vrbata

 

Following along the same footsteps as my Eastern counterpart, welcome to the final of three parts looking at Western Conference teams games remaining and subsequent fantasy breakdown.

 

All NHL teams have between 19 and 22 games remaining in the regular season. But not all games are created equal. For the shrewd fantasy owner, there is opportunity here.

 

Thanks to the shootout, there are just two teams in the Western Conference that have a sub-.500 record. Alright, enough chit-chat, let’s get started:

 

Nashville Predators

Home (18-12-2)

Away (17-13-3)

Total (35-25-5)

Games Remaining

9

8

17

Against .500 or Worse

1

1

2

Against Better Than .500

8

7

15

Against 80 Points or Better

2

3

5

 

The biggest test for the Preds will be their next four games as they head on the road against the Thrashers, Sharks, Ducks and Kings. After that road trip, they’ll have nine of the remaining 13 contests at home, which should give them a great late-season boost for the post-season push. Let’s see if they can survive the next four games first.

 

3 Games – STL

2 Games – LA, PHX, DET

1 Game – ATL, SJ, ANA, PHI, MIN, CLB, DAL, FLA

 

Gold Prospects:

 

With all the “big named” stars in the Predators’ line up, it’s definitely interesting to see Martin Erat lead the team in overall scoring. Erat has a career 0.69 point-per-game average against the Coyotes, Kings and the Red Wings and with six contests against those teams, Erat should be in for a solid final two months of the 2009-10 campaign.

 

Jason Arnott is the undisputed leader of the Predators offense. He’s on pace to finish the season with a line of 71 games played, 50 points, 31 PIMs, 20 PPP and 247 SOG. Definitely not bad for a player who went mostly undrafted during the pre-season.

 

With 151 points in 179 career contests against the Kings, Blues, Coyotes and Red Wings, Steve Sullivan should be feasting against his opponents with nine out of the remaining 17 contests against those teams. Much like Erat, look for Sully to have a huge final quarter for the Preds.

 

Silver Liners:

 

If you are looking for a late-season sleeper pick, you probably won’t have to look much further than J.P. Dumont. He has 51 points in 58 career contests against the Red Wings and Kings. Much like two of the players mentioned above, look for a few big outings from the former third overall pick.

 

With 22 points in 20 contest spanning between December and January, Patric Hornqvist appeared to be ready to bust out this season, but since that outburst, he only five points in the last 13 contests and has really slowed down a ton. The main difference is that during his 1.1 point-per-game span he was averaging 3.7 SOG per contest compared to the recent down stretch where he’s averaging only 3.23 SOG. Hopefully he’ll get back into his shooting ways and bump that production back up during the stretch run.

 

Bronze Suspects:

 

Denis Grebeshkov has certainly made a big impression with his new club as he has two points in four contests. He’s averaging 16:28, 1:44 of which has been on the PP, per contest, which should provide him with enough ice-time to be fantasy worthy the rest of the way.

 

The status of Shea Weber still remains up in the air as he’s dealing with an upper body injury. The Sicamous-native had one heck of an Olympics to help guide Team Canada to the gold medal. Hopefully some of that high will translate back to the NHL level to benefit the Preds.

 

 

Phoenix Coyotes

Home (24-10-2)

Away (15-12-3)

Total (39-22-5)

Games Remaining

5

11

16

Against .500 or Worse

1

2

3

Against Better Than .500

4

9

13

Against 80 Points or Better

2

3

5

 

The Coyotes have one helluva battle if they are to get into the post-season this campaign as only five of the remaining 16 contests will be at home. Considering they only have a 50 percent winning percentage away from Jobing.com Arena, the road is certainly going to be long and hard. Five of the 16 remaining contests will be against teams that have 80 points or more which makes the road even gloomier. If you are locked in a tight battle in your pool, you might want to swap out your Coyote players right about now.

 

2 Games – VAN, CHI, NSH

1 Game – CAR, ATL, TB, FLA, DAL, COL, CAL, EDM, LA, SJ

 

Gold Prospects:

 

The Coyotes are tied for fourth in the league in terms of goals allowed per contest by giving up just 2.42 goals per contest to their opposition. That stat should be a tell-tale sign that Ilya Bryzgalov continue on his brilliant season moving forward. The Russian has a combined 1.71 GAA along with a dazzling .944 save percentage against the Blackhawks, Preds and Canucks, which he will face six times in the remaining 16 contests.

