Fantasy Hockey

Playoff Fantasy Hockey: The Descent — Week 1

Now that there are four weeks left in the regular season officially, it is time to dig deep into the teeth of season long fantasy hockey. For the next 28 days, The Fantasy Fix will have a little more focus on the season long aspect of things. Hey, in some cases, money can be made here. This is a different way of looking at it than most. Most experts will have streamers and such . Let’s do this in a method that sets you up a week or even segments of a week at a time.

The dilemma is that this year there is the balanced schedule for this week. That will put a wrinkle in some of one’s strategy. Saturday and Sunday can be bunched up if your match-ups are right but the week has mostly single digits with a chance for some huge variance and luck swings.

Numerology by Schedule

Let’s look at this first and foremost. Here are the days and the number of games.

Monday — 6

Tuesday — 8

Wednesday — 6

Thursday — 8

Friday — 6

Saturday — 11

Sunday — 7

Oh my! That is the definition of a balanced schedule. There are no big rests like last week’s Sunday. It really depends on if enough of your players play three or more games. It will come down to some luck too, no question.

When you get right down to it, some teams that play a good bit include…(in number of games)

  • 4 — New Jersey, NY Islanders, Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Chicago, Winnipeg, Anaheim, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Florida, Minnesota, San Jose, Calgary, Montreal. 

That is a lot of teams ladies and gentlemen! Basically half the league. These may be the teams to focus on as you look at your league and options as to what a fantasy player may be able to set up. It is a fun way to hopefully make this week a bit easier on your sanity.

A Few Words Off The Norm

First off, congratulations on making your playoffs. It has been a long 21 or 22 week battle for some and for others, it has been somewhat easier. However, the struggle to adapt with injuries, unexpected lineup changes, and players rising and falling, can drive a fantasy hockey owner mad.

The 2015-16 season has some similarities to seasons past where injuries seemed to just start taking over in February and March after taking a dip earlier in the year. It always seems like big named players are leaving lineups, but this year the appearance is that it is occurring more often. Just think, the dash for the playoffs and better seeding has four weeks to go still.

What Could Week 1 Bring?

That is the mindset in season long playoffs. This is Week 1. Remember that! There are always some teams that could be picked on. Are you ready?

New Jersey Devils

Again and again any team that often scores a low amount of goals and is besieged by injuries is an easy target. This is a team that can easily go through long periods of barely averaging 20-22 shots per contest. That, in itself, leads to a higher probability of less goals being scored. New Jersey has three home games as well where they are below .500 on the year and the last time they were at home did not end well. They were drubbed 6-1 at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

It is possible that Yann Danis gets a start this weekend too and that may be even more reason to pick on New Jersey in the sense of say using Columbus players during the home and home. New Jersey has looked awful all year against Columbus and the reality is the Devils often look better against the upper echelon teams than the bottom for the most part. Minnesota is somewhat good. Columbus is pretty bad and though Anaheim is very good, their shot trends are not.

This should be quite the interesting week. Look for Zach Parise’s linemates as a useful plug and almost anything from Columbus that can be scrounged off the waiver wire. It is that kind of week. Anaheim is the one team that can frustrate New Jersey on special teams. Their power play and penalty kill is that much better than the Devils. It could be a spot to try and build an early lead on Monday.

Again, like we said this is a different way to play the playoffs.

Chicago Blackhawks

Are you kidding me? Chicago can be picked on at times because they do play Los Angeles, Minnesota, at Winnipeg, and Philadelphia. They are going to get some wins but they are likely to give up some goals, too. Los Angeles tends to play better on the road and create more scoring chances and shots. Granted, Chicago gives up a good bit less than two goals per game at home but lately there have been more chinks in that armor than usual. Playoff hockey is getting close at hand.

Also, does Patrick Kane wake up? What? That is correct. Kane has a point in his last four games and a few one shot nights on his scorecard. Overall in the last nine contests, he has seven points. If that kind of drop-off persists, Kane might not top 100 points this year. Though that is unlikely, it now is possible whereas a few weeks ago it was a ridiculous thought.

As this week will be a real test for the team, there is likely one game at last where variance strikes very hard, maybe two. The Blackhawks power play units will be under the microscope as they have good match-ups against Winnipeg and Minnesota especially. The problem is when Chicago plays in Winnipeg, it can be like a house of horrors sometimes. Even some Winnipeg players will have some value, especially their first power play unit.

Arizona Coyotes

Yes there are other teams but consider that the Coyotes do not play until later in the week and plays three games in four nights. With Mike Smith back, the unexpected happened on Saturday as he had a 44 save shutout against the Edmonton Oilers. Arizona plays San Jose twice and that is a team that traditionally has problems with the Sharks and particularly the first power play unit of the Sharks. At some point, Louis Domingue will have to play and either way this is a Coyotes team that is starting to give up shots and chances like the Ottawa Senators do.

The longer the team is without Oliver Ekman-Larsson, the worse that is will become. Even if he comes back on Thursday, the road is not much easier. When one gets right down to it, Arizona is a team that can go into five game spins where they score like a 29th or 30th ranked team in the league. Not even Shane Doan or the young forwards can save that sometimes. Yes, San Jose plays over the weekend get elevated. They have to.

Can the goaltending even keep up? Maybe, the rest helps but four days off could hurt too. It is too much of a wildcard to try and nab Smith off waiver wires but if you are desperate, at least saves should not be in short supply. The defense just gives up too many goals to be offset by even a spike in scoring. Eventually, that should catch up to the Coyotes which should mean some success for opponents.

That is it for now. Coming later in the week will be a bit of an update on the week itself. Good luck and thanks for reading. 

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