The Fantasy Hockey Planner is the essential guide to setting your lineup for the upcoming week. Every week, we provide you with top matchups, the latest news and give you the scoop on injured players.
Fantasy Week 24 (March 16-22)
Teams with four games: Atlanta, Chicago, Edmonton, Los Angeles, New Jersey, Ottawa, San Jose, Washington
Teams with three games: Anaheim, Buffalo, Carolina, Colorado, Dallas, Florida, Montreal, Minnesota, Nashville, N.Y. Rangers, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver
Teams with two games: Boston, Calgary, Columbus, Detroit, N.Y. Islanders
Editors Note: Projections are for March 16-22 games and all stats are through Thursday
This week's news and notes for each team:
Anaheim Ducks: Left wing Erik Christensen, in his third game with the Ducks, produced his first points with two assists Wednesday against the Canucks. It marked his first multi-assist game since Nov. 2, when he was with Atlanta. Christensen has seen some time on the Ducks' top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry ... Defenseman Ryan Whitney had two assists Wednesday to record his third multi-assist game. The first two came with Pittsburgh, before the Feb. 26 trade that brought him to the Ducks ... Defenseman James Wisniewski, who came to Anaheim in a March 4 trade with the Blackhawks, was injured against the Canucks and is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
Atlanta Thrashers: The big news coming out of Thursday's 4-3 overtime win against the Oilers was the fact Ilya Kovalchuk wasn't around to help contribute. He left in the first period with an upper-body injury. The Thrashers scratched Kovalchuk for Saturday's game against Buffalo and said they will re-evaluate his status before Monday's game against the Capitals. It sounds as though Kovalchuk could be an injury-risk start Week 24 ... Atlanta is averaging 3.00 or more goals against two of their Week 24 opponents -- Detroit and Washington. They are averaging 2.50 or fewer against the other two opponents -- Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay.
Boston Bruins: Phil Kessel produced his first two-goal game since Dec. 18 Thursday against the Senators. He has three goals in his last four games after getting three in his previous 22 ... Trying to snap Blake Wheeler out of a scoring funk, coach Claude Julien moved to the rookie skater to the top line with Marc Savard and Kessel. It didn't work as Wheeler went his 10th game without a goal ... David Krejci continues his slide with just one goal in 11 games and two in 17. He had just his third point in 11 games Thursday ... Boston is home for games against New Jersey and Los Angeles Week 24. They do average 3.94 goals per game at home (2nd), but the Devils rank third in defense (2.45 GAA) and Los Angeles is 14th (2.82). Take that into consideration before starting your Boston skaters.
Buffalo Sabres: Coach Lindy Ruff still has no timetable for Ryan Miller's return from a sprained ankle, but he said Friday that "he is still progressing." Miller has upped his off-ice rehab, but still hasn't stepped onto the ice. Miller is still not a recommended Fantasy start Week 24 ... Thomas Vanek recorded his team-high 17th power-play goal Thursday against the Panthers. He has two goals in five games since returning from a fractured jaw ... Defenseman Jaroslav Spacek had his third multi-point game in his last five outings Thursday. Spacek has scored six times in his last 16 games and is finally producing at a high level ... Buffalo has games against Philadelphia, Ottawa and N.Y. Rangers Week 24. They are averaging 2.67 or fewer goals against each opponent, so consider benching your Buffalo skaters.
Calgary Flames: Goalie Miikka Kiprusoff collected his 40th win of the season Thursday against the Red Wings, a mark he has reached in three of the last four seasons ... Olli Jokinen has five goals, including a pair of two-goal outings, and one shootout winner in five games since being acquired in a March 4 trade from Phoenix ... Calgary has a pair of home games against Dallas and St. Louis Week 24. They rank third in home GFA (3.68), while St. Louis and Dallas are both in the bottom half for defense.
