We are officially entering the half way point in most fantasy league schedules. The NHL has seen its first major move in the firing of John Stevens. The Olympics are only 67 days away and the trade deadline will be here before you know it. Before we get too far forward, let’s look at the week ahead.
4 Game Week: Atlanta, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Washington
3 Game Week: Anaheim, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Nashville, New York Islanders, Ottawa, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Jose, Vancouver
2 Game Week: Boston, New York Rangers
Buffalo Sabres: vs. New Jersey, vs. Washington, vs. Chicago, @ New York Rangers.
There seems to be no stopping Ryan Miller this year, as he has all but locked up the starting role for the U.S at this year’s Olympics. Washington is the only opponent this week that could throw a hammer into the works, but it’s hard to question not playing a hot goalie. The Buffalo offence sits 25th overall in goals for and have no players playing at a point per game pace.
Fantasy Spin: Miller remains a must start in all fantasy formats as he boasts the best GAA in the league. Roy, Connolly, Pominville, Vanek and rookie Tyler Myers are leading the charge for the Sabres offensively, although they still struggle at times.
Toronto Maple Leafs: vs. Atlanta, vs. New York Islanders, @Boston, vs. Washington
Toronto possesses the NHL’s worst home offence. In 12 homes games so far this season, the Buds have only scored 22 goals. They lead the league in shots per game with 34.2, but that doesn’t amount to anything more than padding opposing goalies SV%. Kessel has been the only source of reliable Leafs offence since his return.
Fantasy Spin: Kessel has 10 goals in his 16 games this season, but only has 1 goal in his last 4 at the ACC. If your league has shots as a category, he is a must start. Kaberle leads all Leafs in scoring but owns a -7 plus/minus rating.
Philadelphia Flyers: @Montreal, vs. New York Islanders, @ Ottawa, vs. New Jersey
Since returning from their 5 game Western road trip, the Flyer offence has disappeared.
Recording 4 straight losses, two of which were shut-outs, the Flyers decided it was time for a change by firing their head coach. Philadelphia has extremely high expectations this year after trading for Chris Pronger in the off-season to mesh with a highly potent and young offence. They started the season off well, but have fallen on hard times as of late.
Fantasy Spin: This team has a ton of young offensive talent and are a tempting fantasy bunch, but until they find their way with coach Laviolette, they remain risky additions to your line-up. Richards, Carter and Pronger are guaranteed to continue to eat up ice-time regardless of their level of play. Be confident that the Flyers will snap out of this spell at any time and make an impact soon.
Washington Capitals: @Tampa Bay, @Buffalo, Carolina, @Toronto
The Capitals lead the league in goals per game and have the league’s best power play unit at a 24.3%. The Lightning, Hurricanes, Leafs and Sabres sit among the worst in the league in penalty minutes per game so far this year. With Ovechkin back from his two game suspension and Semin returning to his fine form the Capitals should be set for another huge offensive week.
Fantasy Spin: The Capitals offer a wealth of stars and some players on the rise. Activate all Capitals including Laich and Fleishmann as they continue to offer secondary scoring on the best offensive team. Theodore and Varlamov should split duties this week, each having two starts, dress them accordingly.