Week 15 Fantasy Hockey Planner
More than a few big names are struggling through a rough patch. Names like Evgeni Malkin, Marian Gaborik and even rookie John Tavares are looking to break slumps. Michael Hurcomb erxplores that in his latest Planner.
Week 15 (Jan. 11-17)
Teams playing four games: Detroit, Minnesota, N.Y. Rangers,
Pittsburgh, San Jose, Washington
Teams playing three games: Anaheim, Atlanta, Boston, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Florida, Los Angeles, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Phoenix, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver
Teams playing two games: Buffalo, Colorado, N.Y. Islanders
New Jersey Devils: Center Travis Zajac
is looking to put an ugly December behind him. He already has two goals
and four points in three January games after posting only two goals and
seven points in 15 December appearances ... Jamie Langenbrunner has five goals and four assists during a six-game
point streak. He has been on a real roll since being named to Team USA
for the Olympics ... Forward Brian Rolston
hasn't scored in eight games and has one point in t hat span.
N.Y. Islanders: John Tavares' slump has reached 14 games. He has one goal and one assist in that span. Even the best prospects are prone to hitting a rookie wall ... Defenseman Brendan Witt was a healthy scratch for the first time in four seasons with the Islanders on Saturday against the Coyotes. He has five points and a minus-18 rating in 42 games. Freddy Meyer drew back in after 10 games as a healthy scratch ... Center Josh Bailey has four goals and six assists during a six-game point streak ... Kyle Okposo has scored in three straight games and four times in his last eight appearances after going 18 games without a goal ... Rob Schremp is finally getting regular minutes in the NHL and is producing. He has two goals and five assists in his last seven games ... Goalie Rick DiPietro (knee) made his season debut on Friday against the Stars. New York intends to carry three goalies -- DiPietro, Martin Biron and Dwayne Roloson -- with the possibility of carrying all three all season, if they can't trade either Roloson or Biron before the March deadline. DiPietro is likely to become the team's full-time starter as long as he doesn't suffer another setback.
N.Y. Rangers: Marian Gaborik returned to a full workload on Saturday against the Bruins after being benched for a portion of Thursday's game against the Thrashers. Coach John Tortorella refuses to divulge why Gaborik was on the bench, but the veteran coach has no qualms about benching star players. It seems Gaborik has worked his way out of the doghouse for the moment, so keep him active for Week 15 ... Brandon Dubinsky continues to thrive playing on a line with Erik Christensen and Gaborik. He has five goals and 12 points in his last 10 games ... Defenseman Michael Del Zotto scored for the first time in 22 games on Saturday against the Bruins. The rookie has scored only twice in his last 31 games after scoring four times in his first 14 appearances ... Vaclav Prospal (knee) has been skating and could return as early as Tuesday against New Jersey. However, there is still some risk to starting the veteran forward.
Philadelphia Flyers: Philadelphia has a temporary solution to their goalie situation by loaning Ray Emery, who had abdominal surgery in early December, to Adironack of the AHL on Saturday. However, it could be a short-lived answer since the veteran netminder could return to the NHL in Week 15. Michael Leighton has been outstanding in net for Philadelphia, but he seems as the likely man out since Brian Boucher is under contract through next season. Philly might keep three goalies until Leighton cools off ... Defenseman Chris Pronger has one goal and six assists in his last four games ... Danny Briere has a point in six of his last eight games. He has five goals and five assists in that span ... Rookie James van Riemsdyk appears to be emerging from a slump that lasted from late November to late December. He has three goals and three assists in five January games.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Chris Kunitz will miss 4-6 weeks following abdominal surgery ... Defenseman Sergei Gonchar bounced back in a big way from a foot injury on Saturday against the Maple Leafs. He scored twice, added an assist and finished at plus-3. It seems it's safe to start him in Week 15 ... All-Star center Evgeni Malkin hasn't scored in eight games. To make matters worse, he is minus-7 in his last 11 games.
