Looking Ahead: Week 11

12/18/2010 2:02 AM -  Garrett Rees

Need help setting your fantasy rosters?  Want advice and tips and a way to see crazy goals like this?  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 11.

Last week I started off by talking about Sidney Crosby and his 17-game point streak (now 21 games long for 20g-19a-39pts) and the Penguins’ 11 game win streak (stopped at 12 games).  Well this week I’m going to start off by talking about the other team in this year’s Winter Classic and their streak – although this one is the kind you never want: the Washington Capitals and their seven-game losing streak.  Somehow, despite all of the big names of Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Green, they have been horrendous these past seven games (0-5-2), scoring more than one goal in a game only twice in that span.  These last seven games have seen Ovechkin, the best pure goal scorer in the game, collect only a pitiful 2g-1a-3pts. Semin has an even worse 0g-2a-2pts, while Backstrom has 0g-4a-4pts and Green only has one assist while also having to miss two games with an apparent knee injury.  Two goals and eight assists from the top four players on your team is simply not going to cut it, which has shown on the stats sheet.  The Caps have only been able to muster nine goals total during the streak with four of those coming in one game – an overtime loss against Toronto.  This team is simply too good to be in this kind of a rut, so they are bound to find their way out sooner or later.  A game to watch during Week 11 is definitely going to be the matchup between the Pens and Caps on Thursday.  It will be a huge test for Washington to try and get back on track.

In a rather crazy turn of events, it looks like the NHL may be seeing Evgeni Nabokov a lot sooner than we all thought.  For reasons that are still rather unclear, Nabby and his KHL team SKA St. Petersburg have mutually parted ways, effectively severing a four-year deal only a couple of months in.  While his Russian numbers were pretty bad (8-8-5, 3.02 GAA and .888 SV%) his career NHL numbers of 2.39 GAA and a .912 SV% are very enticing.  This of course got the rumor mills working, and the biggest rumor so far is that the Tampa Bay Lightning might have some interest despite the Lightning’s GM Steve Yzerman publically dismissing this.  For Nabokov to be able to join an NHL team, he would first have to go through waivers, which is an added hurdle for any team to trying to sign him.  Since most teams already have their goalie situations locked down for the season I honestly don’t expect to see Nabby in the NHL this year.  But hey, stranger things have happened.

Speaking of strange goalie situations, the Philadelphia Flyers have one of their own.  Michael Leighton was officially taken off LTIR, meaning they now have the issue of figuring out what to do with three goalies.   Brian Boucher and rookie surprise Sergei Bobrovsky have played tremendously well in Leighton’s absence, so it’s anybody’s guess what they are going to end up doing.  It will be very interesting to see how this plays out.

Marco Sturm was finally traded to the LA Kings last week purely for salary cap related reasons from the Boston Bruins.  I used the word “finally” because this deal reportedly happened weeks ago but because of Sturm’s health issues the deal was apparently dropped by LA.  Well, it turns out that they decided they wanted him after all and they went ahead with the deal that they had previously worked out.  Sturm has yet to play this season as he recovers from a knee injury, but his return seems imminent as he has been practicing with the team.  He will be one to keep your eyes on because he is projected to play a top-six role for LA and could be worth a pickup. 

INJURY UPDATE

There was some good news for fantasy owners on Wednesday as Vincent Lecavalier surprisingly returned to the lineup.  He had missed about four weeks after having surgery to repair a fractured knuckle but he wasn’t expected back for a couple more weeks.  Get him back in your lineups.

There was some more good news for owners on Wednesday as Tim Connolly and Drew Stafford both returned to the Buffalo lineup. While Connolly only logged 14 minutes without a point, Stafford got right back on track by scoring all three of Buffalo’s goals in a 3-2 win.  Connolly has not been as effective this year as he has in the past, but Stafford has been a scoring machine for Buffalo when he is actually healthy.  Both players are safe to insert back into lineups, and Stafford makes for a good waiver-wire pickup if he is available.

Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa may soon be returning to the Blackhawks’ lineup.  Kane went out last week with a knee injury and was projected to be out almost three weeks, but a speedy recovery has gotten him back to practice and he could play as soon as Sunday.  Hossa has missed about a month with a lower-body injury, but he too may join the club on Sunday, although his is more of a waiting game than Kane.  Owners of these guys need to plan on getting them back in your lineups for Week 11 barring a setback, despite Chicago playing only two games for the week.

It seems that injuries have been happening in pairs for teams as Edmonton also has a pair of injuries.  Both Ales Hemsky and Shawn Horcoff landed on the IR last week.  The biggest loss will be not having Ales Hemsky in the lineup for at least a month because of a groin injury, as he is the team’s top playmaker.  Horcoff will miss even longer, up to two months, because of a torn MCL in his knee.  The young guns Jordan Eberle, Taylor Hall, and Sam Gagner will all have to step it up as they will likely see expanded roles. 

In a big blow to the Rangers, Ryan Callahan will be out 6 to 8 weeks after breaking his left hand.  The Rangers will have trouble replacing their second-leading scorer, as he is also the heart and soul of the team.  Chris Drury returned to the lineup just in time as he played his first game of the season on Wednesday.  Alexander Frolov will probably see an expanded role now that Callahan is out.

