Frozen Fantasy: Keep Your Cool

Frozen Fantasy: Keep Your Cool

This article is part of our Frozen Fantasy series.

American Thanksgiving is a psychological mile marker for NHL and fantasy teams alike. You don't want to be so far behind that you can't recover. But you don't want to overreact and lose sight of the forest either. 

So how do you keep your cool?

It can be hard. Really hard. But it all comes back to your goals and how you focus to achieve them. 

I hear you – that seems like a gross oversimplification. But is it? It's easy to lose sight of your goal or to assume there's only one way to get there. An all-or-nothing way of thinking rarely gets us anywhere. It's all about shades of gray.

In head-to-head, I set a number of goals. Obviously 'get to the playoffs' leads the list. Anything is possible in head-to-head if you simply get in. But I also have a sub-goal – get a bye if it's remotely possible. A ticket for a free round helps offset some of the end-of-season volatility.

I also strive for a bit of boredom. Injury-prone players can destroy you come playoffs, so I look to load the bottom-half of my H2H roster with safe, sturdy guys with slightly lower ceilings.

In roto formats, my goals change over time. It's foot-to-the-floor from Day One for me – a big early lead can be unsurmountable. In large part because it's soul-crushing for a lot of opponents. 

They give up. That means fewer teams chasing you. Fewer waiver pickups and fewer trades – managers

American Thanksgiving is a psychological mile marker for NHL and fantasy teams alike. You don't want to be so far behind that you can't recover. But you don't want to overreact and lose sight of the forest either. 

So how do you keep your cool?

It can be hard. Really hard. But it all comes back to your goals and how you focus to achieve them. 

I hear you – that seems like a gross oversimplification. But is it? It's easy to lose sight of your goal or to assume there's only one way to get there. An all-or-nothing way of thinking rarely gets us anywhere. It's all about shades of gray.

In head-to-head, I set a number of goals. Obviously 'get to the playoffs' leads the list. Anything is possible in head-to-head if you simply get in. But I also have a sub-goal – get a bye if it's remotely possible. A ticket for a free round helps offset some of the end-of-season volatility.

I also strive for a bit of boredom. Injury-prone players can destroy you come playoffs, so I look to load the bottom-half of my H2H roster with safe, sturdy guys with slightly lower ceilings.

In roto formats, my goals change over time. It's foot-to-the-floor from Day One for me – a big early lead can be unsurmountable. In large part because it's soul-crushing for a lot of opponents. 

They give up. That means fewer teams chasing you. Fewer waiver pickups and fewer trades – managers who give up often ignore trade requests. Sure, that impacts you, but it also hurts the teams chasing you. Everyone gets ignored. 

The giving up phenomenon can help you in a lot of other ways. Each scoring category is ripe for the picking if managers start to forget to set lineups. I evaluate each category against who has checked out already. And if there's a big gain to be had, then I pursue. Hard. Especially if I can overtake a lot of checked-out teams who sit ahead of me.

Gain is gain, no matter how you acquire it. And I'm a huge advocate of trading from a position of strength if I'm well ahead in one or more categories. Protecting and padding a big pre-existing lead has net zero impact. Other than to pad an ego. 

Now let's take a look at who caught my eye this week. 

David Krejci, C, Boston (20 percent Yahoo!) – What a return. Krejci looks like the player he was in 2018-19 when the Bruins went to the Cup Final, not a guy who just returned from playing overseas. He's thriving in coach Jim Montgomery's free-flowing game – he put in two goals Friday against Carolina to stretch his current scoring streak to five games and eight points, including six goals. Yes, six. And two of those have come on the PP. Krejci is rolling at close to a point-per-game pace this season, but they've come in bunches. Get in on this streak and then slide him to your bench to wait for the next one. 

Spencer Martin, G, Vancouver (9 percent Yahoo!) – There's already talk of a goaltending controversy in Vancouver, but that's because the city is desperate for improvement. Martin has won two straight on the road against Colorado and Vegas, and he's started six of the team's last 11 games heading into Sunday. Thatcher Demko is among the league's elite, so let's not get too excited. But Martin is playing well enough to be rostered in more than one-in-10 leagues. 

Sean Monahan, C, Montreal (3 percent Yahoo!) – Monahan's first multi-point game came Friday night in Chicago to stretch his point streak to four games and five points (two goals, two assists). And points in seven of his last eight contests (three goals, five assists). Monahan isn't the player he was earlier in his career, but he could still be a 50-point, 600-FO win guy who gets time on PP1. Sturdy, not sexy, but sometimes that works in deep leagues. 

