan Fedotenko scored his 11th and 12th goals of the playoffs to stake Tampa to a 2-0 lead in the game and the Lightning would not look back... 40-year old Dave Andreychuk won the first Stanley Cup of his career and he didn't ride anyone's coattails to get it; he collected 14 points in his last 17 games and his veteran leadership was important to the development of the Lightning into a winner over the past few years... Vinnie Lecavalier's success came and went in these playoffs, but this kid has serious game and he should be an 80-point player next season... Martin St. Louis was incredible during the regular season and his domination continued into the playoffs. All told, he scored 118 points in 104 games and is just another in a great line of "little guys that could" in NHL history... Pavel Kubina only had four points in the playoffs, but his contribution to this Cup win came with the bumps and bruises accumulated with all of the shots he blocked.
In the end, Jarome Iginla could not carry his team to a Stanley Cup win. When you consider that Darryl Sydor and Kubina and every offensive line on the ice were keyed in on Iggy, his five points in the Finals are quite impressive. Combine that with 22 points overall in those 26 playoff games and this guy is truly a fantasy stud. Not to take one bit of glory away from the Lightning, but Tampa has St. Louis, Richards, Lecavalier and guys that stepped up like Fedotenko and Fred Modin. Calgary has Iginla and then Marty Gelinas, who had a great playoff contribution with several series clinchers. Calgary couldn't zone in on one guy or even one line, because Tampa has great offensive depth... Miikka Kiprusoff has gone from mostly unknown to one game away from backstopping his team to Stanley Cup greatness and he should post fairly solid stats again next season. Beware of the post-Finals hangover though and keep that in mind when drafting him next season... Jordan Leopold finished the post-season with 10 points and if you need defensemen next season, look for him to reach out for a career-high 40 points... Robyn Regehr made a real name for himself in these playoffs and he actually had nine points too, but it'll be tough for him to become a fantasy stud because he doesn't tend to get ice time that leads to points. His value will likely stay in the "great in real life but not in fantasy" range, but never say never. Either way, he makes everyone around him better and huge props to him for gutting up and playing Game Seven.
Great fantasy owners are learning right up until the end, so remember this annual lesson for playoff pools: picking as many Conference Finalists as possible and landing a great sleeper pick makes the entire difference in winning and losing your playoff pool.
After the first round, I was golden. Seven of the eight teams I picked to advance did actually win. Boston's choke job against Montreal was the only fly in the ointment and that started a downward spiral. Because the lower-seeded Montreal advanced, that completely messed up my Eastern bracket and pitted my two Eastern Conference Finalist picks (Toronto and Philly) against each other in the second round instead of the third round.
Long story short: Philly was my only Conference Finals pick to make it to the third round. Detroit, Toronto and Colorado each fell in the second round.
Still, those teams combined for nine rounds of playoff hockey. Good? Sure, that's not bad. Here's where playoff pools can be won or lost though: the sleeper picks.
I told you in print before the playoffs started that Calgary should be your sleeper team and spending one pick on Jarome Iginla could pay off dividends. What happened? 22 points and 15 wins later, Calgary was that close to winning its first Cup since the 1989 season.
Ladies and gents, thanks for a great season of fantasy hockey here at SLAM!
I can still be reached for fantasy hockey questions during the off-season at firstname.lastname@example.org (Note the underscore between my names), although I won't necessarily be checking my email daily in the summer. I'll be enjoying my down time, but rest assured that before too long I'll be crunching the numbers to get you the best possible info for next year's fantasy season.
In addition to analyzing fantasy hockey for us, Chris also writes for ESPN.com's fantasy hockey section and McKeenshockey.com each season.