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50MC’s 2010-2011 Fantastic Fantasy Forecast: Jakub Voracek

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50MC’s Fantastic Fantasy Forecast is a series of articles based on the season outlook of carefully handpicked NHL hockey players. To view a complete listing of 2010 forecasts, click here. For last season’s “fearless” archive, click here.

Jakub Voracek is a stud. Not only did he help me win the first ever DobberHockey World Junior Championship pool in 2008; he has good speed, great skill and a gigantic set of curly blonde locks. Most importantly, he is entering his third full season in the NHL and if not poised for a breakout season, an improvement of his 50 point season is inevitable.

Last season, Voracek had a very good sophomore season scoring 16 goals and 50 points, which was an improvement of 38 points from the season prior. Although there were a few inconsistent points during the season, there was no major sophomore slump, which is impressive for any 21 year old player coming into the league. His most impressive period of the season was right after the Olympic break, where he scored 15 point in 13 games, showcasing what he is capable of.

His 50 point campaign was mainly completed playing tertiary minutes. He played most of the season with Derrick Brassard and RJ Umberger on Columbus’ second line. Although there are early training camp reports that he is clicking well on the first line with Rick Nash and Antoine Vermette on the top line, he is likely to start the season on that same line with Brassard as his center. Brassard had a disappointing 36 points last season, but is still capable of distributing the puck and keeping up with Voracek’s skillset.

What is more exciting for the Blue Jackets and fantasy owners is that on the other wing on the second line should be Nikita Filatov. It sounds like the 2008 1st round pick is finally ready to make the leap to the NHL and if so, it could mean a major boost for scoring depth in Columbus. No offense to RJ Umberger, but Filatov is more of a goal scorer and a dynamic skater who would compliment Voracek better.

There is no doubt that Voracek will see time with Rick Nash during point of the season. This fact alone boosts his point total by a few, and if he sticks on his line, then the sky is the limit for him. But for now, I will project him as a second line winger with occasional time on the top line.

Another factor that is surely to boost Voracek’s and the rest of the Blue Jackets’ numbers is a coaching change. For years, fantasy fanatics were in a rage at the defensive style of Ken Hitchcock. Well, Hitchcock is out and Scott Arniel is in. Arniel’s first order of business is to open up the ice and let his skilled players go to work. This is not just music to fantasy owners’ ears, it’s like if ears can eat, they would be shoving cake in there. The Jackets have a solid set of 6 top forwards with a tremendous amount of skill, who have been somewhat hampered over the years by Hitchcock’s defense-first style. With Hitchcock as a “special advisor” to the team, there will still be some defensive mindedness, but with Arniel at the helm, offensive push will become more of a priority.

Okay, so let’s review: Great hair, unreal skill, top 6 forward on a team that includes Rick Nash that will focus more on offense. Taking all this into consideration, 50MC Fantastically Forecasts 23 goals, 36 assists for 59 points in another season of improvement for Voracek. The 60-point plateau is definitely attainable for Voracek, but do not draft him banking on it. His has an upside of 75+ points, but he is still young, learning a new system and still battling some depth issues on a talented team. The Hockey News believes Voracek will finish with 66 points this season, while Forecaster is on board with 69. I think that is a tad high, considering that he may not get topline minutes and Rick Nash led the team in scoring last season with 67 points.

Hope this helps.

Anyways, thanks for reading. Stay tuned for more as the season is just around the corner. With the rest of the forecasts, click here for the archive.

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Written by Salami-Cheese

September 27, 2010 at 9:48 pm

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50MC’s 2010-2011 Fantastic Fantasy Forecast: Nikolai Zherdev

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When I Google searched “Zherdev+enigma” I conveniently received 15,900 results, which included a video.

The problem with Zherdev is that as many as there is positives to his game, there are as many negatives. He has great hands, but he is a lazy defender. No questioning his skill, but there are no answers for his attitude. He has decent facial features, but his haircut remains an issue. I can go on and on.

To his defense, he has not had a terrible NHL career. He has averaged 59.5 points in his last two full seasons with the Blue Jackets and Rangers. But with his talent, hockey scouts and fantasy owners know he is capable of so much more. He spent last season overseas playing for Mytishchi Atlant of the KHL, where he scored 39 points (in 59 games), which was good (or bad) for third on his team – four points behind Jan Bulis (JAN BULIS!?!?!? Jan Bulis outpointed YOU??).

