Week 24 Fantasy Hockey Planner

Week 24 (March 29-April 4)

Teams playing four games: Anaheim, Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Nashville, Vancouver
Teams playing three games: Calgary, Colorado, Columbus, Edmonton, Montreal, New Jersey, N.Y. Islanders, N.Y. Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Jose, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Washington
Teams playing two games: Pittsburgh

Atlantic Division

New Jersey Devils: The birth of his third child has really sparked the game of Ilya Kovalchuk. The Russian forward has two goals and five assists in three games since his wife gave birth. Kovalchuk has seven goals and 12 assists in 19 games with the Devils ... Patrik Elias, who has played all three forward positions since the arrival of Kovalchuk, has two goals and four assists during a three-game point streak. He has a season-high 12 points in 13 March games.
N.Y. Islanders: Goalie Rick DiPietro (knee) has officially been shut down for the season. Martin Biron and Dwayne Roloson will continue to share time in net the remaining two weeks ... Defenseman Mark Streit has five assists in his last five games.
N.Y. Rangers:
Ryan Callahan is day to day with a leg injury ... Sean Avery injured his knee on Saturday against Toronto and appears doubtful for Tuesday against the Islanders. He is an injury-risk start for Week 24.
Philadelphia Flyers:
Swedish import Johan Backlund re-injured his groin during his NHL debut on Saturday against the Penguins. Backlund, who was nursing a slight groin strain upon his recall from the AHL on Wednesday, made 22 saves and allowed two goals in Saturday's loss before being replaced by Brian Boucher. Backlund might see a few starts down the stretch, but Boucher still should be in net most nights ... Chris Pronger is the first Flyers' defensemen to record 50 points in a season since Eric Desjardins posted 55 points in 1999-00 ... Simon Gagne has 15 goals and 32 points in 42 games since returning from a groin injury in mid-December. Unfortunately, he has only one point in his last five games and has two goals taken away from him by the refs.
Pittsburgh Penguins:
Two of Pittsburgh's biggest stars are on the day-to-day watch. Evgeni Malkin is battling a foot injury, while Sergei Gonchar has an illness. Gonchar is the less risky start for the upcoming scoring period, but no one would blame you for rolling the dice with a player like Malkin ... Sidney Crosby hadn't scored a goal in seven games -- his longest drought of the season -- before lighting the lamp twice on Sunday against Toronto.
Favorable matchup: N.Y. Rangers (@NYI, @TB, @FLA). The Rangers have upped the intensity as of late with a playoff berth on the line. They have scored 11 times in their last three games. The scoring might continue in Week 24, as New York is averaging 2.80 or more goals against the Islanders and Lightning. Also, all three opponents rank in the bottom half of the league for defense, allowing 2.81 or more goals per game.
Unfavorable matchup: N.Y. Islanders (NYR, PHI, OTT). The Islanders don't have to leave Nassau Coliseum in Week 24, but that isn't necessarily a good thing. New York is 25th in home scoring (2.69 GFG). The Islanders also aren't scoring more than 2.33 goals per game against any of their Week 24 opponents.

Northeast Division

Boston Bruins: Marc Savard visited with the Bruins on Saturday for the first time since suffering a concussion on March 7. Unfortunately, he is not expected to return to action any time soon and still might miss the rest of the season. Cut him in Fantasy, if you need the roster spot in seasonal formats ... David Krejci seems to have finally regained his quickness following offseason hip surgery. He has six multi-point games in his last nine appearances. He also has racked up a season-high five goals, 10 assists and 15 points in 14 March games. Krejci's confidence is up since playing in the Olympics. It also helps that he has picked up some scoring chances with Savard sidelined.
Buffalo Sabres:
Thomas Vanek suffered a lower-body injury on Saturday and is expected to miss "some time," according to head coach Lindy Ruff. He is not recommended start for Week 24 ... Center Derek Roy has responded to getting called out by Ruff. He recorded his fourth career hat trick on Saturday against the Lightning. He also has three goals and six points in his last four games ... Prospect Tyler Ennis was recalled Saturday due to injuries and responded with two assists. He had a goal in his NHL debut in November ... Center Tim Connolly is out with a foot injury and is not a recommended start for the upcoming scoring period.
Montreal Canadiens: Andrei Kostitsyn has three goals and four points in his last three games after recording no goals and two assists in his previous 12 games. It's no surprise he has gotten hot since the return of linemate Mike Cammalleri.
Ottawa Senators: Rookie defenseman Erik Karlsson is beginning to showcase the future offensive potential he brings to the table. The 19-year-old has one goal and five assists in his last four games ... Daniel Alfredsson has scored in three straight games to reach 20 goals for the 12th time in his career. He has 15 points (12 assists) in 12 games since the Olympic break ... Peter Regin has taken his game to the next level since joining Alfredsson and Jason Spezza on the top line. He has scored in three of his last four games and has four points during a four-game point streak.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Nikolai Kulemin has arguably been the Maple Leafs' best player coming out of the Olympic break. The Russian forward has produced a season-high five goals, nine assists, 14 points and a plus-5 rating in 14 March games.
Favorable matchup: Ottawa (@WAS, CAR, @NYI). As we anticipated last week, the Senators finally got it together in Week 23 after coming out of the Olympic break mired in a lull. Ottawa has won its last four games and could keep rolling in Week 24. It is averaging 3.00 or more goals against Washington and New York. The Hurricanes are ranked 27th in defense (3.08 GAA).
Unfavorable matchup: Boston (BUF, @NJ, FLA, @TOR). The Bruins have a rough start to the week, as they must face Buffalo and New Jersey on back-to-back nights. Those two matchups might take enough out of the Bruins to have them winded by the time they face Florida and Toronto. It doesn't help Boston that the only team it is averaging more than 2.25 goals against is Toronto.