Carolina Hurricanes: Defenseman Joni Pitkanen is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. He has just 11 points in his last 29 games. Pitkanen has been on the decline the last few seasons and is no longer an elite Fantasy defenseman when healthy ... Welcome back, Rod Brind'Amour. The veteran forward has been mired in a season-long slump coming off a torn ACL, but he is finally playing some of his best hockey. He has a four-game goal streak and five-game point streak (seven total) ... Carolina is home for three games Week 24. Unfortunately, they are dead last in home GFA, averaging 2.52 goals per game. You might consider benching your Carolina skaters.
|1.||Alex Tanguay, LW, MON||14|
|2.||Mark Recchi, RW, BOS||13|
|2.||Erik Cole, LW, CAR||11|
|4.||Anton Babchuk, D, CAR||11|
|5.||Tomas Holmstrom, LW, DET||10|
|6.||Bill Guerin, RW, PIT||10|
|7.||Steve Sullivan, RW, NSH||9|
|8.||Martin Gerber, G, TOR||7|
|9.||Tuomo Ruutu, C, CAR||7|
|10.||Thomas Vanek, LW, BUF||6|
Chicago Blackhawks: Chicago is finally starting to return to full strength. Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin came off injured reserve Wednesday after spending a few weeks out of action with a groin injury, and forward Martin Havlat only missed a few games with a bruised thigh before returning to the lineup Friday. Still, Chicago waits for Samuel Pahlsson (mononucleosis) and Patrick Sharp (knee).
Colorado Avalanche: Defenseman Adam Foote did not accompany the team to Edmonton Saturday because of a head injury sustained Thursday against the Wild. He remains day-to-day ... Cody McLeod is also day-to-day with a shoulder injury ... Cody McCormick has been suspended two games for a high-sticking incident Thursday against Minnesota. He is eligible to return Tuesday against the Wild ... Coach Tony Granato changed a number of his line combinations Thursday. The most notable moves were switching Milan Hejduk to the left side on the top line with Paul Stastny and Marek Svatos; and moving Ryan Smyth to the second line with Wojtek Wolski and Brian Willsie ... Defenseman John-Michael Liles has scored seven goals in his past 30 games after collecting two in his first 31 games. He is expected to reach the 10-goal mark for the fourth time in five NHL seasons. His career high is 14 goals, set in 2005-06 and matched in 2006-07 ... Colorado has games against Minnesota, San Jose and Edmonton Week 24. They are averaging 2.50 goals or fewer goals against each opponent. Consider benching your Colorado skaters.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Antoine Vermette has always held he is better at his natural position of center than at left wing -- a position he played plenty with the Senators. He has backed up his talk since arriving in a March 4 trade from Ottawa. Playing as a second-line center, Vermette has four points (one goal) in three games ... Not only does Steve Mason have a NHL-leading nine shutouts, he set a Blue Jackets' single-season franchise record with his 28th win Thursday against the Penguins. Mason has won three straight games and four of five.
Dallas Stars: Mike Ribeiro is currently riding a season-long six-game point streak. He has four goals and four assists in that span ... Jere Lehtinen continues to sit out with an upper-body injury. Two other players recently joined him on the day-to-day watch as well. Mark Parrish is out with a concussion and injury-prone Fabian Brunnstrom is out with an upper-body ailment ... Dallas is away for all three of their Week 24 contests. They are averaging 2.64 goals on the road (18th). They are averaging 3.00 or fewer goals against each opponent -- San Jose, Vancouver and Calgary -- so you might consider benching your Dallas skaters.
Detroit Red Wings: Coach Mike Babcock is finally happy center Valtteri Filppula is being aggressive on the offensive end. After enduring a 33-game stretch with just one goal, Filppula has four goals in his last five games and has solidified his role as the team's second-line center. Filppula is averaging 2.86 shots per game in his last seven appearances after averaging only 1.25 shots in his previous 20 games. The difference seems to be he is no longer is looking for the perfect shooting spot before releasing ... While Tomas Holmstrom recorded a pair of assists during his 800th game Thursday against Calgary, the veteran winger has been playing on the team's third line since returning two games ago from a sports hernia. The Red Wings figure keeping him on the third line will help keep his shifts short and as a way to reduce his minutes so he doesn't suffer a setback ... Forward Marian Hossa expects to play Saturday against the Blues after missing four games with a sore neck and knee. If he can return before Week 24, then have no qualms about activating him for the upcoming scoring period.