On July 9th 2010, Zherdev signed a 1 year, $2 million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers, marking a return to the NHL. It is a fair price to pay for a highly skilled player with flaws. It seems to be a monetary risk for the Flyers to take on Zherdev. He is a nice piece to have for scoring depth, but the Flyers are not relying on him to lead the team in scoring, as they already have Richards, Carter, Briere, Giroux, Leino, Hartnell and van Riemsdyk for that. The Flyers’ scoring depth also makes it easy for them to scratch Zherdev or send him to the 4th line if there are any attitude issues.

As the Flyers do not rely on him to be any sort of scoring leader- neither should you. At your draft, you should keep Zherdev as a 45 point player for this season with a ceiling of 70 points. Which means if he falters early, he can be easily replaced with someone from the waiver wire; but if he excels, he can be a difference maker for you in the standings. This is exactly how the Flyers look at him, and this is how you should as well.

In terms of linemates in Philly, does it matter? No matter where he plays, he is most likely going to be on a scoring line. Early indications have him on the top line with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. This makes the most sense because both Carter and Richards can make for whatever Zherdev lacks in the defensive zone. Richards and Carter also provide enough skill to keep up with Zherdev’s.

I believe Coach Peter Laviolette will keep Daniel Briere with Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino because they clicked so well together in the playoffs. This leaves a third line of Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk and Dan Carcillo. I imagine line combinations will be moved around throughout the season,  but as you can see, there will be more than enough scoring capability on every line for Zherdev to reap the rewards.

For the 2010-2011 season, 50MC fantastically fearlessly forecasts 25 goals, 27 assists for 52 points in 82 games for Nikolai Zherdev who will earn himself another contract in the NHL next season. (THN does not have a prediction, while McKeen’s pegs him for 42 points).

The Flyers have given Zherdev and opportunity to redeem himself in North America. He has a chip on his shoulder and finds himself on a team of winners. For the first time in his career, he is playing on a Stanley Cup contender and has NHL veteran leaders around him to tell him to get a grip, when he gets out of line.

Written by Salami-Cheese

September 26, 2010 at 9:16 pm

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2009-2010 Fearless Fantasy Forecast Review

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Hey guys. Remember me? The leaves are starting to turn, which means hockey is back and surely I too have to make a return to the blogosphere. Last season was the first ever season of 50MC’s Fearless Fantasy Forecast. I hope it helped some of you out with your pools because it didn’t do me much good (finished in 9th place, but earned me 3rd pick in this years keeper league re-draft, which allowed me to get Jonathan Toews).

Before I get started with this year’s predictions, let’s break down last year’s forecasts.

CLAUDE GIROUX

Fearless Fantasy Forecast – 23/39/62

2009-2010 Season – 16/31/47

My very first forecast centered around one of the most talked about fantasy players around. Most experts (THN, Dobber, McKeens) were convinced that Giroux was poised for a breakout season after a very good 2009 playoffs. I drank the kool-aid. I (we) were way off. There is no doubting Giroux’s talent, but the depth of the Flyers’ offense, was/is the main conflict with fantasy owners. He had another very good playoffs last year (21 points in 23 games), and is surely to improve on a somewhat disappointing 47 point campaign.

BRENDEN MORROW

Fearless Fantasy Forecast – 31/39/70

2009-2010 Season – 20/26/47

Wow. My deepest apologies for this one. Not only did he finish under 50 points, he only had 69 PIM’s. There was only one consistent line in Dallas last season and Morrow wasn’t on it. James Neal and Loui Eriksson have taken over as top-line wingers alongside Brad Richards in Big D.

Sorry again.

ALEX TANGUAY

Fearless Fantasy Forecast – 21/43/64

2009-2010 Season – 10/27/37

I would say sorry for this one again, but I think Tanguay is more to blame than me. I thought 64 would be a moderate forecast for Tanguay. He was surrounded with talent in Tampa, and was an utter incredible disappointment. Not too sure what to expect from Tanguay in Calgary, but he seems enthused.

