Looking Ahead: Week 17

02/05/2011 1:07 AM -  Garrett Rees

It’s already week 17, meaning there are only about six weeks left in the regular fantasy hockey season before the playoffs and the trade deadline is only about a month away in most leagues.  How is your team looking so far?  Sitting well enough in the standings you can relax or still making a strong push?  If you are in the latter category, it may be time to try to start working out trades that will help your team make that push.  If you need help with any trades or offers, check out the forum Ask the Fantasy Nation and we will do our best to help you.  In the meantime, I’ll be here helping prepare you for the upcoming week.

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out Brent Johnson’s KO punch on Rick DiPietro.  Ouch!  We knew that Rick would come out of this with at least a bruised ego, but it turns out he hurt more than that.  News came out the day after the game that he will miss four-to-six weeks with facial fractures from the punch, as well as ever lingering knee issues.  This guy simply can’t stay healthy.  If you still own DiPietro, I would recommend dropping him for Kevin Poulin, who is taking over as the Islanders’ starter.

The Sidney Crosby injury watch: An update came out yesterday that made it sound as if he is as close to returning as was thought a couple of weeks ago as he still has not rejoined practicing with the team.  He has now missed 11 games.  Hopefully this isn’t something that ends up plaguing his career.

WEEKLY BREAKDOWN

Here is the weekly breakdown for this upcoming week, February 7 – 13:

4 GAMES: Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Detroit, Edmonton, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Toronto

3 GAMES: Anaheim, Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Dallas, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Phoenix, St. Louis, Vancouver

2 GAMES: Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Washington

In Week 17, we will see every day have about the same number of games being played throughout the entire week. The highest amount of games being played this week is unusually low with only eight on each of Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  The fewest games played are on the unusual day of Thursday with five games, and Monday and Tuesday each contain six games.  Because of this, those in daily roster leagues should have an easier time this week than normal, as there won’t be those days crammed with games forcing owners to have to make what can be difficult decisions on who to start.  At the same time, there won’t be days with huge gaps in the lineup, either.  If only every week could be like this…

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, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Los Angeles, Ottawa, and San Jose.

Notice that five of these seven teams are Western Conference teams, which means their travel is going to be especially long.  Ottawa doesn’t have it easy either while they are going on a Western Canadian trip.  Chicago, Colorado, and San Jose all have it especially hard since they are all playing four games on the road with at least one back-to-back scheduled.  These teams, especially their starting goalies, could be weary by the end of the week.

HOME COOKING

These teams are playing all of their games at home this week so they should be rested and practicing: Dallas, Florida, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, and Washington.

None of these teams are playing four games this week and all of the teams with only two games scheduled – Philly, Tampa, and Washington – are also playing exclusively at home.  Expect these teams to be rested and on their game this week.

STAYING WELL RESTED

Teams that are not scheduled to play in any back-to-back games in Week 17 while also minimizing travel: Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Florida, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, and Washington.

Not only do all of the teams listed in Home Cooking get to play the entire week at home, but they also have the luxury of having at least one day in between every game for rest and/or practice.  Lucky them.  Get the Sedins, the Richards, and all of the other players on these teams out there this week if you own them.  Atlanta and Boston are the only other additions to this list, as each of them only travels once.  Atlanta finishes off a quick two-game road trip on Monday before having a three-day layover until their next game while Boston finishes off the tail end of a four–game home stand before heading to Detroit for the second game in a home-and-away series against them.

GOING STREAKING

Teams that have the best win streaks currently in the NHL:

Calgary – 6 wins

Tampa Bay – 6 wins (snapped on Friday against Washington)

Pittsburgh – 4 wins

Vancouver – 4 wins

These four teams reminded me of that old Sesame Street song “One of these things is not like the other.” Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, and Vancouver all make sense because they are at or near the top of their conferences, but Calgary is a shocker.  The Flames have gone an amazing 8-1-1 over their past 10 with a balanced offensive attack and solid defensive play, especially from goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff who now has a five-game win streak while stopping 139 of 148 shots. The Dwayne Roloson trade has been paying big dividends for the Lightning.  He now has a five-game win streak while only allowing five goals total, including two straight shutouts. The Penguins are showing how resilient they can be without captain Sidney Crosby.  And finally, Vancouver is back to being Vancouver.  After a four game hiccup, the Canucks are back on track and are showing no signs of stopping, especially now that Roberto Luongo is playing like his old self (three wins in a row while only allowing two goals).

Philadelphia, Boston, Buffalo and Anaheim have all been playing well lately also, as each of them are 7-3-0 over their last ten.  Another bombshell this week is that the New Jersey Devils are a fantastic 8-1-1 over their past 10 and are finally playing like the team most people projected them to be.  Both Ilya Kovalchuk and Martin Brodeur are finally starting to find their games again.  Kovy has 5g-5a-10pts over his last 10 games and Marty hasn’t allowed more than three goals in a game since December 23.

SPIRALING

Teams that have the longest current streaks in the NHL without collecting a point:

St. Louis – 3 losses (snapped on Friday)

Atlanta – 2 losses

Carolina – 2 losses

Dallas – 2 losses

Phoenix – 2 losses

4 others with 2 losses

Things keep looking bleaker as the season goes on for the Blues, as they are now 3-6-1 in their past 10 games.  The reason I mention those four teams with two losses and not the other four teams is simply because these are teams in playoff contention and they need to stay competitive to remain that way.  Ottawa keeps creeping closer to last in the East and are 1-7-2 over their past 10.  Phoenix (4-6-0 over past 10) needs to get back on track or they are going to find themselves outside looking in on the playoff hunt.  Other teams struggling right now are Edmonton (2-7-1), NY Islanders (3-7-0), Florida (3-3-4), Atlanta (2-5-3), and Washington (3-3-4).

