November is now behind us and we have our first full week of December upon us so it’s time to get ready. There was a lot of action that occurred in November, including in the coaching department. Four teams swapped head coaches, including the Washington Capitals replacing Bruce Boudreau who was unemployed for all of three days before the Ducks swooped him up. Ken Hitchcock is also back coaching in the NHL and it has shown dividends in St. Louis, where they have gone an amazing 8-1-3 since he took over (compared to 6-7-0 before). Somehow Hitchcock also brought along a revival for Jaroslav Halak as well, who is 3-1-3 in the seven games he has started under Hitchcock with a 1.52 GAA, .941% and a shutout as opposed to the 1-6-0 record, 3.35 GAA, .856 SV% line he was sporting before.
The Penguins are now 4-1-1 since the return of Sidney Crosby, who by the way now has 2g-9a-11pts, a +6, and 3 PPP in those six games. So much for the possibility of him having to shake off some rust. More good concussion-related news hits this week as well, as another player who has been out a long time with a concussion, David Perron, is officially returning. My crystal ball is telling me that he scores a goal in his first game back about 6 and a half minutes into the game. Great news for fantasy owners, so make sure to activate him off of the IR and get him back into your lineup.
Now, let’s get right on to the…
Here is the weekly breakdown for this upcoming week, Dec. 5 – 11:
4 GAMES: BOS, FLA, NYR, OTT, PHX, SJS, TBL
3 GAMES: ANA, BUF, CAR, CBJ, CGY, CHI, COL, DET, EDM, LAK, MIN, MON, NAS, NJD, NYI, PHI, PIT, STL, TOR, VAN, WAS, WPG
2 GAMES: DAL
Dallas is the odd team out this week as they are the only team not playing at least three games with seven teams playing four games. Otherwise, it’s a rather typical week when you look at games per day. The usual busy nights of Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday are just that with 10, 12, and 12 games respectively. The slow nights are going to be exceptionally slow this week as well, with Monday leading the slow nights with five games while Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday only see three, four, and two games respectively.
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: CAR, COL, DAL, MIN, TBL
These teams are playing all of their games at home this week so they should be rested and practicing: BUF, CGY, NYI, STL
STAYING WELL RESTED
Teams that are not scheduled to play in any back-to-back games in Week 9 while also minimizing travel: CBJ, CGY, DET, LAK, MON, NJD, NYI, STL
Buffalo is the only team from the home cooking list that didn’t make the cut for this list, as they have a back-to-back scheduled. Also, Columbus, Detroit, Los Angeles, Montreal, and New Jersey all made the cut because they all only have one game on the road at either the beginning or tail ends of the week with at least a day of rest in between 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: BOS, CAR, COL, EDM, FLA, NYR, OTT, PHI, PHX, SJS, TBL, TOR, 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.
Teams that have the best win streaks currently in the NHL as of Friday:
BOS – 13 game point streak
DET – 7 wins
NYR – 4 wins
MIN – 3 wins
Whatever was the cause for the Bruins starting the season off slowly has clearly been taken care of as they went on an absolute tear all throughout November. In that month, the Bruins went an insane 12-0-1 and collected 25 of a possible 26 points. Especially incredible considering that they only went 3-7-0 in October. Tim Thomas owners rejoice. Detroit has also been on fire lately going 8-2-0 over the past 10 games while the Rangers have officially gotten over their little bit of early season woes by winning four straight and also going 8-2-0 over their past 10 games. And who would have thought, but currently the Minnesota Wild are sitting atop the NHL standings and have also gone 8-2-0 over their past 10 games.
Teams that have the longest current streaks in the NHL without collecting a point:
CAR – 4 losses
WAS – 4 losses
NJD – 3 losses
ANA – 1-7-1 past 9 games
Three teams on this list (WAS, CAR, ANA) cost their coaches their jobs with their poor performances and none of them have yet to earn their new coaches wins. New Jersey continues to be a mediocre hockey team during the Ilya Kovalchuk era while Martin Brodeur (5-7-0, .879 SV%, 3.31 GAA and pulled last game) is starting to show his age and hasn’t been playing like his old self so far this year. The Ducks have been quite an enigma this year as they are now only two points away from last place Columbus in the standings. Things have been going so badly that Bobby Ryan trade rumors have been flying off the wall, however it appears that Ducks GM Bob Murray himself has quashed those rumors. He’s too talented to be going through this slump all season. While his value is at its lowest it may ever be, nows the time to try to snag him from a frustrated owner.
Now let’s take a look at what should be the most favorable matchups of the week:
Chicago Blackhawks – Opponents: PHX, @NYI, SJS – So far this season the Hawks have played very well at home which should help them against Phoenix and San Jose, and they have already ousted the islanders once this season in a 5-4 victory on Friday night. The thing that really clicks for the Hawks this week is their schedule, as they play on Monday and Sunday, both very slow days. That lets you start your Hawks during those days while not having to worry about them on the busiest nights of the week, hopefully making your decisions on who start during those days easier.
New York Rangers – Opponents: TOR, TBL, @BUF+FLA – Like the Hawks, the Rangers are also playing on both Monday and Sunday. It’s also a plus that they are playing four games this week, but two of those nights are on the two busiest nights, Thursday and Saturday. They have yet to play Tampa Bay and Buffalo this season while they actually lost both of their only meetings so far this season with Toronto and Florida, however they have won all four of their games since getting beat by Florida and against some solid competition as well (WAS, PHI, PIT). With things clicking for them at the moment, they stand a good chance to come out victorious, or at least provide fantasy owners with decent point totals.
Boston Bruins – Opponents: @PIT+@WPG, FLA, @CBJ – How can I not put these guys on here? Pittsburgh and perhaps Florida will present some challenges but Winnipeg and Columbus should be easy wins for the streaking B’s and as has been the case during the entire month of November they should continue to roll during Week 9.
…And the least favorable matchups of the week:
Dallas Stars – Opponents: @SJS, @LAK – Seeing as they are the only team to only play two games this week they make the cut automatically. Playing two teams they have struggled against so far this season while on the road for both makes it even worse for them. The Stars are a collective 1-3-0 in meetings against these teams – three against LA, one against SJ – while being outscored by a combined 7-12 score. To make things even worse, the Stars will most likely still be without all of Alex Goligoski, Trevor Daley, Adam Burish, captain Brenden Morrow, and probably most importantly star net minder Kari Lehtonen. Weekly Leaguers should most likely steer clear this week while all others may want to stay away from players not named Jamie Benn or Loui Eriksson Although they have been slumping recently as well). Quick side note: Andrew Raycroft has been playing well in Lehtonen’s absence, going 2-1-0 with a 2.11 GAA and .944 SV% since the injury while Eric Nystrom (4g-2a-6pts, +3, 1 GWG past 6 games) has been a surprising source of points lately for what it’s worth.
Carolina Hurricanes – Opponents: @CGY+@EDM, @WPG – Nothing seems to be going right for the Canes lately and Paul Maurice felt the consequences of that. Kirk Muller is looking for his first win as the new head coach but they won’t come easily, at least for this week. It’s not so much the quality of the opponents as it is their traveling schedule, as they play in Calgary and Edmonton on back to back nights and then head to Winnipeg on Friday for their third game in four nights. Carolina has only won 3 games while on the road so far this year and is currently tied for the league’s worst goal differential with a -27. Eric Staal hasn’t helped out with that statistic at all this season either while sporting the league’s worst +/- rating with a -17. A coaching change may not be the only changes we see for them this season and at least for this week show your Canes the bench.
That wraps it up. Good luck out there everyone.