PATRICK MARLEAU

Fearless Fantasy Forecast – 35/40/75

2009-2010 Season – 44/39/83

In my defense, this forecast was made pre-Heatley trade. Obviously, if I had a shot at it again, I would put him over 80 points. Whether he is playing with Thornton or Pavelski, expect the same out of Marleau this season.

SCOTT GOMEZ

Fearless Fantasy Forecast – 21/50/71

2009-2010 Season – 12/47/59

I guess I was only 11 points off. He only scored 12 goals, but only took 180 SOG. Perhaps the Markov injury took away a few points from Gomez.

DAVID KREJCI

Fearless Fantasy Forecast – 13/33/46

2009-2010 Season – 17/35/52

Oh yeah. Not exactly bang on, but close enough. The point of this forecast was not to emphasize numbers, but to emphasize that he would not have a season like he did in 2008-2009 when he tallied 73 points. Expect around 50-60 points this season.

ALES HEMSKY

Fearless Fantasy Forecast – 25/48/73 in 76 games

2009-2010 Season – 7/15/22 in 22 games

Obviously this prediction is a little flawed because of Hemsky’s injury, but I think my forecast was reasonable. I called for an average of 0.328 goals per game, while his season average in 22 games was 0.318. Hemsky is one of my fav’s and I am pulling for him to play 80 games this season.

TJ OSHIE

Fearless Fantasy Forecast – 22/36/58

2009-2010 Season – 18/30/48

Not too far off. As expected from a young player, he started off slow, but picked it up in the second half. I was also drunk from the St. Louis Blues’ kool-aid last year, which influenced me in boosting Oshie’s numbers. A 58 point campaign would not be far off this season.

VALTTERI FILPPULA

Fearless Fantasy Forecast – 17/39/58

2009-2010 Season – 11/24/35

Ouch. Obviously I thought Filppula was a shoe-in to improve on his numbers from the season prior. With Jiri Hudler AND Johan Franzen gone, Filppula did not step up offensively. Maybe with them back this season, he will have some scorers to play with. I wouldn’t reach for Filppula this season, but I would for Hudler.

MIKKO KOIVU

Fearless Fantasy Forecast – 25/49/74 in 82 games (0.91 PPG)

2009-2010 Season – 22/49/71 in 80 games (0.89 PPG)

Bang on!! Put another notch on the bedpost for 50MC. Who knows, if Koivu played those extra 2 games, he may have scored 3 points. This season, I would temper expectations keeping in mind that he had shoulder surgery on BOTH of his wings this off-season.

DANY HEATLEY

Fearless Fantasy Forecast – 52/39/91

2009-2010 Season – 39/43/82

A little of the disappointment of a season, especially in the goal scoring department; but can you really complain about a point per game?

BRANDON DUBINSKY

Fearless Fantasy Forecast – 20/35/55

2009-2010 Season – 20/24/44

At least I was bang on with goals. Assists are subjective anyways (kidding!). He did not click as well with Marian Gaborik as I thought he would. Can Derek Stepan be Gaborik’s guy this year? A lot think he is. One thing is for sure – I will definitely be forecasting him this year.

JOHN TAVARES

Fearless Fantasy Forecast – 25/39/64

2009-2010 Season – 24/30/54

Again, not too far off. Obviously, I thought he would get a few more assists, but I guess there is nobody to pass to on the Island. I would expect 60+ points this season, as he gains more chemistry with Kyle Okposo.

NIKITA FILATOV

Fearless Fantasy Forecast – 24/25/49

2009-2010 Season – 2/0/2 in 13 games

So there wasn’t a positive thing that can be said about this prediction. Even with Filatov back in North America this season, 49 points seems high – even with the positive reports out of training camp. I would peg him for about 35 points, if he plays regularly with the BJ’s.

SERGEI SHIROKOV

Fearless Fantasy Forecast – 20/28/48

2009-2010 Season – 0/0/0 in 6 games

Ouch. He would have been a late round flier anyways, so he should not have broken your team, but still. Ouch. This was under the assumption that he would play wit the Sedins. Obviously he did not hack it with the big boys, but early reports out of Canucks’ camp is that he is getting another shot this year. I’ll keep you posted.

