Week 18 is upon us. Be prepared, as the trade deadline is less than a month away in most leagues. How is your team looking so far? Sitting well enough in the standings, can you afford to relax, or are you still making a strong push? If you are in the latter category, it’s definitely 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.
Foppa is officially back. Peter Forsberg played his first two games with the Colorado Avalanche on Friday and Saturday, playing just over 17 minutes in each yet held without a point and a combined (-4). Although he is aging and his foot is always risky, it’s still worth the risk to go out and see if he is still out there. This is discussed in more detail in Evan Reynar’s article Fire on Ice and Ian Gooding’s blog entry The Goods: Searching for Peter Forsberg Again so I direct you to those for more Foppa information. Hopefully for the Avalanche, this gives them the extra boost that they desperately need right now.
The Sidney Crosby injury watch: Sid the Kid spoke publicly about his progress for the first time, saying that “I’m getting better. It’s just slow.” He is expecting to return this season, but there is still no timetable, and it doesn’t sound like his return is going to be imminent.
Here is the weekly breakdown for this upcoming week, February 14 – February 20:
4 GAMES: Buffalo, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Washington
3 GAMES: Anaheim, Boston, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Los Angeles, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Phoenix, San Jose, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Toronto
2 GAMES: Atlanta, Columbus, Pittsburgh
Like last week, there is a pretty even amount of games throughout the week. Monday has the lowest amount of games being played with only three, while Saturday has the most amount of games with nine. The rest of the week breaks out like this: Wednesday has eight games scheduled; Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday all have seven games scheduled; and Sunday has five games scheduled. Once again, those in daily lineup leagues shouldn’t have a very many tough decisions on whom to start and bench on most days, since there are no double-digit games this week.
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: Atlanta, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington.
Two of the three teams that play only two games during Week 18 are on this list in Atlanta and Pittsburgh. A couple of teams – Washington and Philadelphia – are some of those playing four games, so they are going to be traveling extensively. Washington is starting a five-game road swing, but it’s all within only eight days, including two sets of back-to-backs. Philadelphia is also starting a five-game road stint that is also in the span of only eight days, with one back-to-back in the middle of the week. While it’s nice that these teams play four games, expect them to be at least somewhat fatigued by the end of the week. Dallas, Detroit, and LA are all playing three games on the road and all of them have a pair of games scheduled back-to-back as well so they will be doing plenty of traveling as well. Because of this, I would expect backups Andrew Raycroft, Joey MacDonald, Jonathon Bernier, Brian Boucher, and Michal Neuvirth to see some action, so look out for these guys if you are in need of a spot start.
These teams are playing all of their games at home this week so they should be rested and practicing: Chicago, Edmonton, Nashville, and Tampa Bay.
Only four teams are playing exclusively at home and all of these teams are playing three games during Week 18. Edmonton is in the tail end of a six-game homestand, and they haven’t had any games played back-to-back since February 4-5 and aren’t playing any this week, so they should be well rested. Now they just have to figure out how to beat the Stars (they are 0-3 against Dallas this year) and two tough Eastern Conference teams. Tampa is in the middle of a twelve-game home stand spanning until the last game played in February and are currently 4-2-0 in it so far. In most cases, I would be looking to get out the players of these teams onto your starting roster in Week 18.
STAYING WELL RESTED
Teams that are not scheduled to play in any back-to-back games in Week 17 while also minimizing travel: Calgary, Chicago, Colorado, Edmonton, Nashville, Phoenix, and Tampa Bay.
All of the “Home Cooking” teams are on this list. The rest of these teams are playing one game on the road with the rest of them at home. Calgary is going back home from a quick two-game road trip, while Colorado and Phoenix are playing their road game at the end of the week. The starting goalies for these teams could play every game for their team during Week 18.
