Hey everybody, sorry so late this week. I just moved back to Denver from Dallas, so it’s been a very long week. In the earliest Looking Ahead articles, I said I would be experimenting with the format. Well, after some discussion and some well thought-out advice, I have completely revised the way I am going to present you with information each week. I had been getting more and more into news and player updates and sometimes left the actual “Looking Ahead” part in the background unintentionally. Starting this week, I will no longer be providing near as much injury or trade related news and will focus more on helping plan and prepare the fantasy GM for the week ahead more than ever before. I really hope you like the changes that I’ve made.
First off, it may be early, but be prepared for Week 16, as it includes the All-Star break that will be taking place after Week 15. That’s right – that means we are going to be without actual hockey games for a full five days, from Thursday, January 27, to Monday, January 31. I’ll go into this in more detail in my Week 16 article, but just be aware that it’s coming and that Week 16 for all fantasy hockey related purposes is going to take place over two weeks instead of one.
Now I’ve got to talk about the biggest news of the week: the Wojtek Wolski/Michal Roszival trade. What seemed like mere moments that the New York Rangers found out that they lost LW Alexander Frolov, they went out and found a replacement by trading defenseman Rozsival to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for LW Wolski. What does this mean in fantasy hockey terms? Right off the bat, this trade should be a positive for Wolski, as he struggled to find his offense this season in the desert (6g-10a-16pts in 36 games). With a chance to play on the top power-play unit and possibly even time with star winger Marian Gaborik, there seems to be nowhere but up to go for Wolski. So far Wolski only has one point (a power play game-winning goal) in his first three games with the Rangers, but in his first two games, he played a lot better than the stat sheet shows with a couple of shots ringing off the post and barely staying out of the net. Hopefully over time he starts to gel with his teammates more and can start producing normally. Rozsival, on the other hand, has never been a fantasy juggernaut by any means, with his best season coming in 2006-07 when he collected 10g-30a-40pts and 20 PPP in 80 games. He was on pace to hit around 38 points in a full 82-game season but has been hampered with injuries as of late. Because of that, he has yet to play a game in Phoenix, but so far it’s looking like they have been doing just fine without Wolski or Roszival as they have won every game so far since the trade. The Rangers, on the other hand, are 1-2-0 while only scoring four goals total since. Rather peculiar.
The Sidney Crosby injury watch: Still no timetable on his return as he is still experiencing concussion-like symptoms. Hopefully for the Penguins and his fantasy owners he can return soon, as his loss has definitely been felt. The Pens are currently 2-2-1 without him.
Here is the weekly breakdown for this upcoming week, January 17 – 23:
4 GAMES: Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Florida, Los Angeles, Montreal, New Jersey, New York Islanders, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Tampa Bay
3 GAMES: Anaheim, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Minnesota, Nashville, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, San Jose, St. Louis, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington
2 GAMES: Chicago
Week 15 is going to be a busy one. A full 13 teams are slated to play four games while only one is playing two games. The busy nights this week are the standard Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday with 10, 12, and 11 games respectively. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday have 6, 3, 4, and 5 games scheduled respectively.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
These teams are playing all of their games on the road, so be aware that fatigue may play a factor in their play this week: Anaheim, Columbus, Minnesota, Nashville, Washington.
These teams are playing all of their games at home this week so they should be rested and practicing: Colorado, Edmonton, and St. Louis.
It also happens to work out this week that all three of these teams are playing three games with no back-to-backs, meaning they should definitely be rested and should get plenty of practice time in.
STAYING WELL RESTED
Teams that are not scheduled to play in any back-to-back games in Week 15 while also minimizing travel: Colorado, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Vancouver.
Teams that have the best win streaks in the NHL currently:
Phoenix – 4 wins
Dallas – 3 wins
Florida – 3 wins
Teams that have the longest current streaks in the NHL without collecting a point:
Atlanta – 2 losses
Ottawa – 2 losses
Tampa Bay – 2 losses
It’s all rather even in the NHL at the moment, with no teams losing too badly but also no teams collecting a crazy amount of wins in a row either. Edmonton and Ottawa have had the hardest times lately with 2-7-1 and 2-6-2 records respectively over their past 10 games while Vancouver, Carolina, and Phoenix have been steamrolling lately with 7-2-1, 7-1-2, and 7-1-2 records respectively over their past ten games.
