Alex Steen USA Today

 

Bob Fisher gives us the lowdown on the next week of action across the NHL.

 

* This article was written before NHL games took place on Thursday, March 21, 2013.

 

Conference Bias

 

Stop the press!  The East has fallen!  For the first time this season, the Western Conference is the better conference (barely) for both “Best Bets” and “Steer Clear” (winning both 18-17).

 

As of Thursday morning, 60% of the Eastern Conference has played at least 30 games to this point.  Compare that to the West, where only a third has played 30 games, the rest 29 or less.  So what does this mean?  Typically, Eastern teams have fewer games left and Western teams have more games to play.

 

Look for the schedule to swing toward the West this week as more Western Conference teams have four-game weeks.

 

Pittsburgh Continues to Roll

 

Remember during the summer when we were all predicting the top scorers for this year and we listed Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Chris Kunitz, Martin St. L…wait, what?!?!  Yeah, me neither.

 

What an amazing season for the Penguins so far, Crosby is showing that there are no ill-effects from the injury he had last season and he’s ready to continue his career as one of the best players ever to play the game.

 

Coming up, the Pens are looking at a nice little home stand against the Flyers, Canadiens, Jets, Islanders and Sabres.  These are all games that the Pens should win and with Evgeni Malkin due back soon, these are the types of weeks that make a mockery out of your matchup.

 

The Pens are tied for the top power play, lead the league in goals per game by a healthy margin and Marc-Andre Fleury is showing signs of the ability he used to have when he broke my Red Wings’ hearts back in 2009.  Crosby leads the league in points by ten, I’m expecting that lead to increase to about 14 in the next seven to ten days.

 

Flyers’ Opportunity

 

Last week was the first time I rated Philadelphia as one of the worst owns for the week, fantasy-wise.  This, of course, was after I had them ranked as a great own for Weeks 3, 4 and 5.  Well I can’t stay mad at them that long, so here they are back in the “Great” column for Week 10.

 

The Flyers have a HUGE opportunity coming up this week with a game at Pittsburgh (which tend to become high-scoring) then a home stand against the Rangers, Islanders, Bruins, Capitals and Canadiens.  The Isles and Caps are both weak defensively (but then again, so is Philly) and the other three teams will be a test to see if the 2012-2013 Flyers are worthy of a playoff spot or not.  The Flyers have missed many opportunities this season to correct their mistakes, but they will have to find a way.

 

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds have responded with very good seasons and Kimmo Timonen has done his best to solidify a blue line that will continue to sorely miss Chris Pronger.  With Peter Laviolette and Paul Holmgren on the hot seat, there may be some moves made sooner rather than later.

 

But for this week, it’s crunch time, and we should expect their big guns to produce.  My last Giroux prediction ended up being correct; I think he’ll have seven points in his next three games.


Lightning Won’t be Striking


Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis are simply amazing; they just continue producing at an insane rate and are always great fantasy options.  The biggest issue is that after those two, the Lightning are kind of lacking.  Teddy Purcell and Cory Conacher are decent depth options and Vincent Lecavalier was on a good pace, but he’s injured and isn’t coming back for a while.  The Bolts had such a great start to the season, but they’re learning that Anders Lindback may not be the immediate answer (Tampa is pretty close to Miami, Lou!).

 

This is going to be a week of pain for the Bolts with games in Ottawa and division-leading Winnipeg on Saturday and Sunday.  Then they get a reprieve against the Sabres, but they only play twice in eight days and they’re losing ground quickly.  The matchups and sheer lack of games for the next ten days are not favorable – steer clear if you can.


Hitchcock Block


While the Blues have seen resurgence in Chris Stewart, they haven’t seen nearly enough from the other forwards who need to carry the load.  David Perron, David Backes and Alexander Steen have all produced at an OK clip, but they’re not anywhere near where they were last year.  That tends to happen when you have the William Jennings winners go from first to basically last and you have to rely on rookie Jake Allen to stop the bleeding.

