With two weeks almost behind us, let’s start looking towards what Week 3 will bring. It’s been a fast and furious start to the season, which is now almost 20% completed already, and with the condensed 2012-2013 schedule we’re not going to be seeing a slowdown anytime soon. Not mentioning the refs (who’ve been rather questionable), injuries are still the rule of the land this season and those managers who are constantly scouring the waiver wire for upgrades and replacements are the managers that are going to prevail in their leagues. Last week I mentioned Scott Hartnell, Joffrey Lupul, and Scott Downie as major injuries and you can add Jason Spezza, Ray Whitney, Gabriel Landeskog, Scottie Upshall, Ryan Callahan, plus many others to the list of long term injuries thus far.
To help you best prepare for the coming week and how best to utilize your rosters, let’s take a look at what you should expect.
Here is the weekly breakdown for this upcoming week, January 4 – Feb 10:
4 GAMES: ANA, BUF, DET, EDM, NAS, NJD, PIT, TBL, TOR
3 GAMES: BOS, CAR, CBJ, CGY, CHI, DAL, FLA, LAK, MIN, MON, NYI, NYR, OTT, PHI, PHX, SJS, STL, VAN, WAS, WPG
2 GAMES: COL
Not quite as many games as last week however there’s only one odd-team-out with only two games this week and that’s the Avalanche. Still almost a third of the league is playing four games during Week 3 so there’s going to be plenty of action out there. Let’s see how the games are broken down per day:
- MON – 5 games
- TUES – 10 games
- WED – 3 games
- THU – 12 games
- FRI – 1 game
- SAT – 12 games
- SUN – 6 games
The big days this week are again Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday while the fewest games fall on Wednesday and Friday for Week 3. Be aware that there is only one game on Friday, ANA@DAL, so be prepared for the extra busy days bookending that day. For those of you in Head-to-Head leagues, Sundays are always big days and the teams battling it out on Sunday during Week 2 are BOS@BUF, CHI@NAS, EDM@CBJ, LAK@DET, NJD@PIT, and TBL@NYR so keep that in mind if your matchup is close and you can afford to hit up the waiver-wire for a quick replacement.
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:
CAR, CGY, FLA, LAK, TBL
TBL is the only team of the bunch that is playing four games in addition to having all of their games on the road. ANA and TOR are honorable mentions in this category as they are playing four games with three of them away from home, including traveling back-to-backs for both.
These teams are playing all of their games at home this week so they should be rested and practicing:
CBJ, COL, OTT, PHI, STL
Honorable mention for this category would go to WPG, PHX, NYR, MIN, as they all are only doing one-way travel during Week 3 with the rest of their games in their own buildings.
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, BOS, BUF, DET, EDM, MON, NAS, NJD, PIT, SJS, TBL, TOR
A lot less B2Bs is Week 3 as there were in Week 2, however there are still quite a bit. Keep tabs on your goalies and their backups as these teams #2 net minders could definitely see some action.
Teams that have the best win streaks currently in the NHL as of Sunday Afternoon:
- SJS – 7-0-0 to start the season
- TBL – 5 of 6 (lost to Rangers Sat. Night
- CHI – 6-0-2 to start the season
San Jose has still been perfect on the season on the backs of the top line of Patrick Marleau (9g-5a-14pts in 7 games), Joe Thornton (3g-11a-14pts), and Joe Pavelski (4g-8a-12pts) while goalie Antti Niemi (6 wins, 1.95 GAA, .933 SV%) has been rock solid. Tampa Bay players keep rewarding fantasy owners by producing the most goals in the league while rookie Cory Conacher has been the real deal with 5g-7a-12 pts in his first 8 games, with multiple point games in five of those and at least one point in all but two of those. Chicago keeps doing their thing on the heels of the usual suspects Patrick Kane (3g-8a-11pts in 8 games), Marian Hossa (5g-4a-9pts), Jonathon Toews (4g-3a-7pts), and Patrick Sharp (2g-5a-7pts) despite dropping their last two games in overtime or SO.
