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Fantasy Hockey: Head-to-Head Primer for Week 5

You should buy high on Boston, Calgary and Toronto this week, and the Anaheim Ducks should continue to be a big-money outfit this week. Jason Chen sets the stage with your best bets for your fantasy hockey matchups this week.
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Of the six teams to have perfect Week 4’s, the Anaheim Ducks were by far the most surprising, going 4-0-0 in their homestand and limited their opponents to only four goals in four games. Both John Gibson (.963 Sv%, 1.00 GAA) and backup Anthony Stolarz (.966 Sv%, 1.01 GAA) have been very good, but we should also note that three of their opponents – Devils, Habs and Coyotes – all rank in the bottom-seven in goals scored per game.

The Ducks’ schedule in Week 5 isn’t a much harder test with the Seattle Kraken on Thursday in between a home-and-home series against the Vancouver Canucks, so perhaps the Ducks’ little run of play could continue. They have helped make the Pacific very interesting and currently sit third when many believed they would be a lottery team.

New Chicago Blackhawks head coach Derek King was victorious in his debut on Sunday, and their opponents’ points percentage of .318 – thanks to the Coyotes – is the lowest in Week 5. But with Sidney Crosby still unavailable as of Sunday night, the Blackhawks could sweep their week with two wins. It would suddenly make them within striking distance of a wild card spot after a disastrous October that felt like they were lottery-bound. It certainly helps when your goaltending improves.

Legend:
1w P% = rolling one-week points percentage
2w P% = rolling two-week points percentage
P% = season points percentage
Opp. P% = opponents’ season points percentage
Diff. = difference between P% and Opp. P%

All advanced stats courtesy naturalstatrick.com.

Week 5

START

Boston Bruins

Secondary scoring continues to be a problem for the Bruins. Disregarding Patrice Bergeron’s four-goal game, only five other Bruins have managed to score goals over the past two weeks, two of which are defensemen and Charlie Coyle leads with just two goals. The goods news is three of their four games in Week 5 will be played at home, where they’re a perfect 4-0-0, just one of four teams (not counting the Islanders) who have not lost in regulation.

The Bruins’ home-road splits are stark: they’re eighth in GF/GP and second-best in GA/GP at home, but 27th in GF/GP and seventh-worst in GA/GP on the road. It’s gotten to the point where trying to figure out who is starting between Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark is now secondary to where the game is actually being played. The Bruins will host the Sens and Oilers early in the week before making a short trip to Newark on Saturday and returning home for Sunday’s game against the Habs.

Calgary Flames

On the flip side, the Flames will play three of their four games on the road and get a chance to re-capture their hot streak after going 5-0-0 in their previous road trip. Jacob Markstrom has a .964 Sv% and 1.26 GAA on the road, and while no one’s expecting him to put up such outstanding numbers again, it’s a pretty favourable schedule with stops in Montreal and Ottawa.

We have to take the Flames’ splits with a grain of salt because their only road trip of the season coincided with Markstrom’s strong play, but with a top-five points percentage in the league, the Flames look like they’re legitimately good. According to naturalstattrick.com, the Flames rank second in 5v5 Corsi% and fourth in Fenwick%, and based on the schedule matrix, the difference in their points percentage against their three opponents’ is also the largest margin in Week 5.

Toronto Maple Leafs

It was just an impressive week for the Leafs, going 3-0-0 outscoring Vegas and Boston by a total of 9-2 and defeating Tampa in overtime. Even better: Mitch Marner scored nine points, the second-highest total for Week 4, Auston Matthews added four goals and nearly every key player on the team registered a point.

It’s an odd schedule coming up with alternating home and road games and the slightest disadvantage in the difference between points percentages against their opponents, but the travel isn’t lengthy with one game in Buffalo. The Leafs were off to a slow start but they’re 5-0-0 with two overtime wins – you always need a little luck – and it feels like Sheldon Keefe and his crew are really turning it around.

AVOID

Los Angeles Kings

The Kings went 2-0-0 last week and now embark on a four-game road trip starting with a back-to-back in Toronto and Montreal. They head into those matchups with a four-game winning streak, but that’s exactly it – the Kings are very streaky, having lost six straight games before their turnaround. It’s going to be very tough matchups save for perhaps the Habs; the Leafs, Sens and Jets offense all have very good pieces, and their goaltending hasn’t been quite as good as expected. With Anze Kopitar cooling off after a hot start, the Kings are now 23rd in goals scored per game, though that’s honestly where they should be anyway.

Blackhawks, Avalanche, Blue Jackets, Stars, Lightning

It’s a really strange schedule quirk with the five teams playing only two games in Week 5 playing all of their games at home. That’s usually a good thing, but the games are also clustered near the end of the week, which means you might fall behind in your head-to-head matchup early and be forced to play catchup. For the Jackets, Stars and Lightning, they won’t be facing easy opponents, either. 

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