Favorable matchup: Philadelphia (DAL, @TOR, @WAS). The Flyers have finally hit their stride offensively under first-year coach Peter Laviolette. They have scored four or more goals in seven of their last nine games. The good times should continue in Week 15 as they face two teams in the bottom 10 for defense -- Dallas (3.00 GAA) and Toronto (3.43). Philadelphia is also averaging 3.33 or more goals against Washington and Toronto.
Unfavorable matchup: N.Y. Islanders (DET, BUF). The Islanders are one of three teams with two games in Week 15. It doesn't help their cause that they face two of the NHL's best defenses in Buffalo (2.25 GAA) and Detroit (2.43). New York is averaging 2.67 goals in three games against Buffalo this season.
|1.||Patric Hornqvist, RW, Predators||20|
|2.||Alexandre Burrows, LW, Canucks||12|
|3.||Tim Connolly, C, Sabres||10|
|4.||Miroslav Satan, RW, Bruins||9|
|5.||Sami Salo, D, Canucks||8|
|6.||Brandon Dubinsky, C, Rangers||7|
|7.||Blake Wheeler, RW, Bruins||7|
|8.||Kurtis Foster, D, Lightning||7|
|9.||Anton Volchenkov, D, Senators||7|
|10.||Erik Christensen, C, Rangers||7|
Boston Bruins: Boston lost two of its top centers in a span of a
week. Patrice Bergeron is out at least
two weeks with a thumb injury and Marc Savard
is gone 3-4 weeks with a partial tear in his knee. David Krejci and Vladimir Sobotka
were the team's two top centers on Saturday against the Rangers. The
only good news is that Milan Lucic
returned from injury in Week 14. However, Lucic and Savard has played
only eight games together because of injuries. They are usually
linemates when healthy ... Blake Wheeler
is having his best run of the season with four goals and four assists in
his last six games.
Buffalo Sabres: Thomas Vanek scored for the first time in seven games on Saturday against the Avalanche. He finally assumed the team scoring lead with 12 goals ... Center Tim Connolly has extended his career-best point streak to nine games. He has five goals and nine assists in that span. Connolly is making one last push in case an injury opens up a roster spot on Team USA ... Rookie defenseman Tyler Myers has produced 26 points in his first 44 games. He is off to a fast start in January with three goals and five points in five games.
Montreal Canadiens: Andrei Kostitsyn is out at least six weeks following knee surgery. It comes at a bad time for the veteran forward since he has 11 goals and nine assists in his last 20 games and was quickly becoming a Fantasy commodity. His brother, Sergei, might get a shot to play with Tomas Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri on the top line once he returns from an ankle injury since Max Pacioretty and Matt D'Agostini aren't getting the job done ... Benoit Pouliot has been a nice fit on the team's second line with Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta. He has four goals in his last seven games and is finally starting to look like the former first-round prospect he never developed into with Minnesota.
Ottawa Senators: Milan Michalek is the latest Senator forward to go down. He has been ruled out indefinitely after suffering an upper-body injury ... Defenseman Filip Kuba is day to day with an upper-body injury suffered on Saturday against the Panthers ... In a bit of good news, forward Daniel Alfredsson is making a fast recovery from a separated shoulder and could return during the team's five-game road trip. Still, he is an injury-risk start for Week 15 ... Center Jason Spezza is also making a quick recovery from a torn ACL, but he is still at least three weeks away from returning.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Defenseman Mike Komisarek isn't expected to return in Week 15 from an upper-body injury. The prognosis is that he could be out another 10 days ... Matt Stajan has two goals and three assists during a four-game point streak. He has quietly produced 34 points in 45 games ... Phil Kessel has loudly remained mired in a scoring funk. He has just one goal in his last 12 games.
Favorable matchup: Toronto (CAR, PHI, @WAS). The Maple Leafs are averaging 3.67 or more goals per game against Washington and Carolina.
