The fantasy puck blog is in business, finally, with a look at shorthanded scoring in the NHL.
Not too long ago, I received the following e-mail:
"The people in charge of my Fantasy Pool decided that we needed two categories for Shorthanded (one for shorthanded goals and another that is Shorthanded points in a Yahoo league) It seems if someone scored a Short handed goal they would get a point in each column. So my question is who do I need to have on my team that is going to score shorthanded goals or shorthanded points?" - Mike from Minnesota.
Mike, I was already trying to figure out a way to cover the change in penalty-killing philosophies, at least early in the season, so thank you for setting the table.
While penalty-killing has long been the domain of third-and-fourth-line checkers (see ice-time leaders below), it appears there is an increased willingness to allow the stars to take a turn on the PK.
The league's leading forwards in shorthanded ice-time per game:
Samuel Pahlsson, Anaheim (5:20)
John Madden, New Jersey (4:43)
Todd Marchant, Anaheim (4:26)
Jay Pandolfo, New Jersey (4:15)
Adam Hall, Tampa Bay (4:02)
It makes sense, given the number of penalties called in the NHL now, that teams find more ways to get their best players on the ice. It has worked for the Detroit Red Wings with superstars like Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, so there are some other teams trying that route to motivate their top players.
As a result, players like Buffalo's Thomas Vanek (from :07 on PK last year to 1:47 this year) are among those getting more shorthanded playing time. Vanek and teammate Dan Paille are tied, with Philadelphia's Jeff Carter, for the early lead this season with two shorthanded points.
Carolina's Eric Staal has been on the PK for a while, but now he's getting even more time than Rod Brind'Amour, though that may be a reflection of Brind'Amour coming off knee surgery.
In Los Angeles, Kings coach Terry Murray told the Los Angeles Times about winger Alexander Frolov, "I want to see him match up with [Michal] Handzus playing against top lines in the league. I want to see him be a good checker. I actually spoke to him after the practice and told him this is a role that would, I think, really suit him."
Pittsburgh is giving Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin a little more penalty killing time than they got last year, but it's not quite the dramatic jump that other players are getting.
In San Jose, the injury to Torrey Mitchell (and perhaps the departure of head coach Ron Wilson) has Patrick Marleau playing 2:16 per game shorthanded, up from 12 seconds per game last season. Likewise, Milan Michalek is up from 30 seconds to 1:58 per game.
Perhaps the biggest change is in Washington, where Bruce Boudreau has Russian snipers Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin threatening to go the distance shorthanded. Both of them averaged fewer than 10 seconds of shorthanded ice time per game last season and they're up over two minutes per game this season.
Other scorers that get significant penalty killing time include: Mike Richards, Philadelphia; Derek Roy, Buffalo; Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler, Vancouver; Mikko Koivu, Minnesota; Simon Gagne, Philadelphia; Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa; Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles; Patrice Bergeron, Boston and Scott Gomez, NY Rangers.
The Top Shorthanded Point Scorers Last Season:
Eric Perrin, Atlanta - 10
Shane Doan, Phoenix - 9
Patrick Sharp, Chicago - 9
Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa - 9
Rene Bourque, Calgary (with Chicago) - 7
Stu Barnes, retired (with Dallas) - 6
Antoine Vermette, Ottawa - 6
Mike Richards, Philadelphia - 6
The Top Shorthanded Point Scorers in 2006-2007:
Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay - 11
Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay - 9
Jordan Staal, Pittsburgh - 9
Boyd Gordon, Washington - 6
Before I leave this one, don't forget the Power Rankings and Player Rankings are online and the next edition of the Fantasy Hockey Report will be up on Friday!
Scott Cullen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org