Hey everybody and welcome back for the 2011-12 season! It’s been a long few months but the action is already back into full swing with Week 1 already in the bank. I apologize for no Week 1 Looking Ahead, but hopefully everything went well for all of you. For those of you who are unfamiliar with “Looking Ahead,” I’ll be providing you same as last season weekly updates involving analysis of the previous week and predictions for the upcoming week to help you get the most out of your fantasy roster. Now let’s get back into the swing of things starting with Week 2.
So as all of you know the Winnipeg Jets are back (YAY!), although it hasn’t been the start they were hoping for as they are still searching for their first win. Otherwise, the biggest news so far this season has got to be all of the suspensions that have already been handed down by the new NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. Most of the suspensions have already been fully completed (at least the ones fantasy managers care about), but the suspension with the most fantasy relevance is James Wisniewski and his four remaining games on his ban. It’s looking like Columbus really needs him back too.
And to continue a feature that I have done every week since the second half of last season that has spilled over into this season, it’s time for the, you guessed it, …
Sidney Crosby injury watch: The best news for fantasy owners since Sid’s last games following the New Year has just arrived: He has finally made it through his first full-contact practice. There is still no timetable for his return, but fantasy owners still have to be relieved to hear this news. Since he hasn’t practiced in so long he will definitely need some more time before an official time table can be reported, but it’s sounding like he could be back sooner than initially thought. If you were able to snag Crosby in the third round or later in your draft then you may have bagged the biggest steal of the year.
Here is the weekly breakdown for this upcoming week, Oct. 17 – Oct. 23:
4 GAMES: EDM, FLA, PIT, TOR, WPG
3 GAMES: ANA, BOS, BUF, CAR, CBJ, CGY, CHI, COL, DAL, LA, MIN, MON, NAS, NYR, OTT, PHI, PHX, SJ, STL, TB, VAN, WAS
2 GAMES: DET, NJ, NYI
A pretty typical week in regards to the schedule, with most teams playing three games this next week and the busiest days coming on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday with 10, 11, and 14 games played respectively. The only teams not playing on Saturday are ANA and PHX, however they are the only two teams to play on Sunday to even it out. Wednesday also sees only one game that’s between WPG and TOR while Monday has five games and Friday has four.
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: BUF, CAR, DAL, NAS, NYI, NYR
These teams are playing all of their games at home this week so they should be rested and practicing: BOS, CGY, OTT, TB, VAN
Staying Well Rested
Teams that are not scheduled to play in any back-to-back games in Week 15 while also minimizing travel: ANA, BOS, CGY, OTT, PHI, PHX, TB, VAN
Not only are BOS, CGY, OTT, TB, and VAN playing all of their games at home, they also aren’t seeing much if any travel while all playing at least three games during the week so they should be well rested and ready to go for each game and should make for some good starts in weekly leagues.
B2B: Backups to see action?
All of these teams are schedule to play in back-to-back games this upcoming week, so there are good chances that these teams’ respective backup goaltenders could see some action: ANA, CAR, DAL, DET, EDM, FLA, NJD, PIT, SJ, STL, TOR, WPG
No guarantees, but If you are desperate for some goalie starts, make sure to monitor these teams to try to determine if/when their backups are playing so you can snag them off of the waiver-wire if available. As you can see, there should be plenty of opportunities.
Teams that have the best win streaks currently in the NHL as of Friday:
COL – 4 wins
DET – 4 wins
WAS – 4 wins
TOR – 3 wins
Colorado has won four of five so far while Detroit and Washington have all won each of their four regular season games. Toronto is the only other team in the league without a loss, going 3-0-0.
Teams that have the longest current streaks in the NHL without collecting a point:
CBJ – 4 losses, 1 OT loss
WPG – 3 losses
NYR – 2 losses, 2 OT losses
CBJ, WPG, and NYR are the only teams left in the NHL without a win, with CBJ going 0-4-1 and NYR salvaging a point in two of three games, leaving WPG as the only team that has yet to earn a point yet, although they have only played three games up to this point. The defending Stanley Cup champions, the Bruins, haven’t looked spectacular to start the season, going 2-3-0 while Vancouver, the runners up, collected at least a point in their first two games and lost two straight before picking up a win on Saturday. Expect the Bruins and Canucks to both start picking it up sooner than later.
