By Garrett Rees
Sorry so late, everyone. It has been a rather hectic weekend. With three weeks of the season already behind us, we are seeing teams that have already played 1/4th of this condensed season. Would you have predicted the outcome so far? I can tell you I surely wouldn’t have guessed that Tomas Vanek would be leading the league in scoring with an insane 11g-12a-23pts in only 12 games, nor would I have guessed that Washington would be the last place team in the league with Alex Ovechkin (4g-4a-8pts, -4) and Nick Backstrom (1g-7a-8pts) would be struggling as much as they have. That’s how things can go, though, in our fake game of stats and numbers.
I’m here to try to bring you that extra edge during our next week of play, Week 4, so let’s get right into it, shall we?
Here is the weekly breakdown for this upcoming week, Feb 11 – Feb 17:
- 4 GAMES: CGY, DAL, MIN, PHI, STL
- 3 GAMES: ANA, BOS, BUF, CAR, CBJ, CHI, COL, DET, FLA, LAK, MON, NAS, NJD, NYI, NYR, OTT, PHX, PIT, SJS, TBL, TOR, VAN, WAS, WPG
- 2 GAMES: EDM
This is the fewest teams we’ve seen playing four games in a week since the season began. Most teams will be playing three games while Edmonton is the lone team out this week that’s only playing two so make sure to take that into account when setting your lineups and looking for players to add via the waiver-wire. Let’s check out how the week breaks down per day:
- MON – 6 games
- TUES – 10 games
- WED – 3 games
- THU – 6 games
- FRI – 8 game
- SAT – 7 games
- SUN – 7 games
Week 4 will be a pretty even week, with the most games being played will actually be on a Tuesday with ten and the fewest games being played will be on a Wednesday with three. Otherwise, every other day of the week will feature between 6 and 8 games. This means that teams with deep benches will likely have the upper hand during Week 4 as those teams will be able to maximize their rosters as opposed to worrying about who to bench on the 12-1-12 Thurs-Fri-Sat of last week. Interesting to note that the normally busy Saturday will be contain a very middle of the road seven games while Sunday has seven games as well so there will be plenty on the docket for the final day of the week.
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, PHI, SJS, WAS
Philadelphia is the only team on the schedule playing four games all on the road
These teams are playing all of their games at home this week so they should be rested and practicing:
CHI, EDM, FLA, NAS, VAN, WPG
Week 4 will again showcase a lot of travelling with most teams playing at least one game on the road, however these are the lucky teams that will spend all week at home. CGY gets an honorable mention as they are playing four games with a day off in between each game and their only away game is the last day of the week.
B2B: BACKUPS TO SEE ACTION?
All of these teams are scheduled 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, CAR, CBJ, DAL, MIN, NJD, OTT, PHIx2, SJS
10 back-to-backs during Week 4 and two of them belong to the Flyers, although CBJ is coming into Week 4 on the 2nd game of a back-to-back.
Teams that have the best win streaks currently in the NHL as of Sunday Afternoon:
- CHI – 10-0-2 to start the season
- NJD – 5 wins
- VAN – 5 wins
- BOS, DAL, DET, TOR – 3 wins
Teams that have the longest current streaks in the NHL without collecting a point as of Sunday afternoon:
- NYI – 4 losses
- TBL – 4 losses
- CBJ – 2-7-2 last 11 games
Now let’s take a look at a couple of the most favorable matchups of the week:
Detroit Red Wings – Opponents: STL, ANA, @MIN – The Red Wings have suddenly found their scoring groove again while goalie Jimmy Howard has been solid lately so playing against some opponents they have had success against already this season should provide for a good Week 4. First up is STL on Wednesday whom they have already seen three times so far this year and have come up with a 2-1-0 record against while scoring 10 goals between those games – all in the last two. STL will likely have Jaroslav Halak in net again instead of the struggling Brian Elliott, however they have dominated the Blues in their last two games where they have scored five goals in each game while letting in a combined four. They then play ANA on Friday, whom they haven’t yet played against, and then MIN on Sunday where they again scored five goals against them in their only meeting of the season so far. Pavel Datsyuk and Captain Henrik Zetterberg have been flying the past couple of weeks and their solid play should positively affect those playing around them so make sure to get your Red Wings out there in Week 4.
New Jersey Devils – Opponents: CAR, PHI+@NYI – I knew the Devils would be a formidable foe during this shortened season but I underestimated the kind of success that they would have early on. They have been on a tear to start the season and that is looking like it should continue through Week 4. First up is Carolina, whom they haven’t played yet but should definitely have the advantage, on Tuesday but then they face PHI and NYI B2B style on Friday and Saturday and they have been very successful against these two teams so far this season, averaging three goals per game in the four games that they have played between them. They shutout PHI 3-1 in their only meeting against them so far while they are 2-0-1 against NYI with 9 goals scored in this shortened season. Once fantasy relevant defenseman Andy Greene is back in the fantasy crosshairs after a disappointing 2011-2012 season with 2g-6a-8pts, 5 PPP, +5 in his last 6 games. Although it seems unlikely he will be able to keep it up, look for him while he is hot along with the rest of his squad.
Phoenix Coyotes – Opponents: @COL, @NAS, CBJ – The Coyotes are looking to get above .500 this season, while fantasy owners are looking for the same, and a Week 4 schedule against teams they have had success against along with Mike Smith’s resurgence should provide the confidence to do just that. First up is COL on Monday whom they have yet to face but they face NAS on Thursday and CBJ on Saturday and they have dominated them in their only meetings against them so far, scoring a combined nine goals against and allowing only one goal between them. Since Smith came back from injury, he has been 3-1-1 with two shutouts so look for him to provide his team every opportunity to win.
…And the least favorable matchups of the week:
Edmonton Oilers – Opponents: DAL, COL – Seeing as this is the only team on the schedule playing only two games this weeks, it’s hard to recommend them. EDM plays DAL on Tuesday where they lost in OT in their only meeting of the season 3-2 while they have a 1-1 record against COL, whom they play on SAT, with only 5 goals in those two games. Kari Lehtonen and Semyon Varlamov have both been playing well this season so the opportunity for goals may not be there. Look for other help on the waiver-wire this week if you need it.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Opponents: SJS, @LAK+@PHX – The Blue Jackets haven’t really been able to find their rhythm so far this season and Week 4 doesn’t look to be any help. They play SJS on Monday on the tail end of a B2B series and then have another B2B series on Friday and Saturday against LAK and PHX respectively. They have yet to face the Sharks this year, but as everyone knows so far they have been a though team to beat while they lost to both LAK and PHX in their only meetings against them this year while allowing at least four goals and scoring a max of two against them. As has been common so far this season, don’t expect your Blue Jackets to impress during Week 4.
Good luck out there, everyone. Post any comments or questions below hit me up on Twitter @G_Rees.