 

You can’t really talk about the Coyotes without mentioning their captain Shane Doan. He is the heart of the team, as he leads all Coyote forwards in ice-time by averaging 19:21 per contest. Doan is also the team leader in assists (31) and PPP (16). He will be a strong influence on the Phoenix offense as they make their late-season post-season push.

 

Matthew Lombardi has really ridden the coat tails of Doan these last 10 contests, as he’s spent 83.6 percent of his overall ice-time alongside his captain. During that span he has picked up eight points, a plus five rating along with 29 SOG. His 15 PPP is only one behind the team leader in that department, which should guaranteed his production to continue for the rest of the way.

 

Silver Liners:

 

Radim Vrbata has fired a whopping 221 SOG on the opposition this season, which ranks him tied with Vinny Lecavalier for 11th in the league. As the old adage goes, the more you shoot the more you score, so look for Vrbata to make a push for 25 goals by season’s end.

With 954 career contests under his belt, it’s safe to say that Ed Jovanovski has a world of NHL experience to help out the Coyotes for the stretch run. He averages over 21 minutes overall and 3:02 with the man advantage each contest in Phoenix. His one PIM and 1.82 SOG per game average will definitely help out in the peripheral stat columns. He only has three points in his last 16 contests, but expect that to change fairly soon with the amount of ice-time that he has given.

 

The points haven’t been there for Keith Yandle, but there are certainly plenty of positive signs that poolies can look forward to from the Boston-native. Last contest, he spent 82.4 percent of his shifts with newly acquired Derek Morris. Morris is known to be a very strong stay-at-home defenseman, which should enable Yandle to take on a more offensive role moving forward. His 2.8 SOG per contest average, in the last 10 contests, doesn’t hurt either.

 

Bronze Suspects:

 

Despite averaging close to three minutes of PP time per contest for the Yotes, Robert Lang has been relatively quiet so far this season. Lang does most of his damage with the man advantage as 12 of his 29 points have come on the PP, so expect a few more PPP in the rest of this campaign.

 

Since being acquired from the Avs at the trade deadline, Wojtek Wolski has three points in two contests. He’s essentially been sown to the hip of Doan as he’s spent an incredible 94.6 percent of his shifts alongside the Canadian Olympian. I personally think that Wolski’s production this season was due largely in part to the play of Paul Stastny in Colorado and that he won’t have the same scoring umph in Phoenix as he did in the mile-high city. I guess I’ll leave it at that and let him prove me wrong.

 

 

St. Louis Blues

Home (12-16-5)

Away (18-10-4)

Total (30-26-9)

Games Remaining

7

10

17

Against .500 or Worse

2

2

4

Against Better Than .500

5

8

13

Against 80 Points or Better

2

2

4

 

The Blues are red-hot and they certainly have a favourable schedule moving forward as their dismal home record won’t play too much of a role since the majority of their remaining contests will be away from Scottrade center. The Blues average 2.78 goals per contest on the road, which should provide an added boost to Blues’ players in the remaining 17 contests.

 

3 Games – NSH

2 Games – CHI, CLB

1 Game – NYI, MIN, COL, NYR, NJ, DET, LA, EDM, DAL, ANA

 

Gold Prospects:

 

The youngster, T.J. Oshie, has been turning a few heads these last few weeks as he has 12 points and 21 SOG in the last 11 contests. The main reason could be because he’s spending over 83 percent of his shifts alongside David Backes. The duo has combined for 22 points and 48 SOG since the end of January. Both players have 66 points in 117 career contests against their division rivals, and with eight divisional contests remaining, the twosome should both be huge assets to the Blues for the post-season run.

 

If you have been following Dobber’s ramblings, you’ll probably be fully acclimated to Alex Steen’s current status. He started the season ice-cold with four points in his first 19 contests, but has turned a complete 180 and now has 30 points in his last 32 contests. Since Dec. 20th, he has a shooting percentage of 18 percent, which is definitely near the top of the league in that department for that span. He hasn’t found himself with consistent line mates, but has spent most of his time with Brad Boyes and Jay McClement in the most recent 10 contests, which should be good enough to continue to produce near the point-per-game pace for the final 17 contests.

