Alright ladies and gents, Week 24 is nearly upon us and this is going be the final week for some of you. If you are still reading this, that most likely means you are in the championship for your league, so good luck to you as their hasn’t been a more important week this season. And for those of you still fighting to make it to the championship next week, good luck to you as well and hopefully see you next week!
As has been the case during the playoffs, don’t be afraid to drop someone if you feel that adding someone that plays will help your overall chances of winning. Again, if you have any questions or need any help at all, just Ask the Fantasy Nation and we will try to provide as much help as possible about who to add, drop, bench, or start. Also, be sure to check out the daily Pick Six posts, where Ian Gooding and occasionally others (including myself) will pick six players each day and let you know whether to sit or start them. In the meantime, I’ll be here helping prepare you for this very crucial round of the playoffs and/or championships.
The Sidney Crosby injury watch: Sid has shown some very positive signs lately, including his latest practice on Friday, in which he has a highlight- reel, water-bottle-breaking goal. However, Pens’ management is still being vague about whether or not he will even return this season. Fantasy owners have got to find his Friday practice session encouraging, though.
Here is the breakdown for this upcoming week, March 28 – April 3:
4 GAMES: Anaheim, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Tampa Bay
3 GAMES: Atlanta, Boston, Calgary, Edmonton, Florida, Los Angeles, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington
2 GAMES: Phoenix, San Jose
Back to only two teams playing only two games, and it’s Phoenix and San Jose this time. We also have the most four-game teams in a while with 12. And if you aren’t getting frustrated enough with these roller coaster weeks with highs and lows in regards to games being played, well, you are going to have to deal with another one this week. Monday sees only two games, jumps up to eleven games on Tuesday, back down to five on Wednesday, up to ten on Thursday, down to four on Friday, back up to eleven again on Saturday, and then almost half of the teams are playing on Sunday. Get ready to have to bench some of your players on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday while possibly having to scour the waiver-wire for pickups on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
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, NY Rangers, New Jersey
These teams are playing all of their games at home this week so they should be rested and practicing: Boston, Phoenix, San Jose, Washington
Staying Well Rested
Teams that are not scheduled to play in any back-to-back games in Week 17 while also minimizing travel: Boston, Florida, Phoenix, San Jose, Vancouver, Washington
There is going to be a lot of traveling back on forth between most teams this week, leaving only six teams that are going to have rather rested schedules. All four of the Home Cooking teams made the cut, meaning all of them get to play all of their games at home while having no back-to-back games scheduled. Florida and Vancouver are the only other teams that made this list, as they are both getting back home from road trips on Tuesday and then each play their next two games at home with days off in between each game. Note that Phoenix and San Jose are both on here, but they are the only two teams playing two games, so think twice about playing these guys in weekly leagues.
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: Anaheim, Buffalo, Carolina (two of them), Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Minnesota, Montreal, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, 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. As you can see, there are going to be a lot of possibilities this week. A good place to find this important starting goalie information is in the fantasyhockey.com forums.
Teams that have the best win streaks currently in the NHL as of Friday evening:
Nashville – 5 wins
Toronto – 3 wins
Pittsburgh – 3 wins
Carolina – 3 wins
Boston – 2 wins
Phoenix – 2 wins
Los Angeles – 2 wins
Chicago – 2 wins
Nashville has plowed their way back into the playoffs with some room to spare. Toronto is coming surprisingly close to making the playoffs, while Carolina is trying to get back in there as well. And Phoenix (8-1-1 over their past 10 games) refuses to go away, maintaining it’s standing as fourth in the West. They better hope they can resign Ilya Bryzgalov this summer amidst their ownership struggles, who is no doubt their team MVP.
Teams that have the longest current streaks in the NHL without collecting a point as of Friday morning:
Florida – 3 losses
Montreal – 2 losses
Minnesota – 2 losses
Edmonton – 2 losses
Minnesota has pretty much officially played themselves out of the playoffs during their past ten games, going only 2-6-2. The Dallas Stars are also playing themselves out of the playoffs, as they were once third in the West but now sit in the ninth spot after a pretty bad month or so, going only 8-10-5. Tampa Bay has also been struggling a lot lately, going only 2-4-4 over their past 10.
Now let’s take a look at what should be the most favorable matchups of the week:
Anaheim – Opponents: COL, @CGY, @SJ, DAL – Anaheim will be looking to finish off a season sweep against not one but two teams next week. The Ducks are currently 3-0-0 against both Colorado and Calgary, but one has been much easier than the other. They have thoroughly manhandled the Avs so far this year, outscoring them 12-4 while on the other hand each game against the Flames has ended with the Flames collecting a point in each, twice in overtime and once in the shootout. They have also done very well against the Stars this year, going 4-1-0 against them so far while outscoring them 18-12. San Jose will be their hardest matchup, whom they are currently 2-2-0 while being outscored 9-11. Playing four games is definitely a plus for fantasy owners, but playing on Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday is even better. Definitely get your Ducks out their in Week 24, especially Teemu Selanne (5g-14a-19pts in 14 games against these four opponents) and Saku Koivu (4g-8a-12 pts in 13 games) and of course you can’t not start the big four of Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, and Lubomir Visnovsky. Someone else to maybe watch out for is Brandon McMillan, who has 2g-3a-5pts in the 6 games he has played the Flames and the Avs combined.