Edmonton Oilers: Ethan Moreau returned to the lineup Thursday against the Thrashers after missing only four games with what was thought-to-be a possible career-ending injury ... Dustin Penner was back in the lineup against the Thrashers after being a healthy scratch against the Canadiens Tuesday. Edmonton is trying to develop Penner into a consistent contributor ... Defenseman Sheldon Souray was ready to play Thursday against the Thrashers after leaving Tuesday's game with a sore knee ... Edmonton has three of their four games Week 24 on the road, where they are averaging 2.86 goals (8th). Unfortunately, they are averaging 2.33 or fewer goals against each opponent -- Minnesota, Colorado, St. Louis and Chicago -- so take that into consideration when starting your Edmonton skaters.
|1.||Canadiens||NYR, @OTT, TOR|
|2.||Sharks||@PHO, NSH, DAL, COL|
|3.||Flyers||@DET, @BUF, @PIT|
|4.||Penguins||ATL, LA, PHI|
|5.||Maple Leafs||@TB, @FLA, @MON|
Florida Panthers: The Panthers received a double-dip of bad news this week as Nathan Horton went on injured reserve with a finger injury that is going to keep him out until late March and Bryan McCabe had to have facial surgery to repair a broken orbital bone. Luckily, McCabe might return Saturday against the Lightning. If that happens, he is a low-risk start Week 24 ... Florida hosts Washington, Toronto and Columbus Week 24. They rank 22nd in home GFA, averaging 2.72 goals per game. They are averaging 3.50 or more goals against Washington and Toronto, so consider starting your Florida skaters.
Los Angeles Kings: Rookie forward Teddy Purcell has two goals and four assists in his last five games and has been logging first-line minutes alongside Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown ... Speaking of Kopitar, his offense is certainly coming around. Kopitar had 10 goals and 19 assists in his first 38 games, but has totaled 11 goals and nine assists in his last 18 games. He spent a great deal of time early in the season trying to hone his defensive skills for coach Terry Murray's two-way style of play. Kopitar finally seems comfortable with his defense and it has helped energize his offense ... Los Angeles is on the road for three of their four games Week 24. The road hasn't been overly kind to L.A., as they average just 2.68 goals away from home (25th). They are also set to face three of the top 11 defenses in the NHL -- Boston, Chicago and Nashville -- so you might consider benching your Kings skaters.
Minnesota Wild: Coach Jacques Lemaire feels forward Marian Gaborik "at least a week or two" away from playing. He has been out since early January surgery to repair a bum hip. While Gaborik might not be a recommended start Week 24, now might be the time to start adding him in Fantasy ... Pierre-Marc Bouchard is the Wild's leading scorer since Dec. 31 with 28 points ... Marc-Andre Bergeron's power-play goal Thursday at Colorado, gives the Wild two defensemen with 10 goals in the same season for the first time in franchise history. Defenseman Marek Zidlicky has 11 goals this season... Defenseman Brent Burns has missed the last four games with concussion-like symptoms. He hasn't been traveling with the team and is a risky start Week 24. It’s a real shame since Burns has one goal and six assists in his last 10 games for one of his most-productive stretches in a disappointing season ... Derek Boogaard has completed his five-game suspension, but is finding it hard to crack the Wild rotation. Coach Jacques Lemaire has been happy with his current configuration and has opted to keep Boogaard in the press box.
Montreal Canadiens: General manager Bob Gainey finally had enough of Montreal's sub-par play and opted to fire coach Guy Carbonneau earlier in the week. Gainey has now taken over behind the bench ... Alexei Kovalev is day-to-day with the flu, but appears to be a low-risk start Week 24 ... A bright spot for the Canadiens recently has been the play of goaltender Carey Price. He is 2-1-1 in his last four starts and has a .938 save percentage. Price finally appears back to All-Star form after an ankle injury severely altered his game ... Defenseman Mathieu Schneider has three goals and six assists in 11 games since being acquired in a trade from Atlanta ... The Canadiens play the Rangers, Maple Leafs and Senators Week 24. They are averaging 3.75 or more goals against each opponent, so consider starting your Montreal skaters.
Nashville Predators: First-line center Jason Arnott was expected to play Thursday against the Rangers despite suffering an upper-body injury Tuesday against the Capitals. However, he was not in uniform. Arnott is expected to be with the team on their upcoming West Coast road trip, but still could be an injury-risk start Week 24 ... Nashville has road games against Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Jose Week 24. The Predators are 26th in road GFA, averaging just 2.22 goals, but average 4.00 goals against Los Angeles and Anaheim. Take that into consideration before starting your Nashville skaters.
