Monday, September 22, 2008

WXW debuts in Central Florida

(Readers: Though this blog primarily concerns itself with football and hockey, I want to bring to the attention of any pro wrestling fans the successful debut of Afa Anoai's WXW (World Xtreme Wrestling) promotion in Central Florida. Also known as Afa the Wild Samoan, Mr. Anoai runs one of the most well known and respected wrestling schools in the world and has worked with many superstars of the business. I will be posting future updates about the school and the promotion in this space.)

WXW website:
Website of The Wild Samoan Training Center:


In front a packed house at the Minneola Recreation Center, WXW successfully held its debut show in Central Florida on September 20th, 2008. The crowd was filled with families and children of all ages who attended WXW’s family friendly event. Not only did families enjoy WXW, but so did Minneola Mayor David Yeager. The Mayor was in attendance and presented WWE Hall of Famer Afa The Wild Samoan with the KEY TO THE CITY! Due to the success of the show and it's strong attendance, Mayor Yeager has already stated that he will welcome WXW back to Minneola in the near future. The Mayor however did not have a smooth evening as his welcome and introduction to the crowd was interrupted by The Perfect Creation, who came to the ring and insulted him. However, the Mayor exacted a measure of revenge later that evening, costing Perfect Creation his chance to win the WXW Heavyweight Title. Minneola City Councilman Pat Kelley also paid a price for his wanting to cut funding to the Minneola Recreation Department. WXW Champion Sugaa pleased the crowd by suplexing Kelley in the center of the ring!

The wrestlers of WXW put on a fabulous show for the packed house and the residents of Minneola did not go home disappointed. The event was taped for WXW Rage TV and the crowd let themselves be heard with loud ovations throughout the night.

WXW will return to Minneola for Fall Fest, Saturday October 25th at the Minneola Trailhead Park. This show is free to the public, courtesy of the City of Minneola. WXW thanks all of our fans for attending the debut show and hopes to see even more at our upcoming events in Minneola and Leesburg, Florida!

Full Match Results
Mad Man Mandrake def. Jerrelle Clark
Zero Gravity def. Ivan Radski
Bane def. David Mercury
Havoc and C.J. O'Doyle went to Double DQ and brawled back to the locker room
Sgt. Hardcore def. Convict #1
Mercedes Martinez def. Rain
Xtreme Billy Dream def. DJ Hyde
Sugaa def. Perfect Creation to keep the WXW Title after Mayor David Yeager interfered in the match.

Upcoming Dates:
Saturday October 25th – FALL FEST – Minneola Park – Belltime 5:00 PM
Sunday October 26th – Leesburg Armory – Belltime 6:00 PM
Saturday November 15th – WXW ELITE 8 Woman’s Tournament - Leesburg Armory – Belltime 7:30 PM
Saturday December 20th – Minneola Recreation Center – Belltime 7:30 PM

Monday, May 19, 2008

NFL Fantasy Outlook-Prospects-Round Two-Part Two of Four

So much of a prospect's fantasy fortunes can depend upon the team that drafted him. Good players can become great ones in the right system. On the flip side, great players can sometimes fight a losing battle in the wrong ones.

Here's a look at where the prospects were selected in the 2nd round of the '08 Draft and their current situations from a Fantasy Perspective:

James Hardy-WR-Selected 41st Overall by the Buffalo Bills- A former basketball player, Hardy (and his 6'6 height) will be put to good use by the Bills on red zone fade routes. He also owns soft hands and has shown the ability to make the tough sideline catches. He's not the fastest horse on the track, but he is elusive and ought to make a respectable contribution for Buffalo this season while he learns the offense.

Eddie Royal-WR-Selected 42nd Overall by the Denver Broncos- Royal projects primarily as a Kick Returner, so he's going to most valuable to those owners whose leagues allow them to garner points in that area of the game. However, in leagues that don't award points for returns, he still brings something to the table. His receiving abilities should allow him to be a slot receiver for Denver, a position he could see extensive looks in, considering the injury history of Brandon Marshall and the free agent loss of Javon Walker.

Matt Forte-RB-Selected 44th Overall by the Chicago Bears- Forte is a player that Dynasty League owners ought to consider holding long term. A powerful runner, he has exhibited great football sense and it has been widely speculated that he will overtake Cedric Benson sometime this season as the starter for the Bears. A strong RB who can carry the load during Chicago's frigid latter-season home schedule should be worth his weight in Fantasy gold.

