Crunching the numbers reveals who to pick and who to stay away from this week - sorry Sami Salo.
Any given Sunday. That’s the saying that keeps NFL players on their toes each week because regardless of record, on any given Sunday there’s no telling which teams will come out on top.
There’s no such saying in the NHL; any given night doesn’t ring true because a lot of secondary elements come into play during an 82-game schedule, such as travel.
Another major consideration is schedule – is a team coming off a lengthy break more equipped to win than a team in the midst of back-to-back games?
I don’t have the answer to this; clearly it’s open to debate. What isn’t up for discussion is that some Canucks perform better than others based on the schedule. With Vancouver in the midst of a three day pause before playing three games in four nights, including back-to-back contests on the weekend, it’s time to take a look at the numbers.
After losing 1-0 to Chicago on Sunday, the Canucks have three days off before hosting the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday. Overall this is the fifth break of three days or more for Vancouver as the schedule makers continue to throw curve balls at the team.
Based on the numbers, Christian Ehrhoff is your man after lengthy layoffs. Ehrhoff has been a point machine when rested; he’s put up 81 points in four games, an average of 20.2, almost nine points higher than his regular output of 11.6. Mikael Samuelsson drew a close second with an average of 19.7, up sufficiently from his 11.9 average otherwise.
Henrik Sedin, 15.5, and Ryan Kesler, 10.7, are next in line.
Three guys they shouldn’t be touched with a 50 foot pole when rested are Sami Salo, and his average of two points, Kevin Bieksa, and his abysmal three points, and Mason Raymond, who puts up only 6.7.
Interesting, I know. Same goes for the stats from back-to-back games.
The Canucks had three back-to-back affairs in October and one so far in November, with nine remaining on the schedule, four of which crash down on the team post-Olympics in March.
Based on the numbers, Ryan Kesler is your man in back-to-back games. He’s accumulated 112 points over the eight games in question for an average of 28 fantasy points, that’s well up from his season average of 16.4.
Next in line is Roberto Luongo, although he’s only been part of two of the four BTBs. Still, he’s put up 95 points over those four games, good for an average of 23.8, 5.8 points better than his 18 a game otherwise.
Henrik Sedin and Mikael Samuelsson are third and fourth at 84 and 62 points, an average of 10.5 and 7.7, but both figures are well below what the players are averaging for the season. Sedin is four points better at 14.5 and Samuelsson is almost five higher at 12 fantasy points per game.
What does all this mean? I’m not quite sure yet as it’s too early to tell if these patterns will continue. Until things are sorted out, look to Ehrhoff, Samuelsson and Henrik on Thursday and Kesler, Luongo, Henrik and Samuelsson over the weekend.
THE WEEK THAT WAS
Christian Ehrhoff is golden after three or more days off and coming off five in a row to start last week, the German defenceman led the Canucks to a 5-2 comeback against the Colorado Avalanche. He set a career-high with two goals and tied his career mark for points at three; he also put up his highest fantasy output of the season with 46 points, including a game-star.
Mikael Samuelsson also had three points leaving him with 41 fantasy points, while Alex Burrows put up 30 points; both players had game stars.
Sunday’s 1-0 loss to the Blackhawks wasn’t pretty on the ice or in the world of fantasy points as eight players had three points or less. Alex Edler was the only player above 10 points, he finished with 13.
WE HAVE A WINNER
Some nights things just seem to fall into place when playing Canucks Fantasy Hockey. That was the case for Skead last Friday in Vancouver’s 5-2 thumping of Colorado.
Skead ended up selecting all three game stars, Ehrhoff, Samuelsson and Burrows, and was smart enough to surround the big three with Schneider and Wellwood, 16 points each, Edler, 14, and Glass and Hansen, 12 apiece.
As this was the TELUS Game of the Week, Skead picked up a pair of tickets to the Nov. 26th game against the LA Kings. Boom goes the dynamite!
The NHL got rid of ties they were so hated and fantasy players typically feel the same. That’s what was in the cards for CaptinCanuck, hartland and prockstar though; they each had 52 points in Vancouver’s 1-0 loss. Edler and his 13 points were the common link between all three teams.
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THE WEEK AHEAD
Enjoy the break early on in the week because the schedule picks up steam starting Thursday. The Canucks host the Kings on the 26th, then the Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks on the 28th and 29th, before playing 15 games in 31 days in December.
Michael Grabner (fractured ankle), Alex Bolduc (shoulder) and Pavol Demitra (shoulder) are all on the injured reserve list.
While I claim to be the Canucks Fantasy Hockey swami, the man with all the answers and a crystal ball as clear as they come, this is very self-described. Most of my picks are backed by stats, while others come from the gut. Use with caution!