 

At Edmonton and Calgary this weekend, then just Edmonton and LA for all of next week – there just isn’t enough games for any Blue to make an impact.  Stay away from your Blues (if you can) this week and hope the following week is better.

 

Possible Pickups


Here’s a list of some players, owned in less than 30% of Yahoo leagues, to target during the upcoming Monday through Sunday week.

 

Philadelphia: Matt Read (15%) – I pimped the Flyers as a good own this week, and Read is second on the team in forward ice time.  He sees more ice than team-leading Jakub Voracek (Read kills penalties, Voracek doesn’t).  He’ll give you the best shot amongst available Philly forwards.


Boston: Rich Peverley (3%) – Even with David Krejci out, Peverley remained on the third line.  Boston has pretty even ice time with regards to their forwards, falling in the 15-19 minute range.  Peverley typically gets power play ice time regardless of Krejci’s playing status, but should see a little more if he stays out any longer.


Buffalo: Ville Leino (2%) – Three points in three games (all assists) this season.  Buffalo needs all the help they can get and Leino is being paid like a man that should help.  He’s being put in a position to succeed on a line with Tyler Ennis and Steve Ott.  Maybe we’ll see some of the magic from 2010-2011 that landed him that ridiculous and unearned contract.


Chicago: Brandon Saad (13%) – Ten points in his last eight games.  Playing with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane at even strength.  Earning a little PP time as well.  No reason he should be this available in leagues.


Minnesota: Devin Setoguchi (27%) – Had a five-game point streak (six points), two scoreless games (with four shots on goal in each), and he is now on another five-game point streak (eight points).  The Matt Cullen, Pierre-Marc Bouchard-Setoguchi line has been on fire as of late.  Ride him (or any of them) while their hot.

 

