As Week 8 is quickly approaching and the month of November is steadily coming to a close, let’s take a look at some of the latest highlights, some low moments, and most importantly what to expect for this coming week and beyond to help out your fantasy squad.
Let’s start off with a few major career milestones that happened during Week 7. November 22 was a big day, as both Alex Kovalev and Daniel Alfredsson scored their 1,000th career points. Kovalev scored a goal for his 1,000th point at exactly the 10:00 mark (what are the chances, right?) in a win over the Kings to become only the third Russian born player to reach this feat. Alfredsson got his 1,000th point in style as well with a hat trick in a 4-2 beating of the Buffalo Sabres. Last but certainly not least, Mark Recchi became just the 13th player in NHL history to reach the 1,500 point milestone with a two goal effort to propel the Bruins over the Panthers on November 24. Congratulations to these three guys for their achievements.
I mentioned Steven Stamkos last week, and I’ve got to bring him up again (no surprise) as he became the first player to hit the 20-goal plateau this season. Stamkos now has 21 goals to go along with a league-leading 38 points in only 22 games so far this season. If that’s not good enough for you, how about a league-leading 19 power play points and multi-point games in exactly half of his games played so far? Impressive indeed. If this torrid pace can continue – which would be very hard to accomplish – that would put him at a projected 78 goals, 142 points, and an insane 70 power play points over a full 82-game span. This has no doubt led to bloggers around the NHL asking if Stamkos will become the sixth NHL player to score 50 goals in 50 games. With his shooting percentage at a crazy high 24.1%, one has to think he’ll hit a rough patch sooner or later. I’ve gotta say, though: I’m rooting for the guy.
After only scoring two goals in his first 15 games, frustrated owners of Jarome Iginla have finally been able to breathe a sigh of relief. Meshing with recent linemates Alex Tanguay and Matt Stajan, Iginla has caught fire lately and has accumulated seven goals in his last seven games. Hopefully for his owners and Calgary, the Flames’ top forward can keep up the scoring as they have now lost 10 of their last 13 games (3-8-2).
That losing streak might sound bad, but none have been worse than this one so far this season. The Islanders lost 14 games in a row matching a streak set over 20 years ago until a 2-0 win over the struggling New Jersey Devils on Friday afternoon. In their most recent loss, the Islanders scored more than two goals for the first time in 12 games, but they couldn’t seem to pull out a win no matter what they did until Friday. Owners of Islanders’ players shouldn’t have expected all that much at the beginning of the season, but that awful run had to have hurt, especially for whatever Dwayne Roloson and Rick DiPietro owners are still out there.
Some good news as Marc Savard is now appearing to be very close to returning to action after being sidelined the entire season thus far due to post-concussion syndrome. Wednesday marked a big step forward in his progress as he returned to full contact practice. It’s still not exactly certain when he will show back up, but early December seems to be a safe bet now. If you have had him stashed away on your injured reserve, get ready to activate him as he has shown to be one of the league’s premier playmakers in the past.
The Capitals may now have a bit of a goalie dilemma as Semyon Varlamov is back from injury and played very well in a 3-2 win over Carolina on Wednesday. Barring injury, Michal Neuvirth and Varlamov will be competing for starts for the foreseeable future until one of them pulls ahead. Neuvirth played very well in Varlamov’s absence, so this could be a very interesting battle.
It appears Craig Anderson is injured again, this time injuring his groin on Wednesday against Vancouver. Not the news his owners wanted to hear at all, as they were just able to get him back from a knee injury that saw him miss ten games already this season. As of writing this, there has been no word yet on the severity of it, but hopefully he will not have to miss an extended period of time. Peter Budaj will again man the net in his absence.
Martin Brodeur will be missing at least the beginning of Week 8 and possibly the entire week while he nurses his sore elbow that he injured a week ago. If you are a Brodeur owner, hopefully you snagged up Johan Hedberg who has been playing surprisingly well during Marty’s absence.
And finally, very bad news for Guillaume Latendresse owners that were hoping to be getting his services back soon. A setback in Latendresse’s recovery has now required him to have major surgery and it’s looking as if he is going to have to miss the rest of the season. There is a chance he could return towards the end of the season, but if you are in shallower leagues and was holding onto him it’s probably safe to go ahead and drop him if you need that extra IR slot.
