For the second straight week, the schedule maker in the National Hockey League has given teams a huge difference in games. If you're a fan of the Boston Bruins or a fantasy owner of any of their players, then you are certainly smiling. The Bruins have five games in seven days, making even their most marginal players must-starts in cumulative formats.
The only thing that can slow down the Chicago Blackhawks is the fact they have just two games in the upcoming week. The Blackhawks are one of four teams with just two games in the next seven days, joining the Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers for some much-needed rest. There are six teams with a four-game slate and 19 teams who have three games in the next seven days.
The condensed schedule has given us some quirky results following the lockout, but perhaps no quirkier than this. The Bruins actually visit the Pittsburgh Penguins twice in six days in the upcoming week. In fact, the Bruins head to Pittsburgh for successive road games, sandwiched around home games against the Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals. Each of Boston's games this week should be high scoring, and even their fringe fantasy players are must-starts this week.
Must start: Patrice Bergeon, Zdeno Chara (PIM leagues), Nathan Horton, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin, Dennis Seidenberg (hits/blocked shots pools)
Los Angeles Kings
Center Jeff Carter has been unbelievable lately, posting at least one goal in eight of his past nine games, lighting the lamp 10 times during the impressive stretch. They have been important goals, too, as four have been of the game-winning variety. Needless to say, he is a must-start option, but fantasy owners might want to consider trading him while his value is at its pinnacle. While he can help fantasy owners win right now, you could net a giant package in return to help push your team to a championship. You definitely couldn't say that just three weeks ago.
Must start: Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Quick, Mike Richards (PIM leagues), Slava Voynov, Justin Williams
If you guessed center Colin Wilson would be the team's scoring leader at the midway point of the condensed schedule, kudos to you. Your nose is also growing. He has posted five goals with a team-high 15 points, three more than veteran right wing Martin Erat, who is firmly in second place. No one is doing much scoring in 'Smashville', as this club grinds it out with physical play, tight checking and goaltending. Left wing Gabriel Bourque leads the team with six goals, but finds himself on just five percent of all fantasy rosters.
Must start: Martin Erat (PIM leagues), Kevin Klein (hits/blocked shots leagues), Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber, Colin Wilson
The Senators are starting to get a little healthier, as left wing Milan Michalek (knee) returned to the lineup Wednesday after nearly a one-month absence. General manager Bryan Murray is also on record stating center Jason Spezza (back) could return to game action within the next two or three weeks. If he is available in your fantasy pool, grab and stash him immediately. Goaltender Craig Anderson (ankle) remains sidelined, but Ben Bishop has done a nice job in his absence.
Must start: Ben Bishop, Marc Methot (hits/blocked shots leagues), Milan Michalek, Kyle Turris
Left wing Chris Kunitz was not always known for his deft scoring touch. In fact, when he entered the league with the Anaheim Ducks, he was a decent scorer, but he took too many penalties. Since arriving in Pittsburgh, his points have been generally the same, with his goal totals up, his plus/minus rating way up and his penalty minutes down. He is becoming a smarter player, and he is red hot right now. The former standout at Ferris State has seven goals and 10 points with a plus-8 rating during his current five-game goal-scoring streak, and he has at least one point (8 G, 4 A) in each of his past seven games.
Must start: Sidney Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury, Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Paul Martin, James Neal, Brooks Orpik (hits/blocked shots leagues)
More Weekly Planner on Page 2
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.