In this week's Eastern Edge, we'll take a look at which Eastern Conference goalies to target during the fantasy hockey playoffs, based on the offensive strength of their remaining opponents. To determine 'offensive strength', I ranked each team based on their goals scored per game and assigned a score based on that ranking. For example, the Tampa Bay Lightning lead the league with an average of 3.53 goals per game, so they were assigned the highest score of 31. In contrast, the Detroit Red Wings have the league's worst offense, averaging 2.00 goals a game, so they were assigned the lowest score of one. Table 1 displays those rankings and scores.
Table 1: Ranking each team's offense based on goals for per game. Scores are assigned based on quality of offense.
Next, I did a weekly breakdown of each team's schedule during March – the month of fantasy hockey playoffs. I displayed the opponents for each team based on the scores we established in Table 1. For example, Toronto faces San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim during Week One, so you'll see a 4, 2 and 3 beside Toronto. If you look back at table one, you'll see that San Jose has a score of 4 (league's fourth-worst offense), LA has a score of 2 and Anaheim has a score of 3.
I created an average to express the quality of opposing offenses (Opp. Score) that each team is scheduled to play against that week. Essentially, if you see a low Opp. Score assigned to a team in the table below, it means that they're facing relatively low-scoring teams during that week. For example, the Bruins have an Opp. Score of 3.5 in Week Three, where they face the Blue Jackets (5), Ducks (3), Kings (2) and Sharks (4). Hopefully, Boston's goalies – Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak – will benefit from facing weaker offenses during that week.
This final table ranks each team in the Eastern Conference based on the quality of their opponent's offense during the month of March. A low Overall Opp. Score indicates a team will be facing weaker offenses over the next four weeks.
- Florida has the benefit of facing weaker offenses during the month of March, which should put their goaltenders in a position to succeed. I know he's struggled this season, but Sergei Bobrovsky could be very valuable over the next few weeks. Historically, March is his best month – he sports a .933 save percentage and 2.05 GAA through 97 career games.
- With Elvis Merlikins injured, many people are running to grab Joonas Korpisalo from the waiver wire. Considering Columbus' tough schedule over the next few weeks, as well as injuries to key members of their lineup – most notably Seth Jones – I think the Blue Jackets might have more trouble keeping the puck out of their net over the next few weeks.
- Washington has struggled recently, but they're a good team with a favourable schedule going forward. Ilya Samsonov is still available in 53-percent of Yahoo Leagues and will be extremely valuable in Week Two, when the Capitals face the Sabres, Red Wings and Blackhawks.
- Jaroslav Halak is still available in 43-percent of leagues and should be good for a couple of starts in the second-half of March, when the Bruins play six of seven games against low-scoring teams.
- Carter Hart is 16-2-2 at home this season, with a .942 save percentage and 1.64 GAA. In contrast, he's 3-10-1 on the road, with a .855 save percentage and 3.88 GAA. Start him with confidence when he's playing at the Wells Fargo Center, but be a little more cautious when the Flyers are on the road.