NIK ANTROPOV

Fearless Fantasy Forecast – 23/42/65

2009-2010 Season – 24/43/67

Good way to end of the 2009-2010 review. Almost bang on. If someone was to argue my prediction, they would bring up Antro’s 67 points was done in only 76 games. But if you drafted him with my analysis, you would have been rewarded anyway.

So I didn’t do quite badly. There were a few bad ones, but not bad for my first attempt. I think the analysis of each player is more valuable than the actual numbers anyways. The analysis provides you with something concrete to think about and used to justify your pick. I hope I didn’t hurt too many of your teams and I look forward to helping you out this season with more forecasts.

Now that the preseason has started, I will try and bang out a forecast everyday until the season starts. This year, I will try and focus on players with some BUZZ (i.e. Derek Stepan) so I will read the forums to see who everyone is talking about, but in the meantime, post some players in the comments you want me to analyze and I will do my best to fantastically forecast them.

Written by Salami-Cheese

September 26, 2010 at 11:47 am

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Bloggin’ the Olys: Hockey Preview, Predictions, etc.

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to be continued.. at work.. when I have nothing to do, but watch the Olympics.

Hottest player since being snubbed: Steven Stamkos. I don’t want to say he was snubbed just because Canada is so strong, but since not being named to Team Canada, Stamkos as 32 points in 21 games (13 goals). He is definitely living up to his top pick billing and should be a shoe-in for 2014 in Sochi. Until then, he can look forward to his first 40 goal season in just his second full season.

update: 2 more goals today.

Written by Salami-Cheese

February 13, 2010 at 9:33 am

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I Won My Baseball Pool With an Anti-Matthew Berry Team

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Eat it, Matthew Berry.

Every spring training, just like the pro’s, I ready myself for another season of baseball – fantasy baseball. I would scour through the Internet looking for scouting reports, sleeper lists, break out candidates and do not draft players. This would always lead me to one place – ESPN.

ESPN prides itself on being the world’s sports leader. By most accounts, it is. It is a trusted network of experts, who I exploit to gain an upper hand on my fellow poolies.

This past Spring, right after I clicked on the ESPN Draft Kit, I read: I Hate Ryan Howard as a headline as part of Matthew Berry’s annual Love/Hate article. My fantasy baseball pool is a keeper league, and I am a sometimes frustrated, but proud owner of Ryan Howard. As soon as you read a headline like that regarding one of your players, naturally, discontent builds up.

I have never been a Matthew Berry fan. His fantasy analysis is good, but judging from his ESPN videos and NFL Sunday appearances, he is a loud, obnoxious and thinks he is greater than he actually is. And I don’t think I am alone on this stance, judging by this blog aptly named I Hate Matt Berry.

As I go through his top 250, I get angrier and angrier.

Soriano ahead of Holliday? Howard ranked 33? Stephen Drew ahead of Derek Jeter? Jeter ranked 89th?!?! Why is Chris Davis so high? Why is Josh Hamilton so high?

** Last year I traded away Josh Hamilton for Matt Holliday, thinking that Hamilton will never produce the way he would during the first half of the 2008 season. I was also weary of the condition of his body with the years of drug abuse. I know he is clean now, but it just scared me. It evidently paid off with Hamilton missing much of this past season and Holliday being the 2009 post trade deadline MVP.

After reading Matthew Berry’s rankings, I went with a new strategy: Do the opposite of what Berry says. I have never been a strong fantasy baseball player, so a new strategy could only improve my chances of winning.

For most of the year, my team consisted as follows:

