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Livin' the Dream is written by Kevin Snow, the Buffalo Sabres Manager of Publications and Hockey Information. Kevin has always been fascinated by sports stats, but still found a way to fail math in high school.

Kevin can be reached at kevin.snow@sabres.com

LIVIN THE DREAM: OPENING WEEK

Monday, 10.05.2009 / 1:44 PM / Blogs - Livin' the Dream
By Kevin Snow  - Sabres.com (@kwsnow)
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LIVIN THE DREAM: OPENING WEEK
 
The opening weekend has finally come and gone, and the surprises were few and far between. With most teams playing no more than two games so far, the only teams that really jumped out of the first few days were St. Louis and Colorado.

The Blues are considered a team on the rise, but I’m sure nobody expected them to post a pair of two-goal comebacks against Detroit. The same can be said for the Avs, who scored eight goals and allowed just two in wins over San Jose and Vancouver. This is Colorado’s first 2-0 start since 2001-02.

Two games aren’t exactly a great fantasy hockey barometer either, but there were a few notable performances over the weekend that puckheads should keep an eye on:

Washington Capitals: This just in – Alex Ovechkin is really good. In other news, it snows in Buffalo sometimes. Alex the Great had back-to-back three-point outings, and was in on six of Washington’s 10 goals over two games. But what jumps out at me is there are four Caps – Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom, Laich -- atop the league scoring leaders. While the first three were fantasy no-brainers, Laich is probably a guy who flew under the radar of most poolies. Laich had a career-high 53 points last season, but already has five points (3+2) in his first two. He also appears to have adopted Ovechkin’s “shoot from anywhere” mentality, firing nine shots in the two games.

Paul Kariya:
Hard to believe that Kariya is 34 years old now, but he looked young again in the Blues’ two-game sweep of Detroit, picking up two goals and two assists. Kariya missed 71 games with a lower body injury last season, but had 15 points in the 11 games he played in. A healthy Kariya will have the same effect on the Blues that Tim Connolly is expected to have in Buffalo.

Brandon Dubinsky: With four points (2+2) in two games, we’ve seen this quick start from Dubinsky before. Last year he had nine points in New York’s first eight games, but finished with 32 in the next 73. If you haven’t drafted him already, don’t overpay in a trade. File him under “buyer beware” for now.

Craig Anderson: Many people applauded the Avs for picking up Anderson in the off-season and now we know why. He backstopped Colorado to a pair of wins, including a 3-0 shutout of Vancouver where he made 35 saves. Anderson will face a lot of rubber playing in Colorado, and that hasn’t seemed to bother him in the past. Last year in Florida he won six of the nine games in which he faced 40 or more shots.

 
Who to Watch This Week
:
Phoenix @ Buffalo (Thursday): The Sabres outscored Phoenix 7-1 in two games last season, with Tim Connolly leading the Sabres with five (3+2) points. Coyotes captain Shane Doan has 12 points (4+8) in 18 career games against Buffalo. Keep an eye on: Peter Mueller. I’m a big fan of this kid, and he is due for rebound season after scoring just 36 points in 72 games last year. Sabres fans might remember his strong two-point performance in a 6-2 Phoenix win over Buffalo on January 21, 2008.

Buffalo @ Nashville (Saturday): Jason Arnott has scored 11 goals and added nine assists in 25 career games against the Sabres, including the game winner in Buffalo last season. The Preds got a shot in the arm this season with the return of Steve Sullivan from a back injury, after he played in just 98 games since the start of the 2006-07 season. Keep an eye on: Patric Hornqvist. The 22-year-old Swede had seven points (2+5) in his first 14 games last season, but then went pointless in his next 14. He was named Rookie of the Year in the Swedish Elite League in 2006-07 after breaking Peter Forsberg’s rookie goal scoring record.

FHL Update: I know you’ve all been eagerly awaiting the results of my Fantasy Hockey League draft that took place last Thursday. As I explained before, it’s a 12-team keeper league with 16 players per team.

Prior to the draft we were allowed to protect eight players: 2 defensemen, 4 forwards, 1 enforcer and a goalie. (The definition of an Enforcer in our league: the Top 30 players based on PIM’s who have scored at least 25% of the previous season’s goals leader. All goals scored by an E are worth 2 pts each. This year’s goals benchmark will be 14.)

So I went into the draft with Lidstrom/Bieksa on D; Ovechkin as E; Carter/Gaborik/Gomez/Mikko Koivu at Forwards, and Ryan Miller in net. It’s an eight-round draft, but I didn’t pick until the 3rd round. In the days leading up to the draft, I traded Daniel Alfredsson and #1 for Marian Gaborik and a 7th-rd pick. Gaborik’s health is always an issue, but I was willing to take the risk.

Early draft highlights included John Tavares going first overall to the Puckers, followed by Alex Goligoski, Victor Hedman and Dennis Wideman. Anton Babchuk was also taken in the opening round – until we informed his owner that Babchuk was now in the Russian KHL. (Stinky Glove Hands drafted eight players, then decided to put four of them on waivers just two days later: Claude Giroux, Nikita Filatov, Patrick Berglund and Milan Lucic. There’s no job security in our league!)

With my eight picks, Strange Brew -- I am Canadian after all -- was able to draft: Dustin Brown (3rd rd); Peter Mueller (5th); Jakub Voracek, Matt Gilroy, Jonathan Quick (all 7th); Peter Regin, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Matt Carle (all 8th). I finished the night fairly happy with my team, but realized that I’ll have to keep an eye on rookies Gilroy and Regin. I’m not a big fan of loading up on young players in the draft, but figured these two were worth the gamble based on their ages (25 and 23 respectively)


My name is Kevin Snow, and I have a fantasy hockey problem.

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