Friday, March 22 to Thursday, March 28
Best Bets
Pittsburgh (4.30) - 4 Games: @NYI, PHI, MTL, WPG
NY Islanders (4.25) - 4 Games: PIT, FLA, @WSH, @PHI
Florida (4.20) - 4 Games: @NJ, @NYI, @TOR, BUF
Winnipeg (4.15) - 4 Games: WSH, TB, @CAR, @PIT
Vancouver (4.15) - 4 Games: @LA, @COL, CLB, COL
Steer Clear
New Jersey (2.06) - 2 Games: FLA, @OTW
Carolina (2.10) - 2 Games: WPG, @TOR
Chicago (2.15) - 2 Games: LA, CGY
Dallas (2.15) - 2 Games: COL, MIN
Phoenix (2.86) - 3 Games: DET, @MIN, @NSH
Saturday, March 23 to Friday, March 29
Best Bets
Florida (4.20) - 4 Games: @NJ, @NYI, @TOR, BUF
Calgary (4.16) - 4 Games: STL, @CHI, COL, CLB
Vancouver (4.15) - 4 Games: @LA, @COL, CLB, COL
St. Louis (4.14) - 4 Games: @EDM, @CGY, EDM, LA
Toronto (4.11) - 4 Games: BOS, @BOS, FLA, CAR
Steer Clear
Washington (2.06) - 2 Games: @NYR, NYI
Carolina (2.10) - 2 Games: WPG, @TOR
Detroit (2.76) - 3 Games: @ANH, @PHX, @SJ
Phoenix (2.86) - 3 Games: DET, @MIN, @NSH
Los Angeles (2.90) - 3 Games: VAN, @CHI, @STL
Sunday, March 24 to Saturday, March 30
Best Bets
Pittsburgh (4.41) - 4 Games: PHI, MTL, WPG, NYI
Florida (4.30) - 4 Games: @NYI, @TOR, BUF, NJ
Vancouver (4.25) - 4 Games: @COL, CLB, COL, @EDM
Calgary (4.16) - 4 Games: STL, @CHI, COL, CLB
Winnipeg (4.15) - 4 Games: TB, @CAR, @PIT, CAR
Steer Clear
Dallas (2.00) - 2 Games: MIN, MIN
Montreal (2.75) - 3 Games: @PIT, @BOS, NYR
Detroit (2.76) - 3 Games: @ANH, @PHX, @SJ
Los Angeles (2.76) - 3 Games: @CHI, @STL, @MIN
New Jersey (2.95) - 3 Games: @OTW, @TB, @FLA
Monday, March 25 to Sunday, March 31
Best Bets
Philadelphia (4.20) - 4 Games: NYR, NYI, BOS, WSH
Boston (4.14) - 4 Games: TOR, MTL, @PHI, @BUF
Buffalo (4.14) - 4 Games: @TB, @FLA, WSH, BOS
Chicago (4.10) - 4 Games: LA, CGY, ANH, @DET
Minnesota (4.04) - 4 Games: @DAL, PHX, @DAL, LA
Steer Clear
St. Louis (2.10) - 2 Games: EDM, LA
Tampa Bay (2.21) - 2 Games: BUF, NJ
Montreal (2.75) - 3 Games: @PIT, @BOS, NYR
NY Rangers (2.76) - 3 Games: @PHI, @OTW, @MTL
Detroit (2.80) - 3 Games: @PHX, @SJ, CHI
Tuesday, March 26 to Monday, April 1
Best Bets
Edmonton (4.25) - 4 Games: @STL, CLB, VAN, CGY
Philadelphia (4.20) - 4 Games: NYR, NYI, BOS, WSH
San Jose (4.15) - 4 Games: ANH, DET, PHX, VAN
Minnesota (4.15) - 4 Games: PHX, @DAL, LA, STL
Buffalo (4.14) - 4 Games: @TB, @FLA, WSH, BOS
Steer Clear
Ottawa (2.05) - 2 Games: NYR, TOR
Tampa Bay (2.21) - 2 Games: BUF, NJ
Phoenix (2.71) - 3 Games: @MIN, @NSH, @SJ
Los Angeles (2.90) - 3 Games: @STL, @MIN, @DAL
Nashville (2.95) - 3 Games: PHX, @COL, @CHI
Wednesday, March 27 to Tuesday, April 2
Best Bets
Colorado (4.85) - 5 Games: @CGY, @VAN, NSH, @DET, @NSH
San Jose (4.15) - 4 Games: ANH, DET, PHX, VAN
Minnesota (4.15) - 4 Games: PHX, @DAL, LA, STL
Nashville (4.11) - 4 Games: PHX, @COL, @CHI, COL
Buffalo (4.09) - 4 Games: @FLA, WSH, BOS, @PIT
Steer Clear
St. Louis (1.90) - 2 Games: LA, @MIN
Toronto (1.96) - 2 Games: CAR, @OTW
Tampa Bay (2.26) - 2 Games: NJ, FLA
NY Rangers (2.86) - 3 Games: @OTW, @MTL, WPG
Montreal (2.90) - 3 Games: @BOS, NYR, CAR
Thursday, March 28 to Wednesday, April 3
Best Bets
Pittsburgh (4.32) - 4 Games: WPG, NYI, BUF, @NYR
Edmonton (4.30) - 4 Games: CLB, VAN, CGY, @CGY
Philadelphia (4.25) - 4 Games: NYI, BOS, WSH, MTL
San Jose (4.15) - 4 Games: DET, PHX, VAN, MIN
Nashville (4.11) - 4 Games: PHX, @COL, @CHI, COL
Steer Clear
St. Louis (1.90) - 2 Games: LA, @MIN
Toronto (1.96) - 2 Games: CAR, @OTW
Tampa Bay (2.26) - 2 Games: NJ, FLA
Phoenix (2.80) - 3 Games: @NSH, @SJ, LA
Ottawa (2.90) - 3 Games: NYR, TOR, @BOS

 


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