  • C Kurt Suzuki – a guy a picked up. I don’t really put much value into catchers, but Suzuki had an awesome year. He was the unsung hero of my team.
  • *CI Ryan Howard – Berry’s big thing against Howard are his K’s and low average. He only had 186 K’s this year, but had a .279 average! He will also probably finish 2nd in NL MVP voting.
  • CI Carlos Pena (when he went down, Gordon Beckham took over) – By drafting Pena, I was throwing K’s into the wind and going for BOMBS. In a points league, home runs are worth the most points, so I went for them. He went down early and still led the AL in home runs. Beckham is a future stud, glad I have him.
  • *MI Derek Jeter – best player in the league. Berry blasted him for not hitting for power and not stealing bases. Hey, I love any player with .334/18 home runs/30 stolen bases. Apparently, that’s not good enough for Berry. Jeter was ranked the 7th best shortstop by Berry. What a clown. I think Jeter should win the MVP, but probably won’t because baseball needs to grow in the mid market part of the country.
  • MI Miguel Tejada – Ranked 189th by Berry. Really? You didn’t think that Tejada would have a good year in a stacked Astros lineup, a year after the dust settled from his troubled 2008 season? This guy is a professional hitter. Finished with a .313 average and 86 RBI’s.
  • *OF Matt Holliday – Holliday is my favorite. Berry didn’t have too much hate for Holliday. He was just about as equal as everyone else. All I heard in the offseason was how Holliday was going to have a terrible year and how Coors made him into the player he was. I got chirped for making the Holliday-Hamilton trade, but I knew I would come out on top. I knew Holliday would struggle in Oakland, simply because he didn’t want to be there. I also knew that there was no way he would spend the whole year in Oakland. Second half MVP. I don’t need to go through his numbers because those who gave up on him will hate me.
  • *OF Carlos Lee – Mr Consistent. The only guy I have that got love from Matthew Berry. He was ranked in the Top 10, which was a little too high for me, but I’ll take it. Not much I can say about him. He is a lock for .300/100 RBI’. He didn’t quite get to the 30 home run mark, which was disappointing, but you can’t put a price on his consistency.
  • *OF Justin Upton – WOOOO!!! So glad I have him. He is a fantasy pool STUD, especially in keeper leagues. I have this future triple crown winner for life!
  • UTIL Hideki Matsui – Drafted him. Then dropped him. Picked him back up and it paid off. I will take 28 home runs and 90 RBI’s from a 13th round pick (+ 7 keepers = 20th round) any day.
  • BN Mark DeRosa – Didn’t like him last year. Didn’t like him when I drafted him. Didn’t like him at all this year. His versatility kept him on my team.
  • *SP Jake Peavy – Can’t wait for next year because this year was a write off.
  • *SP Yovani Gallardo – I liked him a lot going into the season, so did everyone else. He throws too many pitches for my liking, though.
  • SP Tommy Hanson – Rookie of the year. I didn’t think he would have this good of a year. But now he will liekly be a keeper for life.
  • SP Phil Hughes – Awesome pick up. If you have a free SP slot available for a set up man who is SP-eligible, pick him up. Hughes got me a few random wins and saves to help me win my league. He also K’d a lot of guys and kept his ERA low.
  • RP Heath Bell – 42 saves. Unreal season. I knew he would get his chances. Padres have good pitching and a bad offense. What does that lead to? Low scoring games. That is an ideal situation for closers, which is why Trevor Hoffman got so many opportunities while he was in SD. Bell was one of the last closers to go on draft night.
  • RP Joe Nathan – Another Mr. Consistent. 47 saves. Unreal! These two guys won the league for me. He was my first round pick on draft night, and I don’t regret it.
  • BN Carlos Zambrano – shit.
  • BN Ricky Nolasco – shit.
  • BN Jorge De La Rosa – mid season pick up was outstanding.
  • BN Scott Feldman – plucked him up simply for his wins.
  • BN Aaron Harang – shit.

* denotes 2008 keeper.

Decent looking team. I led the league in home runs and RBI’s and that’s what led me the whole year. Saves and Wins were big too.

So next year when I try and build my team, I will definitely read Matthew Berry, but I won’t put much stock into anything he says. I will do the opposite of what he says.

Written by Salami-Cheese

November 1, 2009 at 12:42 pm

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WTF?!?! Astros Sign Brad Arnsberg

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I just read on the Sportsnet ticker that the Houston Astros have plucked Brad Arnsberg from the Blue Jays.

What a terrible decision for the Blue Jays to allow this to happen. Arnsberg, now the former pitching coach of the Blue Jays,  was one of the few reasons why the Blue Jays won as many games as they did.

I give him credit for singlehandedly transforming the Jays’ pitching staff from unknown to good. He developed the Jys’ young arms and made them into serviceable Major League pitchers.

