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Fantasy Hockey: Hello Olympic Break

It is time to take a small respite fantasy hockey fans and enjoy a drink or two as we hit the pause button on the season.

team canada hockey
team canada hockey

Feb 13, 2014; Sochi, RUSSIA; Canada forward Sidney Crosby (87) skates with the puck against Norway in a men’s ice hockey preliminary round game during the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games at Bolshoy Ice Dome. Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

For most fantasy hockey fans the next 13 days or so is a break in the schedule. Friday is day five of the break and another day closer to USA vs. Canada part one. This is just sort of a “Namaste” type of post where fantasy hockey owners need to sit back and just relax.

What happened in the first 57-60 games can be put on the shelf until the last week of February. As crazy as it sounds, over two-thirds of the season is finished. Despite all this, there is still a lot of hockey intrigue from now until April. Just think of the possibilities that could happen. Here are a few scenarios.

Head To Head Leagues

One of the best things about an Olympic year is that the break comes and then just seemingly days later the trade deadline is here. Basically there is a mere week and a half from the Carolina-Buffalo game on February 25 to the trade deadline. Granted, the trade deadline may not be quite up to what previous years have brought but you never know. The deadline is always a bit of a fantasy game changer for some.

Also, add in the fact that in most head to head leagues, there are only a few more weeks until the playoffs. For example. any league that has at least six playoff spots more than likely starts their post season in the middle of March. Realistically, after the break is like getting a final chance to make the playoffs or solidify position. Then there are the playoff weeks. Basically a six to seven week sprint is what lies ahead for the fantasy hockey owner. Everything is as fast as snapping fingers … click click click boom! Just like that, the season will be over.

Rotisserie Leagues

There will be a full six to seven weeks after the Olympics ends. With rotisserie leagues, it is all about gaining points. The trade deadline can change things simply because of changes of scenery. Timing is everything in this format. For some, the Olympic break was extremely welcome and for others the momentum built could all come crashing down.

There is one common denominator but in rotisserie leagues, poor play and injuries drive your team down faster than head to head leagues. Why? Think about it in this sense, in a month I was in one league where just two injuries and a Tuukka Rask slump dropped me from 115 points (third place) all the way to 90 points (eighth place). Then there was another league where I traded for Cory Schneider and Henrik Lundqvist ran off a hot streak and magically I rose from sixth place to a tie for first. Granted, head to head leagues can have the same peaks and valleys but with categories, swings often occur quicker.

The Inevitable Risk Of Injury

Sometimes it just happens. The Olympics bring out the best but unfortunately injuries can occur. We took a look at some of the rosters and came up with five guys that could wind up hurting your fantasy team just by playing in this international competition. I also give an InjureCon which is just a probability of injury.

1. Sidney Crosby (Canada via Pittsburgh Penguins) — There will always be a risk when it comes to Crosby not just because of the previous concussions but the way he gets into the dirty areas of the ice. As one Assistant GM put it to me, “Sid will always be Sid”. If we had to estimate a percentage, I would say around 30 percent. That is a mild InjureCon of 3/10.

2. Henrik Zetterberg (Sweden via Detroit Red Wings) — It just seems Zetterberg has battled a few more bumps, bites, and bruises than usual. The reality is players do eventually get older and break down. Zetterberg has been hurt more than usual and that is something to keep an eye on during this tournament. The InjureCon is higher at a 5/10. Update: USA Today is reporting Zetterberg is out of the Olympics with a herniated disc.

3. Pavel Datsyuk (Russia via Detroit Red Wings) — The 35-year-old has had head and lower body issues for the last couple months it seems. If you are a fantasy hockey owner, you should have concerns. He missed the first practice and made the second one. I would not be shocked at some point if Datsyuk succumbs to an injury. The InjureCon is high at 8/10.

4. Martin Hanzal (Czech Republic via Phoenic Coyotes) — Hanzal has battled the flu and a lower body injury over the last several weeks and that always makes us a bit suspicious. The forward is normally quite healthy so maybe this is just a blip. Sometimes the least expected injury is the one you could have seen coming. The InjureCon is still mild at 3/10.

5. Jaromir Jagr (Czech Republic via New Jersey Devils) — Jagr is in his 40’s and yet has the potential to finish with over 60 points for the New Jersey Devils this year. There definitely are injury concerns as the groin has been a nemesis of Jagr in the latter part of his career. How much Jagr plays will go a long way as well. Stay tuned because there is a likelihood that something could happen here. The InjureCon is likely at 6/10.

Final Thoughts

What is the greatest equalizer? Injuries. Coming back from the break, fatigue at some point will set in. Adjustments from the wide ice to the 200 x 85 will result in a slight uptick in maladies and sad fantasy owners. Add in the injuries with the decreasing amount of time until the end of the season and the craziness has only begun. If you thought the first four months was something, you have not seen anything yet.

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