Turn Signals and Flames: A Brief Look Ahead at Fantasy Hockey Week 18

Grant Correspondent IFebruary 1, 2009

The right hand turn signal on my car does not work.  The wiring is loose and I don't have the money to fix it, so I have to manually move the lever up and down.

But sometimes the planets align and I hit a pothole causing the wires to connect.  As a result, I am able to signal hands free like every other motorist.

The cosmos smiled upon me last week and for a full day I was elated to be able to express my automated route intentions.  Knowing this bliss would last only until the next pothole jars the wires loose again, I was making three right hand turns instead of one left.

I had to exploit it while it was hot.

In fantasy hockey, the astute owner does the same.  Recognizing a positive streak and how to take advantage of it is a key to winning championships.

For example, anyone starting a fantasy relevant Calgary skater is more than satisfied right now.  The Flames have been en fuego lately defeating the NHL best San Jose Sharks twice, contributing to an 8-3 January record.

Next week, Calgary plays four times: on the road at Colorado and Dallas before coming home to host Chicago and Anaheim.

This season the Flames have owned the Avalanche, besting them four out of the five times they have met.  This is not surprising as Calgary boasts one of the highest scoring offenses in the NHL.  Approximately 20 percent of their goals come on the power play.

On the other hand, the Blackhawks have already beaten the Flames three times this season.  However, Chicago is stumbling into town in the middle of an eight game road trip having posted a 4-5-1 record in their last ten.

Next week look for Michael Cammalleri to continue streaking after scoring 11 goals in the month of January.  Also, Dion Phaneuf has 43 penalty minutes and Jerome Iginla has 41 goals in 46 games in their respective careers versus Anaheim.

Tampa Bay Lightning

It's time to take a page out of the Metallica playbook and ride the Lightning.  But with two games on the road and one of those in Pittsburgh?  Am I crazy?

Hear me out.

Tampa Bay has of late begun to resemble an actual NHL team.  The Lightning went 7-7 in January, which, when adjusted for hockey inflation, is rather remarkable.

In week 18 Tampa Bay visits the Penguins in between a home and away series against New York Islanders.  This season the Lightning have already fallen to both teams, being shut out in late December by Pittsburgh and losing in overtime to New York.

But these matchups of three Eastern Conference basement dwelling squads, the edge goes to the one with the hot hand.  Bolstered by the solid play of young netminder Mike Smith, the Lightning are a great play next week.  In fact, before being pummelled by the Flyers last Friday, Smith was tied with perennial all star goalie Robert Luongo with a save percentage of .919.

The impetus of this turnaround has been the awakening of Vincent Lecavalier.  He has 19 points in his last 15 games.  Finally, the must start fantasy center is living up to preseason expectations.

Others to watch for:

Martin St. Louis has 11 goals and 17 assists in his career versus the Penguins.  Vaclav Prospal has a lifetime 30 points in 40 games against the Islanders, 12 of those points scored on the power play.

Detroit Red Wings

It is usually a no brainer that an owner can ride the Red Wings to a fantasy victory.  However, Detroit is currently mired in a serious funk.

The Red Wings have lost five in a row, a major part of a 4-4-2 record in their last ten.  To add to their woes, 73 million dollar center Henrik Zetterberg was held out Saturday's game with back spasms.

Why then is Detroit a great play?  Simple.  They play four games next week, three of them at home.  St. Louis, Phoenix and Edmonton all will travel to Motown before the Red Wings pack up for Pittsburgh.  With the third ranked offense and the best power play in the NHL, all of these games are winnable for Detroit.

But this is a fantasy article and wins only count for goalies.  Hopefully you are not too heavily invested in the timeshare between Chris Osgood and Ty Conklin.

Earlier this season, six different Red Wings notched goals in a loss to the Penguins.  Even though veteran Marian Hossa was not one of those players (although he was responsible for two assists), he does have 41 points in 35 career games against Pittsburgh.  

Another Detroit player in line to fill the stat sheet is Pavel Datsyuk.  In 39 games versus the Blues the Russian center has 15 goals and 33 assists.

Now a few quick one timers to consider for next week.  All of these skaters are widely available.

Jaime Langenbrunner - New Jersey Devils

Langenbrunner scored six of his 14 goals this season in his last three games.  Langenbrunner is on the Devils' first line alongside Zach Parise and Travis Zajac.

Tim Connolly - Buffalo Sabres

Sabre Tim Connolly has three goals and two assists in his last two games.  Buffalo plays four games next week.

Dominic Moore - Toronto Maple Leafs

First line Maple Leaf center Dominic Moore has six points in the last three games.  While Toronto has a tough few games coming up, as mentioned above, you have to exploit it when it's hot.