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Who to Start and Who to Sit in Fantasy Hockey (Week of Jan. 24)

It's a good week to invest in the Bruins, Avalanche, Islanders and even the Sabres. Jason Chen gets you set for the fantasy hockey week ahead.
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If you haven’t heard already, the NHL has rescheduled a bunch of their postponed games for what would’ve been the Olympic break, so some of the fantasy sites have updated their head-to-head schedules as well. For most Yahoo leagues, two more weeks have been added to the season, and this is great because gets rid of that ridiculous four-week matchup with no extra allowances for player pickups and also because it should make the regular season much more competitive.

That means Week 15 is the last “normal” week before the Olympics begin, and note that next week the NHL will take a brief pause from Feb. 3-6 before the reschedule games are played. Week 15 will see Saturday feature the most number of games with 11, followed by Thursday (8), Monday and Sunday (7) and the usual quiet Wednesday and Friday (5).

Legend:

P% = season points percentage
Opp. P% = opponents’ season points percentage
Diff. = difference between P% and Opp. P%
Green is good. Red is bad.
All advanced stats courtesy naturalstatrick.com.

Week 15

Start

Boston Bruins/Colorado Avalanche

Of course, we want to start players on good teams, but what the Bruins and Avs also have in common other than playing four games this week is having games scheduled for Wednesday and Friday, two of the quietest slates for Week 15. The Avs will be in Chicago and the B’s in Arizona, and in both cases should offer up tons of good options on those light nights. For the Avs, look for Alex Newhook and Nicolas Aubé-Kubel to provide depth scoring. For the Hawks, look for Brandon Hagel and Dylan Strome, who are playing with Patrick Kane, and Sam Lafferty, who will play with Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat.

Buffalo Sabres

The road game in Colorado may be one of their toughest matchups all season, but they’ll also visit Ottawa on Tuesday and Arizona on Saturday. Those should be very winnable games for the Sabres, and both Ottawa and Arizona don’t defend very well. That means their red-hot top line of Tage Thompson between Jeff Skinner and Alex Tuch should be a very productive trio, combining for 20 points over the past weeks. The sneaky pick would be Peyton Krebs, who has two goals in his past four games, and Jack Quinn would also be on this list if not for his injury.

New York Islanders

The Isles have won six of their past eight and their tandem of Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin seem to be working like a well-oiled machine once again. They play all four of their games at home in Week 15 and face teams in turmoil, including the Flyers and Kraken. Zach Parise has scored four points in his past six games in a top-six role and seems like a viable short-term fantasy option – for now, at least, since neither Kiefer Bellows nor Oliver Wahlstrom have played particularly well lately. Scott Mayfield has also been the other big surprise, scoring five points in six games.

Sit

Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks are ranked sixth on the schedule matrix because they play the Habs and Sens, but considering how poorly Dallas Eakins’ squad has been playing, those aren’t gimme wins. The Habs are getting healthy with Tyler Toffoli and Jeff Petry back in the lineup, and the Sens have always featured elite young talent. They play all four games on the road where they’re 7-9-3, and over the past two weeks only one Duck has scored more than one goal: Derek Grant.

Vegas Golden Knights

The Knights may play four games and Max Pacioretty’s return seems imminent, but they have the hardest schedule according to the schedule matrix, facing a murderer’s row of Eastern Conference heavyweights in Washington, Carolina, Florida and Tampa. The Caps and Sharks are the only teams to face opponents with a cumulative points percentage over .700, and the Caps only edge the Sharks because the Sharks don’t play Tampa this week. This is going to be a tough test for Robin Lehner, who has been disappointing this season, and more conservative fantasy managers may want to sit him for the entire week. 

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