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Bob Fisher breaks down the next week of action for all 30 NHL clubs.

 

 

 

* This article was written before NHL games took place on Thursday, March 28, 2013.

 

Conference Bias

 

I don’t know what’s what these days.  Last week the Western Conference overtook the East as the more preferred (schedule-wise) conference and this week is no different!  In fact, while the “Best Bets” ratio remained 18-17 in favor of the West, the “Steer Clear” ratio was a landslide victory for the West, 23-12 (as in the East was mentioned 23 times to the West’s 12).  I feel lost right now…

 

Washington is About to Go Off


Washington may have finally turned a corner.  Turned it just in time to see their arch rival Pittsburgh Penguins take another run at a Cup.  Alex Ovechkin finally remembered how to score goals and Mike Ribeiro may turn into a valuable trade asset if the Caps take a turn for the worse over the next few days.  There still is something off there, though.  The blue line has been a bit of an issue with no real point producers.  But the big guns (Ribeiro, Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Troy Brower) are all showing that Adam Oates’ system may be what has ailed them for a while.

 

Washington has a HUGE opportunity over the next ten days.  They have a string of games against every other non-playoff team in the East.  Their upcoming schedule consists of visits to Buffalo (25th in GA/G), Philadelphia (26th), Carolina (22nd), Florida (30th) and home against the Islanders (28th) and Tampa Bay (23rd).  That’s the six worst defensive teams in the Eastern Conference, so it’s not going to get much easier for Washington to rack up some goals.  You couldn’t ask for a better situation for fantasy performances, short of throwing a few Calgary and Colorado games in there as well.

 

So expect several quality starts from your Caps players during the next six games.  Don’t let the road games scare you, Ovechkin has been red hot on the power play, expect that to continue.


A Year Makes a Big Difference

Montreal is an amazing team this year and their coach hasn’t had to utter the word “soff” to describe their defense once.  Andrei Markov is showing why he was touted as a Norris candidate before all of his unfortunate injuries and P.K. Subban has been everything he said he was during his holdout and more.  Michael Ryder has been fantastic after the majority of the Canadiens fans groaned when he was coming back.  Brendan Gallagher is locking himself into the Calder Trophy and Max Pacioretty is securing his spot on the top line on Team USA next season.

 

With five of their next six games at home against the Rangers, Carolina, Winnipeg, Boston and Washington, plus a trip to Philly – this is the time to run your Canadiens as hard as you can.  Scream “Jesus Price!” and praise the hockey gods that you took a chance on some players who were on the worst team in the East last season.

Start Booking those Tee Times

With Florida being near the top of the league in man games lost it’s not surprising to see their hard fall from grace after having such a great season last year.  There is just nothing going on there – Stephen Weiss and Kris Versteeg are done for the year (also eliminating any deadline deals to strengthen Florida’s future).  Jacob Markstrom hasn’t shown what people had hoped.  Tomas Kopecky is tied for the team lead in points and while Jonathan Huberdeau shows hope for the future, the Panthers may see Brian Campbell leave at the deadline and then what?

 

The Panthers play Saturday (New Jersey), Tuesday (Tampa Bay) and then are off until Saturday (Washington).  If you weren’t already benching your Panthers in weekly leagues, do so now.

 

If the Panthers even wanted a remote chance of making the playoffs, they would have to win out (meaning earn two points in every single one of their remaining games).  They’re dead last in the NHL in goals against per game and second to last in goals scored per game.  So, yeah, that’s not happening.  The only thing the Panthers fans can hope for is that Dave Tallon doesn’t screw up their lottery pick.

Toronto’s Playoff Hopes in Jeopardy?

This is an important week for the Toronto Maple Leafs, they’re still the only team since the 2004-2005 lockout to have not made the playoffs (Winnipeg did it as the Atlanta Thrashers).  The Leafs are taking a trip to the Atlantic division and they may not come out of it in great shape.  Nazim Kadri has Don Cherry changing his undies three or four times a night and Joffrey Lupul has returned from injury with a bang, but that may not be enough.