Teams that have the best win streaks currently in the NHL:
New Jersey – 4 wins
Phoenix – 4 wins
Philadelphia – 3 wins
Buffalo – 3 wins
Anaheim – 3 wins
New Jersey keeps piling on the points while currently owning the best win streak in the NHL, a very impressive turn around from a very dismal start of the season. They are now an incredible 12-1-2 in their last 15 games. This winning streak makes you wonder why they would be sitting in the standings if they weren’t so terrible at the beginning of the season. Martin Brodeur hit the IR this past week, but Johan Hedberg has been a great substitute in his absence, going 3-0-1 in five appearances (four starts) while stopping 96 of the last 101 shots he has faced, making for a good short-term add. Phoenix has turned things around from last week backed by Ilya Bryzgalov and his two consecutive shutouts, allowing only one goal in those three wins. Division leaders Philadelphia and Tampa Bay are now 8-2-0 over the last 10 games, while Buffalo is 7-3-0 over their past 10. San Jose and Anaheim are both taking advantage of Dallas’ recent struggles and are 8-1-1 and 7-3-0 respectively, making the Pacific Division very tight. Calgary has remained consistent since last week and are now 8-0-2 in the past 10, while Minnesota is now 8-2-0 over their past 10 (not including Saturday’s games).
Teams that have the longest current streaks in the NHL without collecting a point:
Colorado – 7 losses
NY Rangers – 4 losses
Edmonton – 2 losses
Washington – 2 losses
Colorado has been tumbling to the bottom of the Western Conference not because of their goal scoring (fourth in the West in that regard), but because of their inability to stop goals. They are fourth in the league for the most goals allowed while Craig Anderson and Peter Budaj have both been terrible lately and deserving of the bench in fantasy leagues. They are now 2-8-0 in their past 10. The Rangers have been slumping lately, mostly losing in one-goal games. They haven’t scored more than two goals during their streak and are now 3-6-1 over their past 10 games. Edmonton is a lousy 2-7-1 over their last 10, while Washington has started to struggle again and are now 4-3-3 over their past 10. Other teams that need to play better are Florida (2-4-4 last 10), Ottawa (1-7-2 last 10), and St. Louis (3-4-3 last 10).
Now let’s take a look at what should be the most favorable matchups of the week:
Buffalo – Opponents: @MON, TOR, STL, WAS – Buffalo is looking to get back into the playoff picture, and their recent win streak coupled with a nice looking Week 18 schedule is only helping. Buffalo is not only playing four games next week, but they get to play some struggling teams and/or teams they have had recent success against. First up is Montreal on Tuesday, and while the Sabres haven’t fared well against this year, they did win their last meeting together. Then they head home to face Toronto on Wednesday. Buffalo is 3-0-0 against them this season, stomping them 6-2 in their last meeting. Up next is a struggling St. Louis team on Friday and then they face the also-struggling Capitals on Sunday.
San Jose – Opponents: @NAS, WAS, COL – Antti Niemi and the Sharks have been hot lately, and they will be looking to continue that trend throughout Week 18. First up are the Preds on Tuesday, then Washington on Thursday, and then the mightily struggling Avalanche on Saturday. PIM guy Ben Eager (1g-2a-3pts, +3, 13 PIM over last six games) may make for a decent short term add in deeper leagues.
Vancouver – Opponents: @STL, @MIN, @NAS, DAL – It’s hard not to start any of your Vancouver players, even when they are going to be traveling quite a bit. However, since they are playing four games this next week, including one on the lightly scheduled day of Monday, I’ve got to keep recommending them. First up is struggling St. Louis on Monday, and then they face the Wild on Tuesday. They face the Preds on Thursday and then head back home to face a team they have had great success against this season. The Canucks are 3-0 against the Stars outscoring them a whopping 15-3.
…And the least favorable matchups of the week:
Carolina – Opponents: @NJ, PHI, NJ – The Hurricanes are looking to stay in the playoff hunt, so next week’s schedule is not the best for their situation. Playing New Jersey twice (on Wednesday and Saturday) may have sounded great two months ago, but now they are the hottest team in the league and will be tough to defeat. The only other game they have this week is against the top Team in the East. This may be a rough week for Cane-iacs.
Florida – Opponents: PHI, DET, @TB – This may be yet another tough week for the Panthers. First up is the Eastern Conference leader on Wednesday, then one of the best teams in the West on Friday, followed immediately by traveling to Tampa for another very tough game on Saturday. Tomas Vokoun is going to have his work cut out for him.
St. Louis – Opponents: VAN, @BUF, ANA – Normally playing on the slowest day of the week would be a good thing, but the Blues are the exception this week. They have to play the league’s top team that day, then head to Buffalo to face another hot team on Friday. They then have to immediately hop on a plane back home to play the second of back-to-backs against another hot team. I’m sure you can find better options out there if you are in weekly lineup leagues.
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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