Now let’s take a look at what should be the most favorable matchups of the week:
Phoenix – Opponents: SJ, NAS, @LA, LA – The Coyotes have been on a roll lately, winning four games in a row and outscoring their opposition 19-9, ripping apart red-hot Jonas Hiller on Saturday while sending him to the bench. If they can continue to keep up the goal-scoring pace, Week 15 could be a good one for them. They face the Sharks and the Preds in back-to-back style on Monday and Tuesday, but fortunately for the ‘Yotes they have an unusually early game on Monday (4PM ET) so they should be good to go on Tuesday. They then face LA in a home-and-away on Thursday and Saturday. San Jose has been in a spiral lately going 1-6-0 in their last seven games, including a six-game losing streak, while LA hasn’t been doing much better, earning a 2-5-0 record in their last seven. Their toughest matchup will be against the Predators who have been white-hot lately, sporting a 7-1-0 record over their past eight games while Pekka Rinne has been a brick wall. However, with facing the other three teams, all division rivals with worse records, Ilya Bryzgalov should earn plenty of opportunities to snag some wins this week while Ray Whitney (2g-4a-6pts, +3, 2 PPP in past 3 games), Keith Yandle (3g-20a-23pts, +9, 10 PPP over his past 21 games but most likely owned already), Radim Vrbata (2g-2a-4pts, +4 over past 3 games), and Taylor Pyatt (5g-2a-7pts, +7, 3 GWG over past 7 games) have all been playing well lately and could make for good pickups this week.
Florida – Opponents: ATL, CBJ, TB, @NJ – Florida may only be tenth in the East, but their strong play of late is propelling them closer to a playoff spot. With their Week 15 schedule, they should be able to continue that trend. They face four opponents without any back-to-back games, meaning they are playing all of their games on the fantasy friendly days of Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. They first play Atlanta who was hot but has been cooling down a lot lately (1-3-1 over last 4 games), then face a Columbus team that has been struggling in January so far (1-5-1), and Tampa Bay who always seems to play their worst against the non-playoff teams (7-8-4 in that regard). The only game on the road is against the last place team in hockey, the New Jersey Devils. Hopefully Stephen Weiss (0g-6a-6pts, 4 PPP last 4 games), Dennis Wideman (2g-2a-4pts, 2 PPP last 3 games) and barely owned players such as Mike Santorelli (3g-6a-9pts last 10 games with points in all but 1) and Cory Stillman (0g-4a-4pts, 2 PPP last t3 games) can keep playing well. Scott Clemmensen is also worth grabbing off the waiver wire, as he will make his third start in a row on Monday. Panthers’ coach Peter DeBoer will continue to ride Clemmer while he is hot.
Carolina – Opponents: @BOS, BOS, NYR, @PIT – Although it should be a difficult week against difficult opponents, the Hurricanes have been finding ways to win lately going 7-1-2 over their past ten. With players like Eric Staal (6g-6a-12pts, 5 PPP over last 10 games), Jussi Jokinen (5g-5a-10pts, +6, 3 PPP over last 5 games), Jeff Skinner (5g-3a-8pts, +5, 2 PPP over last 5 games), and Tuomo Ruutu (3g-5a-8pts last 5 and 5g-11a-16pts last 11) locked in cruise control right now, there is no reason to think that they should stop producing on the score-sheet in Week 15. Erik Cole has nine points (4g-5a) over his last seven games, so he is also worth a look.
…And the least favorable matchups of the week:
Chicago – Opponents: @DET, PHI – This team has a disadvantage to all other teams right from the get-go simply because they are the only team in the league with only two games scheduled. The NHL decided to make it even worse by scheduling these games back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday.
With the six days of rest before their games they should be well rested, but they are facing two tough teams right in a row. Although the Red Wings are being devastated by injuries again this year, they are still finding ways to win, having won four of their last six with points earned in five of those. Detroit is also a monster at home with a 14-5-4 record while Chicago has been somewhat disappointing on the road with only a 9-7-4 record. After that game, they have to instantly travel back home to face the top team in the East for the only time this season. Not going to be an easy two games. Corey Crawford could start both games this next week, but with the quick turn around and the travel in between I wouldn’t be surprised to see Marty Turco and Crawford split the starts.
Columbus – Opponents: @TB, @FLA, @STL – Columbus has been slumping lately (as mentioned above), and a busy trip through Florida could make matters worse. Tampa is a high scoring squad and Florida is on a roll right now and they will be faced back-to-back. They end the week on Saturday in St. Louis where the lost 4-1 the last time they were there. Their goalie situation is a mess right now as neither Mathieu Garon (0-5-0 over his last 6 appearances with a .831 SV%) nor Steve Mason (1-2-1 over last 4 with a .857 SV%) have been any good lately. I’d most likely bench any forwards not named Rick Nash, Derrick Brassard, or Jakub Voracek next week in weekly leagues.
That about does it. As always, post any comments or questions below and let me know what you think of the new format. Too much? Too little? Better? Worse? I’d really like to know. Thanks all, and good luck next week.
Tagged: Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan
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