Unfavorable matchup: Boston (@ANA, @SJ, @LA). Boston has a three-game West Coast road trip in Week 15. Being down their top two centers is tough enough, but averaging only 2.15 goals per game (29th) on the road isn't helping Boston's cause.
|1.||Patric Hornqvist, RW, Predators||30|
|2.||Michal Neuvirth, G, Capitals||7|
|3.||Matt Stajan, C, Maple Leafs||32|
|4.||Mike Knuble, RW, Capitals||47|
|5.||Jack Johnson, D, Kings||25|
|6.||Kris Versteeg, LW, Blackhawks||62|
|7.||Daniel Cleary, RW, Red Wings||7|
|8.||Scott Hartnell, LW, Flyers||55|
|9.||Brandon Dubinsky, C, Rangers||39|
|10.||Dustin Brown, RW, Kings||58|
Atlanta Thrashers: Top-line center Nik Antropov is having a tough time overcoming a hip injury that
has kept him out three games. No one is feeling it more than his
linemate, Ilya Kovalchuk, who hasn't
scored since Antropov left the lineup. Antropov is still a risky start
for Week 15 ... Replay took away a goal from Todd White on Saturday against the Capitals, so his scoring slump
resumes at 34 games ... Goalie Kari Lehtonen,
who is recovering from two back surgeries, is enjoying pain-free
workouts. Still, Atlanta believes he is 2-3 weeks away from returning
and might need a rehab stint in the minors.
Carolina Hurricanes: Tuomo Ruutu is listed as week-to-week after suffering an upper-body injury during a fight with Darcy Tucker on Friday ... Forward Eric Staal returned from a personal leave on Sunday against the Senators, so feel free to play him in Week 15 ... Ray Whitney has three goals and two assists in his last five games. He has 14 points (seven goals) in 16 games since Dec. 1. Whitney could be in for a huge second half, so now might be the time to start adding him in Fantasy.
Florida Panthers: Goalie Tomas Vokoun has allowed more than three goals only twice in his last 15 appearances. He has allowed a total of six goals in four January games, but he has only two wins in that span because Florida continues to struggle to score.
Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning are sending struggling blueliner Andrej Meszaros a message. He has been a healthy scratch for two games since he has produced a team-worst minus-13 rating. His offense hasn't been much better with three goals and eight points in 42 games. He has definitely been a bust since coming to Tampa Bay prior to last season ... Steve Downie is giving Tampa Bay a nice checking-line presence since November. He has seven goals, 17 points and a plus-5 rating in his last 30 games. He has also racked up 69 penalty minutes in that span.
Washington Capitals: Goalie Semyon Varlamov (knee, groin) might return to action in Week 15, but he is not expected back until later in the week. He is still not a recommended Fantasy start since Washington has said they will not rush him back into action ... Defenseman Tom Poti ended a streak of 72 games without a score when he lit the lamp on Saturday against the Thrashers. He has the one goal and six assists during a five-game point streak. It has been one of his best stretches since landing in Washington in 2007-08.
Favorable matchup: Washington (@TB, @FLA, TOR, PHI). The Capitals have faced all of their Week 15 opponents at least once this season and are averaging at least 3.00 goals against each team. Washington has played Philadelphia and Florida three times apiece and is averaging 5.67 goals per game against each opponent.
Unfavorable matchup: Florida (WAS, @TB, TB). The Panthers are averaging 2.00 goals against Tampa Bay and have scored only seven times in three games against Washington (2.33 GFG).
Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Kane
has extended his career-best point streak to 11 games. He has nine goals
and nine assists in that span ... Kris Versteeg
is also on a career-best run at seven games. He has three goals and five
assists in that span ... Defenseman Cam Barker
has missed three games with an upper-body injury. He says he is not
suffering from a concussion and the injury is below his neck. He skated
on Saturday, but he remains day to day and a risky start for Week 15. Jordan Hendry is dressing in his absence.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Defenseman Mike Commodore has returned to the lineup after taking a second sabbatical this season to get himself into shape. His conditioning has been a big reason for his poor season ... Defenseman Jan Hejda has scored in two straight games and has tied his career-high with three goals this season. However, he has just seven goals in 240 games, so he is not a top offensive threat just yet ... Goalie Mathieu Garon has won his last two starts and has allowed more than two goals only once in his last eight appearances ... Center Antoine Vermette has two goals and four assists in his last five games. He has quietly produced 35 points in 46 games.