 

If you have been following my posts on the forums, you probably would have read that Tomas Vokoun is the hottest goalie to own for the final stretch of Roto leagues or for the all important playoff run in H2H leagues. Today I’ll reveal my second secret which is Chris Mason is the second hottest goalie to own for the stretch run. Since the lockout, Mason owns a 25-12-4 record along with a 2.45 GAA and a very respectable .912 save percentage in the months of March/April. If you want to dig a little deeper, he has an 11-3-2 record along with a 1.94 GAA and an amazing .924 save percentage in April since the lockout, which would be fantasy gold for the final two or three weeks of the season. Many of the deadlines for trades might have already passed, but if you can still get your hands on Mason definitely make the hardest push you possibly can.

 

Silver Liners:

 

Brad Boyes’ season could definitely be considered a major bust so far as he’s only on pace to finish the season with 47 points, which would be dangerously close to a career-low for him. On the plus side, Boyes does have three points and a plus six rating along with six SOG since the Olympic break. One of the major reasons for the increase is that he’s definitely finding some chemistry playing alongside the aforementioned Steen and McClement. Boyes does have a career 0.93 point-per-game average for March/April, so he might be a great buy-low candidate for the final 17 contests.

 

Similar to Boyes, Paul Kariya has also been on fire since the Olympic break as he has five points and 11 SOG. He completes the trio mentioned in the gold section, so definitely expect the 15-year NHL vet to provide some much needed veteran presence alongside the two youngsters.

 

Bronze Suspects:

 

With four points in four contests prior to the Olympic break, Erik Johnson was definitely on a bit of a hot-streak. Too bad that hasn’t translated post-break as he has a lone point along with two SOG in three contests. The Minnesota-native does garner the most PP ice-time out of all of the Blues defenseman, so that should provide him with plenty of opportunities to pick up quite a few PPP moving forward.

 

If you are looking for the number two Blues’ defenseman you probably don’t have to look any further than Carlo Colaiacovo. He has seven points in the last 10 contests and four in three since the Olympic break. In the last three contests he’ has averaged 14:47 overall, 3:03 of which have been on the PP. He won’t unseat EJ as the number one dman in St. Louis, but with that amount of ice-time he could still be a feasible number three or four option as part of your fantasy blue-line.

 

I have a tough few choices to decide who should be my final candidate for the Blues, but I’m going to go with Keith Tkachuk. He’s currently on the IR with a pinky injury, and should be re-joining the Blues lineup within the next 3-4 games. The Kariya, Oshie and Backes line seems set in stone. Andy McDonald, David Perron and Patrik Berglund don’t seem to be very interchangeable, so the most logical thing that I see happening is that he unseats McClement and centers the Boyes and Steen line. Both players are red-hot so Tkachuk should surely reap the benefits of playing along those two as the Blues make their playoff push.

 

 

San Jose Sharks

Home (21-6-7)

Away (21-8-2)

Total (42-14-9)

Games Remaining

7

10

17

Against .500 or Worse

1

1

2

Against Better Than .500

6

9

15

Against 80 Points or Better

3

2

5

 

There’s not much information that I can provide you that you don’t already know about the Sharks. With the exception of two contests against the Oilers and Panthers, the rest of their games will be against the Western conference teams who are all in a playoff position or on the bubble. With such a tough schedule, two things could happen. 1) The Sharks use this to their advantage to get tuned up for the playoffs or 2) they completely collapse and head into the post-season on a low note. It’ll definitely be interesting to see which scenario comes into play.

 

3 Games – DAL, VAN

2 Games – CAL, MIN, COL

1 Game – NSH, FLA, ANA, EDM, PHX

 

Gold Prospects:

 

You can’t really fault what Joe Thornton has done for the Sharks this season as he’s on pace to finish the season with 97 points. His 26 PPP and 1.18 point-per-game average rank him amongst the top 10 in both departments in the league. He has 176 points in 169 career contests against the Northwest division and Dallas, so he definitely should experience plenty of success in the 13 remaining contests against those teams.

 

Since joining the Sharks in the off-season, Dany Heatley has on the most part lived up to expectations. He has 69 points and 218 SOG which both rank amongst the top 15 in the league in those departments. Similar to JT, Heatley has also maintained a point-per-game pace playing against the Stars and the Northwest division, so expect much of the same moving forward.