Chris Pronger is going to be out of the lineup for 4 to 6 weeks for the Flyers after breaking his foot.  The Flyers’ blue line is very deep so expect any one of Kimmo Timonen, Matt Carle (who I mentioned last week), or Andrej Meszaros to pick it up in his place.

In what looked like a serious injury at the time, Paul Stastny suffered a minor back injury on Wednesday by falling awkwardly into the boards after taking a hit.  Luckily for the injury-riddled Avalanche, he shouldn’t be out of the lineup for too long.  T.J. Galiardi, just returning from injury himself, will take his place in his absence.

And lastly, Jean-Sebastien Giguere is out indefinitely after re-aggravating an old groin injury Thursday night.  As of now he is officially listed as day-to-day, but Giguere himself is worried he could be out for a while.  Jonas Gustavsson will get the bulk of the action while he is out.

WEEKLY BREAKDOWN

Here is the weekly breakdown for this upcoming week, December 20 – 26:

4 GAMES: Atlanta, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Vancouver

3 GAMES: Anaheim, Calgary, Carolina, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders, Phoenix, Washington

2 GAMES: Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Colorado, Ottawa, San Jose, Toronto

1 GAME: New York Rangers, Philadelphia

Due to the holiday, the entire league will take a Christmas break on Thursday and Friday, so Week 11 will technically have only five days of hockey.  This is the reason the Rangers and the Flyers only play one game, so be prepared.  Thursday is the busiest night of the week with 13 games being played before the two-day break while Wednesday is the slowest night with only four games on the schedule.  Monday and Tuesday both have seven games scheduled, while Sunday will see 11 games as the league gets right back into it after the layoff.

STRONG SCHEDULES

Now let’s take a look at what should be the most favorable matchups of the week:

Vancouver – Vancouver has a full slate of action in Week 11, playing four games including three in four nights.  They play St. Louis on Monday, Detroit on the slowest night of the week, a suddenly losing Columbus on Thursday, then cap it with Edmonton on Sunday.  That’s a pretty mixed bag of teams on a mixed bag of nights.  The twins and friends should be able to collect you plenty of points.

Pittsburgh – The Pens have a similar schedule to Vancouver.  They also play four games with three of them in four nights.  First up is Phoenix on Monday, followed by Florida on Wednesday, Washington on Thursday, and Ottawa on Sunday.  With the way Crosby and the Pens have been playing lately, even despite losing their last two, I would not want to have to match up against these guys.

Nashville – As of writing this the Predators are on a four-game winning streak and will be looking to continue that through Week 11.  They play Chicago on Wednesday, Ottawa on Thursday, and then St. Louis on Sunday.  Anders Lindback has been playing lights out in Pekka Rinne’s absence.

WEAK SCHEDULES

…And the least favorable matchups of the week: 

Philadelphia and NY Rangers – These are the obvious choices here, as Philadelphia only plays on Monday versus Florida while the Rangers only play on Thursday versus the Lightning.  With other teams playing a full slate of games during Week 11, weekly leaguers almost certainly have better options.  This goes double for Rangers’ players since their only game also falls on the busiest night of the week.

Florida – The Panthers are on the road during Week 11, and their trip probably couldn’t get any tougher as they are playing three teams that will be very tough to beat.  They face second place Philadelphia on Monday then play first place Pittsburgh and a streaking Buffalo team back-to-back on Wednesday and Thursday.  Owners of Tomas Vokoun will seriously want to look for other options out there.

Ottawa – The Senators only have two games on the schedule and they are both against some tough opponents on the busiest nights of the week.  First up is a red-hot Nashville team on Thursday, followed by the top team in the league on Sunday (Pittsburgh).  I’d be looking elsewhere in weekly leagues.

WAIVER-WIRE WATCH

Players that may be flying under the radar that should deserve a roster spot at this time:

Tomas Fleischmann, COL – Flash has had a fun time playing for the high-scoring Avalanche.  Too bad the Caps can’t say the same about their end of the trade.  In the eight games that the Avalanche have had Flash on the roster, he has picked up 5g-6a-11pts with 3 PPG.  This is including 4g-3a-7pts in his last three games, all victories.  In the meantime the Caps have won only one in eight games since the trade.

Alex Steen, STL – Last week I mentioned Steen as being a good pickup to replace the injured Andy McDonald.  Well, I hope you followed my advice as he is currently on a five-game scoring streak.  He has 4g-3a-7pts, 2 GWG, and 3 PPP in that time and looks to be worthy of a pickup at least while McDonald is out.

Mikhail Grabovski, TOR – Grabovski has been the Leafs’ best player lately while centering the top line.  He now has 5g-1a-6pts over his last six games, while failing to get on the scoresheet only once in that span.

Sergei Kostistyn, NAS – After only collecting three points in his first 19 games in a Preds jersey, Sergei has come from out of nowhere and is now on an eight-game point streak.  He has 3g-7a-10pts and a +8 in that time.  There is no way he can keep this up, but for now he makes for a good temporary add.

Erik Karlsson, OTT – The Sens’ rookie blue liner has looked very impressive lately.  In his past six games he has collected 2g-6a-8pts and 4 PPP while manning the Ottawa point.  He’s definitely worth a grab if you are in need of some help on the defensive end.

Olli Jokinen, CAL – That’s right, this guy has finally decided to play.  He now has 3g-2a-5pts over his last four games.

That about does it.  As always post any comments or questions below.  Good luck next week and have a fun and safe holiday!

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