NHL

A full NHL schedule breakdown by week is available here on a Google doc.

The document isn’t restricted to the current week. The entire season breakdown is there along with various other breakdowns that are described in detail here.

On to the Preview via Carl Lemelin.

CRYSTAL-BALLING RISING AND FALLING STOCK

While assessing your roster going into the stretch run of this short season, it is imperative that you look beyond the raw numbers and carefully analyze the factors that are causing your players to either thrive or struggle.  Any tweaking or rebuilding plans have to be based on what you think WILL happen, not what has happened (which is what the numbers tell you).

With that in mind, let’s examine three players whose stock is rising and three more who have lost some fantasy value since the start of the season.

RISERS

Viktor Fasth (G) – ANA: (8-0-0, .933) Because he’s 30, the rookie tender isn’t eligible for the Calder, but his 8-0-0 record would definitely make him the favorite in that race if he were.  The Swedish Elite League veteran posted a dominant .934 SP last year for AIK.  And that was only the last in a string of six seasons in which his worst performance saw him play at a .921 clip.  The Ducks’ brass knew full well they were singing this guy as an insurance policy, considering Jonas Hiller’s precarious health situation.  Fasth is getting his chance and running with it.  Empirical evidence is ample enough to convince us this is no fluke.  The ultra competitive goalie won’t leave the Anaheim crease without a fight.  We think it’s already won.

Mike Ribeiro (C) – WAS: (15-5-13-18) We’ve always believed this underrated playmaker was a number one center that never got a shot at playing with top line wingers in Montreal or Dallas; the best regular linemate he’s had is Loui Eriksson, for half of last season.  It’s no coincidence that this recent hot streak (6-4-5-9) started right around the time Adam Oates decided to put Alex Ovechkin on his right wing.  Nor is it a coincidence that the Great 8 has busted out of his early season drought since the line-shuffling.  There is sustainability here as Ribeiro also seems to have wrestled away half-wall control of the Washington PP from Niklas Backstrom.  One caveat: this is a contract year for Ribs and he could be dealt if the Caps fall out of the playoff picture.

Sam Gagner (C) – EDM: (14-4-11-15) At the end of last season, Gagner was viewed as a streaky scorer (8-point game last Feb.) whose status with the upstart Oilers was very much up in the air.  This year, he’s their best player and most consistent point producer, starting the season with an impressive 10-game point streak.  He’s got the hands, he’s got the vision, he’s got the release and most forget he’s still only 23.  And he’s playing with a reinvigorated Ales Hemsky.  The chemistry between the two is undeniable and should only thrive, since top opposing checkers have quite a number one line to worry about.

FALLERS

Patrick Marleau (LW) – SJ: (14-10-5-15) There is no player more enigmatic in the fantasy world than the maddeningly streaky Marleau.  His owners know they will get one streak a year from him where he looks like one of the best; and that streak came very early this season (9-5-14 in his first 6 games, including a five-game multi-point streak).  He has since gone pointless in 7 of his last 8 games.  Marleau is notorious for disappearing when the checking gets tighter (i.e. the past few weeks or playoffs).  In fact, his worst quarter in terms of PPG was the last for two of the past three regular seasons.  He may not be as bad as he looks right now, but don’t expect anything close to his sizzling start for the rest of this season.

Loui Eriksson (LW) – DAL: (16-4-5-9) This perennial “most underrated player in the league” has struggled to a very uncharacteristic -6 rating through 16 games.  He has lost his spot on the first unit of the PP (even with the Ray Whitney injury) and that is hurting his offensive output.  But beyond that, he looks slow and uninspired on the ice.  That is so out of character from the 27 y/o that we suspect he may be playing hurt.  His owners should monitor the situation closely.  As long as he’s stuck on a mediocre 2nd PP unit, we don’t think his 2013 ratios will live up to his stunningly consistent numbers of the past three seasons.

Claude Giroux (C) – PHI: (16-3-7-10) His ascension toward superstardom has been nothing short of meteoric (47-76-93 point totals the last three seasons).  The 93 however came while skating alongside ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr and Scott Hartnell, two big puck-possession monsters who gave Giroux the time and space needed to create tons of scoring chances.  Well, Jagr is gone and Hartnell is injured.  Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds are decent wingers, but don’t offer nearly the same total package Giroux’s old mates did.  No doubting the 25 y/o’s supreme talent here, but his owners should adjust their expectations. Hartnell’s imminent return should pump Giroux’s game back up to the point-a-game form at least.

Follow the McKeen’s team on Twitter:
@KatsHockey
@mckeenshockey
@CarlLemelin

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