Looking Ahead: Week 14

01/08/2011 2:40 AM -  Garrett Rees

Week 13 was a fun one, especially with a great Winter Classic in the rain.  Like many of you, I always enjoy watching the big outdoor games.  Week 13 is almost over, however, so it’s time to start planning for Week 14. Here’s what to look out for and advice on how to help you prepare your fantasy squad for Week 14 and beyond.

As was being speculated, The New York Islanders traded 41-year old Dwayne Roloson this past week.  He is going to none other than the team that had Evgeni Nabokov rumors flying around them: the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Rollie instantly goes from being a decent goalie on a last place team that you’d rather not have on your fantasy squad to waiver-wire gold if he is still available.  His first game was a huge success in a 41-save shutout over the Washington Caps.  His next game, however, didn’t fare so well, as he allowed five goals on 23 shots.  Dan Ellis didn’t play any better though, as the team was embarrassed in a 8-1 loss to the Penguins.  No one could find their game that night, not even Steven Stamkos.  It’s Rollie and Ellis right now with Mike Smith on the shelf with an knee injury, but it will be interesting to see what happens when Smith returns.  My money would be on Smith to be the odd man out, partially due to his recent run of injuries.

The Dallas Stars announced on Friday that they have brought back old fan-favorite Jamie Langenbrunner from the New Jersey Devils for a conditional draft pick.  With Dallas already having perhaps one of the best top-6 groups in the league, Langenbrunner should provide some good secondary scoring from most likely the third line.  Where he will probably be best used for fantasy purposes will be on the power play, as the Stars have been lacking a talented right-handed shot for a long time, making him instantly valuable in that regard.  With the elephant that was New Jersey this year off of his back, I’d expect Jamie’s numbers to eventually go up, especially in the power-play points category.

In another move by Tampa Bay, the Lightning have signed power-play specialist, though often defensive liability, defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron.  Since he has not played a game yet this year, the Lightning took a chance by sending him through waivers to allow him to get extended conditioning down in the minors.  Once Bergeron is deemed ready to join the NHL (possibly as long as two or three weeks), he will most likely be instantly inserted into a power-play capacity.  Since defensive play isn’t regarded in fantasy hockey, he could definitely be worth looking at when he finally joins the team as he has a knack for scoring big goals from the point.  In fact, his 27 goals over the past two seasons are fourth most by a d-man despite missing time with injuries.  With the talent that he will be surrounded with on the power play, he could be a big second half addition to teams in need of blueline help.

It looks like the three-headed monster that was the Philadelphia Flyers’ goalie situation is finally down to the standard two goalies, with Michael Leighton the odd man out even though he is finally ready to return from injury.  With the Flyers finding no immediate suitors for him, Leighton was waived by the club before landing in the AHL with the Flyers’ minor league affiliate.  Elder statesman Brian Boucher and the talented, young rookie Sergei Bobrovsky will now man the nets for Philly possibly for the rest fo the season.  All is not lost for Leighton, though, as there is still a chance he can be sent through re-entry waivers and could be picked up for half-price by another club in need, but it’s looking more and more likely that Leighton will have to hone his skills down in the minors for the remainder of the season.  Tough break, but everyone knew something was going to have to be done eventually.

INJURY REPORT

Tampa Bay received a boost to their lineup on Tuesday as Steve Downie finally made his return to the lineup.  He has failed to register a point in the two games he has played in since returning, but he has provided 9 PIM.  He is one of the best points + PIM combo guys in fantasy hockey, so definitely get him back into your lineups.

Chris Stewart is making progress with his broken hand injury, as he was stick-handling in practice on Thursday.  He is still probably a week or more away from actually returning, but get ready to insert him back into your lineup when he returns. He is one of the most skilled players on the Avalanche’s roster and has the propensity to near the top of the pack in the goals category when healthy.

I mentioned in Week 13 that Ryan Getzlaf’s facial injury didn’t seem as bad as it was and could return soon.  Well, shortly after that the official news was revealed, it was not nearly as good as first thought.  Getz still does not require surgery, but was given a 4 to 6 week timetable for his return.  That means Getzlaf will most likely be out until February.

Jordan Eberle sure had one crazy week.  Not only did he suffer an ankle injury, but he also had to be rushed to the hospital on Wednesday for an emergency appendectomy.    He will be at least another week.  Talented rookie Linus Omark is back in the lineup in Eberle’s absence.