Detroit Red Wings: While Detroit got Henrik Zetterberg and Daniel Cleary back from injuries in Week 14, they lost Tomas Holmstrom for 3-4 weeks with a fractured foot ... Defenseman Niklas Kronwall has suffered a setback in his attempt to return from a sprained MCL. He was expected to return two weeks ago, but he continues to feel pain and has not skated for a few weeks ... We might never see Chris Osgood back in net with the way Jimmy Howard is playing. The rookie netminder has won 15 times in 23 appearances since Nov. 1. He also has produced a 1.90 GAA in that span. Howard has become a pretty solid start in Fantasy ... Center Darren Helm has five goals and six points in his last five games. Still, he is not playing higher than the third line and is getting no power-play minutes.
Nashville Predators: Martin Erat returned to the lineup on Saturday against the Ducks after missing four games with a knee injury. He picked up where he left off by scoring a goal. He has points in 13 of 15 games and has totaled 19 points (11 goals) in that span ... Steve Sullivan has one goal and four assists in his last four games ... Patric Hornqvist has been on a scoring tear since mid-December. He has 11 goals and five assists in his last 13 games ... Jason Arnott (upper body) is expected to miss the first two games of a Western Canada road trip that begins Monday in Vancouver, so keep him reserved for Week 15. David Legwand has been centering the top line in Arnott's absence.
St. Louis Blues: Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has been assigned to his junior hockey team after competing for Team Canada in the World Junior Championships ... Forward Andy McDonald is day to day after suffering a lower-body injury on Saturday against the Kings ... Keith Tkachuck (mouth) is considered doubtful to play in Week 15 ... Top-line center David Backes has six assists during a five-game point streak.
Favorable matchup: Detroit (@NYI, CAR, @DAL, CHI). The 2009-10 Red Wings haven't been the offensive juggernaut we have come to know through the years. But there is still hope they might reappear in the second half. Detroit faces three teams in Week 15 ranked in the bottom 10 for defense -- Dallas (3.00 GAA), Carolina (3.42) and New York (3.02).
Unfavorable matchup: Columbus (@STL, @CHI, CHI). The Blue Jackets have to face the league's top defense -- Chicago (2.11 GAA) -- not once but twice in Week 15.
Calgary Flames: Defenseman Dion Phaneuf
has shot down trade rumors and has said he is happy in Calgary. Don't
expect the veteran blueliner to be traded ... Jamie Lundmark has played the last two games on the team's top line
with Olli Jokinen and Jarome Iginla since his recall from the minors. Daymond Langkow has been moved back to the second line with Nigel Dawes and Rene Bourque. Langkow
leads Calgary with five points in five January games.
Colorado Avalanche: Defenseman John-Michael Liles' name has been popping up in trade rumors since he was sent to the press box for two games for his poor play. Coach Joe Sacco has made it public he expects a lot more from Liles, who has three goals, 13 assists and a minus-5 rating in 31 games. However, he is just in the second season of a four-year contract, so it could be difficult to move Liles ... Matt Duchene had his fourth two-goal game on Saturday against the Sabres. Twelve of his 13 goals have been scored on the road ... Rookie Brandon Yip has made a splash early in his career. He has five goals and two assists in 10 games primarily playing on the third and fourth lines.
Edmonton Oilers: Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky has recovered from his ankle injury and should dress in Week 15. Feel free to start him in Fantasy ... Mike Comrie (mono) is starting to make strides in his return, but there is still no timetable for his return ... Jordan Eberle, who was one of the last players cut in training camp, is showing he might be ready for full-time NHL action in 2010-11. Playing in his final junior season, Eberle has produced 30 goals and 63 points in his first 30 games for Regina (WHL) ... Patrick O'Sullivan and Shawn Horcoff are both at minus-20.