 

With decent goaltending the Leafs have a chance to salvage some points over the next week or so, but their lack of games is what’s troubling.  Saturday in Ottawa then nothing until Thursday when the Flyers come to town, followed by a visit to New Jersey on Saturday and a home-and-home with the Rangers on Monday and Wednesday.  That’s five games in 12 days with some of the matchups not in the Leafs’ favor.

 

The Leafs have played more games than every team below them in the Eastern Conference standings (except Florida), so they’ll definitely be doing some scoreboard watching while they sit around between games for the next 10-14 days.  I’d lean toward some other teams with a more condensed schedule than this for fantasy purposes.

 

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.

 

Nashville: Mike Fisher (23%) – On seven-game point streak (five goals and eight points).  Top line minutes (ES & PP).  Leads all forwards in average ice time.  If the Preds score, odds are he’s involved somehow.

 

Washington: Marcus Johansson (4%) – Five points in his last four games.  Lining up with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom at even strength.  Sees second duty PP time.  Ride him as long as Oates has him on that line.

 

San Jose: Martin Havlat (9%) – Five points in his past five games.  On a line with Joe Thornton and versatile Brent Burns.  Plays on second powerplay as well.  He could be useful until he hurts himself jumping off the bench again.

 

Tampa Bay: Alex Killorn (1%) – Anyone lining up with Steven Stamkos and Marty St. Louis every time they climb over the boards is worth a look.  Pointless in four, but averaging over three shots per game during the same span.  If he continues to play with the Stamkos/St. Louis duo, points are bound to start piling up.

 

Detroit: Justin Abdelkader (3%) – Six of his eight points this season came in two of his last five games, including a hat trick and an assist against Anaheim last Friday.  Pavel Datsyuk requested Abdelkader on his line, so I don’t expect that to change unless the Wings start slumping.  Watch for Datysuk to continue to bank pucks in off of Abdelkader’s various body parts.


