Week 22: Hello, Good-Bye

.00007638. Remember this ridiculous number. 

That’s a number? Looks more like a sentence. You have no idea…

The Process

This is the second installment in my series looking back at fantasy hockey from Week 21 through the playoffs, my thinking process behind the moves I made, and the hits and misses. 

Hopefully, you can gain some insight into how these moves impacted my matchup and more importantly, how you can use my experience + analytics to help you be more successful in fantasy hockey.

Some Deets:

I think it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not necessarily the specific players that are the key here. 

The point is the thinking process. And while I can’t promise you that it’s rational, I can promise that I spend a lot of time obsessing over adds and drops in the hopes that you don’t have to. 

As for specific players to consider, again, rely on your own research, ask questions, know your team and league settings, and use the analytics from the experts. 

On Repeat

Said it before, I’ll say it again. 

Use resources like Apples and Ginos for their expertise with regard to analytics. Nate and his crew are masters at getting into the weeds and digging up the numbers and rationale to help you with your decision making. 

Ultimately, no one knows your team better than you do and you’re going to have to make the moves that you think will help you best. However, their information and insights can help stack the odds in your favor. They’ve done the heavy lifting, all you have to do is hold the door open. 

The Sitch

I entered Week 22 in 2nd Place, one point behind the league leader and one point ahead of the 3rd Place team. The Week 22 results would determine seedings for my Yahoo Public League’s playoffs which run Weeks 23-25. Obviously this was an important week because the top two teams would secure first round byes. For context, this league is “Platinum Level,” the second highest level on Yahoo, so the competition has been quite stiff this year. 

The categories in my league are pretty typical for a 12-team league and include: Goals, Assists, +/-, PPP, SOG, and Hits for Skaters and Wins, Goals Against Average (GAA), Save Percentage (SV%), and Shut Outs (SHO) for goalies.

My overall objective for Week 22 (or any week) can be broken down into four objectives:

1. Pick Up the Best Available Player(s)… 

2. that Plays the Most Games…

3. that Fits Into My Roster and…

4. that Leaves as Few Players On My Bench As Possible

Sounds so basic right? 

And yet, I know many otherwise successful managers who just pick up the best available players without regard to schedule maximization and roster management. So it’s critical that you set your lineups ahead of time before you make any potential adds/drops. This way you can see where you have holes or overstaffing issues. 

Lastly, I checked out my opponent’s roster ahead of time and was fairly confident that my team was at a disadvantage from a potential goals and assist standpoint. With that in mind, I tried to focus instead on shots, hits, and goalie categories. Sorry Nate. It was the best I could do. 

The Adds 

Bowen Byrum, Colorado Avalanche, D: O.k, I had two conflicting issues with this pickup. On the one hand, we’ve been hearing for weeks that Colorado has the best playoff schedule down the stretch with the most total games and most off night games played. So everyone, including me, has been loading up on Avs players for the playoffs. On the other hand, is the issue of rostering too many players from one team. The thinking being that if that team has an off night, you’re dead. But this IS Colorado right?… Anyway, I already have Compher, Nichushkin, and Lehkonen (insert sad face emoji here. More about that below), so adding Byrum would be pushing my luck. But I sold myself on the idea of adding Byrum from purely a schedule maximization standpoint. Colorado had Monday and Wednesday games, so my plan was to see how things went and reevaluate after Wednesday’s game. If he went bananas, I might just keep him. If not, I’d stream him out for another player.  Week 22 Stats: 1 G, 0 A, 1 +/-, 0 PPP, 2 SOG, 3 Hits

Nino Niederreiter, Winnipeg Jets, LW: Another conflicting pickup because rostering Jets players has been an historically frustrating enterprise for me. That’s my diplomatic way of saying that I’ve spent many an evening screaming out into the night whenever the Jets play. Exhibits A, B, and C: Ehlers, PLD, and the constant line shuffling in Winnipeg. But again, he was the best player available, with the most games, and who I could fit in. Plus, he’d been relatively hot and was putting up good peripherals. In a Cats League, the periphs can really be the difference makers. I picked him up at the beginning of the week as a full-week stream. Not crazy about the LW only designation so the idea of holding past the week would be highly unlikely. O.k. look, I got an A in Rationalization 101 alright. Week 22 Stats: 1 G, 0 A, -5 +/-, 0 PPP, 12 SOG, 4 Hits