Jerome Simpson-WR-Selected 46th Overall by the Cincinnati Bengals- Simpson steps into a situation in flux, considering the Bengals have a potential holdout in Chad Johnson and released troubled Chris Henry in the off-season. However, he has a tremendous opportunity to start and produce immediately. His leaping ability and precise route running could partner very well with QB Carson Palmer's skill at putting the ball in the correct space and Simpson could be a surprise contributor for Fantasy owners this year and beyond.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

NFL Fantasy Outlook-Prospects-Round Two-Part One of Four

So much of a prospect's fantasy fortunes can depend upon the team that drafted him. Good players can become great ones in the right system. On the flip side, great players can sometimes fight a losing battle in the wrong ones.

Here's a look at where the prospects were selected in the 2nd round of the '08 Draft and their current situations from a Fantasy Perspective:

Donnie Avery-WR-Selected 33rd Overall by the St. Louis Rams- It was a complete surprise that the first round ended without a WR being taken and an even bigger surprise that Avery was chosen for the honor in the second. He is quick, however and could play a part in "The Greatest Show on Turf, Part 2". With the current group of WR's on the Rams' roster, Avery could see meaningful snaps this season.

Devin Thomas-WR-Selected 34th Overall by the Washington Redskins- An excellent package of speed and strength, Thomas steps into a very good situation in Washington. With only Santana Moss and Antwaan Randle El as reliable receivers, he could conceivably leapfrog also-rans like Billy McMullen and James Thrash with a good camp. Don't be surprised if Thomas ends up as the Slot WR on this team before October rolls around.

Jordy Nelson-WR-Selected 36th Overall by the Green Bay Packers- Nelson enters a packed Green Bay Receiving Corps with the larger issue of Brett Favre's retirement throwing the entire offense into a state of flux. However crowded the group might be, though, there are certain indisputable facts: 1. Donald Driver is 33 and will likely not maintain a high level of play much longer, 2. Greg Jennings is a fine talent but has recurring injury issues and 3. Neither Ruvell Martin nor James Jones have distinguished themselves as of yet. Nelson, a possession receiver in the mold of Joe Jurevicius, could carve out a place for himself (although probably not in his first year).

John Carlson-TE-Selected 38th Overall by the Seattle Seahawks- Carlson, despite the fact that he is not terribly dynamic and doesn't perform any aspect of his job with an exceptional degree of skill, has the chance to step into the starting role of Seahawk TE as a rookie. However, this accolade is due more to the fact that the rest of the Seattle TE's (Will Heller and Jeb Putzier) have shown an inability to seize their own opportunities in the role. It would appear that the Seahawks intend to go with more of a running scheme going forward as Carlson's potential is greater in the area of Blocking, not Pass Catching.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Fantasy Outlook-Prospects-Round One (Part 2 of 2)

So much of a prospect's fantasy fortunes can depend upon the team that drafted him. Good players can become great ones in the right system. On the flip side, great players can sometimes fight a losing battle in the wrong ones.

Here's a look at where the prospects were selected in the 1st round of the '08 Draft and their current situations from a Fantasy Perspective:

Felix Jones-RB-Selected 22nd Overall by the Dallas Cowboys- Jones steps into a very familiar situation here. He played foil to Darren McFadden at Arkansas and he'll play the change of pace RB to Marion Barber with the Cowboys. With Dallas' strong offensive line, his transition to the Pro game will be less pressure-filled and he'll likely be one of the best rookie RB's next season from a fantasy perspective.

Rashard Mendenhall-RB-Selected 23rd Overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers- Willie Parker owners can cry in their beer all they want, but picking up Mendenhall was a very smart choice by Pittsburgh. The Steelers now have two backs who can share the load between the 20's and a goal line back (Najeh Davenport, provided he can remain healthy) to pound the ball in. Mendenhall's fantasy numbers will not be over-the-top great, but he could be heir apparent to a coveted role in Pittsburgh for years to come.

Chris Johnson-RB-Selected 24th Overall by the Tennesee Titans- Johnson joins a crew that already has last year's draft choice Chris Henry and 2006 pick Lendale White vying for supremacy. Johnson is fleet of foot (he ran the fastest 40 yard dash at the combine), but he projects as no more than a 3rd down back right now. Of course, neither White or Henry have shown the ability to remain injury-free, so he could end up seeing more touches than expected.

