Need help setting your fantasy rosters? Well you have come to the right place. Here’s what to look out for and advice on how to help prepare your fantasy squad for Week 10.
Do you remember in Week 7 when I talked about Steven Stamkos possibly overtaking Sidney Crosby as the top center in the league? Well it appears that Crosby took exception to that type of talk and has stepped up his game tremendously since then. Crosby has now become the first person to reach 50 points in the league, 10 higher than the next highest guy, thanks to an absolutely insane 17-game streak that has seen him collect an incredible 20 goals and 15 assists for 35 points, a +14, 5 PPG and 5 PPA. That’s as many points as Alex Ovechkin has over his entire season. That’s one less goal than Stamkos has his entire season, and he is second in the league in that category. In fact, that’s more points than everyone in the league over the entire season thus far except for of course Ovechkin and Stamkos. These numbers are Wayne Gretzky-like numbers and have the entire league talking about that comparison with his absolutely game dominating performances. Just to see one of the many examples of this, check out his latest hat trick performance where he alone got a win for the Penguins over the then streaking Atlanta Thrashers. Thanks to this type of impressive play, the Pens have now won 11 straight games and have shot to the top of the league with 42 points. Sidney Crosby is proving to everyone that he is indeed the best player in hockey, and if you have him on your team consider yourself very lucky. The only disappointing thing for fantasy owners is that Crosby and the gang only get to play twice during Week 10. That’s still two times I wouldn’t want to have to face them.
Martin Brodeur finally got back in the saddle on Friday after missing eight straight games with an elbow injury and 10 of his last 13. This is good news for Brodeur owners, as the Devils took the cautious route with him and really made sure he was ready to go before putting him back in a game. Johan Hedberg played decently in his place, but it looks like he will be riding the pine a lot now that Marty is back in.
Pekka Rinne hit the injured reserve last week after having to have minor surgery on his knee due to an injury he suffered on December 1 in a shootout win over Columbus. This came at a bad time for Rinne owners because he was playing very well prior to his injury. Anders Lindback is going to be getting the starts until Rinne returns, which won’t be for a couple more weeks. Lindback has looked good so far this year so if any Rinne owners haven’t already, pick up Lindback ASAP.
Patrick Kane is going to have to miss as much as maybe three weeks due to a lower-body injury he suffered in a game versus Calgary on Sunday December 5. This is a huge blow to the Blackhawks as Marian Hossa is also still out with injury, although Hossa may be able to return as soon as next week. In lue of both of these injuries, Hossa was placed on IR and one of the Blackhawks’ top prospects, Jeremy Morin, has been recalled. Morin deserves a look in very deep and dynasty keeper leagues. Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews are going to need to step it up until Hossa and/or Kane can return.
Another injury that occurred almost a week ago: Steve Downie will be out for at least another three weeks with a high ankle sprain. These type of injuries are hard to diagnose and prone to setbacks, which owners need to be aware of. This is a pretty big loss for owners and the Lightning, as he was playing very well alongside Stamkos and Martin St. Louis and was providing them with the protection and gritty play that they needed on that line. Without Downie, Stamkos is pointless in his last three games while St. Louis has points in only one of those three games with a -4. Ryan Malone has stepped up since his absence, however, and is currently on a five-game point-streak (3g-4a-7pts, 2 PPP).
Since this piece will be released during the weekend of Week 9, I will go ahead and mention that Kari Lehtonen is going to have to miss at least Friday, December 10, and Saturday, December 11, due to back soreness. Especially if Lehtonen is forced to miss more time than this, Andrew Raycroft deserves an immediate add in his absence as he has played very well as the Dallas Stars’ backup this year (3-2-0, 2.10 GAA, .935 SV%, 1 SO).
And finally, we couldn’t go a week without some kind of concussion related injury news. Andy McDonald is the league’s next big victim of the league’s most popular injury. There is no timetable for McDonald’s return yet, and he will most likely be out for quite a while. Alex Steen is worthy of a pickup as he has stepped it up nicely (3g-1a-4pts, +2, 1 PPG in his last 2 games), while Vladimir Sobotka is seeing time on the first line between David Backes and Brad Boyes, and came up with a goal in a win on Dec. 9.
Here is the weekly breakdown for this upcoming week, December 13 – 19:
4 GAMES: Atlanta, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville, Ottawa, San Jose
3 GAMES: Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Montreal, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Phoenix, St. Louis, Toronto, Washington
2 GAMES: Edmonton, Florida, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Vancouver
Week 10 has a tie for the busiest nights of the week with Wednesday and Saturday both scheduled to have 11 games each. Thursday takes second place in that regard with nine games scheduled, while Monday, normally one of the lightest schedules of the week, contains six games. This means that the slowest nights of the week are Friday and Sunday with four each topped off with Tuesday as the slowest with only 2 games scheduled (TOR @ EDM, PIT @ PHI).