Southeast Division

Hurc's top sleepers for Week 24
Player Start %
1. Saku Koivu, C, Ducks 18
2. Tuukka Rask, G, Bruins 37
3. Jimmy Howard, G, Red Wings 68
4. Dennis Seidenberg, D, Bruins 25
5. Antoine Vermette, C, Blue Jackets 45
6. Peter Regin, C, Senators 1
7. Nikolai Kulemin, LW, Maple Leafs 14
8. Jochen Hecht, C, Sabres 11
9. Brandon Dubinsky, C, Rangers 23
10. Joe Corvo, D, Capitals 45

Atlanta Thrashers: Niclas Bergfors has scored only twice in his last 12 games after scoring six times in his first seven games with the Thrashers.
Carolina Hurricanes:
Goalie Cam Ward (back) was activated from injured reserve on Saturday, but he was not used against the Thrashers. There is a chance he might play in Monday's rematch against Atlanta, but it's doubtful he will take on a full workload in the final two weeks. Justin Peters was reassigned to the minors and Manny Legace remains the other goalie on the roster ... Tuomo Ruutu will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing successful shoulder surgery on Thursday. Ruutu had been bothered by a shoulder problem since getting injured in early January.
Florida Panthers:
David Booth is done for the season after sustaining his second concussion of the season Thursday against the Canadiens. It's a real shame since Booth was just starting to get his legs under him after missing most of the season since suffering his first concussion in late October.
Tampa Bay Lightning:
Defenseman Kurtis Foster, who is out with an upper-body injury after hitting his head on the ice Thursday against the Bruins, is doubtful for Tuesday's game against the Blue Jackets and not a recommended start for Week 24.
Washington Capitals:
Although he is winless in his last four appearances, goalie Semyon Varlamov has allowed more than three goals just once in that span and is getting his timing back after missing several weeks with a few lower-body injuries ... Rookie blueliner John Carlson has one goal, four points and a plus-6 rating in 11 games since the Olympic break. Carlson has played well in his first 18 games as a NHLer and could make the Capitals' postseason roster. He is a great long-term Fantasy keeper.
Favorable matchup: Washington (OTT, ATL, @CLB). The Capitals have had no troubles scoring against the Senators, Thrashers and Blue Jackets. They are averaging 4.00 or more goals against each Week 24 opponent.
Unfavorable matchup: Florida (NSH, @BUF, @BOS, NYR). All four of the Panthers' opponents rank in the top half of the league for defense, allowing 2.71 or fewer goals per game. Florida is also averaging 1.67 or fewer goals against Nashville, Boston and New York.

Central Division

Chicago Blackhawks: It is believed the injury that has kept defenseman Kim Johnsson out since March 13 is a concussion, which makes him a tough start for the upcoming scoring period.
Columbus Blue Jackets:
Kristian Huselius has points in six of his last seven games. He also has five multi-point affairs in that span. He has totaled six goals and seven assists ... Antoine Vermette has four goals and six assists in his last six games.
Detroit Red Wings:
Jimmy Howard ranks in the top 10 among all goalies in wins (32), goals-against-average (2.24) and save percentage (.926).
Nashville Predators:
Goalie Pekka Rinne has four shutouts since the Olympic break, the most for any NHL netminder in March ... Center Jason Arnott, who has missed four games with a head injury, has been skating on and off in the last week. He could make a return during Week 24, but there is still some risk involved with starting him in Fantasy.
St. Louis Blues: Paul Kariya has scored in two straight games and a season-high six goals and 11 points in 12 March contests.
Favorable matchup: Detroit (EDM, CLB, NSH, @PHI). It's hard to go against Detroit this time of year. The Red Wings have won eight of their last nine games and have three or more goals in six of those contests. Detroit plays three times on home ice in Week 24. The Red Wings are averaging 3.88 goals at home in eight March games.
Unfavorable matchup: St. Louis (CHI, @NSH, DAL). The Blues are averaging 2.25 or fewer goals against the Blackhawks and Predators. St. Louis also plays twice at home, where it is averaging 2.50 or fewer goals per game (28th).

