With the mid-season mark passed, the time for patience is over. Fantasy hockey owners must take action. Each decision on who to play is now more critical in order to maintain a top position or to move up in the standings.
The all star break shortened schedule of Week 16 in the NHL can place a frown on the face of even the shrewdest owner. Twelve teams only play once while all other squads face off twice.
This utter lack of ice time will make life extremely difficult in rotisserie fantasy formats and nearly unbearable in head to head.
Thus this week's contests must be scrutinized even more closely than usual. Below is a short list of teams and their matchups to avoid.
An away game in Washington is the only one the Senators play next week. This season Ottawa has won merely 29 percent of their road games and a meeting with the offensive juggernaut Capitals does not bode well for them. Furthermore, the Senators have recently made rookie Brian Elliot their number one goaltender. He will definitely be tested by last year's MVP Alexander Ovechkin.
Therefore using anyone from the Senators other than Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza or Dany Heatley is ill-advised. If you are starting goalie Alex Auld then you are probably that owner still rostering Paul Kariya and Sean Avery.
The Ducks are in a bit of a downslide right now losing five of eight January games and going 4-5-1 in their last ten. Next week Anaheim will visit New York to play both the Islanders and the Rangers in games three and four of a five game road trip. The Ducks have posted a 1-2-1 record versus the Atlantic Division this season, most recently losing to the Crosby-less Penguins.
As always Ryan Getzlaf must be started, but look for better options than players like Chris Kunitz or rookie Bobby Ryan.
This may be the "no duh" statement of the year, but Atlanta is bad. Really bad. On Tuesday the Thrashers host a red hot Montreal Canadiens team that is 11-7-2 on the road. Then on Wednesday Atlanta travels to Philadelphia. The last time the Thrashers travelled to the City of Brotherly Love the Flyers trounced them 7-0.
St. Louis Blues
As if losing veteran Keith Tkachuk to injury last Thursday, next week the Blues have to visit Boston and Chicago, two teams that are practically unbeatable at home. St. Louis is ranked 23rd in penalty kill percentage on the road, a statistic that has helped them to an abysmal 6-14-1 away record.
Consider the Blues a virtual lock to lose both of these games in their continuing quest to become the worst team in the NHL.
Expect Brad Boyes negative 23 rating to fall further below zero before the break.
The Coyotes have the unwelcome task of hosting the Red Wings on Tuesday. Detroit has already won in Phoenix this year with a shoot out victory on December 13th. Amassing a 15-4-4 record away from home the Red Wings have converted an incredulous 32 percent of their power plays on the road.
Coyote center Olli Jokinen has only four points in his 15 meetings with Detroit and fellow fantasy stud Shane Doan has a negative 12 plus/minus rating against the Motor City.
It was evident in last Thursday's loss that goalie Robert Luongo is rusty from missing more than twenty games due to injury. A matchup next week in San Jose is certainly not a prescription to return to all star form.
The Western Conference leading Sharks are an amazing 20-1-2 at home and 6-2-2 versus the Northwest Division this year. When Vancouver visited San Jose on December 23rd they were shut out 5-0.
Also, the Sedin brothers have combined for only three points against the Sharks this season.
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