Looking Ahead: Week 21

03/05/2011 5:57 PM -  Garrett Rees

Contributed by Garrett Rees and Ian Gooding

Week 21 is almost here, and the NHL trade deadline has come and passed.  Unlike previous years, this year’s trade deadline was rather subdued. For a more detailed recap of the more prominent players to be moved and their adjusted fantasy values, check out Ian Gooding’s blog The Goods: Deadline Day Dropoff.

The Sidney Crosby injury watch: There is nothing new to report, which isn’t good news for his fantasy owners. Listen to the latest episode of the Weekly Slapshot Podcast for a discussion on whether to keep Crosby on your fantasy roster. On the podcast, you can also listen to us discuss why Taylor Hall shouldn’t fight and whether ten games was enough for the oft-suspended Trevor Gillies.

Not much else to say here, so let’s dive right into next week’s schedule.

WEEKLY BREAKDOWN

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

4 GAMES:  Buffalo, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Ottawa, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Washington

3 GAMES:  Anaheim, Atlanta, Boston, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Detroit, Florida, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Toronto, Vancouver

2 GAMES:  New York Rangers

Just as the Avalanche were the odd-team out last week, the Rangers are that team this week as the only team only playing two games this week.  Other than that, it should be a busy schedule yet again.  Unlike last week, however, the games are much more spread out.  Again Monday is the slow night of the week with only three games, but the rest are pretty steady with nine games on Tuesday, seven on each of Wednesday and Thursday, eight on Friday, a week-high ten on Saturday, and then five games on Sunday. 

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:

Chicago, Edmonton, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Vancouver

HOME COOKING

These teams are playing all of their games at home this week, so they should be rested and practicing:

Florida, Pittsburgh

STAYING WELL RESTED

These teams are not scheduled to play in any back-to-back games in Week 21 while also minimizing travel:

Anaheim, Dallas, Florida, Los Angeles, Montreal, Nashville, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Jose, Toronto, Vancouver

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 team’s respective backup goaltenders could see some action:

Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Detroit, Edmonton, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York Islanders, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Tampa Bay

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.

GOING STREAKING

Teams that have the best win streaks currently in the NHL (all numbers up to and including Friday):

San Jose – 8 games

Boston – 7 games

Chicago – 7 games

Anaheim -3 games

Montreal – 3 games

New Jersey – 3 games

Washington – 3 games

There are some big-time winning streaks currently going on. Since the Sharks and Blackhawks have come on like gangbusters over the last few weeks, they have to be back in the discussion of teams that could represent the West in the Stanley Cup Finals (along with frontrunners Vancouver and Detroit). Keep that in mind for your playoff pools. Do you think Jacques Lemaire has cast his imprint on the Devils? Eight of the Devils’ last ten games have either been decided by scores of 2-1 or 1-0, so don’t consider their skaters as much for offense as much as other hot teams such as the Sharks, Blackhawks, or Bruins. The Devils’ recent run of 19 wins in the last 23 games has resulted in a complete turnaround for both Martin Brodeur (nine wins in last ten starts) and Johan Hedberg (seven wins in last eight starts; 1.43 GAA and .943 SV% in February).

SPIRALING

Teams that have the longest current streaks in the NHL without posting a win (all numbers up to and including Friday):

Phoenix – 5 games

Colorado – 4 games

Columbus – 4 games

Florida – 3 games

St. Louis – 3 games

How much is the potential sale (or non-sale) of the Coyotes impacting the team on the ice? The Coyotes managed to deflect attention away from the subject last season, so perhaps the recent losing streak is more of an example of the normal ebbs and flows that a team experiences throughout the season. Further proof to that argument is the fact that the Coyotes were on an eight-game win streak before that. The league’s coldest team still has to be the Avalanche, who have won just one game since the beginning of February. Avs that you would normally start without reservation like Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny, and Milan Hejduk now have to be considered plus/minus risks to your team.

