Contributed by: Garrett Rees
With just over two full NHL weeks over with, let’s take a quick look at some of the early highlights, maybe some low moments, and what to expect for this coming week to help out your fantasy squad.
About two weeks into the season was all it took for there to be no undefeated teams left in the NHL. Toronto and Dallas both started the season with 4-0 records, but as of Monday both teams were taken down. Toronto fell victim to the Islanders in overtime, while Dallas was beat by Tampa Bay and their own penalty kill, as the Lightning went 4-for-5 on the power play.
After somewhat of a cold start, Chicago has now won four games in a row and is looking more like the Stanley Cup defending team we were expecting to see. Some credit definitely goes to Marty Turco, as he has turned it around after his poor first couple of starts and is proving that Chicago was right in trusting him after they let go of Antti Niemi. Turco has been the man in the net throughout Chicago’s streak, stopping 136 of 144 shots in that span. Meanwhile, Marian Hossa ended his seven-game point streak that saw him accumulate 7 goals and 4 assists, which led the NHL at that time.
After four wins in as many games, the Washington Capitals have now lost two in a row, being outscored 7-2 in those two games. The latest loss was Semyon Varlamov’s first start of the season after coming back from the injured reserve. In his two appearances so far this season Varly has allowed five goals on 48 shots, while Michal Neuvirth’s play has been solid so far this season. Neuvy may run away with the starting job if Varlamov doesn’t step it up.
Alex Goligoski ended his amazing seven-game point streak to start the season during a 4-3 win for the Penguins on Thursday. So far he has looked great with 3g-4a-7pts, +4, and 5 PPP while seeing tons of ice time, including plenty of power play time while quarterbacking the first unit. Kris Letang (2g-6a-8pts, +9) and Paul Martin (1g-6a-7pts, +5) are not slacking either on what has shown to be the top point-producing blue line in the league so far this season.
Things took a turn for the worse during the Rangers’ home opener last Friday. Joining Vinny Prospal, New York’s top forward Marian Gaborik and veteran leader Chris Drury are both on the shelf and will be out for some time. Gaborik is out at least two weeks, while Drury could miss up to six weeks. Gaborik’s loss will be felt by his fantasy owners, though they should come to expect this by now. Youngsters Derek Stepan and Artem Anisimov will be relied on more to try to help ease the pain.
LA Kings’ stud blueliner Drew Doughty will miss at least a week with what is being called an upper-body injury. Hopefully for his owners the injury is not too serious, as Doughty is a very tough player to replace in the lineup, despite his slow start (0g-1a-1pts in 5 games). Look for Jack Johnson to possibly be a benefactor as he is the most likely to get the additional ice time in Doughty’s absence.
In an update from last week, it looks like Jason Pominville may be returning to the Sabres’ lineup sooner rather than later. He took part in his first practice since his concussion on Thursday, and he could be back pretty soon, although there is still no official time table.
In another update from last week, Ondrej Pavelec is back practicing with the Thrashers and is looking ready to play as well after he sustained a concussion that was caused by a fall due to a fainting spell on Atlanta’s opening night. Chris Mason has started every game since, but Pavelec may get a second chance to finish his first game of the season in the near future.
And as I’m sure everyone has seen or at least heard of by now, Rick Rypien went a little wacko during a match versus the Minnesota Wild. After a bout with Brad Staubitz and a couple of linesmen, Rypien stops to grab and shake down a Wild fan on his way to the dressing room. After a scheduled 1-on-1 meeting with Commissioner Gary Bettman, Rypien has been suspended six games.
Here is the weekly breakdown for this upcoming week, October 24 – 31:
4 GAMES: Los Angeles, Montreal, Philadelphia, and Phoenix
3 GAMES: Anaheim, Atlanta, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Florida, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, Toronto, and Washington
2 GAMES: Boston, Detroit, Nashville, San Jose, St. Louis, Tampa Bay
1 GAME: Vancouver
With no games being played on Sunday, we have somewhat of a condensed schedule this week with a few more two-game schedules. We also have the very rare one-game week for the Canucks. Weekly leaguers are certain to have players on their bench with better schedules. To the contrary, owners of Los Angeles, Montreal, Philadelphia, and/or Phoenix players will want to get them out there.
Now let’s take a look at the most likely favorable matchups of the week:
Montreal – There are no favorable matchups that are clearly heads over tails better than the others, but Montreal’s schedule looks pretty good. One of the four teams to play four games this upcoming week, Montreal gets to play three of those at home while also playing in one of the three games on Monday night. They get a take at a couple of teams with worse records than their own and get two chances to try to cool down the surprisingly hot New York Islanders.
Calgary, Dallas, Minnesota, Ottawa – In a week that will see a ton of traveling, these teams get to enjoy a comfortable stay in their respective cities while playing all three games at home. Dallas and Minnesota have been playing well of late and will be looking to continue progressing with their recent success, while Ottawa will be hoping some consecutive days at home will help them turn their ship around.
…And the least favorable matchups of the week:
Vancouver - This is the most obvious choice, as stated above the Canucks only have one game this coming week versus the Colorado Avalanche. With the way things have been going for the Canucks lately, I would probably stay away.
Nashville – The Preds have only two games this week, and they aren’t going to be easy ones. First, they are playing a young St. Louis team that will be hungry to get a win after they fell three times in a row last week. Then they are off to Detroit where they will be playing a very tough Detroit team. Let’s see if the only team left in the NHL without a regulation loss can keep that magic going throughout this upcoming week.
WAIVER WIRE WATCH
Players that may be flying under the radar that should deserve a roster spot at this time.
Tim Thomas, BOS – Thomas has really cashed in on his chance after the more widely owned Tuukka Rask struggled in Boston’s first game of the season. Thomas has started every game since and is the top ranked goalie in fantasy right now, having now won four in a row with an amazing 0.75 GAA, .978 SV% and 1 SO while allowing one or fewer goals in each game so far.
Dwayne Roloson, NYI – In what is being called a “precautionary” sitting, Rick DiPietro has taken a seat on the bench the past two games to make sure his fragile body doesn’t get injured again and Roloson has taken advantage of the opportunity. He has won his past two games, sporting a 1.46 GAA and .950 SV%.
Mark Letestu, PIT – This long time minor leaguer is finally making his presence felt in the NHL, with 2g-3a-5pts and a +5 in his last 3 games while seeing a steady 15+ minutes of icetime per game. Right now he is outplaying fellow rookie and touted prospect Eric Tangradi.
Matt Cullen, MIN – Cullen has been the best Wild player as of late, collecting 2g-5a-7pts and 5 PPP in his last 4 games. Ride him while he is hot.
James Neal, DAL – The “Real Deal” has a hot stick right now, having scored a goal in each of his last four games, with a line of 4g-2a-6pts and a +6 during that span.
Brent Burns, MIN – Burns now has a three-game point streak going on right now, where he has collected 2g-2a-4pts, +3, and 1 PPG.
Good luck next week, everyone!
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