Wow, time for Week 3 already? The first couple of weeks have flown past us, and I hope everyone’s seasons are going as well. I’m going to keep this relatively short and sweet this week, so enjoy.
The Sidney Crosby injury watch: Gotta keep this on here despite the news remaining pretty much the same as last week. Crosby is practicing with the team but still needs more time so that he can regain his form with contact. Since the Pens played so many games so early in the season, they have a bit of a break with only give games in their next 19 days, so it may not be very many games before Crosby gets back into the action. Keep checking back and we’ll let you know more as soon as we find out.
Here is the weekly breakdown for this upcoming week, Oct. 24 – Oct. 30:
4 GAMES: ANA, CBJ, EDM, LAK, MON, OTT, PHI, TOR, VAN
3 GAMES: BUF, CAR, CHI, COL, DAL, DET, FLA, NAS, NJD, NYI, NYR, PHX, PIT, SJS, STL, TBL, WPG
2 GAMES: BOS, CGY, MIN, WAS
Another pretty typical week, however almost a third of the teams in the league are playing in four games next week so there’s going to be a lot of games on the schedule. The days with few games this week are the same as last week, with three on Monday, three on Wednesday, four on Friday, and four on Sunday while there are nine on Tuesday, eleven on Thursday, and a week high thirteen on Saturday. Not having any one game days this week should be nice.
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: ANA, FLA, NJD, SJS, STL, WAS
These teams are playing all of their games at home this week so they should be rested and practicing: BUF, CGY, MIN, NAS, PHX
STAYIN WELL RESTED
Teams that are not scheduled to play in any back-to-back games in Week 15 while also minimizing travel: BUF, CGY, COL, DAL, MIN, NAS, NYR, PHX
All of the home cooking teams made the cut this week, however notice that both CGY and MIN are each only playing two games this next week so weekly leaguers should be aware of that. I put DAL, COL, and NYR all on this list despite them all playing their first game of the week on the tail end of road trips, but they all have at least one day off in between their last two road games (three in the case of COL) so they should still be solid plays this upcoming week. Look for some thus far elite goalies this season getting to play everyday this week, including Pekka Rinne, Kari Lehtonen, Semyon Varlamov, Ryan Miller, and Henrik Lundqvist.
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, CBJ, CHI, DET, EDM, LAK, MON, OTT, PHI, SJS, TOR, VAN,
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:
WAS – 6 wins
DET – 5 wins
DAL – 5 wins
BUF – 3 wins
LAK – 3 wins
The Caps and the Wings have been incredibly hot to start the season, winning all of their games so far and outscoring their opponents 23-13 and 18-7 respectively. All of your Caps and Wings players are must starts so far this season. The biggest surprise has got to be the Dallas Stars, who most pegged to have a down season after the departure of offensive pivot Brad Richards. Kari Lehtonen has been the savior of that club so far this season, with Loui Eriksson (5g-2a-7pts in 7 games) and Jamie Benn (2g-5a-7pts in 7 games) doing there best to pick up the offensive slack.
Teams that have the longest current streaks in the NHL without collecting a point:
CBJ – 3 losses (7 including OT loses)
WPG – 1 loss (1-4-1 record to start the season)
The Blue Jacket’s treacherous start continues as they still have not found there way in to the win column and have only 1 point on the season thanks to an OT loss. You definitely want to stay away from Steve Mason right now (0-6-1, .881 SV%, 3.46 GAA). Winnipeg finally found their first win but that’s all they’ve mustered as they’ve looked bad to start the season, especially their defense and first line mentioned last week. Montreal has also been very slow to start the season, winning only one so far while OTT is still letting in a ton of goals, leading the league with 31 allowed. The defending Stanley Cup champs still made it on this list because more is expected of them this season, and they have looked better but are still below .500.
Now let’s take a look at what should be the most favorable matchups of the week:
Buffalo Sabres – Opponents: TAM, CBJ, FLA – The Sabres have been hot to start the season and that should continue through Week 3 as they face a struggling TBL squad, the winless Blue Jackets, and the scrappy Panthers. Look for Ryan Miller to start all of these games and Thomas Vanek (6g-4a-10pts, +5, 3 PPG, 2 GWG), Jason Pominville (2g-7a-9pts, +6, 3 PPP), and unexpected rookie standout Luke Adam (3g-3a-6pts) to keep rolling.
Philadelphia Flyers – Opponents: TOR, @MON+WPG, CAR – If you are looking for some help on both the slow Monday and Wednesday, then the Flyers may be your squad. They play Toronto on Monday and then the Habs on Wednesday, followed by the Jets on Thursday and the ‘Canes on Saturday. Ilya Bryzgalov (3-1-1, 2.58 GAA, .910 SV%, 1 SO) has looked strong to start the season while Sean Couturier (2g-2a-4pts, +4 in 6 games) and Matt Read (1g-3a-4pts, +3, 8 SOG last 2 games) could make for some good early week pickups.
…And the least favorable matchups of the week:
Columbus Blue Jackets – Opponents: DET, @BUF, @CHI+ANA – It should be pretty obvious to stay away from the Jackets right now, and that goes especially so during Week 3 as they have an incredibly tough schedule ahead of them. Every single one of there opponents has had a winning streak of at least three to start the season and the Anaheim Ducks has the most losses out of all of them so far with only two. I wouldn’t touch any Blue Jacket not named Vinny Prospal or Rick Nash with a 10-foot pole for Week 3. But hey, at least they get defenseman James Wisneiwski back from his suspension this week.
Minnesota Wild – Opponents: ANA, DET – The Wild haven’t looked too bad to start the season, but with only two games in Week 3 against some very tough opponents on two of the busiest nights of the week, I’m sure you can find plenty of other options to send out there next week, especially in weekly 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.
All Stats are through Friday, Oct. 21.