Northwest Division

Calgary Flames: Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is minus-10 in his last 18 games ... Ales Kotalik went 17 games without a goal before scoring Sunday against the Capitals. He has two goals and three points in 20 games since joining Calgary in a trade from the Rangers.
Colorado Avalanche:
Defenseman John-Michael Liles has been a healthy scratch for three straight games despite the Avalanche power play at 2 for 20 in their last nine games ... Ryan O'Reilly has no goals, three assists and a minus-7 rating in his last 18 games. His hot start to the season is a distant memory ... Newly acquired Peter Mueller missed only one game with a hip injury before returning to the lineup on Sunday against the Sharks. He scored twice against San Jose and showed no ill effects. It appears safe to keep Mueller active for Week 24.
Edmonton Oilers:
Center Sam Gagner has pulled himself out of the lineup with a hip injury that has bothered him for a few weeks. He is a day-to-day candidate ... Goalie Devan Dubnyk has recovered from the stomach flu and is a safe start for Week 24.
Minnesota Wild:
Backup goalie Josh Harding is once again dealing with a nagging hip injury ... Center Mikko Koivu has missed two games with an arm injury and remains day to day ... Defenseman Cam Barker is also day to day with an ankle injury.
Vancouver Canucks:
Henrik Sedin became the first player to crack 100 points in the NHL with two assists on Saturday against the Sharks ... The Canucks still are unsure as to when Pavol Demitra will return from his personal leave. He has missed the last three games ... Mikael Samuelsson (shoulder) skated on his own Friday and could return as early as Tuesday against the Coyotes. However, there is still some risk to starting the Swede forward in the upcoming scoring period.
Favorable matchup: Vancouver (PHO, @LA, @ANA, MIN). The Northwest Division has a lot of tough matchups in Week 24, so Vancouver gets the nod here since it appears it has the most favorable. The Canucks are not averaging less than 2.67 goals against any of their four opponents.
Unfavorable matchup: Calgary (PHO, @COL, @CHI). The Flames face three teams in Week 24 ranked in the top 12 for defense, averaging 2.68 or fewer goals per game. Calgary also isn't averaging more than 2.33 goals against Phoenix, Colorado or Chicago.

Pacific Division

Anaheim Ducks: It seems center Ryan Getzlaf is going to be on the day-to-day watch every game in the final weeks. Getzlaf has re-aggravated an ankle injury he suffered before the Olympic break a few times, and Anaheim is likely going to re-evaluate him on a day-to-day basis. It's a tough situation for Fantasy owners as well, since all of them rely heavily on Getzlaf ... The Ducks wasted little time getting rookie Nick Bonino adjusted to life in the NHL. He made his NHL debut on Friday against the Oilers and centered a line with Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry. Bonino signed with Anaheim on March 21, days after finishing his college career at Boston University. The Ducks have been high on Bonino since they acquired him from San Jose at the 2008-09 trade deadline ... Joffrey Lupul (back) will not return to the lineup in the last two weeks. It's safe to cut him in all seasonal formats ... Teemu Selanne has two goals and six assists in his last seven games.
Dallas Stars:
Goalie Kari Lehtonen has won four of his last five games in net. He has allowed two goals in his last two wins while making 63 saves ... Brad Richards has 17 multi-goal games in 2009-10 after scoring twice on Saturday against the Kings. He has a season-high six goals and 19 points in 14 games since the Olympic break ... Brenden Morrow has three goals and five assists in his last seven games.
Los Angeles Kings:
Terry Murray reunited the line of Ryan Smyth, Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar, in hopes of sparking his offense. Don't forget this line combination was one of the NHL's best in the first weeks of the season before Smyth and Williams were hit by the injury bug.
Phoenix Coyotes:
Lee Stempniak had his fourth two-goal game with Phoenix on Saturday against the Avalanche. He has 12 goals and 14 points in 12 games since his acquisition at the trade deadline ... Wojtek Wolski was the other key acquisition at the trade deadline, and he haunted his former team on Saturday with three points (one goal). He has 11 points (four goals) in 12 games with Phoenix.
San Jose Sharks:
Top-line center Joe Thornton is day to day with a lower-body injury suffered Saturday in Vancouver. San Jose isn't offering much up as far as what is bothering Thornton or how long he will be out, so there is some risk with starting him in Week 24 ... Goalie Evgeni Nabokov notched his 40th win on Saturday against the Canucks, extending his winning streak to three games after ending a five-game losing skid. Nabokov became just the second goalie in NHL history to record three straight 40-win seasons, with the other being Martin Brodeur.
Favorable matchup: Anaheim (DAL, @COL, VAN, @LA). The Ducks will be trying to salvage whatever playoff hopes they have in the final two weeks. It starts in Week 24. Anaheim is averaging less than 2.75 goals per game against only one upcoming opponent -- Dallas.
Unfavorable matchup: San Jose (@DAL, @MIN, @COL). The road has not been kind to San Jose in March. The Sharks have won just once in six road games and averaged 2.33 goals per game in that span. The Sharks play all three games on the road in Week 24. They are also averaging 2.60 or fewer goals against Dallas and Colorado.

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