Looking Ahead: Week 4

10/29/2011 9:01 PM -  Garrett Rees

By Tom Mihalek, AP

Week 4 is upon us meaning the first month of hockey is coming to a close and there have already been some interesting stories to start the season.  First of all, the reigning Stanley Cup champions Boston Bruins are only 3-6-0 to start the season.  Boston management has responded with recent line shuffling and trade talks heating up.  Fantasy owners will probably want to keep an eye on the Bruins’ situation.

The other big stories have got to be the early season struggles of Roberto Luongo and Ilya Bryzgalov.  Bobby’s early season struggles are well documented, but this one seems to be even worse than usual.  Fantasy owners should be advised to be patient, however, as he has always come back from his poor starts.

Philadelphia shook up the team immensely to acquire Bryz and things were looking peachy after the first three of four games of the season, but now they’ve taken a terrible turn lately.  He currently has four straight losses while allowing at least four goals in each and he didn’t even start the latest loss, a 9-8 goal festival versus the Jets in which he allowed four goals on ten shots in relief action.  He’s even admitted that he is “lost in the woods” right now but, as with Lu, owners should remain patient.  If you have better options then leave him on the bench until he finds his game again.  His value will probably never be lower so now is probably the best time to try to snag him in a trade from a discouraged, impatient owner.

The Sidney Crosby injury watch: About 53 games later dating form Jan. 5 of last season and Crosby’s official status is still “indefinite,” but he has shown some really good signs in practice lately including a solid optional skate Friday.  However, owners are cautioned that he still hasn’t had a true physical test, but it appears that a return is now going to be sooner rather than later, but of course there is still no timetable.  Keep an eye out though as things may progress quickly.  Well, quicker than before anyways.

Now let’s get on to the…

WEEKLY BREAKDOWN

Here is the weekly breakdown for this upcoming week, Oct. 31 – Nov. 6:

4 GAMES: CGY, CHI, NYR, VAN, WPG

3 GAMES: ANA, BUF, CAR, COL, DET, FLA, MIN, NAS, NJD, OTT, PHI, PHX, SJS, TBL, TOR, WAS

2 GAMES: BOS, CBJ, DAL, EDM, LAK, MON, NYI, PIT, STL

This week four less teams playing four games apiece with only five, and we increase the number of teams playing only two games from four last week to nine this week, so expect a much slower week this time around.  As usual, Saturday is the busiest day of the week with eleven games and Thursday is sporting the second most with ten, but that’s it for busy nights this week as no other day has more than six games played.  There are three on Monday, five on Tuesday, three on Wednesday, six on Friday, and five on Sunday so there shouldn’t be too many “who to start, who to bench” situations in Week 4.

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, EDM, MON, NAS, PIT, VAN, WPG

HOME COOKING

These teams are playing all of their games at home this week so they should be rested and practicing: CAR, DET, FLA, LAK, NYI, NYR

STAYING WELL RESTED

Teams that are not scheduled to play in any back-to-back games in Week 15 while also minimizing travel: BOS, CAR, CBJ, DAL, DET, FLA, LAK, MIN, NYI, SJS

With a slow week comes many teams staying relatively well rested, as is the case this week.  CAR, DET, FLA, LAK, and NYI play all of there games at home with no back-to-backs. MIN goes on a quick one-game road trip before heading back home for the rest of week.  DAL has a five day break before their first game of the week on Friday while BOS, CBJ, MIN, and SJS play one game on the road but have plenty of time for rest between their road games and their home games.

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:  BUF, CGY, CHI, MON, NJD, NYR, OTT, PHI, PHX, STL, TOR, VAN, 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.

GOING STREAKING

Teams that have the best win streaks currently in the NHL as of Friday:

PIT – 5 wins

OTT – 5 wins

EDM – 4 wins

SJS – 4 wins

No Crosby or Evgeni Malkin?  No problem for the Penguins as they continue to play strong to start the season as the currently sit atop the league’s standings.  Ottawa started off awfully slowly going 1-5-0 as was mostly expected, however they have surprisingly stormed back and now sit with a 6-5-0 record thanks to a five game winning streak.  Edmonton is another surprise as they’ve started the season with a bang and sit atop the Northwest Division.  The Sharks also started off slow but have gotten their game back as they’ve looked really good their past four games.

SPIRALING

Teams that have the longest current streaks in the NHL without collecting a point:

DET – 3 losses

VAN – 2 losses

PHI – 2 losses

BOS – 2 losses

Not the teams you’d expect to see in this section, are they?  After starting the season with a five-game win streak, they have lost each of their last three and are looking more and more human.  And the Canucks’, Bruins’, and Flyers’ situations have all already been discussed above.

STRONG SCHEDULES

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

Detroit Red Wings – Opponents: MIN, CGY, ANA – Although the Wings have lost their last three straight, this team is too good to have that trend continue and playing all of their games at home with at least a day off in between each should have them rested and ready to go.  MIN and CGY are both currently sitting at .500 for the season and in addition the Wings outshot the Wild a whopping 41-14 with a win in the only matchup they’ve had against any of their Week 4 opponents.  Get your Wings ready to roll.

WEAK SCHEDULES

…And the least favorable matchups of the week:

Montreal Canadians – Opponents: @OTT+@NYR – Only two games in Week 4 for the Habs and both games occur back-to-back and on the road.  Ottawa has looked like a completely different team than they did at the beginning of the season and things are starting to look a bit brighter for the Rangers so there should be some better options out there for weekly leaguers.

St. Louis Blues – Opponents: VAN+@MIN – The Blues are in a very similar situation to the Habs, with its only games of the week occurring back-to-back on Friday and Saturday with travel in between both games.  It’s worth mentioning that Brian Elliott has at least temporarily taken over as the #1 net minder in St. Louis, however because of their situation in Week 4 Elliot will most likely see split time with Jaroslav Halak.

Winnipeg Jets – Opponents: @FLA, @NYI, @NJD+@NYR – A lot of travel on the schedule this week as they face four teams all on the road (although NYI, NJD, and NYR are all short trips).  They have looked better than they did at the beginning of the year, winning two of their last three games (including that wild 9-8 victory over the Flyers) and four games in a week looks enticing to fantasy owners, however the extensive travel and three games in four nights may make fatigue play a factor.  If you need your Jets’ players out there then go for it, but if those in daily leagues have better options on the bench then it may be wise to sit your Jets.

That wraps it up.  Feel free to post any comments or questions below.  I’d like to hear from you.  As always, good luck out there.


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