Games are usually piled on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but it’s an even more imbalanced schedule this week with only two games on Monday and Friday and three games on Wednesday.
That means there will be some hard lineup decisions to be made on the days with a lot of games, but it also means Monday, Wednesday and Friday could be a good catch to get an edge or make up a little ground if fantasy managers fall behind their matchup after Tuesday’s games. The Canucks, Kraken and Avalanche will be the three teams to target since they will be playing in at least two of the three days with the light schedule.
Some slight changes to the schedule matrix that hopefully will make it easier to understand visually. Teams are now sorted by 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 quality of competition rather than parsing through a mess of numbers.
For example, the Rangers are one of nine teams to play four games this week, but they’re ranked at the top of the chart because the 0.265 difference in points percentage against their opponents is the best among the nine. Conversely, the Coyotes rank ninth on the chart because they play four games despite having the worst difference in points percentage against their opponents, though that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re better than the Blues, who rank 10th with three games to play but with the best difference in points percentage against their opponents at 0.286. The fantasy value can still be subjective; even if the Coyotes somehow played every day of the week, they still wouldn’t be a good fantasy option.
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.
The Wild have been one of the league’s hottest teams in the league, winning five of their past six. They needed some luck to do so, but their possession numbers at 5-on-5 are excellent and their depth has really shined. Even though Kirill Kaprizov (11 points in 14 games) and Kevin Fiala (two goals in 14 games) haven’t provided the elite offense, Ryan Hartman (seven goals), Joel Eriksson Ek (five goals) Marcus Foligno (10 points) and Matt Dumba (nine points) have stepped up, and there seems to be a different hero every night. Last time, it was Rem Pitlick, who scored his first NHL goal and then two more for a natural hat trick in a win against the Kraken.
The Wild’s depth has been pretty impressive, and if there was a time to grab a lesser-known bottom-six player, this could be the week. They play the struggling Sharks and Stars, and their weekend back-to-back doesn’t include travelling outside the state of Florida. It’s a good test for the Wild and their depth will be counted again to win games since their elite talent haven’t quite lived up to expectations so far. Among the options: Hartman, with dual-position eligibility and faceoff wins; first-line center Frederick Gaudreau, who also plays on PP2 with Hartman; Eriksson Ek, who is on PP1 with Kaprizov; and perhaps Jordan Greenway, who has been quiet so far this season.
I think the turnaround is real. The Preds are one point shy of first place in a very tough Central Division, and they’ve got an elite defenseman in Roman Josi and a very good goaltender in Juuse Saros as their backbone. More importantly, Matt Duchene and Mikael Granlund (16 points each) have improved their offense to 2.87 goals per game from 2.70 goals and 26.8 percent on the power play from 17.6 percent since last season.
It’s a relatively easy travel schedule as they move through central Canada, with the Leafs potentially being the only challenge since the Sens allow 3.47 goals per game – third-worst in the league – and the Habs will be relying on two rookie goaltenders. Ryan Johansen, unsung hero Tanner Jeannot and both Luke Kunin and Phil Tomasino, who will play bigger roles with Filip Forsberg injured, may be good short-term targets.
Avoid anyone that’s not named Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl, that is. The Oilers are very good at scoring, but this will also be the first time they’ll be facing the Jets since the playoffs when they were held to eight goals and lost in four straight games. They’re playing the Jets twice this week, which means two potentially low-scoring games against a team that has proven it can at least keep the Oilers offense at bay. Connor Hellebucyk had a rough start but he’s won five of his past seven starts with both losses coming in extra time.