Here is the weekly breakdown for this upcoming week, November 29 – December 5:
4 GAMES: Anaheim, Calgary, Edmonton, Minnesota, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Phoenix, St. Louis
3 GAMES: Atlanta, Boston, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, Montreal, Nashville, New York Islanders, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington
2 GAMES: Buffalo, New Jersey
Week 8 has a fairly consistent schedule with six of the seven nights of the week having between 5-8 games being played. As usual, Saturday is the busiest night of the week with 12 games scheduled and Monday, Tuesday, and Sunday are all tied for having the fewest games of the week with five apiece.
Now let’s take a look at what should be the most favorable matchups of the week:
New York Rangers – The Rangers’ schedule looks pretty nice, as they play two games on slow nights while playing back-to-back games against a team that is hard-pressed to win hockey games this season. First off is Pittsburgh on Monday, followed by back-to-back home and away games versus the lowly Islanders. The Rangers then cap off the week on Sunday versus Ottawa.
Anaheim – The Ducks have not been playing very well lately, as they are currently on a five-game losing streak. However, things might be looking up during Week 8. Not only do they play four games next week with no back-to-backs, but they are also going to be playing at home all week. They start off by playing LA on Monday, then Florida and Detroit during the middle of the week before finishing off the week by playing Phoenix on Sunday.
Honorable mention would go to Calgary, Ottawa, Phoenix, and St. Louis because all four of these teams play four games during Week 8 while also having two of those games scheduled on a slow night. Those of you in weekly leagues will definitely want to try to get your players that belong to these teams in your lineup to maximize the possible output of your squad. Calgary has the best of the four as they none of their four games scheduled will be played back-to-back.
…And the least favorable matchups of the week:
Buffalo – An obvious choice, since they are one of the two teams that play only twice this week, but they get the double whammy of them playing back-to-back on Friday and Saturday night versus Columbus and Ottawa respectively. With injuries to some key players, this could be a week to rest your Sabres as well.
New Jersey – For the first time this season, New Jersey has won two games in a row, but that doesn’t mean that Devils’ players are safe to start just yet. Week 8 has them scheduled for only two games and they will be against some very formidable foes on the busiest of nights. First up are the Canadians on Thursday night, followed by a visit to Philadelphia on Saturday. Those in weekly leagues will most likely want to stay away.
Florida – Florida will not have the easiest time this week, as all three of their games are on the other side of the continent and on the busier nights of the week. First up are back-to-backs in California against Anaheim and LA, then a visit to Phoenix on Saturday.
Players that may be flying under the radar that should deserve a roster spot at this time:
Kevin Shattenkirk, COL – A fairly recent call-up from the AHL, this offensive-minded defenseman is now on a five-game point streak that has him with six points (3g-3a) and four power-play points.
Derek Stepan, NYR – One of the Rangers’ top prospects, Stepan has been moved up to the Rangers’ top line centering Alex Frolov and Marian Gaborik and has responded well. He is now on a five-game point streak that has seen him collect six points (2g-4a) and three power-play points while collecting eight points (2g-6a) in his last seven games.
Mattias Tedenby, NJD – New Jersey’s top prospect has responded well to his first stint in the NHL. In eight games so far on the team, Tedenby has collected six points (3g-3a) including four points (2g-2a) and a +5 during a three-game point streak that ended on Friday.
R.J. Umberger, CBJ – Umberger has been on a roll lately with points in seven straight collecting nine points (2g-7a), +7, and 20 penalty minutes. His seven-game assist streak broke a Blue Jackets franchise record.
Alex Tanguay, CGY – Part of the line that has helped Iginla get back on track, Tanguay has nine points (2g-7a) and three power-play points in his last eight games.
Mike Smith, TB – Smith has been Tampa’s hot goalie while playing better than Dan Ellis as of late. Smith has played in four straight games collecting wins in all four while totaling a 2.14 GAA and .919 SV% during that span. Knowing both of Tampa’s goalies’ streakiness, whoever has the hot hand will start, so ride Smith while he is playing well.
That wraps it up. As always, post any comments or questions below. Good luck next week, everyone!
You can follow Garrett on Twitter.