Dustin Keller-TE-Selected 30th Overall by the New York Jets- As stated before in this blog, Keller was a curious choice by New York (given the fact that they already have a decent TE in Chris Baker and all the WR's from the draft were still available). He will likely play an H-back role similar to the one Chris Cooley occupies in Washington. Keller's fantasy numbers will largely depend on how the Jets choose to utilize him near the end zone.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Fantasy Outlook- Prospects- Round One (Part 1 of 2)

Two years ago, Reggie Bush was the top rated RB and was taken by the New Orleans Saints in the Rookie Draft. Bush was considered to be the most talented offensive player at the time and most figured that he would be able to immediately translate his collegiate success into NFL glory. However, the Saints struggled mightily as a team last season and Bush was unable to avoid his own troubles as well. Meanwhile, an RB named Joseph Addai was taken much later in the first round of that Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. He stepped into a situation where the Colts were a team primed to make a victorious Super Bowl run and benefited tremendously.

So much of a prospect's fantasy fortunes can depend upon the team that drafted him. Good players can become great ones in the right system. On the flip side, great players can sometimes fight a losing battle in the wrong ones.

Here's a look at where the prospects were selected in the 1st round of the '08 Draft and their current situations from a Fantasy Perspective:

Matt Ryan-QB-Selected 3rd Overall by the Atlanta Falcons- Ryan has his work cut out for him. He was drafted to be the new face of the franchise after the Michael Vick fiasco, but he does not have either the offensive line nor the complementary receivers to succeed right now. His Pro path could be a rough one.

Darren McFadden-RB-Selected 4th Overall by the Oakland Raiders- McFadden must have been gnashing his teeth when his name was called. Not only does he step into a dysfunctional team dynamic, he'll also have to likely share carries with possibly Lamont Jordan, Justin Fargas and Michael Bush. He wanted to be with a team where he was the clear #1 RB, not one of the herd.

Jonathan Stewart-RB-Selected 13th Overall by the Carolina Panthers- Stewart has a fine situation in Carolina. He'll share touches with DeAngelo Williams, who has not shown he has the ability to commandeer the starting job. The Panthers also bolstered their Offensive Line by taking T Jeff Otah and could be on their way to establishing a very strong Running game.

Joe Flacco-QB-Selected 18th Overall by the Baltimore Ravens- Flacco has a similar situation to Matt Ryan. He is going to be expected to quarterback a team in transition without an intimidating array of receiving options. His mettle will be tested early and often and fans hope he's not the second coming of Kyle Boller, another strong armed QB who hasn't made the transition to the Pro game successfully.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Top Fantasy Prospects From the 2008 NFL Draft

Yes, I know....right now, the most pertinent Fantasy Sport being played is Baseball. However, some of us Fantasy Gurus never stop thinking about Football. For those of you who play in a Dynasty League, you might be very interested in which players will be coming out of the upcoming Draft.

You might not have the time to properly research all the prospects before the end of April. Meaningless things like Marriage, Kids, Career and Everyday Life sometimes gets in the way. Fortunately, we here at Pigskins and Pucks are burdened by none of these predicaments and are dedicated to preparing you to pick the best player for your team.

Here is a primer for you to peruse.


1. Matt Ryan: Possesses all the intangibles to become a very good pro QB...Has an uncanny ability to scan the field and find the Hot Read...Plays through injuries and is mentally tough...Sometimes has the inclination to try to win games all by himself, resulting in turnovers

2. Brian Brohm: Has a good arm and delivers the ball with excellent velocity...Is known for having good touch on the ball, especially in the Red Zone...Very competitive and hardworking...Has to improve upon the mental game (decision making and staying calm in the pocket)

3. Chad Henne: A good athlete who can scramble well when he needs to...Very accurate on short passes...Possesses good leadership qualities...Needs to continue to work on dropping back and staying in the pocket

Running Back:

1. Darren McFadden: Incredible athlete who has size, speed and strength in abundance...Has the ability to hit top speed very quickly...Follows his blockers very well...Still needs to work on his blocking and blitz recognition skills

2. Rashard Mendenhall: Runs equally well up the middle or to the outside...Has excellent field vision and picks his holes decisively...Possesses an excellent ability to separate from tacklers once he reaches the secondary...There are questions about his durability and route running

3. Jonathan Stewart: Compact, powerful frame (5'11, 234lbs) makes him tough to tackle...Excellent ability to make cuts...Has the intangibles necessary to start as a Rookie...Lacks elite receiving skills

Wide Receiver:

1. Limas Sweed: Fantastic athlete who runs the 40 in 4.45...Has a great ability to make tough catches in traffic...Possesses excellent blocking skills which could allow him to immediately start for some teams...Suffered a badly broken wrist this past season which still bothers him

2. Devin Thomas: Has good speed and has the strength to fight off bigger CB's at the line of scrimmage...Has excellent football instincts...Plays with a load of heart and fire...Needs to run more disciplined routes

3. James Hardy: Tall (6'6) receiver with excellent leaping ability...Is deadly on fade routes in the end zone...Has good agility for a big man...Needs to bulk up to address doubts that he can fight through NFL CB's.