 

Dan Boyle ranks amongst the top five in scoring for defenseman and is on pace to finish with 63 points and 190 SOG by the end of the year. He averages 4:22 on the PP each contest, and over 26 minutes overall for the Sharks. Garnering that amount of ice-time on a fourth most potent offense in the league will certainly guarantee that Boyle maintains his scoring pace for the rest of this campaign.

 

Silver Liners:

 

In a somewhat similar case as I discussed last week, Evgeni Nabokov has really surprising home/away split numbers. He has 2.06 GAA along with a .920 save percentage at the Shark tank compared to 2.96 and .898 away from San Jose. Nabby came out of Vancouver with pretty much nothing, so picking up some NHL hardware probably would help ease some of that pain. Similar to the Mason scenario discussed above, Nabby should be a great goalie to own for the final two months. He has a 33-10-6 record and a 2.32 GAA along with a .909 save percentage in the months of March/April since the lockout. The downside is that he only has a 7-5-1 record along with a 2.75 GAA and a very average .890 save percentage in April, so if you are a Nabby owner you might want to make a mental note of that fact for your pools.

 

With 36 SOG in his first 17 contests (2.11 average), many poolies (including myself) quickly gave up on the 40-year old earlier this season. He began to turn it around from December onward as he fired 113 SOG in 37 contests (3.05). In the last five contests, Rob Blake has averaged 2:08 on the PP, which sits him nicely second on the depth charts behind Boyle and should be a great own for the stretch run of the season.

 

Joe Pavelski hit a bit of an offensive snag in February as he tallied just a lone point along with 17 SOG in seven contests. Since the Olympic break, Pavelski has woken up as he picked up two markers and 14 SOG in three contests. The 25-year old American has 43 points in 58 career contests against the Flames, Stars, Canucks and the Wild. With 10 of their remaining 17 contests against those teams, Pavelski should have a decent showing the rest of the way.

 

Bronze Suspects:

 

There are a few danger signs that come attached to Patrick Marleau for the final five weeks of the season. First, Marleau has a career 0.62 point-per-game average in the month of March (compared to his career average of 0.72). Second, he has an overall plus/minus rating of minus 21 in March, which does show that he typically enters wind down mode early for the playoffs. Third, in 201 career contests against the Flames, Avs, Stars and the Wild, he only has 125 points (0.62 average). Either way there aren’t a lot of signs that Marleau can keep a better than point-per-game average for the stretch run, so expect a small dip in his production moving forward.

 

Spending close to 60 percent of your ice-time alongside superstars Thornton and Heatley should certainly guarantee you more than a 0.66 point-per-game pace. That’s exactly the rate that Devin Setoguchi has displayed since the Olympic break. The interesting thing is that his 0.66 pace is still well above his career March/April average of 0.47. I don’t know if I’m ready to label Seto with the second half “slumper” tag, but if he can’t produce in the final 17 contests of this season, you’ll be sure that I’ll be the first to slap that label on him for next season.

 

Following along the same lines as Setoguchi, Ryane Clowe has struggled immensely during the Spring season over his young career. In 36 career contests, he has just 12 points and 50 SOG. In the last three contests, Clowe has spent a third of his ice-time alongside Marleau and Pavelski, so that might just provide some umph for his outlook. He does have 13 points in 15 career contests against the Stars, and with three contests against their division rivals remaining Clowe could be in for a big final two months.

 

 

Vancouver Canucks

Home (23-7-1)

Away (17-16-1)

Total (40-23-2)

Games Remaining

10

7

17

Against .500 or Worse

1

1

2

Against Better Than .500

9

6

15

Against 80 Points or Better

2

4

6

 

The Canucks have two more contests remaining on their gruelling 14-game road trip. After that they only have a short Pacific road trip and that’ll be it, in terms of road games, for the season. The Canucks average 3.55 goals at GM place but only three away.  With 10 home games remaining the Sedin’s and co. will definitely see an added boost in their production during the final stretch.

