Here comes the Garrett Rees column "Looking Ahead". This is pretty comprehensive. It is a read that will be well worth it for fantasy hockey owners.
We’re back ladies in gents! Good to be with you all again, I thought that lock out would never end. With 48 games falling into only a 99 day period, this could be a very interesting season. Lots of travel, lots of back-to-backs, and that could spell lots of injuries as Scott Hartnell (out 4-8 weeks), Joffrey Lupul (out 6 weeks), Steve Downie (out for season), and plenty of others can already tell you. Like I said, this could be interesting. So, with the first official week of this shortened 48 game season already over, let’s get right into the action for Week 2.
Here is the weekly breakdown for this upcoming week, January 28 – Feb 3:
4 GAMES: BOS, BUF, CBJ, COL, DAL, EDM, NJD, OTT, PHX, PIT, WAS,
3 GAMES: ANA, CAR, CHI, DET, FLA, LAK, MIN, MON, NAS, NYI, NYR, PHI, SJS, TBL, TOR, VAN, WPG
2 GAMES: CGY, STL
With the compacted schedule, I was a bit surprised to see that there are going to be two teams that are playing only two games during Week 2, but alas that’s how it is for CGY and STL. CGY has a four day break before a game versus COL on Thursday while both of STL’s games happen in back-to-back fashion. Here’s how the games breakdown for each day of the week.
MON – 5 games
TUES – 10 games
WED – 4 games
THU – 9 games
FRI – 7 game
SAT – 11 games
SUN – 4 games
The big days this week are Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday while the fewest games fall on Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday. 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 FLA@BUF, OTT@MON, NJD@NYI, and PIT@WAS 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:
CHI, NAS, STL, WPG
These teams are playing all of their games at home this week so they should be rested and practicing:
CGY, SJS, TBL
As expected with the compact schedule, there is going to be a lot of travel so those teams that are sleeping in their own beds and practicing in their own facilities might have that little extra boost in play this season.
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, CAR, CBJ, CHI, COL, DALx2, DET, EDM, MIN, MONx2, NJD, OTT, PHI, PHX, PIT, STL, TBL, WAS, WPG
This is what I would expect to see from the compressed schedule as more than 2/3rds of the league have B2Bs scheduled in Week 2. Dallas and Montreal both play all of their games in the midst of B2Bs so there could definitely be some goalie shuffling there. Backups could see a lot of action this week so make sure to keep tabs on your goalies.
Teams that have the best win streaks currently in the NHL as of Sunday Afternoon:
CHI – 5 wins (now 6-0-0)
SJS – 4 wins (now 5-0-0)
NJD and BOS – 3-0-1 to start the season
TBL – 3 wins
MON – 3 wins
CHI and SJS have started off the season extremely hot as both are undefeated to start the season. As of writing this, the Sharks are winning their game right now as well. Patrick Marleau is having an NHL record start to the season as he recorded two goals in each of his first four games to go along with three assists, giving him 11 points in those first four games and now has 13 points in five games. NJD is proving that they don’t need Zach Parise while BOS is proving that they don’t need Tim Thomas as each team has earned a point in all of their games as well so far this season. TBL has been rolling as well and their players have been treating fantasy owners nicely as Martin St. Louis (3g-8a-11pts) now has 11 points thanks for a four assist night versus the PHI and Cory Conacher (2g-5a-7pts) has looked like an early Calder Trophy candidate with points in four of his first five NHL games.
Teams that have the longest current streaks in the NHL without collecting a point as of Sunday afternoon:
FLA – 4 losses
BUF – 3 losses
CBJ – 3 losses
PHX – 1-4-0 first 5 games
FLA won their first game of the season, but ever since then they haven’t been able to find the win column while letting in a lot of goals (8 GF, 19 GA) earning the worst goals differential in the league so far. Similar story for BUF as they won both of their first two games but have gone winless since. PHX meanwhile is sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference on the lackluster play of usually reliable goalie Mike Smith (0 win, 4.62 GAA, .836 SV%), who left the last PHX win with a lower-body injury. Jason LaBarbera (1 win, 3.26 GAA, .897 SV%) hasn’t fared well in his two starts since either. CBJ needs to be giving more starts to Sergei Bobrovsky (1-1-1, 2.85 GAA, .913 SV%) despite not looking so hot in his last game versus COL as Steve Mason (0 win, 4.06 GAA, .897 SV%) did not look good in his two starts so far this season.