Tight Ends:

1. John Carlson: Is the undisputed top pick at the TE position...Not only tall (6'6) but fast as well (4.67 40 yard dash)...Has a strong ability to fight for yards after the catch...Needs to work on his blocking skills

2. Fred Davis: Possesses big play ability...A former WR, he has excellent hands...Reads coverages very well...Needs to better utilize his size

3. Dustin Keller: Is very versatile, can also play H-back or slot receiver...Has good speed for a TE (4.55 in the 40)...Is a disciplined route runner with above average hands...Undersized (240 lbs) for the position

Monday, April 7, 2008

Islander Season Recap

Note: I will be issuing a series a series of grades regarding the performance of the players and coaches in future blogs. This is a quick overview.

(With apologies to good time rockers Squeeze):

"Now the season is over
I can count the cost"

Many fans had what I feel were misplaced expectations for the New York Islanders this season. They actually believed that, with lots of hard work and a little bit of luck, Coach Ted Nolan's squad might contend for a playoff spot. However, they were really ignoring a very simple fact: This team was never good enough to finish much higher than they did.

Truth hurts, doesn't it?

However, I laud those same fans for their optimism. After all, why should it be a prerequisite that fans have realistic expectations? We deal with enough hard-hitting Reality in our daily lives. If a fan chooses to believe that the Improbable can happen with a hockey team, so be it.

A fan can be as optimistic as they'd like, but anyone who didn't believe that this was a rebuilding year for the Isles was fooling themselves. After the team lost Ryan Smyth, Jason Blake, Viktor Kozlov and Tom Poti to Free Agency and bought out Alexei Yashin, GM Garth Snow was unable to land adequate replacements in the Free Agent pool. He cannot be blamed completely; Long Island is a tough sell for a variety of reasons. However, it should have been apparent right then and there that this would be a lost season.

Though the team initially started well in October, there were signs that the wheels were perilously close to coming off. Two blowout losses to Toronto and Carolina were harbingers of the fact that, the way the Islanders were constructed, if they didn't give their best effort every single game, just about any other NHL squad would be mopping up the ice with them. The margin for error was virtually nil....and that is a recipe that invites Disaster.

Then, the injuries began to mount. Through the course of the season, the Islanders lost 3/4 of their Top 4 defensemen. Though I don't believe in using injuries as an excuse, the fact remains that if Detroit had lost Nicklas Lidstom, Brian Rafalski and Niklas Kronwall for the rest of the year by early March, there is no way they would've won the President's trophy. I'd even wager they would've had trouble retaining a playoff spot.

The biggest blow to the Islander's season was the one dealt by G Rick Dipietro's unfortunate incident during the All Star weekend. He injured his hip (memorably captured on air by the Network's microphone) and was never the same player afterwards. On many nights earlier in the season, Dipietro was the main reason why the Islanders were able to hang on in close games. Sure, he let in soft goals at times, but he stood on his head on too many occasions to count to steal the victories.

Outside of injuries, the Islander's biggest problem was their lack of scoring ability. They finished second to last in the entire league in Goals Scored. Players like Miroslav Satan, Bill Guerin, Mike Comrie and Ruslan Fedotenko did not deliver on the promise of their abilities. The rest of the lineup was comprised of career third liners who couldn't be counted on for more than 15 goals (at best).

However, all was not bad in Islander Country this year. The silver lining in the Injury cloud was that it opened up opportunities for players like Kyle Okposo, Blake Comeau, Frans Nielsen and Sean Bergenheim. Each of these players took a step forward in their development and, Okposo in particular, gave the fans something to be very hopeful about in the future.

Tonight could be one of the biggest nights in Islander history. At 8pm, the Lottery for the Draft Position will occur and the Isles have a slight chance (8.1%) of obtaining the #1 pick in June. If the Miracle happens, they could lay their hands on Steve Stamkos, a difference-maker just below the mold of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.

If that were to occur, it would be worth every bit of angst this season caused.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fantasy Hockey: The Final Week Approaches

The final week of the Fantasy Hockey season is upon us. The trade deadline is long past and the only source of help is your league's waiver wire. You've got to love this time of year.

