By Garrett Rees
Well ladies and gents, with Week 5 behind us and Week 6 right around the corner that only means one thing. Yep, head-to-head leagues are already at the HALF WAY point until the playoffs thanks to the shortened schedule. Hard to believe but thems the facts. Because of that, standard leagues have only about a week and a half before the default trade deadline so now’s the time to start thinking about ways to beef up your team for that big playoff run! (at least here’s hoping)
While you start conjuring up some trade offers, let’s take a look at what to expect from Week 6 (aka Week 17 on Yahoo).
Here is the weekly breakdown for this upcoming week, February 25 – March 3:
4 GAMES: ANA, BOS, BUF, CAR, CHI, DAL, EDM, FLA, MIN, MON, OTT
3 GAMES: CBJ, CGY, COL, DET, LAK, NAS, NYI, NYR, PHI, PHX, PIT, SJS, STL, TBL, TOR, VAN, WAS, WPG
2 GAMES: NJD
There are 11 teams playing four games during Week 6 while the Devils are the only team playing two. So basically a pretty normal week for this year’s condensed schedule. Here’s how the week breaks down per day:
MON – 5 games
TUES – 9 games
WED – 4 games
THU – 11 games
FRI – 3 game
SAT – 9 games
SUN – 9 games
Some big ups and downs during Week 6 with a very busy schedule to end it. The slowest day of the week, Friday, will see matchups of NAS@MIN, CBJ@CHI, and EDM@STL so target these teams if you are in need of some help via the waiver-wire on this slow day. You should have zero problems finding active players to fill your roster on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, or Sunday.
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:
As expected, a lot of travel again this week as only four teams won’t be riding a charter bus or plane in some fashion during Week 6. Note that EDM will be playing four games all on the road so expect to see both Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk to get some work in. Or if you need other goalie depth options…
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/alternate goaltenders could see some action:
ANA, BOS, CAR, CHI, DAL, DET, EDM, FLA, MIN, MON, OTT, STL, TOR, VAN, WAS
Half the league will play games on consecutive days so make sure to plan accordingly with your goalies. Extra honorable mentions go to ANA and CHI as they are coming into the week on the tail ends of B2Bs.
Teams that have the best win streaks currently in the NHL as of Sunday Afternoon:
CH – 14-0-3 so far this season
ANA – 9-1-0 past 10 games
OTT – 4 wins
LAK – 3 wins
Chicago has been absolutely unreal so far this season, breaking the NHL record for most games to start a season without losing in regulation with 17 consecutive games. To begin the season, it seemed like their goalie situation would be the weakest part of their game, however Corey Crawford has been spectacular and even now that he’s out with an injury Ray Emery has stepped right into his place and can’t seem to be beat either.
Not too far behind them are the Anaheim Ducks, and 30 year old rookie Viktor Fasth is the big story here as he is still undefeated (8-0-0, .933 SV%, 1.78 GAA, 1 SO) and helped them earn a 5 game win streak. I don’t know how he’s still not owned in that last 25% of Yahoo leagues by now.
The Senators are a good story here, as they still keep winning despite losing Norris winner Erik Karlsson for the season and early Vezina candidate Craig Anderson to an ankle sprain. Hopefully Anderson will be back soon, perhaps even this week.
The defending Stanley Cup champions are finally starting to find their groove and that’s been with the help of ex-Flyers Jeff Carter (4g-2a-6pts, +4 last 6 games) and Mike Richards (3g-2a-5pts, 3 PPG last 5 games) who are both starting to find the back of the net. Jonathan Quick has won 4 of his last 5 starts.
Teams that have the longest current streaks in the NHL without collecting a point as of Sunday afternoon:
SJS – 1-6-3 last 10 games
BUF – 4 losses
CAR – 3 losses
After their hot start, the Sharks have been anything but hot lately as they have found the win column only once in their past 10 games. Besides the big guys of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, and Logan Couture, none of the other Sharks can seem to find the twine. Despite only having 1 win in the month of February so far, goalie Antti Niemi (.931 SV$, 1.96 GAA, 1 SO this season) still has been earning solid numbers allowing 2 or less goals in 5 of his 8 February starts, even earning a SO in a 0-1 shootout loss.