Now let’s take a look at a couple of the most favorable matchups of the week:
New Jersey Devils – Opponents: @BOS, NYI, @PIT+@NYI – The Devils have started out the 2013 season on a roll and they’ve got a good opportunity to continue that success in Week 2. They will have two difficult matchups in BOS on Tuesday and PIT on Saturday, but they also get to face NYI twice on Thursday and Sunday and have already won their first meeting against them this year. Ilya Kovalchuk (2g-3a-5pts) has been doing his thing with at least a point in all four games so far and both of David Clarkson (3g-3a-6pts) and Patrik Elias (2g-4a-6pts) have also been hot, and that’s not even mentioning Martin Brodeur’s (3 wins, 0.98 GAA, .958 SV%, 1 SO in 3 starts) fantastic start, although he did let in four goals in 32 shots on Sunday night versus Montreal. Go ahead and send these guys out there as usual.
Ottawa Senators – Opponents: WAS+MON, @CAR, @MON – As it was last season, Ottawa is playing surprisingly well to start the truncated 2013 season earning 8 points in their first 5 games. Craig Anderson (3 wins, 0.74 GAA, .975 SV% in 4 starts) has been an absolute rock so far and Kyle Turris (4g-1a-5pts), Erik Karlsson (3g-2a-5pts, +5), Jason Spezza (2g-3a-5pts, +3), and Milan Michalek (1g-4a-5pts, +4) have all been playing well to start the season. First up for the Sens is WAS, who just got their first win, on Tuesday and then face MON the next night, both at home. They then head to CAR on Friday and then play MON again on Sunday. With three games on light nights and a hot start to the season, I’d send your Senators out there in Week 2.
Chicago Blackhawks – Opponents: @MIN, @VAN+@CGY – Gotta put these guys on here as they haven’t lost a game yet. Not much I need to say about these guys, just make sure to get them out there. Check out the little owned Nick Leddy (1g-4a-5pts) while you’re at it.
San Jose Sharks – Opponents: ANA, EDM, NAS – If I put CHI on here then I’ve got to put the Sharks on here, too. Doesn’t hurt that they play all of their games at home during Week 2 as well. I shouldn’t have to say it but make sure you get your Sharks out there. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, etc., etc. Could this be the year that Martin Havlat (2g-2a-4pts in 5 games) returns to fantasy relevance?
...And the least favorable matchups of the week:
St. Louis Blues – Opponents: @CBJ+@DET – Although the Blues have started off strong and are looking like one of the top three teams in the Western Conference, Week 2 might not be the best opportunity for fantasy managers to earn points from their Blues’ players as they only play two games which are both in B2B fashion on Thursday and Friday. Those in daily lineup leagues will want to get their players out there on those two nights but those in weekly lineup leagues probably want to check out their rosters for more game heavy players to play
Calgary Flames – Opponents: COL, CHI – Calgary players should be well rested as they have a four day break before two home games on Thursday and Saturday, but again those are the only two games of the week so the same thing applies to the Flames as the Blues. It doesn’t help that both of those games also fall on two of the busiest nights of the week. Some of their big name players have yet to find a rhythm so far this season as Jarome Iginla (0g-3a-3pts), Michael Cammalleri (0g-2a-2pts), and Mikka Kiprusoff (1 win, 3.45 GAA, .872 SV% in 4 starts) have all struggled this far so I’d look elsewhere for Week 2 help.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Opponents: DAL+@MIN, STL, DET – Things haven’t gone well for the start of the season for the Blue Jackets and it’s not looking to get any better during Week 2 as they will be facing four tough opponents. Dallas is looking to have Jaromir Jagr and Jamie Benn back in the lineup on Monday and they’ve already lost to Detroit, whom they are facing on the ever-busy Saturday, in the shootout in their first meeting. In between those games will be MIN on Tuesday and STL on Thursday and both will be tough tests. It will be difficult to tell which of Mason and Bobrovsky will be starting these games with each having their issues as previously discussed. Then consider that defenseman Fedor Tyutin (1g-3a-4pts in 5 games) is leading the team in points. Yikes. All of this does not inspire confidence so I’d look to stay away from CBJ players altogether if you can afford to.
Good luck out there, everyone. Post any comments or questions below hit me up on Twitter @G_Rees.