New Jersey Devils: Martin Brodeur needs just one victory to tie Patrick Roy's all-time wins record of 551 ... Zach Parise became the seventh Devil to score 40 goals in a season, joining John McLean, Brian Gionta, Pat Verbeek, Patrick Elias, Alexander Mogilny and Claude Lemieux. Parise has five goals and five assists in the last seven games ... Jamie Langenbrunner has posted four goals and five assists during a seven-game point streak ... Defenseman Paul Martin has seven assist in the last seven games ... New Jersey faces three of the top five defenses -- Boston, Minnesota and Chicago -- in the NHL Week 24. Their other opponent -- Carolina -- is 12th in GAA (2.77), so it might be one of the rare times to bench your New Jersey skaters.
N.Y. Islanders: Mike Iggulden netted his first NHL goal Thursday against the Canadiens and has at least one point (five total) in each of his four games since he was recalled from Bridgeport of the AHL. He has been playing on the second line with Blake Comeau and Josh Bailey ... Speaking of Comeau, he has a season-high six-game point streak (three goals, four assists) ... Kyle Okposo has scored in four straight games after getting just two goals in his previous 15 games ... The Islanders have a pair of road games against the Hurricanes and Senators Week 24. New York is 29th in road GFA, averaging 2.15 goals.
N.Y. Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist became the first goalie in NHL history to record 30 or more wins in each of his first four seasons after beating the Predators Thursday ... Derek Morris, who was acquired from Phoenix at the trade deadline, has been moved up to the first defensive pairing alongside Wade Redden ... Center Scott Gomez had a goal and two assists Thursday and has tied Nikolai Zherdev for the team scoring lead with 51 points. Gomez has four goals and five assists in his last six games and has really responded to the coaching of John Tortorella ... Sean Avery, who was promoted to Gomez's line Thursday, opened the scoring with his first goal in four games since returning to the Rangers on March 5 ... Defenseman Marc Staal registered a goal and an assist against the Predators, giving him four points in his last five appearances ... The Rangers play the Senators, Canadiens and Sabres Week 24. They are averaging 2.50 or fewer goals against each opponent, so consider benching your New York skaters.
Ottawa Senators: Chris Neil has returned to the lineup after missing 15 games with a lacerated calf ... Center Jason Spezza scored twice Thursday against the Bruins to give him 25 goals on the season and extend his point streak to five games (three goals, four assists) ... Daniel Alfredsson has three goals and five assists during his own five-game point streak. Alfredsson has 21 goals and 43 assists in 65 games. Not too shabby for the Senators' oldest player, who just so happens to be playing with a broken jaw ... Dany Heatley had two assists Thursday and has points in nine of his last 11 games ... Brian Elliott has won his last four starts and seems to have overtaken Alex Auld for the starting job in net ... Defenseman Filip Kuba is still day-to-day with an illness ... Ottawa is home for three of their four games Week 24. They have made great strides as of late on their home ice and have upped their home GFA to 2.74 (19th).
Philadelphia Flyers: Daniel Briere returned to the lineup Thursday against the Capitals after missing the previous two games with his latest setback from a groin injury that has limited him to just 13 games this season ... Mike Knuble's second-period goal Thursday against Jose Theodore was his first against the Washington goalie in 24 career games. Knuble has six goals in his last 12 games ... Mike Richards has a five-game point streak (two goals, five assists) and has at least one point in 10 of his last 12 games (seven goals, 11 assists) ... Simon Gagne has a five-game point streak (two goals, five assists) and has scored in seven of his last eight games (four goals, five assists) ... Goalie Martin Biron hasn't allowed more than three goals in any of his last six outings and seems to be gaining most of the starts over Antero Niittymaki ... Philadelphia has road games against Buffalo, Detroit and Pittsburgh Week 24. The Flyers are averaging 2.69 goals on the road (16th). They are also averaging 3.60 or more goals against Buffalo and Pittsburgh, so consider starting your Philadelphia skaters.