Friday, March 29 to Thursday, April 4
Best Bets
Minnesota (4.95) - 5 Games: @DAL, LA, STL, @SJ, @LA
Washington (4.30) - 4 Games: @BUF, @PHI, @CAR, NYI
Montreal (4.25) - 4 Games: NYR, CAR, @PHI, WPG
Edmonton (4.20) - 4 Games: VAN, CGY, @CGY, @VAN
New Jersey (4.15) - 4 Games: @TB, @FLA, NYI, @BOS
Steer Clear
St. Louis (1.81) - 2 Games: @MIN, @CHI
Ottawa (1.96) - 2 Games: TOR, @BOS
Toronto (2.01) - 2 Games: @OTW, PHI
Florida (2.05) - 2 Games: NJ, @TB
Colorado (2.80) - 3 Games: NSH, @DET, @NSH
Saturday, March 30 to Friday, April 5
Best Bets
Washington (4.30) - 4 Games: @BUF, @PHI, @CAR, NYI
Pittsburgh (4.26) - 4 Games: NYI, BUF, @NYR, NYR
San Jose (4.25) - 4 Games: PHX, VAN, MIN, CGY
Montreal (4.25) - 4 Games: NYR, CAR, @PHI, WPG
Edmonton (4.20) - 4 Games: VAN, CGY, @CGY, @VAN
Steer Clear
Toronto (2.01) - 2 Games: @OTW, PHI
Florida (2.05) - 2 Games: NJ, @TB
Tampa Bay (2.21) - 2 Games: FLA, @CAR
St. Louis (2.86) - 3 Games: @MIN, @CHI, CLB
Phoenix (2.95) - 3 Games: @SJ, LA, DET
Sunday, March 31 to Saturday, April 6
Best Bets
Washington (4.34) - 4 Games: @PHI, @CAR, NYI, @FLA
Montreal (4.20) - 4 Games: CAR, @PHI, WPG, BOS
NY Islanders (4.15) - 4 Games: @NJ, WPG, @WSH, TB
Anaheim (4.15) - 4 Games: @CLB, @DAL, DAL, DAL
Detroit (4.15) - 4 Games: CHI, COL, @PHX, @COL
Steer Clear
Ottawa (1.90) - 2 Games: @BOS, @BUF
Florida (2.10) - 2 Games: @TB, WSH
Toronto (2.11) - 2 Games: PHI, @NJ
Buffalo (2.84) - 3 Games: BOS, @PIT, OTW
St. Louis (2.86) - 3 Games: @MIN, @CHI, CLB
Monday, April 1 to Sunday, April 7
Best Bets
Nashville (5.01) - 5 Games: @CHI, COL, CLB, CHI, @CHI
Washington (4.40) - 4 Games: @CAR, NYI, @FLA, TB
San Jose (4.31) - 4 Games: VAN, MIN, CGY, DAL
Tampa Bay (4.30) - 4 Games: FLA, @CAR, @NYI, @WSH
Detroit (4.25) - 4 Games: COL, @PHX, @COL, STL
Steer Clear
Toronto (2.11) - 2 Games: PHI, @NJ
Boston (2.90) - 3 Games: OTW, NJ, @MTL
Columbus (2.90) - 3 Games: @NSH, @STL, MIN
Buffalo (2.95) - 3 Games: @PIT, OTW, NJ
Ottawa (2.99) - 3 Games: @BOS, @BUF, @FLA
Tuesday, April 2 to Monday, April 8
Best Bets
Washington (4.40) - 4 Games: @CAR, NYI, @FLA, TB
Anaheim (4.31) - 4 Games: DAL, DAL, LA, EDM
Tampa Bay (4.30) - 4 Games: FLA, @CAR, @NYI, @WSH
Nashville (4.11) - 4 Games: COL, CLB, CHI, @CHI
Colorado (4.06) - 4 Games: @NSH, DET, @PHX, CGY
Steer Clear
Minnesota (2.80) - 3 Games: @SJ, @LA, @CLB
Dallas (2.85) - 3 Games: @ANH, @ANH, @SJ
St. Louis (2.86) - 3 Games: @CHI, CLB, @DET
Columbus (2.90) - 3 Games: @NSH, @STL, MIN
Buffalo (2.95) - 3 Games: @PIT, OTW, NJ
Wednesday, April 3 to Tuesday, April 9
Best Bets
Washington (4.31) - 4 Games: NYI, @FLA, TB, @MTL
Anaheim (4.31) - 4 Games: DAL, DAL, LA, EDM
San Jose (4.26) - 4 Games: MIN, CGY, DAL, @CLB
Montreal (4.20) - 4 Games: @PHI, WPG, BOS, WSH
Philadelphia (4.09) - 4 Games: MTL, @TOR, @WPG, @NYI
Steer Clear
Florida (2.05) - 2 Games: WSH, OTW
Pittsburgh (2.90) - 3 Games: @NYR, NYR, @CAR
Buffalo (2.99) - 3 Games: OTW, NJ, @WPG
New Jersey (3.00) - 3 Games: @BOS, TOR, @BUF
Boston (3.06) - 3 Games: NJ, @MTL, CAR
Thursday, April 4 to Wednesday, April 10
Best Bets
Vancouver (4.45) - 4 Games: EDM, CGY, PHX, @CGY
Anaheim (4.36) - 4 Games: DAL, LA, EDM, COL
Washington (4.31) - 4 Games: NYI, @FLA, TB, @MTL
Colorado (4.11) - 4 Games: DET, @PHX, CGY, @ANH
Phoenix (4.05) - 4 Games: DET, COL, @VAN, @EDM
Steer Clear
Pittsburgh (2.00) - 2 Games: NYR, @CAR
Florida (2.05) - 2 Games: WSH, OTW
Minnesota (2.85) - 3 Games: @LA, @CLB, CHI
Dallas (2.90) - 3 Games: @ANH, @SJ, LA
Buffalo (2.99) - 3 Games: OTW, NJ, @WPG



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