It is my sincere hope that my readers are battling it out for their league's championship (in two week final formats) or are on the cusp of getting to the big stage. If so, I am here to provide you with some last minute tidbits which might help you get over the hump and bring home the gold.

As was discussed in an earlier blog, players who win their Fantasy Playoffs are the ones who happen to have the hottest players of the moment on their teams. It is, unfortunately, not about being loyal to the guys who brought you this far. If a hotter current option exists out there, you have to make the move to grab him. Ask the guys who stuck with Sidney Crosby how they're doing right now. You can find them in the Consolation Brackets.

Another point that was brought up was Opportunity i.e which NHL teams will play more games during the week. This tenet is never more crucial than in the playoffs, where there is no tomorrow.

The following teams play four times next week: New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and St. Louis Blues. I'm going to identify a player on each team that may still be available on your waiver wire and who might provide you with the edge.

St. Louis: Barret Jackman- Jackman has had a pretty disappointing season fantasy-wise, only recording 14 points in 72 games. However, he has been effective lately....6 of those points have come in the last month. He's also accrued 23 penalty minutes in that time period (a nice bonus in leagues that count them).

New Jersey: John Madden- He has quietly put together a 41 point year, matching his career high. Not too shabby for a 3rd line Center who is best known for defensive capabilities. More importantly, he has 3 points in the last six games and is always a threat to get a shorthanded point (which, as everyone probably knows, can be hard to come by. Recording one might just put you over the top in a head to head, category-based matchup.)

New York: Martin Straka- It's unlikely that Straka is available in any but the most shallow leagues, but the time he missed out on earlier this season may have caused some owners to forget about him. That's a shame because he has been absolutely "en fuego" lately. He has 5 points in his last four games, can be slotted as a C or W and is a swell dresser. Okay, I don't know about his fashion sense, but it's hard to deny the guy is getting his points when it matters most to you.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jets Spread Green Around to Free Agents

Here are some of the players the New York Jets have signed during the Free Agency period and their contracts:

Alan Faneca- 5 years, $40 million

Calvin Pace- 6 years, $42 million

Damien Woody- 5 years, $25 million


Is this the same organization that refused to give Pete Kendall, a senior member of their offensive line and designated "good soldier", a lousy $1 million raise....that he was apparently promised?

I'm not sure what's behind the new largess the Jets are showing. Perhaps they were motivated by their bullying Big Brother Giants winning the Super Bowl and casting an even further shadow over Gang Green. Maybe GM Mike Tannenbaum and Coach Eric Mangini are feeling the weight of a poor season and are attempting to rectify the situation immediately. Maybe Owner Woody Johnson just feels like throwing money around to Anyone and Everyone. (I like this last scenario and want to tell Mr. Johnson that, if he is indeed this generous, he can send me some, care of this blog.)

Whatever the case may be, I'm all for New York improving it's football team. I just question the manner in which they've chosen to do it.

Overpaying for Free Agents is always a dicey proposition. For instance, Alan Faneca has been a Pro Bowl player numerous times in his career. He will likely bring stability to the offensive line and will be a mentor to the young studs D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. Still, there's no escaping he is on the downside of his fine career. Is it worth $8 million a year to find out that he can't produce like he once did?

How about Calvin Pace? Does having one good season (6.5 sacks with Arizona) translate into a new gig paying $7 million a year? Apparently, it does.

I'm hoping these new acquisitions perform up to the level of their expectations. Otherwise, that is one expensive of carton of eggs that Tannenbaum, Mangini and Johnson will be wiping off their faces.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Exciting News

If you like the content here on Pigskins & Pucks, you'll be happy to know that you can now find more of my work on other sites.

Sports Talk Buzz ( Featured Blogger- New York Jets

E-Sports ( Blogger- New York Islanders

Rumor Me This ( Featured Blogger- New York Islanders

In addition, I have created 4 Facebook Groups which might interest readers looking to get involved in more discussions and to connect with other fans:

Pigskins & Pucks: Football-

Pigskins & Pucks: Hockey

Pigskins & Pucks: Fantasy Football

Pigskins & Pucks: Fantasy Hockey

Friday, March 14, 2008

This "Joke" Isn't Funny Anymore

Colin Campbell, the NHL's Discipline Czar, is an utter joke.

There, I've said it.

