Slapshot Fantasy

Fantasy Hockey Focus: Skunks Of March

Fantasy Hockey Focus: Skunks Of March
Chris Wassel

Somewhere Pepe Le Pew is cringing in horror that we did this. All kidding aside, these may not be the absolute worst performances fantasy wise among Atlantic Division players, but these were the ones likely most noticed. Think of this as looking down the rabbit hole and going “was it that bad”? The reality is yes some of these were literally rated this terrible.

Legitimately we could have done all Toronto Maple Leafs and walked away with a clear conscience. Is it that bad? The answer to that is a resounding yes. the Atlantic Division cried a fantasy tear when we started pouring over the numbers. As a matter of fact, these could be downright frightening. If you turn away, no one will blame you.


Fantasy Atlantic Skunks

Phil Kessel — RW — Toronto Maple Leafs

Few players have bottomed out as hysterically bad than Kessel, who really has to wonder if an injury would almost be more merciful than this. He is a minus-35 on the season as of Monday afternoon. These will all be five game snapshots overall, but even those numbers paint a less than rosy picture for the right winger who all but seems out the picture come the summer.

This was a player 30 games ago that was averaging 1.11 points per game and is now averaging 0.74 points per contest. That average has dropped by a third. Needless to say, drops that substantial at some point have to cause major concern and an eventual split.

We know how flawed a stat plus-minus can be, but this is a whole different level of futility. Kessel has four points and a minus-15 in eleven games in March. That whole line is just full of skunks, but we take the head ringleader almost based on reputation and second half performance alone. Kessel has just a couple of points against playoff teams since January 1. That is so bad where words should just cease.


James Reimer / Jonathan Bernier — G — Toronto Maple Leafs

This really could have been just a Toronto themed post, I know. However, the numbers do start to get bad and then ugly. Reimer has not won in March. In his last five games, he has been awful in net, with one really good performance (in relief) and that was it.

The goaltender was yanked once and should have been pulled at least once more. His 4.10 GAA and .879 save percentage for March resembles something out of the QMJHL. Tit is not completely either goalie’s fault but…..

This looks like something out of a “Caption This!”. I mean what do you say? Reimer has had bad luck and I understand that Bernier has really not been much better, but at least he has somewhat better numbers. There is little to go on with this but just the sheer ugliness and stench of this team’s goaltending is cringe worthy. Everything is a disaster here and the reason why the team as a whole has to share in the blame.


David Desharnais — C — Montreal Canadiens

There were other candidates, but Desharnais has gone from first line center to bottom-nine forward at times. Lars Eller also came to mind here and even Mike Hoffman of the Ottawa Senators has struggled of late.

Desharnais has only four points in eleven games in March and looks like half the forward he used to be. Montreal leads the Atlantic, but its depth scoring is not consistent enough and the streaky center is a definite reason why. Power play time has been slashed to almost nothing, and really there are no signs the forward is going to snap out of this anytime soon.

Atlantic fans, the flu cannot be used as an excuse for the fact that Montreal cannot use Desharnais as a first line center anymore and yet they will at times. He needs top linemates to basically drag him into better point situations, especially when he is on a down turn and does not have the confidence to create on his own. Eller is much the same but worse offensively. Let’s just say Desharnais defensively is a little lower than average.

We will have more skunks closer to the end of the season. Next week we will strike back with the Fantasy Atlantic…the good version. 

Slapshot Fantasy
Chris Wassel

Never stop learning! That has always been my philosophy in life. It applies to hockey writing so well as new challenges are something to strive for. I have been a fantasy hockey writer way back when it wasn’t quite so cool, covered the Devils for a variety of places and still do, have a small hockey site of my own, and even write about all things NHL, AHL, ECHL, KHL, etc. Usually I am first asked who I don’t write for. For Today’s Slapshot, I will be covering the Atlantic Division.

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