STRONG SCHEDULES

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

Dallas (@LA, vs CGY, vs MIN, vs LA)

The Stars are one of 700 teams currently fighting for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, so they will have a chance to make some hay with four games next week, including three at the American Airlines Arena. The teams they are facing are also fighting for their playoff lives, which should make for some good intense hockey deep in the heart of Texas. Of course, the only prominent Stars’ forward not worth starting next week is Brad Richards, who attempts to recover from a concussion. Mike Ribeiro, who is currently on a four-game point streak, should continue to be the beneficiary as far as icetime goes. Those who feel that the Stars do not start Andrew Raycroft enough might be disappointed again. The Stars don’t play any back-to-backs over this stretch of games, so coach Marc Crawford could elect to go with workhorse Kari Lehtonen for all four games.

Tampa Bay (vs WAS, vs CHI, vs OTT, @FLA)

The Lightning were selected here because they are simply dominant at the St. Pete Times Forum (21-7-4) and they play three of four games there next week. Washington and Chicago aren’t creampuff opponents, but the Bolts should have an easier time later in the week with rebuilding teams in Ottawa and Florida. Hopefully you don’t need us to tell you to start Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, who are currently in a tag-team match with the Sedins for the NHL scoring lead. Vincent Lecavalier would be a different story, as he is currently sidelined with a mid-body injury. Dwayne Roloson should start three games, but expect recently recalled Mike Smith to start either Friday’s game against Ottawa or Saturday’s game in Florida.

Washington (@TB, vs EDM, vs CAR, vs CHI)

The Caps were selected here for the same reason as the Bolts: the home record (19-8-7), and three of four games at the Verizon Center. The Bolts and Blackhawks won’t make the schedule easy, but a rebuilding, injury ravaged Oilers team and a so-so Hurricanes squad should make things a little easier. Washington actually plays the second of back-to-backs on Monday against Tampa Bay, which is a schedule oddity. Braden Holtby could start the first back-to-back on Sunday against Florida, so it’s entirely possible that Michal Neuvirth could start all four games next week, since Semyon Varlamov is likely to miss the entire week. Updates on the new Capitals: Jason Arnott has a goal and an assist in two games, while neither Dennis Wideman nor Marco Sturm have recorded a point over the same span.

WEAK SCHEDULES

…And the least favorable matchups of the week:

Atlanta (@CAR, vs NJ, @PHI)

The Tom Petty song “Free Falling” certainly applies to the Thrashers, who have won only two games since the start of February. With a stretch of three games in four nights against teams either in the playoffs or playing like they will be in the playoffs, things won’t get any easier. If you are in a roto league and need help in shots on goal, you could consider starting your Thrashers (at least 40 SOG in four of the last five games). But if it’s goals you need, look elsewhere (one goal in four of the past five games). It’s a complete surprise that Dustin Byfuglien still leads NHL d-men with 19 goals, as he has hit the twine only twice in his past 23 games. Fellow offensive d-man Tobias Enstrom has not lit the lamp in 15 games. Evander Kane and Anthony Stewart have scored just once in the past eight games, while Bryan Little has just one goal in his last 17 games. Stay away. Stay far, far away.

Chicago (@FLA, @TB, @WAS)

The Hawks are one of the hot teams right now, but the difficult level gets bumped up a notch next week. They are a decent road team (15-9-6), but the two Florida road games are back-to-backs, meaning that it’ll probably be Marty Turco time. Expect him to start Tuesday’s game against Florida, while Corey Crawford will probably have to face Stamkos and company on Wednesday. Jonathan Toews is too hot to bench right now (26 points and +15 in last 16 games), and you may want to roll with hot scorers Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa as per usual. So the tough schedule warning may apply to secondary scoring types like Bryan Bickell, Troy Brouwer, and Viktor Stalberg. Michael Frolik has three points in 11 games as a Blackhawk – all in one game – so he’s one to definitely park on the bench.

New York Rangers (@ANA, @SJ)

The Rangers are the obvious selection here, as they are the only team to play two games this week. Both those games are on the road on the other side of the continent, where Eastern Time zone teams aren’t used to playing. Aside from Henrik Lundqvist, all your Rangers might be best to stay on your bench next week. That list includes Marian Gaborik, who has to be considered questionable for next week as he continues to recover from a concussion. A compelling argument was made on this week’s podcast about whether it’s worth it to keep Gabby on your roster for what’s left of the season. Speaking of Lundqvist, you may have some extra incentive to start him next week, as he has a .929 SV% on the road but only a .910 SV% at MSG.

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!

You can follow Garrett on Twitter.


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