Every Monday during the season, NHL.com contributor Matt Sitkoff will provide you with fantasy hockey advice in his weekly piece: "Fantasy All-Access." From the waiver wire watch to roster trends and prospect rumblings, Sitkoff is here to help you all season long.
Here at the Fantasy All-Access we try to get fantasy owners ready for the week ahead, and if you are knee deep in your league's playoffs here are some schedule oddities you should pay attention to when making lineup choices this week.
The Boston Bruins (four), Chicago Blackhawks (three), Colorado Avalanche (three) and Winnipeg Jets (three) play all their games this week at home. The Columbus Blue Jackets (four), Florida Panthers (four) and Detroit Red Wings (two) play all their games on the road this week.
With that in mind, pay attention to the road/home splits of players from those teams. Players like Avalanche forward Matt Duchene, who has 24 of his 39 points and 15 of his 16 goals this season at the Pepsi Center, and Tomas Fleischmann of the Florida Panthers, who has five of his nine goals this season on the road, see their value rise this week.
WAIVER WIRE WATCH
Vinny Prospal (owned in 17 percent of Yahoo! leagues) -- The Blue Jackets' push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs will help your fantasy playoffs as the team will rely heavily on their veteran leadership down the stretch. The 38-year-old Prospal, who has both center and left wing eligibility in Yahoo! leagues, has points in three-straight as well as 11 points in his last 14 games, and seems to have instant chemistry with new linemate Marian Gaborik. As mentioned, the Blue Jackets play all four games this week on the road (@COL, @ANA, @LAK, @SJS) and Prospal leads the team with 10 road points this season and is tied for the team lead with five road goals.
Trevor Daley (owned in 2 percent of Yahoo! leagues) -- Another team in the Western Conference making an improbable run toward the playoffs has fantasy owners wishing they picked up hot-shot rookie Alex Chiasson, but stock of one of their top defenders is also rising. The 29-year-old Daley has five points, a plus-6 and is playing over 23 minutes a game in his last five games. The Stars have four games this week (@CHI, VAN, @STL, @LAK), and if they are to stay in the playoff hunt Daley will need to continues his hot play, which could help you in your fantasy playoff push.
Travis Zajac (owned in 14 percent of Yahoo! leagues) -- While the Devils are freefalling and Ilya Kovalchuk is expected to miss his 10th straight game on Monday, don't sleep on the 27-year-old Zajac. The Devils have four games scheduled this week (@TOR, @PHI, FLA, @NYR), with three of them against teams ranked in the bottom half of the NHL in goals against, and in the last one he plays the Rangers, a team against which he has 20 career points in 37 games. If Kovalchuk is back by the end of the week, having those back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday could be a difference in your weekly matchup.
Time share goalies -- Here at the Fantasy All-Access we have kept track of goalie starts in the ever-changing goalie carousel. Now in the playoffs, the teams that have employed time share starter are magnified as goalie starts become more important. With all of that in mind, 13 of the 30 teams this season have employed a starter for less than 65 percent of their team's starts. The Carolina Hurricanes (39 percent) and St. Louis Blues (36.6 percent) have started a goalie for the least percentage of starts, but much of that is due to injury. Both of those teams have four games scheduled this week, and both of those teams could finally ride a hot goalie in Brian Elliott and Justin Peters, which is music to the ears of owners who have been sick riding the goalie carousel all season long.
Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators -- The Swedish forward surprisingly dropped to the 11th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft despite being the top-rated European skater by Central Scouting. Even more surprisingly, Forsberg was traded by the Washington Capitals at the Trade Deadline for Martin Erat and now he has arrived, making his NHL debut Sunday for the Nashville Predators vs. Detroit. The third-youngest player to suit up for the Predators, at 18 year, 8 months and 1 day, played 18:37 with 2:12 on the power play in his much-anticipated NHL debut. Although the Predators have only two games this week (VAN, @CHI), he is worth a pick-up as he got top-line minutes and power-play time, and will have the young legs to inject some much needed offense to Nashville and your fantasy team.