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Fantasy Hockey: Head-to-Head Primer Week 3

Which fantasy hockey trends do you need to be aware of? Should you be going all in on the Carolina Hurricanes? All that and more in this week's fantasy hockey primer.
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Carolina Hurricanes

Entering the third week of the season, only four teams remain undefeated: Carolina, Edmonton, Florida and St. Louis. If you’re curious, the record for longest winning streak to start the season is 10 games, held jointly by Doug Gilmour’s Leafs in 1993-94 and Chris Drury and Daniel Briere’s Sabres in 2006-07.

We’ve still got a long way to go, and both Edmonton and Florida are halfway there, but it certainly looks like Carolina has the best shot. They play four games in Week 3, but all of them are at home and only Thursday’s matchup against Boston seems worrisome.

Meanwhile, Arizona and Chicago are still looking for their first wins, with Arizona being in a particularly tough spot with four road games against Eastern Conference powerhouses. Chicago has a chance to win on Wednesday when they host the shambolic Leafs.

The schedule matrix has been updated again to show points percentages for one-week and two-week periods, and also the season points percentage for the team and their opponents. This format will remain for the remainder of the season. If the points percentages decrease (starting with 1w P%), it means the team has been good recently and their play is trending up. The Leafs, for example, are trending down with a one-week .167 P% and a two-week .417 P%, while Flames are trending up with a one-week .833 P% and two-week .625 P%. If all the rows light up green, that team will be good source of fantasy options this week.

All advanced stats courtesy naturalstatrick.com.

Week 3

START

Carolina Hurricanes

All of the Canes’ metrics are lighting up green on the schedule matrix. All four games will be home ice, where they’ve won 40 times over the past three seasons, eighth-best in the league. The Canes have received some excellent goaltending from Frederik Andersen (4-0-0, .944 Sv%, 1.75 GAA), who is an early Vezina candidate and quickly climbing the ranks among the top fantasy goalies, and nine of their forwards have already scored at least one goal. Vincent Trocheck, rostered in only 74 percent of Yahoo leagues, deserves a roster spot for not only his scoring ability but also because he’s second on the team in faceoffs taken (career 51.6 FO%) and shoots a lot. He has close to point-per-game potential with strong peripheral stats for roto leagues and gets overlooked far too often.

Winnipeg Jets

They scored 11 goals without Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler, and now they’re headed back to California with the Ducks and Kings falling back down to earth after surprisingly good starts, and the Sharks having already suffered their first loss. Their week should be a lot easier than it looks, and Nikolaj Ehlers should get his first goal before long. He ranks second with 2.68 5v5 xGF among Jets forwards behind only Andrew Copp, while the Ducks and Kings combined for 29 goals allowed in seven games last week.

Anton Lundell, C, Panthers

The Panthers being good isn’t at all surprising. What is surprising is how they’re using rookie Anton Lundell (10 percent rostered) as their shutdown center. Aleksander Barkov is the reigning Selke winner but it’s Lundell who leads the Panthers in defensive-zone faceoffs taken with 48 to Barkov’s 43. He’s averaging 16 difficult minutes per game, winning nearly 55 percent of his draws and has still managed to score five points in five games. With the way the Panthers spread out the scoring with three lines, at this current pace, Lundell should be rostered in every league by the end of the season.

Evan Rodrigues, C/RW, Penguins

Only a handful of players in the league remain unvaccinated, but COVID seems to be as much of a storyline as it were last season. With Jeff Carter forced to sit out due to protocol, Rodrigues was promoted to the top line and did his part with two points in a 7-1 thrashing of the Leafs. His usage tells us the Pens aren’t afraid to move him up the lineup even though Rodrigues has spent most of his NHL career in checking roles, and his performance tells us the former Boston U standout still has some offense. The Pens lack depth, and even when Carter and Sidney Crosby return, Rodrigues’ production and experience playing all three forward positions might make him too valuable to remove from the top two lines. He’s rostered in only six percent of Yahoo leagues and could be a good depth player the rest of the season if he gets the right playing opportunities.

Conor Garland, LW/RW, Canucks

“Angry little elf,” “midget” or “munchkin” – it doesn’t matter what you call him, Garland has been one of the Canucks’ big-impact players this season with eight points in six games. The 5-foot-10 right winger has solidified their top six and the Canucks seem to have found a permanent answer on Bo Horvat’s right wing, which has been largely a carousel of misfit toys ever since he entered the league. Rostered in just 67 percent of leagues, Garland has been one of the Canucks’ most reliable scorers during a time when their top line with Elias Pettersson has been really struggling. He was very good for Arizona last season and he should be an excellent depth option in most fantasy leagues on a much more talented team. After a six-game road trip to start the season, the Canucks play all three games at home this week.

Jordan Kyrou, C/RW, Blues

If only the Blues would play anybody more than 18 minutes per game. The Blues’ insistence that they roll four lines puts a damper on Kyrou’s budding breakout season with eight points in four games. The Blues’ competition hasn’t been very difficult, and it doesn’t look like it’ll get much harder any time soon. Only the Avs seem to present a challenge, which means Kyrou has a good chance to extend his streak beyond the first month of the season. Kyrou is rostered in 61 percent of Yahoo leagues and certainly worth picking up for the time being.

AVOID

Arizona Coyotes

This one’s just blatantly obvious, and it’s not like they have anyone who is even at least a little appealing outside of Jakob Chychrun, who is minus-9 with 16 PIM and zero points in five games this season. But I just wanted to point out that it’s conceivable the Coyotes end October without a single win. Rookie backup Karel Vejmelka looked like he could provide some fantasy value but not with that roster in front of him.

New York Islanders

The league felt so bad about the Isles’ 14-game road trip to start the season they’re getting a five-day break after playing in Sin City yesterday, and their only game in Week 3 isn’t until Saturday in Smashville for a 12:30 p.m. local time puck drop, which is then followed by a four-day break. That’s two games in 11 days in two of the most popular road destinations in the league. Excuse me if I think the Isles may appear a little distracted this week. 

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