And finally, not only does the best player hockey lose his 25-game point streak (24g-26a-50pts) and loses in the Winter Classic, but Sidney Crosby is going to be out about a week because of a concussion.  No one seems exactly sure if he incurred it during the Winter Classic or in the following game versus Tampa Bay, but the point remains that those lucky enough to have Crosby on their roster will be without him for at least for the first part of Week 14.

WEEKLY BREAKDOWN

Here is the weekly breakdown for this upcoming week, January 10 – 16:

4 GAMES: Boston, Edmonton, Nashville, NY Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Phoenix, St. Louis, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington

3 GAMES: Anaheim, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, NY Islanders, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Tampa Bay

2 GAMES: Atlanta, Dallas, New Jersey

This is a pretty standard week in regards to games-per-days.  The busiest nights are the pretty normal Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday with 10 games, 8 games, and 12 games respectively, while the slower nights of the weeks are Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday with 4 games, 4 games, and 5 games respectively.  Friday is the in between with 6 games being played.  With a full 11 teams playing four games and only three teams playing two games this next week, plan ahead when starting any Atlanta, Dallas, or New Jersey players.

STRONG SCHEDULES

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

St. Louis – This week has actually been tough finding teams with schedules that are clearly better than any others.  Most schedules seem pretty comparable this week.  With that said, The Blues are the only team that are playing four games this week while also playing on both Monday and Wednesday.  Despite having a pretty tough schedule versus Phoenix, Anaheim, LA, and San Jose, the Blues’ schedule provides plenty of opportunities to get some points from their skaters.

Colorado and Pittsburgh – Both of these teams also play on the two slowest days of the week.  Colorado faces Detroit, Chicago, and Minnesota on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; while Pittsburgh plays Boston, Montreal, and Boston, again on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

WEAK SCHEDULES

…And the least favorable matchups of the week:

New Jersey – It’s time to start life without captain Jamie Langenbrunner.  As mentioned above, the Devils only have two games in Week 14 and both of those games are back-to-back road games on Friday and Saturday versus Tampa and Florida. As is becoming more and more usual, put your Devils on the bench.

Atlanta – Another team with only two games next week and both of those are also back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday.  They play the top team in the East and a hot Dallas squad on busy nights, so the bench might be the best place for Atlanta players this week.

Calgary – Maybe not the hardest schedule in the world, but the Flames play all of their games and rather busy nights.  They play Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday versus Carolina, Ottawa, and Toronto.  Make sure you don’t have any better options on the bench before you start your Calgary players in weekly leagues.

WAIVER-WIRE WATCH

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

Drew Stafford, BUF – I can’t believe that this guy is still owned in only 18 percent of Yahoo leagues.  In the month of January so far, he has 3g-2a-6pts, 2 PPP, and 8 PIM in only three games.  With Derek Roy out for the season, Stafford is going to be relied upon even more heavily to perform and he has stepped up to the challenge so far.

P.A. Parenteau, NYI – The Islanders have been hot lately, and Parenteau has followed in line.  He has 5g-5a-10pts in his last ten games, finding the scoresheet in seven of those while playing on the first line with John Tavares and Matt Moulson.  He is definitely worth an add right now.

Tuomo Ruutu, CAR – Ruutu has been hot lately, with 11 points (2g-9a) and a +7 in his last seven games. His most recent performance resulted in three assists with a +3 against Florida on Friday.

Nathan Lawson, NYI – Due to DiPietro getting injured again (surprise, surprise) and Roloson being traded off, Nathan Lawson and Kevin Poulin are going to have to hold down the fort for the meantime.  Lawson had a great game on Monday in relief of DiPietro, stopping 28 of 29 shots in a 5-2 victory but was pulled early in his next game after allowing 2 goals on 3 shots.  Poulin came in in relief and stopped all 19 shots in a 2-1 loss.  With DiPietro’s injury history and the Islanders good play of late, I’d pay attention to this, especially if you are in need of some goalie help.

Jose Theodore, MINNiklas Backstrom hasn’t been playing very well recently.  Add in that he is also currently dealing with a groin injury, and Theodore is taking advantage.  He is currently on a three-game winning streak in which he has stopped 95 of 102 shots.  As long as he keeps winning, Theo will keep seeing starts so he could be a good short term add or at least a good handcuff for Backstrom owners.

