Looking Ahead: Week 18

Garrett Rees brings us “Looking Ahead” for your week in fantasy hockey.  Week 18 is going to be a tough one for fantasy hockey owners and our spotlight also helps for not only our season fantasy hockey players but our weekly and daily ones also.

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LOOKING AHEAD – Week 18

Contributed by: Garrett Rees

Week 18 is upon us ladies and gents. Lots of games on the schedule this week with a rather unusual weekly breakdown, which I’ll delve into more below. The NHL trade deadline is only two weeks away,so get ready to hear tons of rumors flying off the wall about what teams are selling or buying and who might be packing their suitcases. Keep watch for all of the updates, as things could get quite interesting.

Now I know plenty of people have talked about him, but I can’t help repeating. What exactly has gotten into Sam Gagner lately? Not only did he have that absolutely insane eight-point performance on Feb. 2nd, but he is now also on a five-game point streak. He has collected an additional 4g-3a-7pts, giving him 8g-7a-15pts over his past five games. He’s almost matched his entire production in the 42 games prior in that short span. I want whatever he’s eating.

Enough talk, let’s get right into it.

WEEKLY BREAKDOWN

Here is the weekly breakdown for this upcoming week, Feb. 13 – Feb 19:

4 GAMES: ANA, BOS, BUF, CHI, DAL, MIN, MON, SJS, STL, VAN, WPG

3 GAMES: CAR, CBJ, CGY, COL, DET, EDM, FLA, NAS, NJD, NYI, NYR, PHX, PIT, TBL, TOR, WAS

2 GAMES: LAK, OTT, PHI

As you can see, Week 18 is going to be a busy one, however not quite as busy as last week. The busy days this week are pretty unusual, so just check it out for your self:

MON – 3 games
TUES – 9 games
WED – 5 games
THU – 7 games
FRI – 7 games
SAT – 8 games
SUN – 10 games

This is the first time that I can remember that Sunday is actually the busiest day of the week, with the usually busy Saturday taking a rare backseat. This is going to make for a very interesting week as Sunday is potentially going to be a huge make-or-break day for anyone in head-to-head leagues.

The Kings and Flyers are both playing their two games of the week on Thursday and Saturday nights. Normally this would be somewhat of a red flag considering how many other options you would have on those typically busy days, but with seven and eight games respectively they could still make for some viable options (although the whole LA offense is looking like a red flag by themselves this year). Head-to-head league owners will want to play them as you normally would while weekly leaguers will want to look for better options.

For instance, you could choose any one of David Clarkson, Martin Erat, or Tyler Bozak, all of which are under 35% owned in Yahoo leagues and all play in three games next week. Clarkson just ended a five-game point streak in which he scored 5g-3a-8pts with 4 PPP. Erat is in the midst of a three-game point streak where he has collected 2g-4a-6pts, a +5 rating, and 2 PPP. Bozak is in a four-game point streak where he has notched 4g-3a-7pts, +4, and 4 PPP. I’d much rather want to utilize one of those guys during Week 18 than say the much more widely owned Mike Richards, Dustin Brown, or Justin Williams.

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:

ANA, COL, OTT, SJS, TOR

HOME COOKING
These teams are playing all of their games at home this week so they should be rested and practicing:

DET, EDM, FLA, LA, PHI, TBL

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, BOS, BUF, CAR, CBJ, CHI, DAL, MIN, OTT, PIT, SJS, STL, TOR, VAN, WAS, WPG

No guarantees, but If you are in need of 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.

Since Sunday will be such a big day this week, monitor these teams if you are in desperate need of a last minute goalie start, as these squads face back-to-backs on Saturday and Sunday: CBJ, CHI, DAL, MIN, PIT, STL, VAN.

GOING STREAKING
Teams that have the best win streaks currently in the NHL as of Saturday afternoon:

PHX – 4 wins
BUF – 3 wins
MTL – 3 wins
VAN – 3 wins

Buffalo and Montreal are both out of a playoff spot at the moment but both have been pushing hard lately to at least try to get back into the mix, while the Coyotes have at least momentarily played themselves into the final playoff spot in the West. All three of these teams are going to be pushing hard the rest of the way. Vancouver on the other hand is fighting for first in the West and is making good progress with the best record in the NHL over the past 10 games going 7-1-2. Detroit, St. Louis, NY Rangers, and Pittsburgh also keep piling up the wins and are of course making for good fantasy options down the stretch.