Teams that have the longest current streaks in the NHL without collecting a point as of Sunday afternoon:
- DAL – 1-4-1 last 6 games
- PHI – 3 losses (did beat Carolina)
- WPG – 3 losses (won on Saturday night, though)
Dallas can’t seem to get anything going this season and it hasn’t helped that Derek Roy has been out and matters got worse with the news that the Stars current leading scorer Ray Whitney (2g-4a-6pts) will be out for 4-6 weeks with a broken foot. Meanwhile, Philadelphia can’t seem to find their scoring rhythm so far this season as they only have 16 goals in 8 games so far this season. Despite them losing six of their first eight, Ilya Bryzgalov has been respectable with his numbers producing a 2.40 GAA and .920 SV%. Meanwhile, the Jets started off the season decently but have now fallen behind in their last three, although Tobias Enstrom has been a monster from the blue line producing 2g-9a-11pts in 8 games this season while despite having a -7 +/- rating Blake Wheeler (3g-5a-8pts) is on a point per game pace to start the season.
Now let’s take a look at a couple of the most favorable matchups of the week:
Pittsburgh Penguins – Opponents:@NYI, WAS, @NJD+NJD – The Penguins seem to have gotten back on track after a slow start to the season and they will be looking to continue that trend over the next week. They lost their first game against the Islanders, whom the play on Tuesday, however they have won of their last two games since last playing them on Jan. 29. They then play WAS on Thursday and then play a home and home series against NJD on Saturday and Sunday and they dominated them 5-1 in their first meeting of the season. Chris Kunitz (2g-5a-7pts in last 8 games) and Sidney Crosby (4g-6a-10pts in 8 games) have been gelling together recently while Pascal Dupuis (2g-4a-6pts) has been seeing the score sheet lately with points in each of his last three games. Get your Pens out there.
Tampa Bay Lightning – Opponents: @PHI, @NJD, @BOS+@NYR – The Lightning are facing some rather stingy teams next week, however they have constantly been rewarding their fantasy owners so far this season as Steven Stamkos (7g-9a-16pts in 8 games), Vinny Lecavalier (4g-7a-11pts), Martin St. Louis (3g-11a-14pts), Cory Conacher (5g-7a-12pts), and Teddy Purcell (2g-7a-9pts) have been flying. Little owned defenseman Sami Salo (0g-5a-5pts, +11) has been a good play so far this season as well. They play their opponents on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday respectively. Although most of these are on the busy nights, it’s hard to recommend benching any of your top Lightning players so make sure to keep rolling them out there.
San Jose Sharks – Opponents: @ANA+CHI, PHX – I’ve of course got to recommend the undefeated Sharks. Although they will be playing some tough opponents, all three of these teams have the capacity for goals against as Corey Crawford (playing better than his record suggests), Jonas Hiller (3.43 GAA, .868 SV% while being lit up Saturday night), and Mike Smith (4.00 GAA, .847 SV% but a SO on Saturday night versus the lowly Stars) have allowed their fair share of goals and the Sharks have been lighting up the lamp in practically all of their games so far this season. Do what you should always do and make sure to get your Sharks in your lineup.
...And the least favorable matchups of the week:
Calgary Flames – Opponents: @DET, @CBJ, @VAN – The Flames have yet to find any kind of form this season as they are last in the league, however they have only played five games so far this season although you would think that having the most time off of any team at the beginning of the season would provide a benefit as they were afforded more practice time than anyone else. Week 3 will see them play all of their games on the road versus some teams heating up so their woes are likely to continue for at least a bit longer. For them to find some success, Captain Jarome Iginla (0g-3a-3pts in 5 games) is going to have to find his form. Not helping anything for fantasy owners is that all of their games in Week 3 are on the three busiest nights of the week so I’d look elsewhere for help on your fantasy rosters.
Colorado Avalanche – Opponents: DAL, ANA – Have to put the team playing the fewest amount of games on the weak schedule list, at least for weekly lineup leagues. They are only playing DAL on Monday and then ANA, who has been scoring a lot of goals so far this season, on Wednesday while they have the rest of the week off. Those in weekly lineup leagues probably want to get their Avs out there, however I’d definitely look for players with more games being played on your roster in those weekly lineup leagues.
Good luck out there, everyone. Post any comments or questions below hit me up on Twitter @G_Rees.