Chris Pronger, All Star defenseman for the Stanley Cup defending Anaheim Ducks, stomps on the leg of Vancouver's Ryan Kesler during a game. Here is the videoclip:

As NHL fans may well recall, Chris Simon of the Minnesota Wild engaged in a similar incident earlier this year with Pittsburgh's Jaarko Ruutu. His sentence was a 30 game suspension. Campbell took into account several factors to determine the length of the suspension: Intent to injure, any injury that resulted from the action and prior record of offenses. His ban of Simon was record setting and largely deserved.

Now we come to case of Pronger. Allow me to play Discipline Czar for a moment. I will utilize the same criteria as Campbell used to judge Simon.

1. The intent to injure Kesler in a premeditated fashion is not clear, so I'll cut Pronger a break there. Was there still intent to injure in the heat of the moment? I'd say there is a definitive stomping motion taking place. So , let's call it poor decision making on Pronger's part and move on.

2. Was there any injury resulting from the action? As in the Simon case, no, there was not. Therefore, that cannot weigh too heavily upon my judgement.

3. Does Chris Pronger have a prior record of suspensions? You bet he does. In fact, he has been suspended SEVEN times in his career for on-ice incidents.

So, in my assumed role as NHL Discipline Czar, I've weighed all the evidence and now hand down my sentence: 15 games. My rationale? Even though Pronger's incident does not appear to be premeditated like Simon's was, a player must be held accountable for his actions.

Campbell's real-life sentence? Nothing. Not ONE single game.

What message does the man they call "Soupy" deliver here? It's okay to stomp on another player as long as it happened in the heat of battle? There is one set of rules for enforcers and marginal players (Simon, Jesse Boulerice, Steve Downie...etc) and another for All-Stars?

I'm not even going to dignify the official NHL party line that there "wasn't enough video evidence to make a determination." Maybe they ought to simply look at the same Youtube clip I've provided here.

Campbell has shown that he has no problem handing out lengthy suspensions for violent acts that resulted in injuries (the aforementioned Boulerice and Downie incidents as well as Scott Hartnell....hmmm....all these players are Philadelphia Flyers....Coincidence?) What he has now also shown is that he is spineless when it comes to allocating the same punishments to superstars of the league.

He ought to be immediately removed from office. The league has entrusted their reputation to this weak little excuse for a man and I, for one, am sick of the bias he has flagrantly exhibited.

Campbell Must Go!

The joke is now old.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Winning your Fantasy Hockey League Playoffs

That special time of the year has arrived for Fantasy Hockey players...the Playoffs. Hopefully, you've made wise decisions all season long and find yourself in the hotly contested tournament to grab all the glory.

Here's something I've noticed in all my years playing head to head Fantasy Hockey: You must have a different mindset than you had in the regular season in order to win. There are no more games against negligent owners who fail to field a proper lineup for the week or incompetent ones who don't know Johan Franzen from Johan Sebastian Bach. You are now playing against the creme de la creme of your league....and you need the edge to beat them.

I am your Edge.

Here are three things that you must do in order to fortify your squad for the next 2-3 weeks in order to win.

1. Find the Hot Hand- Fantasy Hockey, like Life, is all about timing and, as a wise man once said, "Timing is everything." Your roster may have gotten you this far, but there's no guarantee they will keep performing over the next few weeks. You have to tweak the lineup if you want to win by searching your league's waiver wire and identifying the players who are currently riding that hot streak. Scott Walker, for instance, has 9 points in his last 8 games, including two game winning goals. Grab him and others like him now and watch them perform for you...or let someone else snatch them up and enjoy your first round exit.

2. Find your Role Players- Every year at the NHL's Trade Deadline, some contending team overpays for a gritty forward or power play quarterback to shore up their weaknesses. You need to do it too. All season long, you've been looking for the best possible players, well rounded in all areas. Now, you have to look for "Specialists", a guy whose game is disproportionately strong in one area. If you're lacking in PIM, you'll likely find Adam Burish or Jared Boll on the wire because all they provide is major penalties. Go get them. The Shorthanded Points column is often the hardest to attain points in. However, there's a good chance that a gentleman named Eric Perrin (and his 8 SHP) is probably available to you in your league. Assess your team's strengths and dilute them slightly in order to gain overall balance.

3. Make sure they'll play- A very important and often overlooked factor in the Fantasy Hockey playoffs: How many NHL games does your roster have scheduled over the next two weeks? Pittsburgh, Columbus and Dallas all are playing just two games each this week. Their players can't score for you if they're not on the ice, can they? You need to sit down, look at the team schedules and figure out if you're going to be holding the short end of the stick. If so, now is the time to act.