Minnesota Wild: Guillaume Latendresse has nine goals since being traded to Minnesota in November ... Martin Havlat is finally settled into his new surroundings in Minnesota. He has points in 13 of his last 15 games. He has five goals and 12 assists in that span ... Center Kyle Brodziak has four points in four January games.
Vancouver Canucks: Defenseman Sami Salo's eye injury is considered minor and he could be back as soon as Monday against the Predators. He is a low-risk start ... Alexandre Burrows became the first NHL player to record consecutive hat tricks since Ilya Kovalchuk in 2007-08 when he managed the feat on Tuesday and Thursday ... Henrik Sedin has taken over the NHL scoring lead with 62 points. He has points in 18 of his last 19 games ... Mason Raymond has gone cold since recording a hat trick on Dec. 27. He has no goals and two points in his last six games ... Pavol Demitra, who has been out all season following shoulder surgery, has been practicing with his teammates and could return in Week 15. However, he is still not a recommended Fantasy start.
Favorable matchup: Vancouver (NSH, @MIN, PIT). Vancouver is averaging 3.00 or more goals against Nashville and Minnesota. The Canucks also play twice on home ice, where they average 3.48 goals (third). Vancouver also plays Pittsburgh at a vulnerable time. The Penguins have allowed three or more goals in five of their last eight games.
Unfavorable matchup: Colorado (@CGY, NJ). The NHL scheduling committee did Colorado no justice by scheduling Calgary and New Jersey as its only opponents in Week 15. Both teams are in the top five for defense, allowing 2.33 or fewer goals per game.
Anaheim Ducks: Teemu Selanne
returned to the lineup on Saturday against the Predators after missing
five weeks with a broken left hand. He scored his 594 career goals, so
it's safe to active Selanne for Week 15 ... Enforcer George Parros has been placed on injured reserve with a cut hand ... Jonas Hiller is starting to separate himself from Jean-Sebastien Giguere in net. He has won eight of his last 11 starts. He has
a 2.22 GAA and .930 save percentage in that span ... Ryan Getzlaf has three points in four games since returning from a
Dallas Stars: Center Mike Ribeiro is out 4-6 weeks with a throat contusion. The Stars have tweaked their center rotation, replacing Ribeiro with Tom Wandell on the second line. Mike Modano has been elevated to the third line and Steve Ott has become a fourth-line center ... Top-line center Brad Richards is second in the NHL with 18 multi-point games. He trails only Henrik Sedin ... Jere Lehtinen has one goal and five points in his last seven games for his best stretch of the season.
Los Angeles Kings: Defenseman Randy Jones returned to the lineup on Saturday against the Blues after missing close to a month with a head injury ... Oscar Moller has been elevated to the team's second line. He has split the season between the NHL and AHL. Moller has produced two goals and four points in 17 games.
Phoenix Coyotes: Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov is off to a rough start in January. He is 1-2-0 with a 4.27 GAA in four games. He has allowed 15 goals in that span ... Scottie Upshall was removed from injured reserve on Saturday and could return from an upper-body injury on Tuesday against San Jose. There is still some risk to starting him in Week 15.
San Jose Sharks: Patrick Marleau has scored in four straight games to extend his NHL-leading total to 29 goals... Center Manny Malhotra remains day to day with a lower-body injury.
Favorable matchup: Los Angeles (SJ, ANA, BOS). The Kings continue a seven-game homestand in Week 15. They average 3.15 goals at home (seventh). Los Angeles is also averaging 4.00 or more goals against Anaheim and San Jose.
Unfavorable matchup: Phoenix (SJ, NJ, MIN). The Coyotes also don't have to leave home in Week 15, however, they are not as good a scoring team as Los Angeles on home ice (2.71 GFG). Phoenix is averaging 2.50 or fewer goals against Minnesota and San Jose. The Sharks and Devils also rank in the top 10 for defense, allowing 2.49 or fewer goals per game.
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