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Fantasy Hockey: Head-to-Head Primer for Week 7

Jason Chen sets the stage with your best bets for your fantasy hockey matchups this week, including why you should look into a pair of rookies to bolster your lineup.
Alex Newhook

There are no games scheduled for Thanksgiving Thursday, making it the rare day where there is no NHL hockey. That means Monday will be a little busier than usual, with only four teams getting Wednesday off and six teams getting Friday off.

Teams on the schedule matrix are sorted by the number of games played in the week and then the difference between their points percentage against their opponents’. This should quickly narrow down the teams to target and then rank them by the quality of competition rather than parsing through a mess of numbers. 

Week 7

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.

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Seth Jarvis, C/RW, Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes are one of 12 teams to play four games this week, but also only one of two teams to not have any back-to-backs. The Canes and Ducks get the benefit of having rest in between all of their games, which could mean big weeks for Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale, Troy Terry and also Jarvis, who has been skating on the top line with Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov.

Jarvis averaged less than 10 minutes in first two NHL games but they clearly recognized his talent quickly and moved him up the lineup, and during the Canes’ current four-game winning streak had scored a goal in three straight games, including two game-winners, and combined with Aho has fired 27 shots on goal. Jarvis is fortunate to skate with elite talent, but a lot of credit goes to him for being able to stay in that spot. The Canes’ first two games in Seattle and San Jose should provide plenty of scoring opportunities.

Alex Newhook, C, Colorado Avalanche

Newhook didn’t impress in his season debut and lasted just one game before he was sent to the AHL, where he scored 11 points in 10 games before getting called up following Nathan MacKinnon’s injury. Nazem Kadri and Logan O’Connor, who was bumped up to the top line, have been very good and they’re definitely worth starting, too, but Newhook has sneaky upside as their third-line center and playing on their second power-play unit. The Avs are one of four teams to get three games at home, and will face the 23rd (Nashville), 27th (Dallas) and 28th-ranked (Ottawa) penalty kills.

Pittsburgh Penguins

According to the schedule matrix, the Penguins face the easiest opponents among teams that are playing four games. After a tough road date against the Jets on Monday, the Pens will play three games in four days, but their opponents are hardly imposing; the Canucks have lost six of their past seven, the Islanders have lost six straight and the Habs have lost seven of their past eight.

The Pens have won both of their past two games via shutout and it feels like a turnaround is imminent. It took a few games, but Sidney Crosby seems to be back in a groove, and after thrashing the Habs 6-0 last Thursday, they will get another chance this Saturday.

AVOID

New York Islanders

The big home opener ended up being an ugly 5-2 loss, and the encore was even worse, losing 3-0. The Isles looked tired at the end of their road trip but they should little spark at home even after three days’ rest. This is the chance for the Isles to make up lost ground because the majority of their remaining games will be played in their new barn, and their current 5-6-2 road record is comparable to last season’s 11-13-4 mark. The big difference is the Isles managed to clinch a playoff spot because they were 21-4-3 in their final season at Nassau, but so far are already 0-2-0.

This is what happens when you lose your top pairing – Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock, arguably top five in the league – forcing 44-year-old Zdeno Chara and 23-year-old rookie Robin Salo to play 20-plus minutes. Captain Anders Lee is unfortunately unavailable again, and poor Mathew Barzal is once again being tortured with Zach Parise (0 goals in 14 games) and Richard Panik (cut during camp) on his wings. The Isles have always been very successful at limiting high-quality chances even though they routinely get outshot, but when their defense lacks quality personnel and their goaltending is merely average, it becomes very hard for them to win games without good offense.

Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers looked so promising early in the season with much-improved goaltending, but they’ve stumbled once again, failing to win consecutive games since late October, losing four of their past six and have not won on home ice in regulation since Nov. 2. They have a four-game schedule so the quantity’s there, but they’re tough opponents and their depth has taken a hit yet again with Kevin Hayes injured again and Ryan Ellis still missing.

There are certain things working for the Flyers: the Lightning will be without Brayden Point and the Panthers without Aleksander Barkov, the Canes will be spending Thanksgiving on the road and playing their sixth and final road game, and the Devils have allowed the eighth-most goals in the league on home ice. But that’s maybe if Carter Hart starts all four games, which he definitely won’t, and there’s plenty of more reliable teams to choose from that have four-game weeks. 

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