Follow these three tenets and you'll have an excellent chance of being crowned your league's winner. Best of luck...unless you play me.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Farewell Brett

Though the major focus of this blog right now is on hockey, I'd be remiss if I didn't take a moment to honor the retirement of one of football's greatest players and a true gentleman, Brett Favre.

I imagine there are an awful lot of testimonials being written about Brett now that he has formally announced he is leaving the game. I honestly cannot think of an individual more deserving of such tributes.

He is the current holder of many quarterbacking records, including : Most career passing touchdowns, most career passing yards and most career completions. He has been voted to the Pro Bowl 9 times. He is also a legendary "Ironman": His streak of 253 consecutive starts by a quarterback is truly mindboggling.

However impressive these stats are, though, they don't begin to scratch the surface of what an outstanding player Favre was. His "come from behind" heroics thrilled millions of fans as did his Gunslinger mentality. He was as mentally tough a player as ever lived. No matter how many interceptions he threw (he is the career leader in that category as well, by the way), he always came back the next series determined to succeed. His Never Say Die attitude inspired teammates and allowed them to believe that, no matter the score, having Favre as their leader always gave them a chance to win.

He endured quite a few hardships along the way, but instead of surrendering to the grief, he channelled that negative energy and found a way to turn it into a positive performance on the field. What football fan could ever forget the game against the Oakland Raiders on December 22,2003? A day after his father passed away, Brett threw for 399 yards and four touchdowns to lead his team to a 41-7 victory.

More than anything else, I feel the enduring image that fans will have emblazoned on their minds when they think of Favre is one of him sprinting downfield to celebrate with teammates after throwing a touchdown pass. The pure joy he exhibited was an inspirational message to people of all walks of life. Passion like that cannot be taught. It is that same passion, coupled with a great deal of talent, that allowed him to achieve what he did. He is a role model that every spoiled, pompous millionaire football player who thinks he's bigger than the game ought to consider emulating.

Fare well in your retirement, Brett. The game will miss it's greatest ambassador.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Fantasy Hockey: Hot and Not

The NHL's Trade Deadline is tomorrow and the deadline in your own league is likely coming up pretty fast. Fantasy Hockey, much like life itself, is mostly based on timing. Getting the right players at the right time can win you that elusive championship you seek.

Here are some players you should try to obtain and ones you should jettison.

Who's Hot:

Mike Ribiero-C-Dallas Stars: Ribs had his worst month this season (besides November) in January, when posted only 13 points in 14 games. "Still a point a game", you say, but 5 of those games were of the "0-fer" variety. He's rebounded somewhat in February. He's still suffering too many games where he records nothing, but at least lately he's been making up for it with multi-point performances (5 this month so far)

Teemu Selanne-RW-Anaheim Ducks: The Finnish Flash returned and picked up where he last left off. Shaking off a considerable amount of rust in impressive fashion, he has failed to record a point in only 3 of the ten games he's played this year. Last night's five point bonanza (3g, 2a) lends some serious credibility to the notion that Selanne will continue to be a force to be reckoned with the rest of the Fantasy season.

Who's Not:

Daniel Briere-C-Philadelphia Flyers: Honestly, I could've titled this entry "Any Flyer you care to name" as the entire team has gone sub-zero during this horrid ten game losing streak. However, most of the team does not carry Danny's contract or the weight of his expectations (both of which appear to be crushing him right now.) He was signed to be a "more than a point-a-game" player, but he's currently delivering roughly half of that. What's worse, he starting to hear the boos from the Flyer faithful (perhaps they're a tad peeved with his repulsive -23 plus minus rating?) See if you can sell another owner on his Power Play prowess and potential, but divest yourself quickly.

Georges Laraque-RW-Pittsburgh Penguins: Let's face're not looking for pretty, end-to-end rushes from Big Georges. His point scoring is merely a bonus. No, you have Laraque on your team for one reason only: To get you some badly needed penalty minutes. His recent drought is likely causing you to look elsewhere (as well it should) to fill this need. Maybe it's not all his fault as there aren't many players left willing to take on this intimidating Warrior. But that's really not your problem....unless you own him.

Monday, February 18, 2008

To Buy or To Sell...that is the question

As recently as two weeks ago, the New York Islanders chances of making the playoffs seemed dead in the water. The team was fighting injuries and was playing it's most uninspired hockey of the season. Fans began to glumly accept that a shot at the Cup was not to be and started debates over which players should be moved at the upcoming trade deadline.

Then things got interesting.