That about does it.  As always, post any comments or questions below.  Good luck next week everyone!

You can follow Garrett on Twitter.


Comments

  1. Jim Hall says:

    Enjoy you’re analysis but help me out with this slow and busy night theory that seems to be a defining criteria for best and worst schedules … I’ve tried, but I just can’t figure out how the number of games going on in other cities helps or hurts individual player performances in their own games.

  2. Ian Gooding says:

    Good question, Jim… here are two reasons for the slow/busy night theory:

    1. Some leagues have plenty of bench (non-starter) spots, meaning that on days like Saturday where usually nearly all the teams play, fantasy owners may be forced to choose which players to start or bench. The most difficult decisions to make are usually in net, which is why fantasy owners want to know which goalies will be starting. However, if you have three goalies who usually start (eg. Price/Rinne/Lundqvist on one of my teams) and only two starting slots when all three play that night, you are forced to pick which player to bench. Players who play on less busy nights don’t have this kind of issue, especially in a daily league.

    2. With Sunday being the last day of the week in head-to-head leagues, good fantasy owners will attempt to win their categories by maximizing the number of players that will play that day (without dropping their top players in the process). Sunday is usually a slow day, so it may be advantageous to fantasy owners to pick players for the week who play on slow days (like Sunday) or in daily leagues, pick players on Saturday who play Sunday.

    Does that make more sense?

  3. Garrett Rees says:

    Thanks for your feedback Jim and some very valid points, Ian.

    This was a bit of a unusual week in that, as I mention above, There were not too many schedules that just instantly popped out as being better than the others in terms of difficulty of their opponents. Pretty much every team has a mix of playing weaker opponents and stronger opponents, while some teams are only playing some toough opponents. That’s why I went solely with their scheduling this week.

    As for your question, with leagues that you change out your lineup everyday you are right Jim, it may not be that important to you because you get to throw in players from your bench any time you want. In weekly leagues that decision is a lot tougher because you have to choose one player for an entire week, so it’s a lot more advantageous starting a player that plays 4 nights compared to only 2. But say you have a decent player that is starting on Thursday and Saturday of this week (the 2 busiest nights of the week) but have a player on your bench that may not be is good but is playing on monday and wednesday and then also Thursday and/or Saturday. Since Saturday and Thursday are most likely going to be full days regardless, I would much rather go with the player that may not be quite as good simply because it’s allowing me to get the most amount of players out there during the week. Those two extra days played could be huge in the scheme of things. Now of course you are always going to want to play your best players like Crosby and Ovechkin, but it helps in regards to those fringe bench players or recent waiver-wire additions.

    Another thing is, say the New Jersey Devils in Week 14, not only are they only playing on two busy nights but their schedule may be rough as well, having to play back-to-back nights with travel in between each. In a weekly league I would much rather pickup and play say Brad Boyes that gets to play on both Monday and Wednesday night as well as Thursday and Saturday night than even starting Kovalchuk, as those two extra days benefit Brad Boyes. Since Kovy is only playing on two busy nights, you can put him on your bench and know that most likely you won’t be losing any playing slots by doing it while at the same time gaining the extra 2 by starting Boyes. Make sense?

    Goalie starts are also huge with the slow/busy night scheduling. Going back to NJ, since they play only two games on back-to-back nights on two busy nights, I would definitely not want to start either Hedberg or Brodeur. In all likelihood they will be splitting those starts and the chances that you have two other viable options that you could start on both of those nights is great. Same goes for Atlanta and Pavelec/Mason. In a weekly lineup league, I would rather start Halak, Anderson, or Fleury during the week knowing I would be getting 2-3 good starts out of them than NJ’s goalies or Pavelec and only get 1 game from them during the week.

    Lastly, for those in daily leagues the slow day / busy day analysis is not as much useful for your everyday starters, but rather for those waiver-wire pickups you make. I know there are fantasy players out there that like to try to make a solid team from the start and make only 5-10 player moves all year. In my opinion and experience, that is not going to win you championships. You need to be riding the waiver-wire often, constantly looking to add a streaking player that can make your team better at least temporarily. With that in mind, when I’m looking to add a temp player for the week or so, I am going to be much more inclined to pick up someone from St. Louis, Colorado, or Pittsburgh than I would want to pick up a player from NJ, Calgary, or Atlanta. Not only would I have to worry about either benching that NJ player I recently picked up or sacrificing a starting position that probably should be taken up by a regular on my team, I can confidently start a waiver-wire pickup on Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday and know that they will be able to play that day while having plenty of spots on my starting roster to accommodate everyone.

