Guest Post by Jessica Foreman
Want to know a way to make watching and following hockey an even more exciting experience? Yes, it might be to get rink-side seats for all of your favorite team’s home games, but that may not be possible.
But what is easily achievable is to get involved in fantasy hockey. That way, even when your team’s not playing, you’ll still have some skin in the game.
Fantasy hockey has been with us since the early 1980s. But back in those days, playing was a very different experience to today. Like most things, the internet has brought about the big transformation making it easier and more fun to play than ever before.
There are countless leagues to join and many different variations to choose from. For the beginner to get the most out of it, there are a few tips to take on board first.
Decide how you want to play
Before you leap into things, the first step will be doing a fair amount of homework. Don’t worry; it should be fun.
The first is to decide which scoring formats you think you’ll enjoy the most. While there are many different types of fantasy hockey, they boil down into head-to-head or rotisserie.
In the former, you’ll be up against a different player in your particular pool each week to see who wins in each of the selected categories, including goals scored, assists, shots on goal, and power play points. Over the season, the fantasy player with the most overall points carries off the prize.
Rotisserie may sound like it has more to do with roasting chicken than hockey. But it’s just the word used to describe a league in which you are placed in a pool with several other players. For a pool of ten, the weekly winner of that pool in a particular category gets ten points, the runner-up nine, and so on.
At the end of the season, all these points are totaled up, and the winner is announced. It’s up to you which way you decide to go – and maybe you’ll want to try both.
Put a strong squad together.
Guess what? The secret to fantasy hockey success is always putting together as strong a squad as possible.
It sounds simple, but there’s a real skill to getting the balance exactly right. Obviously, you want to pick all of the league’s superstars. But they’re going to blow your draft budget pretty quickly.
So it’s a question of searching out a wide range of good value players who will make up the bulk of your squad. Sure, have a David Pastrnak or Alex Ovechkin in your team but balance them out with a good selection of promising up-and-coming players too.
You’ll be able to spot who these might be from the huge amount of information online where a lot of the statistical number-crunching should have been done for you already.
As for which position it will be extra-critical to get right, many people will say that having a good goaltender is worth its weight in gold. So put plenty of your draft money aside for a player like Sergei Bobrovsky or Tristan Jarry. Because keeping a clean sheet may turn out to be even more important than scoring lots of goals.
One final point to consider is that you need a squad with depth. Players get injured, so you need backups which you can use when they’re out of action.
That means spending a little less money on individuals to get more options when they’re needed.
Ration your team changes
It can be tempting to chop and change when things don’t seem to be going quite right for your team. But, as they say, form is temporary, and class is permanent. So as long as you have chosen your team with due diligence, the players should all come good eventually.
You also only have a certain number of changes available over the season. Use them up too early, and you might find yourself in a corner towards the end of the season with nowhere really left to turn.
Keep emotions in check
It’s only natural that if you’re passionate about hockey in general, you will also be passionate about fantasy hockey. But it’s vital to avoid making draft and player decisions based on emotion.
That’s because showing bias towards the players you admire might mean you overlook others who show more potential. This is also why monitoring the wider league with an open mind is important.
You may never even have registered the existence of a player in a team you don’t follow, but he might turn into dynamite for you.
So those are the tips. Now, it’s time to put them into practice to see if you have the makings of a fantasy hockey champion.