Now let’s take a look at what should be the most favorable matchups of the week:
Pittsburgh – Opponents: @WPG+@MIN, MON, NJD – The Penguins have been on a roll to start the season so far despite the absence of Sid the Kid as well as a recent injury to Evgeni Malkin. That hasn’t seemed to matter to James Neal though as he leads the team (and the NHL at the moment) in goals with five of them. Kris Letang has also looked like a stud so far, collecting 1g-5a-6pts with a +3, 3 PPP, and 15 SOG. The Pens first get to face a winless Winnipeg squad before visiting Minnesota in back-to-back fashion. They then head back home to face the Canadiens on Thursday and the Devils on Saturday. Make sure to get your penguins out there are these busy days but also make sure to check the status of Malkin.
Winnipeg – Opponents: PIT, @TOR+@OTT, CAR – You might be wondering why these guys are on here considering they are winless thus far, and you have good reason to be raising an eyebrow, but hear me out. I understand this may be a push (and I’ll admit I just really wanted to throw them on here since this is their first season back in Canada) but, considering the days they are playing, Jets’ players could make for some decent pickups this week in daily roster leagues. They are playing opponents that haven’t faired so well to begin the season in Ottawa and Carolina on Thursday and Saturday while they are also the only team in the league to play on both Monday and Wednesday, two of the slowest days of the week. Their first matchup is going to be a challenge, but they should at least stand a chance against their other opponents. I like Ondrej Pavelec’s chances of making a comeback in Week 2 but owners may want to be cautious if they have better options. Their top line of Andrew Ladd (1g-0a-1pts), Bryan Little (0g-0a-0pts), and Blake Wheeler (0g-1a-1pts) are definitely going to have to step it up if this team wants to win so they should hopefully be motivated to perform well this week, making them worth a gamble in fantasy leagues and possibly a pickup if they have already been dropped by impatient owners. Daily leagues should be cautiously optimistic but weekly leaguers may want to consider all alternatives to see if there are better, less risky options out there for you.
…And the least favorable matchups of the week:
New Jersey – Opponents: SJ+@PIT – New Jersey only plays twice this next week and both matchups are going to be tough ones. NJ has scored only six goals in its first three games while the Sharks have only allowed four in its first three games while Pittsburgh has scored 16 goals in its first five games. Although Martin Brodeur feels he will be ready to play by Friday, since both of their games this week are in back-to-back fashion, expect Marty and backup Johan Hedberg to most likely split the starts. In weekly leagues, it won’t be worth playing either and at least on Saturday there should definitely be better options out there anyway.
New York Islanders – Opponents: @TAM and @FLA – The Islanders have actually started off really strong this year, led by stellar play from the team’s top two young guns. John Tavares has racked up a whopping 5g-3a-8pts (thanks to two four-point nights in a row) in four games so far while Al Montoya has rather surprisingly been handed the reigns for the first three games of the season despite both Rick DiPietro (Concussion) and Evgeni Nabokov in the picture as well and has responded fantastically with 2 wins, a .953 SV%, and a 1.35 GAA. With all that being said, I still don’t like the Islanders situation this week for fantasy owners. Nabokov is slated to start on Saturday night of Week 1 (ending up with the win), and depending on how well he plays the goalie situation could become cluttered. Plus, they are playing only two games during Week 2 and one of them is against a team looking for revenge after being beat 5-1 in their previous matchup. Considering that both of there games are on the two busiest nights of the week, I would pass on anyone not named Taveres or P.A. Parenteau (1g-6a-7pts, +5, 2 PPP in 4 games) in weekly leagues and make sure to check on the status of who’s starting in goal in daily roster leagues.
That wraps it up. Feel free to post any comments or questions below. I’d like to hear from you. Thanks and good luck out there.