Hey everybody! As you might have noticed, this is my first article on The Program. I wanna thank Chris for recruiting me. It should be fun. I’m looking to add some more weekly fantasy hockey articles to the site. I formerly wrote for www.fantasyhockey.com with fellow resident Ian Gooding (you can find my previous stuff here) but am jumping ship and moving over here permanently so I hope you all don’t mind me sticking around for a while.
So let’s get right in to it, shall we?
All-Star week is approaching, which means that some weird scheduling is ahead of us. Yahoo Fantasy Hockey has it so that Week 16 actually takes place over the following two weeks combined, so for the purpose of this article this how I will treat it as well. I’ll discuss this more in the Weekly Breakdown below.
Here is the weekly breakdown for this upcoming “week,” Jan. 23 – Feb 5:
6 GAMES: WPG
5 GAMES: BOS, CBJ, DET, EDM, MON, NAS, NJD, NYI, OTT, PHI, PIT, SJS, TOR, WAS
4 GAMES: ANA, BUF, CAR, CHI, COL, DAL, FLA, LAK, MIN, NYR, STL, TBL, VAN
3 GAMES: CGY, PHX
Because of the All-Star break, we have an unusual schedule as mentioned above. Games will be played on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of next week before there is a five-day break that will last until Tuesday of the following week, Jan. 31st. That means there are nine games that will be played during Week 16. There will be six games on Monday, thirteen games on Tuesday, and then only one game on Wednesday before the break. Then, after the break there will be thirteen games on Tuesday, five on Wednesday, eight on Thursday, five again on Friday, twelve on Saturday, and then four on Sunday to cap it off. Winnipeg is the only team during this period that will play five games with most teams playing either five games or four games. Calgary and Phoenix are the two odd teams out during this period with only three games each.
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:
These teams are playing all of their games at home this week so they should be rested and practicing:
CGY, FLA, PHX, TBL
Note that Winnipeg is playing all six of their games on the road with two back-to-backs scheduled, one before the break and one after. Being the only team to play six games definitely sounds enticing, but also be aware that travel may affect their play. And as luck would have it, the only two teams to play three games during Week 16 are playing all of their games at home, reducing the benefit of their home stays.
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, BUF, CBJ (x2), CHI, DAL, EDM, FLA, LAK, MON, NAS, NJD, NYI (x2), NYR, OTT (x2), PHI, PIT, SJS, STL, TOR (x2), WAS, WPG (x2)
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.
Teams that have the best win streaks currently in the NHL as of Saturday afternoon:
PIT – 5 wins
DET – 5 wins
CHI – 3 wins
STL – 3 wins
After starting to fade a bit, the Pens are on a five-game win streak thanks to Evgeni Malkin’s same five-game goal scoring streak. He is looking MVP caliber this year. The Red Wings are also right back in the top of the Western Conference mix with five straight wins thanks to Jimmy Howard and him having allowed only 6 goals with a shutout over his past four games, all wins. St. Louis Cinderella story continues in the Ken Hitchcock era while Chicago has just played itself into a tie for the NHL league lead. Los Angeles has also been playing very well lately, going 5-1-4 over their past 10 games while Anaheim seems to have gotten out of its season long funk by gathering three straight wins and are now 6-3-1 over their past 10 games thanks to a goal scoring surge that has produced 15 goals during their three-game win streak. Jason Blake (4g-2a-6pts, +5, 2 PPP, 2 GWG, 15 SOG past 3 games), Francois Beauchemin (2g-5a-7pts, +10, 23 PIM past 7 games), and Saku Koivu (4g-4a-8pts, +7 in January) have all been on fire lately and widely available in Yahoo leagues.
Teams that have the longest current streaks in the NHL without collecting a point:
BUF – 4 losses
MIN – 2 losses
EDM – 2 losses
DAL – 0-3-1 past four games
Buffalo and Minnesota are both in tailspins as each have lost their past 11 road games. It seems that ever since the Wild touched the NHL league lead in points they have been losing ever since, severely hurting goalie Nik Backstrom’s fantasy value who has only 1 win in his past 10 starts while allowing at least 3 goals in eight of those and the past 7 straight. While Dallas hasn’t been allowing a lot of goals, they can’t seem to score any as they are finding it hard to cope with their number one and two centers Jamie Benn and Mike Ribiero, both not expected back until after the All-Star break. They have only mustered four goals in their past four games and aren’t providing fantasy owners with much to be happy about aside from the goaltending.
Now let’s take a look at what should be the most favorable matchups of the week:
Anaheim Ducks - Opponents: @DAL, @PHX+DAL, CBJ – Anaheim has been on fire lately, now winning four in a row (as of Saturday) while scoring 17 goals in those games. Three solid games against divisional opponents and then cap off Week 16 with a game against the league’s worst team could get them on the right track to join the playoff hunt. They are 1-2 so far this year against Dallas but with Dallas’ troubles to find the net as of late and the Ducks suddenly scoring goals in bunches, this should give Anaheim the favor in these two matchups. The Ducks have scored more goals against the Coyotes this year than any other team, averaging 4 goals per game while they are averaging the same four goals a game against the Jackets in their two matches so far this year. Make sure to get your Ducks out there next week despite them having only four games.
San Jose Sharks – Opponents: @EDM+@CGY, CBJ, DAL, @PHX – The Sharks have some good matchups against a handful of Western Conference opponents that they are higher in the rankings than, and they are a combined 7-1-0 against them this year as well. Not too sahbby. They have a 24-14 goal differential in those eight games as well. Also very nice. The Stats say the Sharks are a must play, and so do I. Oh and by the way, Antti Niemi started four of those games winning all of them while allowing only six goals. You know what to do.
…And the least favorable matchups of the week:
Calgary Flames – Opponents: SJS, DET, CHI –Not only are the Flames one of only two teams to play only three games during Week 16, but they are also playing three Western Conference foes that are much higher than them in the standings. They have bested Detroit so far this year, going 2-1 against them with a 10-8 goal differential, but the Red Wings have been on fire lately and won’t be as fun to play as they were previously. They are then a combined 1-2-1 against the Sharks and the Hawks, and it won’t help that both of those teams have been playing strong lately as well, with San Jose going 7-2-1 over their past 10 and the Hawks playing themselves to a tie for the Western Conference lead. The Flames have been playing some better hockey lately, going 4-1-1 over their past 6 games, but I wouldn’t expect them to continue that trend during Week 16. Play your Flames if you must, but if you have better options then look to them.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Opponents: @NAS+@TBL, @SJS+@LAK, @ANA – The lowly Blue Jackets are in for a tough week ahead. Not only are they playing five tough opponents, they are playing every game on the road and that’s with two back-to-backs scheduled as well. They are a combined 3-8-1 against these teams so far this season. Some of these teams have been picking it up lately as well, with Pekka Rinne being completely unstoppable over his past six games, Anaheim finding their scoring touch, and LA picking up at least a point over their past five games. As has been the case this season, keep your BJs on the bench.
That wraps it up. Good luck out there everyone and I look forward to writiting for you all. Leave any comments below to let me know what you think and especially to let me know if there is anything else that you would like to see in here.