Fantasy Hockey Head-To-Head Preview: Week Six

Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand

If you were lucky enough to have a few New York Islanders last week, you were handsomely rewarded with five goals and six assists from Matt Moulson and John Tavares alone. That’s what happens when you play five games in a week. While there’s no five-game team this week, there is a two-game team. This is how it breaks down

Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand
Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand 63 is congratulated by the bench after scoring a game tying goal during the third period against the New York Rangers at TD Garden Mandatory Credit Bob DeChiara USA TODAY Sports

Four-Game Teams

Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, Dallas, Edmonton, Florida, Minnesota, Montreal, Ottawa

Every one of these teams plays a back-to-back at some point, so if you’re relying on four starts from any of your goalies, it looks doubtful. But not all back-to-backs are created equal. Anaheim gets Minnesota and Phoenix later in the week, Carolina has a home-and-home with Florida, while Ottawa gets the Harvey Dent of the hockey world (Philadelphia) and the Islanders. By contrast, Detroit gets Los Angeles and San Jose, Montreal hosts Pittsburgh but travels to Boston for the next day while Edmonton is on the road for Dallas and St. Louis. Speaking of the Oilers, this week marks the beginning of a nine-game road trip. We should know where their playoff fate lies when all is said and done. The Ducks likely have the easiest schedule with the Kings, Predators, Wild and Coyotes on deck (honorable mention to Carolina, who has that home-and-home with Florida, plus hosts Pittsburgh and visits Washington). This week could mark the first regulation loss for the Blackhawks, as they have visits to the surging Blues (points in five of their last six games) and Red Wings (twelve goals scored in their last two games). They also host Edmonton and Columbus, so expect no worse than a 2-2 record this week. Montreal is in for a long week, with road games against Toronto and Ottawa followed by that deadly PIT/BOS back-to-back. If Minnesota has playoff aspirations, this is a big week for them. Three of their four games – vs. Calgary, @ Phoenix, vs. EDM – are against teams that are within two points of each other for the last playoff spot. Their fourth game is against one of the top teams in the NHL in Anaheim. If they go 0-3-1 or something of that nature, it could be the beginning of the end for playoffs.

Three-Game Teams

Calgary, Colorado, Columbus, Detroit, Los Angeles, Nashville, Islanders, Rangers, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Jose, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, Winnipeg

Of all these teams, the following play a back-to-back:

  • Detroit (at LA and at SJ)
  • St. Louis (vs. CHI and vs. EDM)
  • Toronto (vs. MTL and @ NYI)
  • Vancouver (vs. LA and @ CGY)
  • Washington (vs. Car and @PHI)

Detroit and Washington, it seems, might have tough times ahead. Also, the goaltending situations for St. Louis and Vancouver are far from certain, so expect no more than two starts from any goaltender from these teams. Colorado got Gabriel Landeskog back, so if they have playoff hopes, the work starts now with teams they are battling with in San Jose and Calgary (plus they get the lowly Blue Jackets). This could be a rough week for Los Angeles; they get Anaheim and Detroit at home and go on the road to play Vancouver. The Islanders, Rangers and Flyers all have three home games this week and all three teams have relatively easy schedules. San Jose also has three home games, but they get Colorado, Detroit and Nashville, not easy except maybe Colorado. If you were ever to stream a Columbus goalie, this might be the week for it; they have home games against Dallas and Colorado that sandwich a road game in Chicago. Except for the ‘Hawks game, the other two aren’t terrible spots. Pittsburgh has three road games in Florida, Carolina and Montreal. I like their offense, but goalie Marc-André Fleury might have a bad week. Vancouver should cruise this week, hosting Phoenix and Los Angeles before going to Calgary, while I can’t say the same for Washington, who have a home/road back-to-back and then travel to play the always-tough Winnipeg team in Manitoba.

Two-Game Team

Only New Jersey plays two games this week (both on the road), so sit ‘em if you got ‘em.

Players I Like This Week

Brad Marchand (C/LW-BOS) – One of the top players for the last week or so, Brad Marchand should continue the trend. He has four goals and two assists in his last six games and the Bruins have three home games this week where they are absolutely deadly – 4-1-1 this year at the TD Gardens. Not only that, but after being just a (+2) in his first eight games, Marchand is a (+5) in his last six. He’s getting loads of power-play time (he’s been on the ice for two-thirds of Boston’s PP time the last three games) and can contribute elsewhere; despite just 4 PIMs in 14 games this year, he had 87 last year.

Jonathan Huberdeau (C-FLA) – I thought it would be a cold day in Hell before I ever recommended a Panthers player. However, he has now averaged over 16 minutes of ice-time each of his last four games, despite getting over 16 minutes just four times in his first 14 games. He has five points in his last five games – admittedly four of them in one game – and is playing top PP minutes now. Also, after being an even player in his first 13 games, which is actually outstanding considering who he plays for, he’s (+2) in his last five. It’s time to start trusting him.


