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Every so often, here at XNSports.com, I will take a look at the first or last two days of a fantasy hockey week. Why? The reason is simply to give you a possible leg up on your competition. Week 19 featured only 45 games over six days so the last two days will be pivotal for most fantasy players. The usual first question asked in fantasy hockey circles is which teams play back to backs?
I’ll answer that question for you now.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2014
|Edmonton||at||New Jersey||7:00 PM
|NY Rangers||at||Pittsburgh||7:00 PM
|Columbus||at||San Jose||10:30 PM
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2014
|Winnipeg||at||St. Louis||2:00 PM
|Detroit||at||Tampa Bay||7:00 PM
|Colorado||at||NY Islanders||7:00 PM
|New Jersey||at||Washington||8:00 PM
Teams Playing Back To Backs
- New Jersey Devils
- Carolina Hurricanes
- Phoenix Coyotes
New Jersey Devils
The Devils are used to these as they have a league leading 22 back to backs. It appears that Cory Schneider will start against Edmonton on Friday and the possibility exists that Martin Brodeur could start on Saturday in Washington. The latter part is a bit unknown so keep an eye out for what the beat writers may say. A problem with New Jersey is goal scoring when Schneider is in net. They average a hair less than two goals per game while they still average over 2.5 goals per game for Brodeur. The team shooting percentage 5 on 5 when Schneider is in net is a paltry 5.7 percent.
They play two teams—Edmonton and Washington—and both are rather weak on the defensive side of the ledger. It will be interesting to see if Ilya Bryzgalov starts for the Oilers. Washington does not play much defense and it almost does not matter who starts because New Jersey will get their chances. The team just has to convert. I would recommend playing their top players like Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias, etc. Goaltending wise I would start Schneider with a little hesitation.
It is tough to expect what you will get out of Carolina players. There is a good bit of talent but the questions are when does Cam Ward play and how effective is he? On the surface, Anton Khudobin will be better option going forward but Ward has been the incumbent so long. Kirk Muller has a ton of loyalty for Ward and everything he has done for the organization. Eric Staal and Jeff Skinner have led the way offensively but I want more people to keep an eye on Andrej Sekera, who has been quite the revelation defensively for Carolina. Sekera is a must fantasy hockey start for both nights, along with Skinner and Staal.
Carolina entertains Florida and Montreal. Please note the 6:00 p.m. ET start against Montreal on Saturday. Again it is likely that Khudobin and Ward split the starts. However, the fantasy surprise for the Hurricanes may just be Nathan Gerbe who is averaging almost a points every other night (26 pts in 55 games). He is proof that big things can come in small packages.
The Coyotes are trying to tighten the defensive side of things while still trying to push on the offensive end. They currently have scored 160 goals in 56 games which comes out to about 2.86 goals per game. That is respectable but off from the 3.2 goals per game they had earlier in the year around the game 30 mark. The problem is that Phoenix still is giving up just about three goals per game for a -7 goal differential. Fantasy wise that creates a considerable dilemma.
Chicago and Dallas are their opponents which should yield quite a few goals for and against. That is very problematic. Phoenix is actually too balanced from a fantasy standpoint. Mike Ribeiro leads the way with 39 points and Antoine Vermette leads in goals with 21 (35 points overall). They are executing at a near 20 percent clip on the man advantage which is ninth in the NHL but then they are 27th on the penalty kill. Keeping overall fantasy categories in mind, I would recommend Vermette, Martin Hanzal, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson to get the job done for your fantasy team.
Good luck fantasy hockey fans and just think, the break will soon be here.
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