Now let’s take a look at what should be the most favorable matchups of the week:
Ottawa – This is especially for weekly leaguers, but in terms of straight schedule the Senators probably have the best of the bunch during Week 10. Not necessarily because of the matchups but because of the days their games are scheduled. They don’t play any games on the two busiest nights of the week while also played on three of the slowest nights. First up is Atlanta on Monday, then onto Minnesota on Thursday, followed by Colorado on Friday, and ending the week versus Washington on Sunday. The last three teams have been slumping a bit, so the slumping Sens may be able to take advantage.
Detroit – The Wings have fallen into a little bit of a slump lately, but Week 10 might be able to remedy that with a nice schedule. First up is LA on Monday, followed by St. Louis on Wednesday, then in Chicago on Friday, ending the week at home versus Dallas on Sunday. With games on three slow nights, three games at home, and no games played back-to-back, fantasy owners need to prepare to get their Detroit players out there for Week 10.
Colorado and Chicago – Both of these teams have almost identical schedules to the Red Wings during Week 10. Like the Wings, both of these teams also play four games during the week with three of those on the slow nights, three of those also at home, and neither team with any back-to-back games scheduled. Chicago has definitely been the better of the two teams lately despite both teams having a slew of recent injuries. With these two teams playing each other during the first two matches they play this week, Chicago gets the upper hand. Colorado finishes the week off versus Ottawa and Montreal, while Chicago plays Detroit and LA.
…And the least favorable matchups of the week:
New York Rangers – The Rangers have won three out of their last four games thanks to having a relatively easy schedule, but that trend is going to stop in Week 10. Not only do they play two very tough teams but all three games scheduled are on the busiest nights of the week. First up is a trip to see high-flying Pittsburgh on Wednesday followed with a match at home versus Phoenix on Thursday, and then they get to turn around and travel to Philadelphia for a match on Saturday. Weekly leaguers beware.
Tampa Bay – Not only do the Lightning only play two games next week, they also are playing these games on the two busiest nights of the week versus some very hot goaltenders. First up are red hot Ondrej Pavelec and the Thrashers on Wednesday, followed by another hot goalie in Ryan Miller and the Sabres on Saturday. If you are hoping that Steven Stamkos can get back to his scoring ways, Week 10 isn’t looking like the week he’ll do it in.
Honarable mention would go to Anaheim, Boston, Carolina, Phoenix, St. Louis, and Vancouver. None of these teams have good schedules for those in weekly leagues. The first five teams mentioned all have schedules just like the Rangers where they are playing three games on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Boston (@BUF, @MON, WAS) and St. Louis (@DET, LA, SJ) have the toughest schedules of the five. Vancouver, while getting to play a somewhat slumping Columbus and the Maple Leafs, plays only these two teams during Week 10 on the two busiest nights of the week. Plan accordingly.
Players that may be flying under the radar that should deserve a roster spot at this time:
Logan Couture, SJ – San Jose’s top rookie has been a scoring machine lately, collecting 6g-2a-8pts, and a +6 during a current five-game point streak. If he hasn’t been scooped up yet go grab him, especially in keeper leagues.
Corey Crawford, CHI – Crawford has been seeing regular time over Marty Turco, yet Turco is still way more widely owned. Grab him, especially if you need wins as he has now won seven games in a row.
Chris Kunitz, PIT – Last week I mentioned that Kunitz was a bit of a letdown considering he is on Crosby’s wing. Well he decided to finally get in on the action and is currently on a four-game point-streak with 1g-6a-7pts and a crazy high +10 over his last six games. Ride him while he is hot.
Taylor Hall, EDM – The first overall pick in last year’s draft finally seems to be coming together. He now has six goals in his last ten games and is looking more comfortable out there all of the time.
Dave Bolland, CHI – Due to all of Chicago’s injuries, Bolland has been playing more minutes the past few games and has responded with 2g-2a, +2, and 2 PPG over his last two games.
Matt Carle, PHI – With as good as Philly’s defense is someone always seems to be collecting points from the blue line and right now it’s Carle’s turn. He currently has 1g-5a-6pts and a +5 over his last four games. Ride him while he is hot.
That about does it. As always post any comments or questions below. Good luck next week, everyone!
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