Boone Jenner, Columbus Blue Jackets, C (and First Team All-NHL Best Coiffure Team): Aside from Big Boone’s cold bouffant, he’s a consistent producer and, in my opinion, an underrated fantasy player especially in Categories Leagues. He can usually be counted on for shots, blocks, and scoring outbursts. The downside is that he plays on a defensively challenged team which often translates into crushing minuses if you play in a league that counts plus/minus like mine. I’ve streamed him on a number of occasions this season with overall solid results. He was available and fit into my roster, so I picked him up after dropping Byrum on Wednesday for the Thursday, Friday. Sunday games. Obviously Byrum did not go bananas enough for my liking. Week 22 Stats: 1 G, 0 A, -5 +/-, 0 PPP, 11 SOG, 5 Hits

Ryan Hartman, Minnesota Wild, C,RW: Once again, another troubling pickup for me. Yeah, it was one of those weeks as I held my nose on so many of these adds. It went against my better judgment, and I hated myself in the morning, because I rostered Hartman late last season as a Hail Mary pickup and it did not go well. In fact, his performance helped put an end to my playoff chances as he seriously ghosted me. But as we like to say here on the East Coast…, so I picked him up with my last add hoping he’d give me at least some shots and hits. Plus, I was able to squeeze him for two games on Saturday and Sunday. Week 22 Stats: 0 G, 1 A, 0 +/-, 0 PPP, 5 SOG, 3 Hits

The Hot Potatoes 

Bowen Byrum, Colorado Avalanche, D: I’m typically not a fan of the pick up for a game or two and then drop stream. I prefer instead to pick up week-long streamers when practical. Because I think Byrum has more upside than downside, this was sort of a tough drop for me. As I mentioned above however, he didn’t go bananas enough to want to hold even with Colorado’s good schedule. Additionally, my other defensemen are Evan Bouchard, Dougie Hamilton, Eric Karlsson, and Roman Josi. I know, the struggle is real, but I spent a good chunk of the season wheeling and dealing my way to acquiring these players. Therefore, Byrum was the odd man out especially considering that he would have been on my bench for the remainder of the week. Oh, did I mention that Josi went out toward the end of the week. Dude, are you kidding me?! Even the best laid plans…

Darnell Nurse, Edmonton Oilers, D: Been a kind of meh year for Nurse, so this wasn’t too hard of a drop for me considering my other defensemen. Besides, dropping him just worked out for my weekly roster set up because he would have been on my bench. 

Nick Schmaltz, Arizona Coyotes, C, RW: So if Blake Creamer of this site and his own podcast Fantasy NHL Today has Boone Jenner and Vinnie Trochek as his bro-mates, Nick Schmaltz is mine. I’m just a huge fan of Schmaltzy and this drop was painful for me. He went out with an injury during the week and I just couldn’t afford to hang on to that uncertainty with a potential bye at stake. So under the cover of darkness, I quietly dropped him at like 2:59 am hoping no one would notice. Unfortunately, my playoffs are Weeks 24 and 25 and Arizona has a good but not great schedule during that time period so this may be the end of our bromance. I never say never with Schmaltz though. Easily one of the most underrated fantasy players…when healthy!

Artturi Lehkonen, Colorado Avalanche, LW/RW: Ugh. Don’t get me started. Please. Like so many other owners, I held on all season waiting for Lehk to become what he was becoming only to have him break a finger AFTER GOING OFF FOR THREE POINTS IN HIS LAST GAME. You just cannot make this stuff up folks. With trembling fingers, I pushed the drop button and watched him float off into the fantasy etherworld. This one hurt.

It’s the Little Things

Remember that number at the start of this piece? 

Week 22 was an absolute nail-biter for me and the results literally came down to the 1st Place team winning the SV% category over the 3rd Place team by a difference of .00007638.

Bottom line: Because of that microscopic SV% difference between the 1st and 3rd place teams and the fact that my team won the Wins, SV%, GAA, SOG and the Hits Categories, I leapfrogged into 1st Place for the season and thereby earned a first round bye. So you know what comes next right? A complete implosion in the semi’s. Kidding…I hope.

Lesson Learned: Trust yourself and your choices (just make sure you keep your fingers crossed at the same time).

As I look back at Week 22, I would have still made the moves I made. While they weren’t perfect, they worked out and were just enough (with a huge dose of puck luck) to earn a Week 23 bye. 

P.S. With a wink and a nod, I did have an alternate title to this article…

Thanks for reading and best of luck this week and for the rest of the season. 

Mike@Fantasy Hockey Professor

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