Tuesday, January 13, 2004 Updated: January 20, 11:17 AM ET
Hard Hits: Boucher's barking loud
By Chris Nichols
Confidence can be a tricky bit of business.
In life, having confidence can translate into doing better work, which can then lead to promotions, more money, better house, yadda, yadda, yadda.
In the hands of an athlete, confidence is often the key factor for any great performance. A lack of confidence can be downright disastrous.
No one really knows how confidence can appear or disappear at the drop of a hat, but we all know that it can and does happen in all walks of life.
In the case of the average working stiff, confidence can begin its downward spiral by getting a bad review on a project at work. That review turns into a few bad working days, which can quickly spiral into you plastered at a bar, face-down in a bowl of peanuts.
In athletics, obviously when production dissipates the athlete is faced with criticism and decreased playing time.
Brian Boucher is a guy who is overflowing with confidence right now. Boucher and the Phoenix Coyotes just ended a run of five straight shutouts, which set the modern era mark for consecutive shutout minutes. In the process, many fantasy owners were able to jump on for the last few games of the streak and put up a few goose eggs to their goaltending totals. Aside from Boucher's great run though, is the question that it raises: Will the Coyotes deal Sean Burke now that they have 100 percent confidence in Boucher?
The answer to the Coyotes' goaltending question is directly related to what another team would be willing to pay for a veteran goaltender like Burke. If the right package comes along, there's no question Phoenix would move Burke - Wayne Gretzky has said as much since last season. From a fantasy perspective, owners hope the situation works itself out quickly. In the meantime, hang onto Boucher and let's see what happens. Don't forget that Burke was amazing in December (2.08 GAA & .932 SA %) and has a lot more on his resume than Boucher, who was exposed in the waiver draft at the start of the season.
HOT, HOT, HOT
Another guy who must have no shortage of confidence these days is Sheldon Souray in Montreal. Souray had a six-point game over the weekend, which set a franchise record for points in a game by a Canadiens defenseman. Souray's season has been magical for fantasy owners (14G, 18A, 58 PIMs and 129 SOG) and while he may not double those totals for the second half, he should still contribute nicely the rest of the way.
Jarome Iginla is on fire right now and is handsomely rewarding those owners who stuck with him through pretty average numbers in the first part of the season. Iggy just took home Offensive Player of the Week honors, spurred on by seven points on a three-game road trip and then another three points in Calgary's first game home. Iginla is fast approaching the point-per-game mark (37 in 41 now) and should explode by it by the time the Flames hit Southern California in a week.
Apparently Peter Forsberg's abdominal pull has healed just fine, thank you very much. Forsberg has been his usual dominant self lately and is racking up points like they're going out of style. Forsberg is riding a six-game points streak that has seen him notch 2G, 10A, +6, 6 PIMs and 6 PP+SH. Milan Hejduk (seven points), Alex Tanguay (nine points), Joe Sakic (seven points and he missed one game) and Paul Kariya (four points in four games since returning) have also thrived. Teemu Selanne has a stiff neck, but when he gets back into action he should also improve on his first half totals.
GOALS, MAN - I NEED GOALS!
The ship has long since sailed on grabbing Rick Nash (25 goals and counting), but there may be a few guys who can fill in as short-term scorers on your roster: Michael Ryder (Another Calder contender, Ryder has 4G in his last 4GP and 13 points in his last 15GP), Ronald Petrovicky (7G in his last 10GP), Pierre Daigenais (Goals in three straight games, 13 points in 21GP this season and has seen time with Ribeiro and Zednik on the second line), Todd White (6G in his past 10GP, plus 4A and a +7 rating in that time), Igor Korolyuk (Has played with Damphousse and Marleau lately and 2G in his last 5GP), Mark Bell (5G in his last 7GP, is a good source for some PIMs and is playing regularly with Zhamnov and Sullivan), Scott Young (has goals in three straight games and is shooting the puck a lot, but he's better left on the waiver wire) and Patrice Bergeron (has 7G in his past 11GP).
WITHOUT BAD LUCK, NO LUCK AT ALL?
You know the cartoon character that walks around with a rain cloud above his head, no matter where he goes? The Los Angeles Kings are telling that guy to cheer up. As if the Kings didn't have enough problems with Jason Allison and Adam Deadmarsh likely gone for the season; they then lose Ziggy Palffy to shoulder surgery. Had a good laugh yet? They only lost Palffy after just getting Roman Cechmanek back from a hip injury that cost him several weeks. That wasn't enough though: Martin Straka is now going to miss time with a knee injury. Perhaps this is a good time for what's left of the Kings' forward corps to take out an additional insurance policy. Of course, as soon as the insurance company sees "Los Angeles Kings player" in the occupation section, the premium will be automatically tripled.
ASSORTED NOTES John Grahame continues to look strong in the net for Tampa (Three straight starts, all wins, all with only one goal allowed in each contest) and that is only fueling speculation that Nik Khabibulin will be dealt, but trade rumors follow Khabi like bad press follows Wacko Jacko ... Rookie Nathan Horton has 5G in his last 7GP and is giving up a glimpse of why he was drafted third overall in last summer's draft ... Scott Walker has not stopped piling up points and now has 6G and 9A in his last 14GP and he also leads Nashville in points ... Andrew Raycroft and the Bruins went through an awful stretch, but the young goalie has four wins with only five total goals against in his last three games ... Cliff Ronning signed with the Isles and should have some assist value once he gets up to speed ... The Sedin twins are hot again in Vancouver and in their last 11GP have compiled decent stats (Henrik has 4G, 6A; Daniel has 2G, 5A) ... Dimitri Kalinin (Six points in seven games) is an option if you need defensive help ... It's probably a mirage, but Karel Rachunek has six points and a +7 rating in his last 9GP ... Fred Modin is a guy that can score when he's hot and he has 5G in his last 5GP ... Sergei Samsonov (Five points in five games) is finally contributing to fantasy rosters, thanks in part to a return to the Thornton line ... Jochen Hecht has 11 points in his last 11GP.
Finally, a quick shout out for Cam Neely. The Bruins great had his number 8 raised to the rafters Monday night in Boston. Neely was the quintessential power forward and fantasy monster in his day; the kind of guy that comes along once in a generation. He could score (50 goals in only 44 games one season, second fastest in history only to Wayne Gretzky) and his hits were legendary. Injury problems cut his career short (Just like Mike Bossy and even Mario Lemieux in various stages), but the legend will live on.
In addition to writing a column for us each week, Chris also pens a fantasy piece for Slam! Hockey every Friday and a daily advice column that runs during the week. His other job is with McKeenshockey.com, where he writes the daily NHL News & Notes section for the subscription-based service.