Do you think anybody would have heard of Jesse Litsch, Shawn Marcum, Mark Rzepczynski, Scott Richmond, or Robert Ray if it wasn’t for the efforts of Arnsberg?

Unlikely.

The Blue Jays have replaced Arnsberg by promoting Bruce Walton. He will have his hands full this coming season with a lot of young arms coming up and the possibility of no Doc Halladay.

I know I haven’t blogged in a long, long time, but I could not let this issue pass without it being discussed. Arnsberg will be successful wherever he goes and Houston is lucky to have him.

Just like the Jays when Arnsberg came in, the Astros have some questions in their rotation. Under the tutelage of Arnsberg, there is no doubt the Astros will be a better pitching team led by Arnsberg’s new Roy – Roy Oswalt.

On behalf of Jays fans everywhere, good luck Brad, and thanks for everything you have done in Toronto.

Written by Salami-Cheese

October 30, 2009 at 5:46 pm

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Week 2 Line Juggling

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franzen-aclWe are only two weeks into the new NHL season, and there is already significant line juggling on pretty much every team. In some cases, it is because of injury and in others it is because of futility. Let’s go for a ride, shall we.

Jordan Staal has forever been cursed as being the third line center in Pittsburgh. There have been numerous attempts to allow him to play in the top six group, but have not been thoroughly tried out. However, recent reports out of Pittsburgh are saying that the Staal-in-the-top-six experiment is back on. He spent moments on Thursday with Evgeni Malkin on the 1B line. The two are again going to be spending some time together on the same line tonight versus the Leafs.

Fantastically, this is great news for Staal owners or Staal seekers. Even if he spends even half of his ice time with Malkin, it gives him a much better chance to put up a point in that game. His ability to score shorthanded should not be overlooked. If Staal can put up a few points early with Malkin, expect him to see more ice time with him, working towards a permanent role with him.

Johan Franzen is out for four months with a torn ACL. When I heard this, I almost ran my car through Mississauga-Toronto traffic, which I was stuck in for two hours. Franzen is a guy who I kept and had high hopes of 40 goals for this season.

I wonder if Ken Holland has given Jiri Hudler a call? Seriously, the Red Wings are now desperate for goals. Tonight, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom will be joined by Henrik Zetterberg on the first line. On the second line, Valterri Filpulla, Danny Cleary and Ville Leino will try and supplement for the lost offense.

Fantastically, the biggest winner here is Leino, who sneaks into the top six group. He is a scoring machine and has to prove it at the NHL level. If Holmstrom is still available, snag him. Filpulla and Cleary have a chance to occasionally play on the top line with Datsyuk, so keep them close to the top of your watch list.

Claude Giroux has gotten off to a slow start. He has a single assist so far. He is also only playing roughly eleven minutes per game on the third line. However, James van Riemsdyk, who has stolen powerplay minutes from Giroux, has gone down with a concussion, and this is good news for Giroux owners.

Unlike the Red Wings, the Flyers are not desperate for offense, but they are looking for a boost from Giroux. Tonight, Giroux will play on the top line with Mike Richards and Simon Gagne. This is a huge opportunity for Giroux and this is where all fantasy owners want to see him play. The second line remains in tact (Briere – Carter – Hartnell), while the third line inherits Mike Pyorala. If you are looking for a breakout game for Giroux, tonight is the night.

Fantastically, I have not played Giroux all season, but I am tonight.

Anze Kopitar has finally found someone to play with. Who knew Ryan Smyth would be that guy. Justin Williams is the other guy. Suddenly, those two other guys become fantasy worthy options. Kopitar has all the tools to be a point per game player, and I think it will be this year he reaches that plateau. The Kings are getting good goaltending from Jon Quick, and Kopitar is proving that he ca handle the offensive load.

Fantastically, Kopitar has eight points in three games, Smyth has six and Williams has four. These three are looking to hand found a bond. Give Smyth one more game and see how he does. If he pouts up another point or two tonight, snag him up, or else someone else will.

Ryan Smyth and Anze Kopitar are finding chemsitry. Justin Williams is in there too.

Written by Salami-Cheese

October 10, 2009 at 6:03 pm

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