OILERS FANTASY HOCKEY

Oilers Fantasy Hockey Forecast - 10/26/2010

Quick-hits, tips & tricks on who to look for in week four!

Tuesday, 26.10.2010 / 12:25 PM / Features
By Ryan Dittrick  - edmontonoilers.com
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Oilers Fantasy Hockey Forecast - 10\/26\/2010
Another week has come and gone for Oilers Fantasy Hockey and some things are becoming abundantly clear. The first, of course, is that my suggestions are only of marginal help. The second is that each and every pick is proving crucial to your weekly success.

As a responsible Fantasy Hockey player, I'm sure you knew that already. But each selection certainly goes under the scope when the team struggles; even more so when the team is getting outclassed in a number of statistical categories.

Having said all that, there have still been some players that stood out in week three. Some are standing out for good things, while others are allowing me to write more compelling reasons for you not to select that player. That's right -- it's more than a gut feeling. We'll get to that in a moment.

 


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After taking a cursory glance at the leaderboard, I quickly realized something. Some players have begun distancing themselves from the pack. Early in the game, particularly when the points are more difficult to procure given the results, this is essential.

That leads me to believe one thing: Some of you aren't paying attention to the Fantasy Hockey Forecast.

While I won't judge too harshly, I would advise that you start paying attention now. We cover information on the fly; so quick it reminds us all of a mid-90's Jarrod Skalde slapshot.

I HATE TO SAY I TOLD YOU SO...

Sam Gagner & his teammates celebrate a goal.
Faceoffs. I don't often like to begin a sentence with an intentional fragment to set a frightening tone, but this definitely seemed fitting. Last week I warned you all of the danger of selecting a centerman based on the team's struggles in the faceoff circle.

While the Oilers had an excellent night in the dot vs. Minnesota on Thursday, we got to experience the opposite extreme when the Sharks decimated the Oilers on the weekend.

For comparitive purposes, let's take a closer look at Sam Gagner's statistics for the two nights and highlight his faceoff numbers:

vs. Minnesota: Faceoff Points - (8), Total Points - (14)

Gagner's faceoff numbers were the key to a solid evening, which made him the fourth most valuable Oiler on this night, despite not recording a single point.

vs. San Jose: Faceoff Points - (-2), Total Points - (-3)

With the Oilers losing 6-1, no one had a particularly strong evening. But a -2 rating in the faceoff circle made him the least valuable, or most detrimental, player Fantasy-wise on this night.

So I'll say it again. Watch your picks at centre. The Oilers have shown some incredible inconsistency in the faceoff circle this season and it could definitely hurt your team if you're not cognisant of these extremes.

MR. RELIABLE

Ryan Whitney's presence on the blueline has been a fabulous asset for the Oilers in this young season. Not only is he eating tough minutes against top offensive opponents, but his offensive game is the catalyst for much of the Oilers' offence through six games.

Mr. Reliable, Mr. Consistency, Mr. PPG. Any will work, because they all apply. Whitney had another strong week. In two games played, Whitney recorded 19 Fantasy points in each, pushing him into the second place position with eye on goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin.

Whitney continues to rack up the assists, as he now has six in six games and is quarterbacking the team's powerplay to some excellent scoring opportunities. He's showing no signs of slowing down either, so I would advise you to get him into your lineup this week if you haven't already.

Given that both are playing heavy minutes and are partnered together, it wouldn't be a bad idea to take a close look at Kurtis Foster too. Foster comes in at half the price and could potentially match or even exceed Whitney's weekly numbers. Foster had a week of extremes himself, as he put up 22 Fantasy points vs. Minnesota but struggled with only five against the Sharks.


THE DARKHORSES

Ales Hemsky could be poised for a breakout week.
You've probably noticed that there's been a lack of Ales Hemsky talk on the Fantasy Hockey Forecast through the first few weeks. No, that's not an accident. I'm well aware of his abilities and tendencies to break out at any moment.

And that's why we're talking about him now. Hemsky has had a solid start to the season, although his numbers and overall play could be improved. Historically, the adjustment to new linemates has been a challenge early in seasons for the dynamic forward. It appears to be the case now, but the "gut feeling" of the day says to pick Hemsky.

As we stick with the theme if historics, Hemsky has recently had breakout games on the road to begin the season as well. While the Oilers have already completed a road trip, this will be the longest at three-games and will bring about the greatest challenges thus far. This could very well be Hemsky's time to shine.

If you want to pick someone that has shown flashes of breaking out, then look no further than Taylor Hall -- who, unfortunately, is still in search of his first NHL goal. But over the course of a week Hall was able to make a greater candidate for this role. He played his best game on Thursday vs. Minnesota and came inches away from sealing his first goal in epic fashion. Sooner or later, those inches will become goals and the feeling is that it will happen soon.

Both Hemsky and Hall are investments for your lineup, as they each have $4 million cap-hits to contend with. But if you're looking for prime candidates to have breakout games on this road trip, these two are your best bets.

THE MASKED MEN

Selecting a goaltender early in the Fantasy Hockey season has been easy. Nikolai Khabibulin has been the team's MVP and has provided some excellent production for all players.

Now comes the challenge. We have three games on this road trip and head coach Tom Renney has hinted that all three netminders may get an opportunity to play. The most valuable advisory that I can provide is to keep a close eye on the pre-game information. Don't set your lineups too soon, as the goaltender for a particular game may not be declared until we get closer to puck-drop.

There are a number of ways to say informed. Follow us on Twitter or keep a close eye on our game previews which include a full report from the morning skate. All the information you could need is there for you. So before setting your lineups, use these tools to say informed on any potential lineup changes.

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THE SLIM2001 SHOUT-OUT SECTION

Alliteration aside, this is definitely becoming a reoccuring theme. It was a pretty close race last week, but the increased separation most certainly indicates the need for smart picks in a week of losing hockey. slim2001 did just that and now has a commanding 69-point lead. Of course, "commanding" is loosely used, but his efforts so far have shown no signs of slowing. Everyone else: Pick it up!

Author: Ryan Dittrick | edmontonoilers.com

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