STRONG SCHEDULES

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

Vancouver – Opponents: OTT, ANA, CGY – The league’s best team looks to build on a current four-game win streak in Week 17.  First up is struggling Ottawa on Monday, then Anaheim on Wednesday, then Calgary on Saturday.  Despite the Flames being hot, Vancouver has had success against them this year, going 2-0-1 and scoring no less than three goals against them in each meeting.   Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Ryan Kesler have been playing great lately, but so have lesser knowns such as defenseman Dan Hamhuis (1g-4a-5pts, +8 last seven games), Mason Raymond (2g-2a-4pts, +5 last four games), Mikael Samuelsson (2g-4a-6pts, +4 over last four) and recent call-up rookie Cody Hodgson, who scored his first NHL goal in the 6-0 pounding of the Coyotes.  For those in keeper leagues, Hodgson should definitely be a name that you know.

Dallas – Opponents: PHO, CHI, CBJ – The Dallas Stars will be looking to get out of a recent funk and get back to winning and it’s going to have to be without Jamie Benn or Adam Burish, who are both on IR.  Hopefully getting back home and playing some teams that they have had a little bit of success against this season will help ease the pain.  And if the Stars are going to want to remain atop the Pacific Division, they are going to have to play well this week.  After a three-day break, they face the Coyotes on Wednesday.  The Stars have struggled a bit against them lately, but the Coyotes’ recent struggles give the Stars the upper hand.  Then they face Chicago on Friday, whom the Stars are 1-1 against so far this season, beating them 4-2 in their last meeting.  Last up is Columbus on Sunday, whom the Stars are 1-0-1 and are hoping to collect a couple more points from them.  All-Stars Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson are going to need to step it up and captain Brenden Morrow is going to need to keep scoring (four goals last five games).

Detroit – Opponents: NYR, NAS, @BOS, BOS – A team playing four games in one week with no back-to-backs and mostly at home is always nice.  When it’s the high scoring Red Wings, it’s even nicer.  They start the week off against the Rangers on Monday and then entertain a recently struggling Nashville squad on Wednesday. They then head to Boston to face them in the first a home-and-away series against them.  Here is where it may get tricky.  The last meeting they had with the Bruins was a 2-0 loss.  The Bruins currently have the best goals-against record in the league, but the Red Wings are third in the league in scoring, so that combo should provide for some entertaining games.  Jimmy Howard could play all four games as well.

Boston – Opponents: MON, DET, @DET – Might as well throw these guys on here, too.  Known as being a defensive team, they have been scoring a lot of goals lately and from some lesser-owned players that could make for good short term adds.  Patrice Bergeron (4g-4a-8pts, +5 last five games), Brad Marchand (4g-4a-8pts, +7 last five games), Shawn Thornton (1g-1a-2pts, +2, 12 PIM last four games), and Mark Recchi (1g-6a-7pts, +5 last five games) are all prime examples.  Daniel Paille would have made this list of it weren’t for his four-game suspension because of this hit.  Widely owned defenseman Zdeno Chara has also been playing well lately (0g-4a-4pts, +2, 10 PIM last three games).

WEAK SCHEDULES

…And the least favorable matchups of the week:

Ottawa – Opponents: @VAN, @CGY, @EDM – If you thought that maybe things couldn’t really get worse for the Senators right now, then take a look at next week’s schedule.  All on the road in Western Canada, the Sens face two huge challenges in playing the league’s two hottest teams right now.  First is Vancouver on Monday and Calgary on Wednesday.  They then face Edmonton on Saturday, and the currently last place Oilers are going to be looking to put a new team in that 30th spot.  Alex Kovalev (2g-2a-4pts last two games) has been one bright spot lately, but as is always with Kovalev, who knows how long that will last.

Anaheim – Opponents: @VAN, @CGY, @EDM – Anaheim has the same tour through Western Canada as Ottawa, just a couple days apart.  Instead of playing on Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, the Ducks play these opponents on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.  As mentioned above, those first two teams are going to be very challenging.  All-Star Jonas Hiller is going to have his work cut out for him.

Carolina – Opponents: @NJ, @PHI, @TB, @ATL – The Hurricanes are going to be busy in Week 17.  First they face the suddenly red hot Devils on Tuesday, followed by a trip to see the Eastern Conference leading Flyers.  Then they cap the week off with a back-to-back schedule by heading to Florida for a game against a streaking, high-scoring Tampa Bay club on Saturday then head directly to Atlanta for an early game on Sunday.  Although the four games being played is good for fantasy owners, the Canes may be gassed by the time the week is over.  Backup Justin Peters should see at least one game and my guess would be against Atlanta.

Colorado, Chicago and San Jose – While it can be good for fantasy owners that all of these teams are playing four games next week, their schedules are going to be brutal (as previously mentioned above).  San Jose is going to be all over the place.  They start the week off with a back-to-back in Washington and then Columbus on Tuesday and Wednesday.  They then head to New Jersey on Friday and then down to Florida on Sunday.  Chicago first heads to Calgary on Monday, then to Edmonton on Wednesday, and then they must prepare for back-to-back road games versus Dallas and Phoenix.  Colorado plays Phoenix, Minnesota, Columbus, and Nashville in that order on the very same days that Chicago plays.  Fatigue could definitely be a factor for these teams.  Expect backups Marty Turco, Peter Budaj, and Antti Niemi/Alex Stalock to get some work this week.

As always post any comments or questions below.  I’d like to hear from you.  Also, please feel free to post about any teams/players that you feel should be mentioned on here.  Thanks everyone, and good luck next week!

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