Intricacies of NHL schedule important in fantasy

Friday, 08.29.2014 / 12:00 PM
Matt Sitkoff  - Contributor

Studying the NHL schedule is very important to any fantasy hockey owner. Fortunately, will provide a weekly look at certain players who are entering a favorable stretch in their schedule. This NHL Fantasy All-Access column will spotlight the players who should be picked up or played for that week.

Now that the NHL features a balanced schedule that ensures all 30 teams will play in all 30 arenas at least once, knowing the schedule for your draft is more important than ever.

*The Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets have a League-high 19 back-to-backs, followed by the New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs, who have 18.

FANTASY IMPACT: The Sabres do not have a proven No. 1 goalie on their roster, and with so many back-to-backs scheduled it's another reason not to target a Sabres goalie in your fantasy draft.

The Blue Jackets' Sergei Bobrovsky, a former Vezina winner, was 4-2-0 with a 2.10 goals-against average and .930 save percentage last season in the second game of back-to-backs.

Columbus has 10 of its back-to-backs in the months of November and March, so Bobrovsky could see more time in those months. As a reminder, backup goalie Curtis McElhinney went 6-5-0 with a 3.10 GAA and .899 save percentage when Bobrovsky went down with a groin injury last season.

*The Los Angeles Kings and Winnipeg Jets will play in a League-low nine back-to-backs, followed by the Calgary Flames, who have 10.

FANTASY IMPACT: Two-time Stanley Cup champion Jonathan Quick is coming off a wrist surgery but could see 65-70 starts this season. Quick has played 288 of 376 (76.6 percent) regular-season games in the last five seasons, and should continue to be one of the top goalies drafted.

It is a make-or-break year for Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec, but if Michael Hutchinson steals the job then one goalie might see a lot of bench time with only three back-to-backs in the final three months.

*The San Jose Sharks are on the road for 16 of their first 21 games to start the season.

FANTASY IMPACT: Patrick Marleau led the Sharks in road points (42) last season, while Joe Thornton led in road assists (30) and Joe Pavelski in road goals (22). Antti Niemi was 14-11-3 with a 2.68 GAA and .908 save percentage on the road, while Alex Stalock was 8-4-1 with a 2.16 GAA and .919 save percentage on the road.

Look closely at the home-road split in targeting certain Sharks players. In the early part of the season they could see a spike in production, so have some patience with the players that have favorable home splits. They'll have plenty of time to turn things around after the marathon road trip.

*Daily breakdown of the 1,230-game regular-season schedule: 101 on Monday, 247 on Tuesday, 101 on Wednesday, 222 on Thursday, 126 on Friday, 310 on Saturday and 123 on Sunday. This means 779 games (63.3 percent) are played on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The Anaheim Ducks play 55 games (67 percent) of their games on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

FANTASY IMPACT: The Anaheim Ducks are always a popular team to select depth players from since they dominate the off fantasy days. They also play 16 games on Sundays this season, which is good news for last minute points in head-to-head leagues. The Chicago Blackhawks also have 16 games on Sundays and play 44 of their games (54 percent) on the off fantasy nights, and could be another source for depth players on your team.

Follow Matt Sitkoff on Twitter: @MSitkoffNHL

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