Detroit – Opponents: CHI, STL, @NAS, MIN – If the Red Wings are going to have to keep playing without Johan Franzen and Pavel Datsyuk, they are going to be needing a relatively easy schedule. While Week 24 will certainly not be the easiest, it could indeed be a lot tougher. Now I’m sure they’d rather not have to play four games in seven nights without two of their top players out, but it could turn out to work nicely for fantasy owners. They start out the week, however, against an opponent they have had trouble with, going 1-2-0 against Chicago while being outscored 5-10. However, after that they get to play the Blues who they have been very successful against, going 4-1-0 against them this year while outscoring them 24-15. Scoring almost five goals a game has got to sound good to fantasy owners. They then have to face another opponent they have struggled against, surprisingly going only 1-4-0 against the Preds while being outscored 9-15. They then finish off the week against a Minnesota team they do well against, going 2-0-1 while outscoring them 9-6. While it may be a tough week for Jimmy Howard, it should be a decent week for Red Wings’ skaters, especially if Datsyuk and Franzen can come back. They also play on Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday which is always a bonus for fantasy owners.
New Jersey – Opponents: NYI, PHI, MON – If the Devils still have any hope at all of making the playoffs, they are going to have to win every game this week. Luckily for them, they are playing three teams that have had recent success against. They have now beaten the Islanders three times in a row, outscoring them 10-6 in those games. Next up will be the hardest competition this week. They are 2-3-0 against the Flyers so far this year, but beat them 3-1 in their latest bout. The final matchup is against a Montreal team they are 2-1-0 against, where they have outscored them 7-1 in their two wins but were unfortunately beat 5-0 in their one loss. Since they should be desperate to win, they should be playing some good hockey and that should definitely benefit fantasy owners. Playing on Wednesday and Friday is nice as well. Mattias Tedenby could make for a decent pickup against the Islanders, as he has 1g-3a-4pts in four games against them.
…And the least favorable matchups of the week:
Colorado – Opponents: @ANA, NAS, @PHO, CAL – This is going to be a very tough week for the Avalanche and fantasy owners that own any of their players. Out of all four of these teams, they have won only once in 14 games. They sport 0-3-0 records against each of Anaheim, Nashville, and Phoenix while being out scored 12-36 collectively. Last up is Calgary, who they are 1-4-0 against while being outscored 13-26. As you can see, this is going to be a very long, most likely forgettable week for the Avs. If you are in a weekly lineup league, show them the bench or risk suffering in the +/- category. If you are an owner of either Brian Elliott or Peter Budaj, it may be time to finally let them go.
Edmonton – Opponents: LA, @MIN, @VAN – The Oilers couldn’t let the Avalanche be the only ones with a terrible schedule. They join them by going an awful 0-10-1 against their three upcoming opponents. First up is LA, whom they are 0-2-1 against while being outscored 5-11. Against their next two opponents they have combined for a record of 0-8-0 while being outscored 13-31. Hopefully you aren’t the owner of Nikolai Khabibulin, who has gone 0-8-0 against these opponents while letting in 31 goals in those 8 starts. Those in weekly leagues, and frankly any kind of league, should now what to do with these guys. Show ‘em the bench.
Carolina – Opponents: @WAS, MON, @NYI, BUF – The first part of the week is going to be a tough one for Carolina, while the last two games probably not so much. So far this year they are 0-4-1 against the Caps, being outscored 7-14. Next up is a Montreal team they have been shut down against so far this season, going 0-3-0 while also being outscored 7-14. Their final game of the week is against Buffalo, in which they are 2-1-0 against but the games have been very close while they have only scored 6 goals against them. This game will also be on a Sunday when you are going to want to be assured to get some points from your players, so a low scoring game is definitely not ideal. There’s one game they shouldn’t have a problem with though, and that would be against the Islanders. They have won all three games against them, outscoring them 14-6; however, it’s on the very busy Saturday and the Isles have been playing much better hockey lately. In fact, their last matchup ended in a 3-2 win for Carolina but it took overtime to do it. Those in weekly leagues probably want to find some better options out there.
As always post any comments or questions below. I’d love to hear from you. Also, please feel free to post about any teams/players that you feel needs to be mentioned on here. Thanks everyone, and good luck next week!
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