Week 18 certainly proved to be a wild one. Not only did Peter Forsberg return to the sport, he also retired. Again. With all of the talk about his return, some owners are definitely missing their high waiver priorities. But that wasn’t all, as trades were going off like crazy all week with defensemen, and even some goaltenders, being all the rage. Toronto was especially active and were involved in three separate deals, moving Kris Versteeg, Francois Beauchemin, and highly sought-after Tomas Kaberle for Joffrey Lupul, prospects, and plenty of draft picks. But that’s just touching on it. Ian Gooding has provided you with the details of Friday’s trade action in his blog The Goods.
Now on to Week 19. With only four weeks of regular season fantasy hockey left (in most cases) and the trade deadline rapidly approaching, it’s becoming more and more critical to get your fantasy squad in line. 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.
The great Foppa experiment didn’t go quite as planned. FantasyHockey.com friend Chris Wassel provides more detail on this in the Peter Forsberg Fantasy Eulogy.
The Sidney Crosby injury watch: More of the same. Penguins’ coach Dan Bylsma said on Wednesday that Crosby is still experiencing symptoms and that he needs to be symptom free to return to practice. Expect him to remain sidelined indefinitely.
And I forgot to mention this last week, so I’ll make up for it right now. This Sunday, February 20 at 4 p.m. MT, is the second outdoor game of the season in this year’s Heritage Classic in chilly Calgary, Alberta between the Calgary Flames and the Montreal Canadiens. And when I say chilly, I mean downright cold! The only other meeting between the two teams ended in a wild 5-4 overtime win for the Habs. This should be quite the spectacle, so be sure to tune in.
Here is the weekly breakdown for this upcoming week, February 21 – 27:
5 GAMES: St. Louis
4 GAMES: Colorado, Edmonton, Florida, Nashville, New York Islanders, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Toronto
3 GAMES: Anaheim, Atlanta, Buffalo, Boston, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, New Jersey, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, Washington
There are a couple of things that should be immediately pop out for Week 19. Not only are there no teams playing less than three games this week, but St. Louis is actually playing five games in seven nights. In fact, going back to last week the Blues are playing seven games in only ten days, and that is including three separate sets of back-to-back games. Expect the Blues to be fatigued by the end of the week, and Ty Conklin could see more work this week than he has seen in a while (but no outdoor games for him this time). If you’re wondering why in the world St. Louis would play five games in a week, the Blues were originally scheduled to play only four games, but they need to play a makeup game against Colorado on Tuesday that was originally postponed because of the snowstorm earlier this month.
Despite having a lot a ton of games this week, Monday still has a very low three games being played. Other than that, though, there is a full slate of games every day this upcoming week, topped by Tuesday’s ten games. There are six games on Wednesday, six games on Thursday, nine on Friday, and eight on each of Saturday and Sunday. For those of you in head-to-head leagues, get ready for a busy 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: Boston, New Jersey, Phoenix, and San Jose.
Boston, New Jersey, and San Jose are each playing three games on the road, while Phoenix is playing all four of their games on their road. Boston is in the middle of a six-game road trip while Phoenix will be playing the tail end of a five-game road swing. Tuukka Rask and Jason LaBarbera could definitely see at least one game of action. San Jose just has to deal with this quick road trip before they get to play the next two weeks at home, so they will be wanting to head home in style.
These teams are playing all of their games at home this week so they should be rested and practicing: Anaheim, Buffalo, Calgary, and Vancouver.
All of these teams play three games in Week 19. This is a good week for Anaheim to have a nice home schedule, as Jonas Hiller is on the IR and backup Curtis McElhinney will have to man the nets. Not having to travel and being able to practice should definitely benefit this squad. Every one of these teams has had a nice winning record lately, so I would definitely be looking to get these players out.
STAYING WELL RESTED
Teams that are not scheduled to play in any back-to-back games in Week 17 while also minimizing travel: Anaheim, Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, and Vancouver.
Lots of choices this week. I put Chicago in here despite them only playing one game at home, but the two road games they play they have two days before each, so they should be able to make it into their opponents’ cities with enough time for some practice in between. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the starting goalies of all of these teams play every game in Week 19, especially Corey Crawford, Jimmy Howard, Dwayne Roloson, and Roberto Luongo.