The poor play of the Sabres so far this season saw one of the longest tenured coaches in the league, Lindy Ruff, lose his job and that hasn’t seemed to have helped yet. As of Saturday, Ryan Miller has allowed the most goals of any goalie in the league so far this season. Then again he’s had the 2nd most starts so far but still, not what you want to hear from a top goalie pick.
The once hot Hurricanes have struggled to find wins lately. Jordan Staal was a whopping -4 +/- rating in the Hurricanes butt kicking handed to them by the Lightning on Saturday. Not good at all. They desperately need Cam Ward (5-5-1, .896 SV%, 3.27 GAA) to consistently get it going as he has now allowed 4 goals in 3 of his last 5 starts after two brilliant 40+ save wins.
Now let’s take a look at a couple of the most favorable matchups of the week:
Anaheim Ducks – Opponents: @LOS, NAS, MIN+@PHX – The Ducks are still flying together this season thus far and playing against teams that they have yet to lose to should help them keep their winning ways going. First up are the Kings on Monday, who they scored 7 goals against the last time they faced them. Then they face the Predators on Wednesday, which the Ducks have won both of their games so far this season. Then they have a back-to-back matchup against the Wild on Friday, who they beat 3-1 in their only meeting, and the Coyotes on Saturday who they have yet to face. Having games on each of the three slowest nights of the week is also a bonus so make sure to get your Ducks out there as you’ll be able to save those roster spots for the rest of your squad on the big days. If you’re in need of help on D, check out Francois Beauchemin who has 1g-5a-6pts and a stellar +11 over his past 8 games.
Chicago Blackhawks – Opponents: EDM, @STL+CBJ, @DET – The hottest team the NHL has ever seen to start a season also has, what do ya know, a solid looking Week 6. They face their four opponents on Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday so, like the Ducks, it’s a bonus you are able to get your Hawks out there on two slow nights when not much will be going on. With the most goals in the Western Conference, you’ve got to get your Hawks out there. Deep leaguers should check out Johnny Oduya, who now has assists in three straight games.
...And the least favorable matchups of the week:
New York Rangers – Opponents: WPG, TBL, BUF – As you may have seen in the media (I know, I know, the Rangers are NEVER in the media) the Rangers haven’t been doing so hot lately. They’ve scored a solid 5 goals over their past 4 games and Marian Gaborik was benched for a time on Saturday. I know their Week 6 opponents don’t look incredibly difficult but each of them will be looking to stick it to the Rangers while they can. Hopefully they can find their scoring ways but I’ll play my Rangers with caution the next three games because each game unfortunately falls on the three busiest nights of the week. Considering that you’re probably going to have most of your roster playing, I’d make sure you don’t have better options out there first and I’d look elsewhere when searching the waiver-wire for those injury replacements we’ve all been needing a lot so far this season.
New York Islanders – Opponents: BOS, TOR, OTT – The Islanders are facing the same schedule fate as their neighbors during Week 6 as they are also seeing all three of their games on the busy nights of Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. Facing Boston is never fun and Ottawa seems to be the little team that could this season. Then again, they did score 7 goals in their win against the Leafs in their one meeting this season, but that was before Ben Scrivens showed up and started to surprise us all. You could maybe do worse but I’d look elsewhere on the waiver-wire when looking for pickups. Oh, and kudos to them for finally starting the process of putting Rick DiPietro, and let’s face it, Islanders fans, out of their misery by waiving him and sending him down to the AHL. You’ve got to assume he’s going to be one of the amnesty buyouts they’re allowed at the end of the season.
Detroit Red Wings – Opponents: @LAK+@SJS, CHI – I think its official, these aren’t the same Red Wings we’ve been used to the past few decades. Someone seems to be missing Nick Lidstrom, eh?. Getting back Jimmy Howard helps as he got a shutout his first game back to end a Wings four game skid. The Kings on Wednesday will be looking for revenge now that they’ve suddenly figured out how to win again while the Blackhawks, whom they face on Sunday, are never not difficult to play against. They have yet to face the Sharks this season, which they play on Thursday, but you know they’ve got to be tired of losing and will put up a tough fight while Niemi, as mentioned above, has been tough to score on all season. Since Wednesday is a slow day you’ll want to get them out there regardless, but might want to look elsewhere on Thursday and Sunday if you can afford to.
Good luck out there, everyone. Hit me up on Twitter @G_Rees with any questions or comments.