 

3 Games - SJ

2 Games – COL, PHX, CAL, ANA

1 Game - OTT, NYI, DET, EDM, LA, MIN

 

Gold Prospects:

 

The Canucks are basically the Sedin twin’s team. Henrik and Daniel are ranked second and fourth respectively in terms of point-per-game production. Henrik has 85 points and has already established a new career-high with 17 contests remaining. Daniel is also pretty close to equalling his career-high despite missing 18 contests with a broken leg. Either way you don’t need me to tell you that the twins will be gold prospects moving forward.

 

Same deal as Henrik, Ryan Kesler has already matched his career-high of 59 points with 17 contests remaining in the season. His 11 PPGs this season put him in the same league as Evgeni Malkin, Niklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Marleau and Ilya Kovalchuk. If you look at that list all you can say is WOW! Look for the Olympic silver medalist to continue his PPP tear in the remainder of this season.

 

Since the Olympic break, Christian Ehrhoff has definitely not missed a beat as he has three points in four contests. His 20 PPP is tied for eighth in the league amongst all defenseman. Look for much of the same from Ehrhoff in the remaining 17 contests.

 

Silver Liners:

 

Alex Burrows has been extremely lucky this season in spending 49.6 percent of his overall ice-time alongside both of the Sedin twins, which probably explains why he’s on pace to finish the season with 69 points. His plus 32 rating ranks fourth in the entire league which does show his great defensive prowess. The only worry for me is that only four of his 55 points have come with the man advantage, which isn’t surprising since he spends only 1:19 on the PP each contest (barely of which is with the Sedins). Expect much of the same from Burrows, tons of ES points but none on the PP.

 

Along the same lines as Ehrhoff, Alex Elder is also having himself quite the season. He isn’t quite as dynamic as Ehrhoff, but is certainly doing enough to be deemed fantasy worthy. Edler does have an 11.6 percent career shooting percentage in March, so that might be something to look forward to from the soon to be 24-year old.

 

Bronze Suspects:

 

You’re probably going to be surprised to see Roberto Luongo’s name way down the list, but there are a few reasons why I have slotted him down this low. Let’s start with the positives, Luongo does have a 32-19-4 career record (58 percent winning percentage) in March/April since he joined the Canucks in the 2006-07 season. He also has a 2.36 GAA along with a .916 save percentage in 55 career March/April contests, which is all hunky dory for fantasy purposes. The downside is that he owns a 5-6-1 record along with a very ordinary 2.73 GAA along with an atrocious .896 save percentage in a Canuck uniform for April. The Canucks have six contests against playoff/bubble teams in April, which might make his job a little more difficult come Spring. Same deal as Nabby, file that fact to the back of your head and definitely be aware of it come April.        

 

Mikael Samuelsson has a career 5.8 shooting percent for the months of March/April compared to 8.6 in the other five months of the season, which is a sign that Samuelsson generally slows down as the regular season winds down. Since the Olympic break, he has been dropped down to the third line spending 46.2 percent of his ice-time alongside Kyle Wellwood and Jannik Hansen. Those two players are certainly not the Sedins, so you can expect Samuelsson’s production to also take a dip the rest of the way.

 

The Olympics might have woken up the slumbering Pavol Demitra as he has four points in four contests. In the last three contests, he’s spent 53.7 percent of his ice-time on the Vancouver second line alongside Kesler and Mason Raymond. During those three contests, he’s averaging 17:47, 1:46 of which is on the PP. He has a career 0.84 point-per-game average for the months of March/April, and with Kesler as hot as he’s been this season, it wouldn’t surprise me the least if Demitra matched his career pace in the final 17 contests.

 

Summary of First Five Teams

NSH

PHX

STL

SJ

VAN

Total Games Remaining

17

16

17

17

17

Home Games Remaining

9

5

7

7

10

Away Games Remaining

8

11

10

10

7

Games Remaining Against Teams Same or Better in Standings

7

5

10

0

3

Games Remaining Against Teams Worse in Standings

10

11

7

17

14

Total Against .500 or Worse

2

3

4

2

2

Home Against .500 or Worse

1

1

2

1

1

Away Against .500 or Worse

1

2

2

1

1

Total Against Better Than .500

15

13

13

15

15

Home Against Better Than .500

8

4

5

6

9

Away Against Better Than .500

7

9

8

9

6

Total Against 80 Points or Better

5

5

4

5

6

Home Against 80 Points or Better

2

2

2

3

2

Away Against 80 Points or Better

3

3

2

2

4

 

 


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