Teams that have the best win streaks currently in the NHL:
Phoenix – 6 wins
New Jersey – 6 wins
Detroit – 4 wins
Phoenix, along with most of the Pacific Division not named the Dallas Stars, has been playing very hot lately. Their current 10 game win streak has them at 7-3-0 over their last 10 games, while Ilya Bryzgalov has been playing amazing. New Jersey keeps playing like a completely different team, and the tail end of this with Martin Brodeur just now getting off the injured reserve. Johan Hedberg has stepped up brilliantly and has won five in a row, allowing only six goals on 129 shots and the Devils are now 8-0-1 in the month of Februrary. Perhaps the hottest team recently though is the LA Kings. Despite not having a current win streak, LA hasn’t lost a game without a point in their past eleven, going 8-0-3 thanks to both of their goalies, Jonathan Quick and Jonathan Bernier. Other teams playing well lately over there last 10 games are Calgary (7-1-2), Vancouver (7-3-0), San Jose (7-2-1), Tampa Bay (6-3-1), and Toronto (6-3-1).
Teams that have the longest current streaks in the NHL without collecting a point:
Dallas – 3 losses
Atlanta – 2 losses
The worst current losing streak in the NHL actually goes to the Colorado Avalanche, who are mired in a –nine-game slump in which they are 0-8-1. They have been simply awful, and their goaltending has been a large part of the problem. Management realized this and recently shipped off Craig Anderson to another struggling team, the Ottawa Senators, in exchange for Brian Elliott. Each goalie going from one struggling team in one conference to a struggling team in the other probably doesn’t increase or decrease either of the current fantasy values, and Anderson’s is presently rock bottom. The Dallas Stars haven’t been much better lately, as they are now 1-6-1 in the month of February and there seems to be no end in sight, especially with top player Brad Richards out with a concussion. Once the Pacific Division leaders, now are one overtime loss away from not making the playoffs at all. Kari Lehtonen has not been playing well at all lately, either. Other struggling teams over their past ten games are Washington (3-5-2), Atlanta (2-6-2), Florida (3-5-2), Ottawa (1-7-2) as mentioned above, and Edmonton (3-7-0).
Now let’s take a look at what should be the most favorable matchups of the week:
Philadelphia – Opponents: PHX, NYI, @OTT – Although they are starting off the week by playing one of the hottest teams in the West, this is Philly and they are getting to play them on their own turf. After that they get to play the two worst teams in the East on Thursday and Saturday, whom they are a combined 5-0-0 against so far this season. In fact, in only two meetings against the Senators, the Flyers have outscored them 11-2. As per usual, get these guys in your starting lineups.
Calgary – Opponents: BOS, SJ, STL – Calgary has been hot in the month of February, going 6-1-2 and outscoring the opposition 37-23. They have the benefit of playing every game at home as well, where they have gone 6-0-2 since their last home loss. They will get to test out Boston and their new acquisitions on Tuesday, then play San Jose on Friday and slumping St. Louis on Sunday. Curtis Glencross (six-game point streak with 6g-4a-10pts, +5 and 22 SOG) and the rest of the squad should continue to keep scoring in Week 19.
…And the least favorable matchups of the week:
Dallas – Opponents: NJ, @DET, NAS – The Stars are looking to be in trouble, and if they are without Brad Richards for all of Week 19, then the woes should continue to come. Playing the hottest team in the league right now won’t help them, either, when they play New Jersey on Tuesday. They then face Detroit on Thursday and Nashville on Saturday. If Brad Richards isn’t back, I’d probably stay away.
St. Louis – Opponents: CHI, COL, @VAN, @EDM, @CAL – Playing five games in one week can be a good thing, but be aware that fatigue is probably going to play a huge factor, as these guys will be tired by the time Sunday rolls around. The only days they don’t play on are Wednesday and Saturday. Playing the Canucks in Vancouver and the Flames in Calgary are going to be very tough games. These guys are going to be a risky play. On the one hand, playing five games could be beneficial because even if they have a few bad games, they may do just as well or better than other teams that are playing only three games. On the other hand, if fatigue becomes a big factor, you could be seeing a lot of goose eggs in most categories and (-) ratings. If you feel it’s worth the risk, then go for it. But be warned.
Tampa Bay – Opponents: PHO, NJ, @NYR – A few weeks ago this may have been in the Strong Schedules section, but having to play two of the hottest teams in the NHL right now may not work out very well. Considering that Tampa is a high scoring team, though, you may want to start them anyways. Let’s consider this as a “Caution” instead of a “Don’t Start.” If you feel that you have better options out there in weekly leagues, I’d go with them. Otherwise, start your Lightning as you normally would.
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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