The Islanders are now in the midst of a four game winning streak and are once again in the thick of the hunt for one of the coveted 8 spots. They dismantled an underwhelming Atlanta team in convincing fashion on Saturday and today defeated one of the league best squads, the San Jose Sharks. Fans began singing the praises of players such as Mike Comrie and Ruslan Fedotenko when, only days earlier, they were ready to send each of them to any other NHL destination for a bag of pucks and a couple of rolls of tape.

So, which team is for real? The underachieving Islanders who need to be rebuilt or the hungry group who needs a few key parts to win it all?

As a long time fan, I am not fooled. This team, winning streak notwithstanding, is fundamentally unsound and cannot compete in the long haul. This has become the trend in recent years: Strong start, middle of the season swoon, rebounding effort at the end just to make the postseason, then first round exit. It is not a formula for success and needs to be revamped.

I believe that GM Garth Snow has a rebuilding plan in mind and is determined not to repeat the mistakes he made during the Ryan Smyth fiasco. I think he signed players like Comrie to 1 year contracts in order to either sell high on them at the trade deadline or to simply use them as a stopgap measure until players from the Bridgeport Sound Tigers were ready to assume regular roles with the big club.

Stay the course, Garth. Do not be tempted by the silver lure gleaming off Lord Stanley's chalice. The Isles do not have a chance to win this year, but if they continue the rebuilding program they are on, they may have a chance to compete for many years to come.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Teemu goes Duck hunting

Teemu Selanne officially rejoined the Anaheim Ducks today, ending a season-long Waiting Game and inspiring some very heated debate.

On the one hand, Selanne, one of the game's most prolific goal scorers, made it clear early on that, if he were to postpone retirement and to play this year, he would only suit up for Anaheim. It was his choice to make and there was never any question.

Alternatively, critics point to his situation (as well as the Scott Niedermayer one) as unfair to the entire league. Their point does have some validity to it: Why should a player who has been resting most of the season suddenly be allowed to join whatever squad he chooses just in time for a playoff push?

My take is that Selanne merely (legally) exploited the lack of a rule preventing such actions. He feels the Ducks have a good chance to repeat as Stanley Cup champions and therefore, he wants to be a part of the triumph. Do some of his teammates feel slighted that they've carried the heavy load thus far and now the Flying Finn will enter the picture and lead them to playoff glory? Perhaps. However, hockey is first and foremost a team sport. The players know that a rejuvenated and healthy Selanne means that more wins are on the horizon.

Hoisting that silver chalice in June would go a long way towards dispelling any lingering bitterness.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Fantasy Hockey: Surprises and Disappointments

The Fantasy Hockey season is around the half-way point and it's time to highlight some surprising performances, both good and bad.

Nice Surprises:

Alexi Kovalev-Montreal- This enigmatic superstar is on pace to reach 78 points this season which would be the second highest total in his career to date (he recorded 95 with Pittsburgh in 2000-01). There were likely bigger name RW's taken ahead of him on Draft Day like Jaromir Jagr and Marion Hossa, but thus far, he represents the best value at the position.

Brendan Morrow-Dallas- Morrow is on pace to record 80 points this season, a mark that would easily eclipse his previous best effort of 65. Known more in the past for his penalty minutes than anything else, he has reinvented himself as a power-play specialist and already has 20 points with the man advantage.

Ty Conklin-Pittsburgh- Slated to be nothing more than the Pen's third string/emergency goalie, Conklin has been ridiculously hot since being called up from the minors. He has yet to lose in 7 games and boasts a .939 save percentage and two shutouts.

Bitter Disappointments:

Ray Emery-Ottawa- Drafted by many to be their starting goalie, Emery has led his owners on a rollercoaster ride amidst injuries, trade rumors, causing team dysfunction and the occasional "kung-fu fighting" bout with Brian McGratton. He has only started 12 games and is carrying an anemic .891 save percentage.

Patrick Marleau-San Jose- Marleau's season thus far has been downright perplexing. He has only 18 points and his owners must be tearing their hair out as they most likely expected better numbers from him than those of a third line plugger.

Jonathan Cheechoo-San Jose- Granted, he's missed 7 games due to injury this season, but 11 points so far for a projected top 6 winger? Cheechoo's lack of production has played a big role in the Sharks' troubles this year.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Brand New Year

Happy New Year to all my readers.

Fantasy Football has been laid to rest for the time being, so the new focus of this blog will be Fantasy Hockey. I'll be updating regularly about the sport starting next week.

I am also the new correspondent of the New York Jets for the following site: Please feel free to check me out on this excellent site as well.

For the record, Mrs. Pigskins and Pucks, Bridgette Raes, released her first book today: The Style Rx.

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