SPIRALING
Teams that have the longest current streaks in the NHL without collecting a point as of Saturday afternoon:

CHI – 4 losses
MIN – 2 losses
OTT – 1-6-2 record past 9 games

Once streaking, Ottawa has since lost its groove and hasn’t been able to string together consecutive wins since before the All-Star break. Craig Anderson owners have especially felt the pain as he has failed to earn a win in his past seven starts, getting the hook twice in that span. He only was able to last 4 minutes in his last start before surrendering two goals on four shots. In total, he has compiled a .882 SV% and a 3.85 GAA over this winless streak. Certainly disappointing after he was playing so well before. Chicago has also been allowing a lot of goals lately, dropping four straight (now five after Saturday night) and to 6th in the West while Minnesota has dropped from 8th in the West to 11th during a 3-5-2 stretch over their past 10 games.

STRONG SCHEDULES
Now let’s take a look at a couple of the most favorable matchups of the week:

Vancouver Canucks – Opponents: PHX, COL, TOR+@EDM – Vancouver has been playing some great hockey lately and just keeps climbing up the standings, keeping fantasy owners happy. Owners should be even happier to know that the Canucks have been tremendously successful against all four of its Week 18 opponents. They have lost only once in the nine games they’ve played against their opponents,collecting a cumulative 36-16 goals advantage in those games. First up are the Coyotes, who they crushed 5-0 in their only meeting so far. Next in line are the Avs who they have crushed in three meetings so far, outscoring them 12-2. Next up are the Leafs whom they beat 5-3 in their only matchup, followed immediately by a visit to Edmonton, whom they beat three out of four times and outscored them 14-11. I think you know what to do. Get these guys out there.

St. Louis Blues – Opponents: @CBJ, NYI, MIN+@CHI – The Blues have been on a tear lately (7-2-1 past 10 games) and will have the luxury of facing three Western conference opponents that are trending the opposite way. The blues have scored 8 goals in two games against the struggling Blue Jackets, Minnesota has now lost three in a row, and Chicago has now lost five in a row after Saturday night’s loss, leaving them at 2-7-1 over their past 10 games. That means there is a good chance for the Blues to make fantasy owners happy during Week 18, and having four chances to do so during the week doesn’t hurt at all either. And might I add that David Perron should definitely be owned in more than 14% of Yahoo leagues. He has at least a point or a PIM in 8 of his past 10 games totaling 5g-2a-7pts, +6, and 8 PIM.

WEAK SCHEDULES
…And the least favorable matchups of the week:

Ottawa Senators – Opponents: @TBL+@FLA – Two games being played in a week with plenty of teams playing four games does not bode well for fantasy owners, especially when both of those games are early in the week, back-to-back, and both on the road. Coupled with Ottawa’s recent woes mentioned above, fantasy owners should look elsewhere for production. Back of the back-to-back road games, both Ottawa goalies will probably only get one shot in net in Week 18. Good news for fantasy owners is at least the Sens have played well against their competition, going 2-0-0 against Florida with an 8-6 goals advantage and 2-0-0 against Tampa with a solid 8-3 goals advantage. However, the Sens have only scored nine goals in five February games thus far and four of those came in one game – their only win. I wouldn’t expect too much, especially if you are looking for goalie stats.

Colorado Avalanche – Opponents: @VAN, @EDM, @WPG – The Avalanche head into a Canadian road trip looking to gain some ground on a playoff position sitting only two points out, but unfortunately for them and their fantasy owners success will not come easy. The Avs have only one win in eight games against their Week 18 opponents and have been thoroughly outscored. In three games against the Canucks, the Avs are 0-2-1 with a terrible 2-12 goals differential, they are only 1-3-0 against their other Northwest division opponent with a 9-12 goals differential, and they were blown out 1-4 in their only game so far against Winnipeg this season. The Avalanche have been playing some better hockey as of late but don’t be surprised if they don’t perform well.

That wraps it up. Good luck out there everyone.

About Chris Wassel

Simply I am a hockey writer who is a jack of all trades. Whether it is draft, fantasy, NHL, KHL, AHL, etc...I probably can write about it. The challenge in hockey is to be able to step out of your comfort zone and write like you are still there. Hopefully you enjoy the humor in the writing on the site and tell your friends. Thanks for reading!

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