    What are your thoughts? Would it be more beneficial to you if I were to add some other factors in there, such as talking about team’s that only play on the road or only at home? I could do that as well. Let me know what you think.

  4. Jim Hall says:

    Wow … great responses with lots to chew on.

    While I now understand the logic, I honestly believe a solid case can still be made that the slow/busy theory can be better utilized in a daily league vs a weekly one … seems to be a bit of a toss up to me.

    I’m in 2 weekly H2H leagues (first year on interwebz, decades in traditional Rotos) and I look at home vs road (and respective records), B2B’s and how-many-games-in-how-many-nights with/without travel in between. I also will look at both the preceeding and following weeks for larger sample sizes, like 6-in-9 nights or 7-in-12 etc. The number of Division games along with respective Div records also plays a factor, and obviously teams records in their last 10.

    Because I’m in weekly leagues based on averages, I’ll also look at teams with 2 games if opponents, home and travel, support it … I’ll even look at putting in a specific goalie to play only one of those (B2B) if I think it is the easier of the two … 1 or 2 games can make for an excellent week on specific players with no need to continue a hot pace for the rest of a 3 or 4 game week.

    For this week I think LA has the best schedule (home to Tor, Ed and STL) so I went looking for a FA King and there was Ryan Smyth! Dropped Clark (Tampa) for him and then will probably drop him as soon as the week starts (on a good streak that can’t go forever) and pick up MA Bergeron as Clark’s replacement (I can wait for him to arrive at this point).

    I put Smyth and Couture (also home to Tor, Ed and STL! and should benefit on return of Pavelski) in as starters at the expense, and with great risk imo, of Duchene and Hejduk (home Det, away Chi and Min)… I thought Colorado was going to break out last week (picked up Fleischmann to go along with Hejduk and Liles in my other league) due to a good schedule, but that was only so-so for me. They could break out at any time (if Anderson gets hot and he’s due) but having guys (5/12 on my active roster – already have Kopitar, Brown and Doughty) all at home and all playing Tor, Ed and STL is as good as it gets so I made my roster around it for this week.

    Obviously you can’t go into such detail on every team for your column every week but picking off 1 or 2 of ‘em when there would add more to the feature, imo.

    Cheers!

  5. Jim Hall says:

    Forgot to mention quality of opponents goaltending and overall D leading to less/more offense stats for you … article mentions Pit as strong this week but going up against Thomas/Rask twice and a resurgent Price with 2/3 on the road scares me (I contemplated sitting Fleury for Roloson, but I also have Varlamov and I try and avoid goalies going H2H so I’m staying with Fleury)… no Crosby is a huge factor but they’ll also be playing their 5th game in 8 nights on Wednesday in Montreal (with travel in between 4 of 5), so I definitely don’t like their schedule this week.

    In my mind the slow/busy theory has some merit, but I would rate it further down the list in importance … kinda like perephial stats, important, but others take higher priority.

  6. Garrett Rees says:

    Yeah, very valid points. I honestly don’t play weekly leagues as I never had any interest in them (would much rather update my team everyday) so some of those points that you mention I had never actually thought of. So I definitely appreciate your insight.

    Looks like I’m gonna be changing up my article a bit. Spend more time on the good matchups and bad matchups and get rid of injury updates and waiver-wire pickups.

    Check out my article next week and see if I do a better job.

  7. Jim Hall says:

    As mentioned, it is my first year (and also for 9 others in a work league) so weekly was really the only option … I gty I’ll be in Daily’s next year.

    The whole thing is a crapshoot on figuring out best and worst schedules as any team can win or lose on any night, or even an entire week … I really thought LA was going to turn around the end of their 8 game homestand (very good at home in the first 2 months) against lower level teams and yet they’ve now lost 6 of the 7 played at home.

    And to clarify, I think you do a very good job Garrett … I also appreciate that you seem to genuinely accept different viewpoints. And for the record, keep the injuries and waiver-wire pickups if you have time as when all combined it will make for that much more of a complete analysis … and you don’t have to ask me to read your articles!

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