|1.||Devils||CHI, @CAR, MIN, @BOS|
|2.||Rangers||@MON, BUF, OTT|
|3.||Phoenix||SJ, ANA, VAN, @ANA|
|4.||Avalanche||@MIN, EDM, @SJ|
Phoenix Coyotes: Scottie Upshall has been a solid addition to the Coyotes' lineup since coming aboard in a trade deadline deal from Philadelphia. He has three goals in five games since donning a 'Yotes uniform and has been moved to the top line with Matthew Lombardi and Petr Prucha ... Both Martin Hanzal and Todd Fedoruk missed Thursday's game against the Devils with upper-body injuries and are day-to-day ... Three of Phoenix's four games Week 24 are at home, where they are averaging 2.63 goals (27th). They are also averaging 2.33 or fewer goals against each opponent -- San Jose, Anaheim (twice) and Vancouver -- so consider benching your Phoenix skaters.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Miroslav Satan, who was assigned to AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for salary-cap reasons March 4, is finally expected to join the minor-league team after a meeting with management. There is a chance Satan could rejoin the team for the playoffs, but a regular-season return seems unlikely unless an injury occurs ... Petr Sykora continues to sit in the press box as he is battling a few injuries. However, the most problematic one seems to be in his right shoulder. Sykora is looking like a risky start Week 24 if he can't play Saturday against the Senators ... Sidney Crosby has five goals and nine assists during an eight-game point streak ... Evgeni Malkin continues to lead the NHL with 97 points and 67 assists ... Pittsburgh has home dates with Atlanta, Los Angeles and Philadelphia Week 24. The Penguins average 2.91 goals at home (13th) and 3.80 or more goals against Atlanta and Philadelphia. Consider starting your Pittsburgh skaters.
San Jose Sharks: The demotion of backup goalie Thomas Greiss to Worcester of the AHL Friday means Evgeni Nabokov is finally healthy enough to return from his lower-body injury. Even if he doesn't start Saturday against the Kings, it might not be such a risky idea to start Nabokov heading into Week 24 ... Defenseman Rob Blake, who is day-to-day with a foot injury, might also return Saturday against the Kings ... Patrick Marleau established a new career high in goals with his 35th Thursday against the Blues ... San Jose is home for three of their four games Week 24. The Sharks are one of the best scoring teams at home, averaging 3.64 goals (4th), so consider starting your San Jose skaters.
St. Louis Blues: Rookie forward Patrik Berglund is day-to-day with an upper-body injury ... Brad Boyes has three goals and three assists during a four-game point streak ... David Perron broke 30 assists for the first time in his career Thursday ... St. Louis has road games against Edmonton, Vancouver and Calgary Week 24. The Blues average 2.59 goals on the road (19th).
Tampa Bay Lightning: Martin St. Louis netted his 25th goal of the season on Thursday against the Maple Leafs, marking the sixth consecutive season in which he has scored at least 25 goals ... Matt Pettinger has two goals in his last four games after going 30 games without a score ... Rookie forward Steven Stamkos has four goals and four assists in his last eight games. He has already surpassed Vincent Lecavalier's rookie totals of 13 goals, 15 assists and 28 points with his own 14 goals, 19 assists and 33 points ... Speaking of Lecavalier, he has an assist in each of the first six March games. He has three goals and six assists in that span ... Tampa Bay has home tilts with Toronto, Washington and Atlanta Week 24. The Lightning average 2.59 goals at home (28th).
Toronto Maple Leafs: Defenseman Tomas Kaberle (hand) isn't expected to return to the lineup until March 21 at the earliest. He is expected to join the team on their upcoming road trip, but still remains a risky start Week 24 ... Niklas Hagman, who has been out with a concussion, is also expected to join the team on the road, but still has a few medical tests to clear before returning ... Lee Stempniak has three goals and one assist in his last five games ... Toronto has road games against Tampa Bay, Florida and Montreal Week 24. Surprisingly, they rank fifth in road GFA, averaging 3.06 goals. Consider starting your Toronto skaters.
Vancouver Canucks: Alexandre Burrows broke the 20-goal barrier for the first time in his career Wednesday against the Ducks. He has seven goals in his last nine games ... Daniel Sedin has gone eight games without a goal. He does have six assists in that span, and leads the team with 25 goals and 64 points. However, the 40-goal pace he was on is fading, and he'll need a late spurt just to match last season's total of 36 ... Kyle Wellwood snapped his goal skid at 21 games Wednesday at Anaheim ... Mason Raymond hasn't scored in 22 games.
Washington Capitals: Alex Ovechkin has six goals and six assists during a nine-game point streak. He has played in three straight games since missing one contest with a heel injury ... Alexander Semin has six goals and six assists during an eight-game point streak ... Sergei Fedorov (illness) and Donald Brashear (sprained wrist) both went on the day-to-day watch Thursday ... Washington hits the road to face Atlanta, Florida, Tampa Bay and Carolina Week 24. The Capitals rank third in road GFA, averaging 3.09 goals. They are averaging 2.75 or more goals against each opponent, so consider starting your Washington skaters.
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