Alex Goligoski (DAL) – Once a defenseman that was droppable, he’s now a must-start (funny how this works, isn’t it?). He’s gotten over four-and-three minutes of PP time his last two games respectively and has three assists in his last five games. While he hasn’t found the back of the net yet, and I hate using this term, but he’s due. He’s a career 7.4% shooter and has taken 35 shots this year without scoring (his shot/game pace is actually a career-high, too). Remember when everyone was panicking over Shea Weber? Weber hadn’t scored in his first 14 games, now has three goals in his last five games. Goligoski is DUE.  With four games on the schedule, I would bet on it happening this week.

Zach Bogosian (WPG) – With Tobias Enstrom out, Bogosian is now the go-to in Winnipeg along with Dustin Byfuglien. It’s a small sample size, but Bogosian would be on pace for over 230 shots in an 82 game season. Also, their last game (win vs. New Jersey), Bogosian was second among D-men for time on-ice (behind Ron Hainsey?) and was on the ice for nearly half of their power-play time. He is an underrated defenseman and I expect him to deliver this week with New Jersey and Washington coming into town.


Antti Niemi (SJS) – If the Sharks are going to right the ship, this is the week to do it. They have three home games this week and two of their opponents (NSH, COL) are in the bottom-third of goals-scored among all NHL teams. Also, from the vaults of “I can’t believe this is real”, Niemi has one win this month (not a typo) but has allowed one goal or less in four of his eight games in February. With Semyon Varlamov and Jimmy Howard coming to town, I expect San Jose to find their offensive groove and in turn, a good week from Niemi.

Niklas Backstrom (MIN) – Backstrom has been exceptional recently, allowing just three goals in his last two starts and one goal or less in three of his last five. He has returned healthy and is now poised to lead this Minnesota team to the playoffs. With four games this week, I think there’s an outside chance that he starts all four. Minnesota should hope to win three of their four games this week because of the playoff implications they carry, so I expect a big week from Backstrom.

Players I Don’t Like


Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (C – EDM) – With four road games this week, it’s a tough test ahead for the young Oilers. With just two points in his last nine games, I don’t see this being the turn-around week for RNH. He is a (-3) in his last three games and has zero goals and three assists in seven road games this year. The Oilers have two top-flight teams in Chicago and St. Louis plus two teams fighting them for playoffs in Dallas and Minnesota. Good luck, Nuge.

Pascal Dupuis (LW/RW – PIT) – The coat-tail riding for Dupuis is over… for now. With Evgeni Malkin out with a concussion, Dupuis has been relegated to any-other-line-but-Crosby’s duty with James Neal taking his place. This led to zero PP time for Dupuis in their latest game with Crosby/Neal/Kunitz taking all the time. A player whose value is directly tied to playing with Crosby now has very little value. Leave him on the bench.


Andy Greene (NJD) – Not only do the Devils only play two games this week, but it allows me to raise another point. It’s not very often a player comes out of nowhere to be a top fantasy performer. Andy Greene had 39 points his last two seasons combined. He had a stretch of games this year where he had two goals and six assists in five games. I was getting all sorts of crazy questions like dropping/sitting proven players like Wideman and Suter for Greene. The thing is, he had zero points in his first six games and zero points in the eight games since his outburst. I can’t stress enough how important it is to stick to your guns and not dropping proven players for the flavor of the week.

Andrei Markov (MTL) – A staple of my “do not like” players until people get the message, Andrei Markov has zero goals and two assists this month. By contrast, P.K. Subban has three goals and five assists in 12 games this month. After cracking 24 minutes of ice-time in eight of his first ten games, he has done so just once in his last eight games. There is only so much ice-time to give and right now it goes to P.K. Subban. Not to mention, Montreal has road games in Ottawa and Toronto followed by a back-to-back against Pittsburgh and Boston. Ouch.


Anders Lindback (TB) – With games in Boston and New York (R) after hosting Buffalo, Lindback could see lots of red this week. He’s allowed 14 goals in his last four games, good for an .846 save percentage. This is downright awful. His Goals Against Average has ballooned to 3.27 with a save percentage of .890 for the season and it is becoming apparent he wasn’t ready to be a number one goalie. Not only do I not like him this week, but I would be surprised if Tampa Bay doesn’t make a move for a proven goalie sooner rather than later. I hear there might be one in Vancouver available.

Jonathan Quick (LAK) – Whoa, right? Well he’s only started half of their last six games with the others going to Jonathan Bernier. It’s not entirely Quick’s fault, his GAA is still top-20 despite how bad some people think he’s been, but he hasn’t been stellar either. Now, he’s only allowed one goal in each of his last two starts, so he’s probably starting to turn the corner. But with Anaheim and Detroit coming to town followed by a visit to Vancouver, they have a tough week ahead. All three of those teams are top-15 in goals scored/game this year, while Detroit and Anaheim are both top-5. They might be showcasing Bernier, Quick might be turning the corner. With so much uncertainty, avoid him if you can for this week.

That’s all for this week, We’re at about the half-way point of most head-to-head leagues, so it’s getting to be do-or-die time. You can’t just wait for your team to turn around now, you have to be proactive. You may as well go down swinging rather than going down whimpering. Best of luck in Week Six!

author avatar
Michael Clifford
Michael Clifford was born and raised in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada and is a graduate of the Unviersity of New Brunswick. He writes about fantasy hockey and baseball for XNSports and He can be reached on Twitter @SlimCliffy for any fantasy hockey questions. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+'://';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');