Janis Moser, D, Arizona (8 percent Yahoo!) – The growth in Moser's game this year has been nothing short of stunning. He's averaging five more minutes a night than he did last year, and the extra responsibility hasn't hurt the young defender's game. Instead, it has helped. Moser has 13 points in 20 games and he's riding a five-game, five-point streak coming out of Sunday afternoon. And a point in eight of his last nine. The strong skater is just 22 and already a top-four, two-way defender who is flirting with a 50-point pace. Moser is also blocking shots, using his body and producing on the power play. Get thee to the desert. He's waiting for you. 

T.J. Oshie, RW/C, Washington (43 percent Yahoo!) – Oshie has three points in three appearances since his return from an 11-game absence. The Caps have been in freefall lately, but they won two of those games. They won't blow up their team as long as Alex Ovechkin is in pursuit of Gretzky's goal record, so they'll rely heavily on their vets. I like Oshie short-term – he's inspired and rested. I also like the idea of trading him once he starts to produce. He has a lot of clicks on the odometer and like a vintage car, it takes a lot of work to keep him on the ice. 

Nick Paul, LW/C, Tampa Bay (25 percent Yahoo!) – Paul stepped into the Bolts lineup last season and was a revelation – 14 points in 21 games. He became a fantasy darling. So why is he languishing on the wire in three-quarters of leagues now? Paul has 15 points, including nine goals, in 20 games and is proving that outburst wasn't a fluke. Especially when you look closer to see those 15 points have come in his last 15 outings. He's also laid 37 hits over that span. Bonus. Paul heads into a four-game week on a two-game, four-point streak that includes three snipes. I have him in a couple leagues and I'm going hunting in more. 

Nick Schmaltz, RW/C, Arizona (25 percent Yahoo!) – Go get him – Schmaltz jumped from 17 to 25 percent rostered in a couple hours on Sunday. He's already put up four points - including three goals - in four games since his return, and has picked up right where he left off last year. That is as a point-per-game player. Schmaltz will likely end up with more ouches this season – he's never been fully healthy. But that's a risk my roster can absorb to get this first-line talent.

Akira Schmid, G, New Jersey (14 percent Yahoo!) – Schmid has been a revelation since his call-up to replace Mackenzie Blackwood. He's played as well or better than Vitek Vanecek since his arrival, and doesn't look anything like the overwhelmed young man from last season. Schmid has only allowed four goals in four games, and they're all wins. And he's stopped 81-of-85 shots. Sure, those games were against Buffalo, Arizona and Ottawa. But go back and watch the third period of Friday's win over Buffalo. Jersey was penned into their zone most of that frame and the W was squarely Schmid's – he was dominant. I'm stashing this kid for the future, but will rely on him for a boost to my blue paint until at least Christmas.

Justin Schultz, D, Seattle (10 percent Yahoo!) – Schultz rolls into Sunday on a four-game, six-point scoring streak (two goals, four assists) and has 12 points on the season. We all wrote him off as a one-hit wonder after his glorious 2016-17 campaign, so managers often ignore him. At their peril. Schultz is on a near 50-point pace. Yup. There's a place for that on just about EVERY fantasy squad. Might as well be on yours (and mine). 

Jeff Skinner, LW, Buffalo (46 percent Yahoo!) – Skinner has scored more than 30 goals in four different seasons and is on pace for 35 this year. He's on a heater right now with six snipes in his last six games. Disregard the Buffalo effect – the guy's hands are incredible. Go get him before everyone else jumps on board. Okay?

Back to keeping your cool. 

Focusing on goals helps you keep your eyes on the prize. Don't get too caught up in runs. Or slumps. Don't make a move just because someone else did. 

And don't just pick up someone off the wire because he caught my eye. And especially if you didn't build a roster that lets you easily stream players in and out. He might be temporarily shiny, but may not fit your goal. 

Focusing on goals strips out emotion, which can often narrow perspective and end up in regret. 

Don't get me wrong – I can overreact just like anyone else. I pause, take a breath and ask myself: 'What are the facts here?' 

Facts have a funny way of creating perspective. 

Until next week. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Janet Eagleson
Janet Eagleson is a seven-time Finalist and four-time winner of the Hockey Writer of the Year award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. She is a lifelong Toronto Maple Leafs fan, loved the OHL London Knights when they were bad and cheers loudly for the Blackhawks, too. But her top passion? The World Junior Hockey Championships each and every year.
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