Fantasy Hockey Weekly Planner: Jan. 28-Feb. 3
The extended Week 1 scoring period is in the books, and now we'll get some sense of normalcy in the National Hockey League in the second scoring period, even with the condensed schedule. We have 12 teams which have four games in the next seven days, but there are 16 teams with a relatively painless three games, and two teams (Calgary and St. Louis) with just two games. In fact, in cumulative leagues, it is a good idea to reserve all of your Flames and Blues.
The Bruins have fired out of the gate with impressive play, especially at home. They'll have two games at home and two games on the road. The contests away from Beantown aren't too taxing, coming against the defensively-challenged Carolina Hurricanes and their personal punching bag, the Toronto Maple Leafs. The black and gold should be celebrating with at least three wins, which is great news for fantasy owners of goaltender Tuukka Rask.
Must start: Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin
There has been no shortage of offense in Buffalo so far, but the defense has been a little suspect at times. Still, track meets are what fantasy owners want to see on the ice. A defensive battle is rarely, if ever, entertaining to fantasy owners. Rookie center Mikhail Grigorenko has been a disappointment, going scoreless with a minus-one rating in the first three games, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him sent back down for a little more seasoning.
Must start: Cody Hodgson, Ryan Miller, Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek
There has been plenty of offense out of the gate for Colorado, and center Matt Duchene has led the way. He was likely available in the final rounds on draft day in your pool, so he has been exceeding expectations with his pinpoint shot placement so far. Newcomer right wing P.A. Parenteau has also endeared himself nicely to the fans, his teammates and fantasy owners.
Must start: Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, P.A. Parenteau, Semyon Varlamov
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets have stumbled out of the chute, which makes sense since they have a huge void to fill following the departure of center Rick Nash to the New York Rangers. Neither goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky or Steve Mason, have been particularly impressive during the early going, although Bobrovsky's .913 save percentage isn't anything to sneeze at. Right wing Cam Atkinson was a disappointment in the first week, and center Brandon Dubinsky and defenseman Jack Johnson have been nowhere to be found.
Must start: Derek Dorsett (PIM leagues), Vaclav Prospal, Fedor Tyutin
Newcomers right wing Jaromir Jagr (2 G, 2 A, plus-1) and left wing Ray Whitney (2 G, 2 A, plus-3) have been studly through their first four games with the Stars. However, the big news is that the Stars were able to reach an agreement with center Jamie Benn, ending a contract impasse that spilled over into the season. Benn should be reserved in all fantasy leagues this week, but more firepower is on the way.
Must start: Loui Eriksson, Jaromir Jagr, Kari Lehtonen, Ray Whitney
The young talent of the Oilers has shined during the first week of the regular season, giving fans and fantasy owners a glimpse of what is to come. If this team is able to improve defense and get steady goaltending, not only can they contend in the Northwest Division, but they could be a threat to make noise deep into the playoffs.
Must start: Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner, Taylor Hall, Justin Schultz
One of the biggest surprises through the first three games for the Habs was the play of defenseman Raphael Diaz, who notched five helpers and a plus-one rating. He and defenseman Andrei Markov (3 G, 1 A, plus-1) have been the fantasy stars during the early going. Defenseman Tomas Kaberle continues to disappoint, and is a shell of his former self. Fantasy owners won't want to pay him any attention unless he has a renaissance.
Must start: Raphael Diaz, Brian Gionta, Andrei Markov, Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, Carey Price
New Jersey Devils
For whatever reason, fantasy owners and the so-called experts were all dropping right wing Ilya Kovalchuk down on their cheat sheets and rankings. It is hard to believe, as it seems like he has been around forever, but he is still just 29 years old. He posted a goal, three points and a plus-three rating in his first two games, and that one marker came on a short-handed situation. He is dangerous, still has plenty of pep, and so far has outproduced his average draft position by a mile.
Must start: Martin Brodeur, David Clarkson, Ilya Kovalchuk
Sens defenseman Erik Karlsson has been everything as advertised during the early going, popping in two goals to go along with a pair of helpers and a plus-five rating. If you're in a pool that rewards shots on goal (SOG), the rearguard rarely sees a shot he doesn't like, and isn't afraid to squeeze one off. He has 14 SOG through the first three games. Defenseman Marc Methot has three assists and a plus-six rating through the first three games, emerging as a pleasant surprise. He also had the tools to be useful in Columbus, but his awful plus/minus rating dissolved any fantasy appeal. Goalie Craig Anderson already has three wins and a shutout under his belt.
Must start: Craig Anderson, Erik Karlsson, Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza, Kyle Turris
It is funny to see the tweets and e-mails asking about left wing Steve Sullivan and the players suggested as drops. Yes, Sully is worth adding to most rosters, especially after posting four goals and an assist in his first four games. But, keep in mind he has a minus-three rating during the span, too. Playing with the Coyotes will do that. Should he be added, though? Yes. Should you drop someone you drafted like Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, Anaheim Ducks left wing Bobby Ryan or Carolina Hurricanes left wing Alexander Semin? Well, no.
Must start: Mike Smith, Steve Sullivan, Radim Vrbata
Fantasy owners of center Evgeni Malkin expected big things, but they didn't bargain for the 12 penalty minutes (PIM) he has amassed through the first three games. For owners in pools which reward bad behavior, it has been a bonus. For those leagues which discourage PIM, the time in the sin bin has been a curse. Center Sidney Crosby is healthy and producing, which pleases fans and fantasy owners alike.
Must start: Sidney Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Paul Martin, James Neal
The Capitals have to be concerned about their 0-3 start, especially during a 48-game shortened season. More concerning is the play of left wing Alex Ovechkin, who has yet to light the lamp while posting just one assist and a minus-one rating. That's the same offensive production defenseman Tom Poti has, and he last played in the NHL in 2010. Not good. As far as goaltending, Braden Holtby (0-2-0, 5.04 GAA, .863 save percentage) has been atrocious, and goaltender Michal Neuvirth wasn't much better in his only appearance.
Must start: Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, Mike Ribeiro
The Flames have only two games, but at least they're at home. That's the good news. The bad news is that both of the games are against high-powered offenses from Colorado and Chicago. It will be a bad week to start goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, and you might want to shy away from most of the Calgary offensive players, too.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues have posted some pretty impressive offensive totals, especially with rookie Vladimir Tarasenko posting four goals, six points and a plus-four rating through the first four games. However, even Tarasenko should be reserved in the upcoming week in cumulative formats. Now, if you're in a pool with average points-per-game in a scoring period, Tarasenko, center Andy McDonald, right wing T.J. Oshie, left wing Alexander Steen and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo should remain in your plans.
About Daniel Dobish
Daniel is a Hot Off the Wire Analyst who joined the KFFL staff in 2010. He is a veteran of the fantasy industry dating back to 1999, with stops at CBSSports.com, The Sports Forecaster, OPENSports.com and RotoExperts.com. His work has also appeared on NFL.com and Yahoo.com. Daniel was named the 2011 Fantasy Golf Writer of the Year, 2011 Fantasy Racing Writer of the Year, and he was nominated for the 2011 Fantasy Hockey Writer of the Year. Daniel lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons. Follow @danieledobish
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