Looking Ahead: Week 25 (2015-16)

by Mike Schmidt on March 18, 2016

Mike Ribeiro and the Predators have a nice upcoming schedule. Look ahead at the teams with the best schedule this week.

lf fantasy owners need help in the short term AND the long term, the Looking Ahead feature identifies one player to plug into lineups in the short term, a second to invest in for the long term, a third to bench for the coming week and a fourth who will struggle to meet expectations for some time. All players discussed are selected based on their team’s upcoming schedule. Without further ado…

 

The Immediate Fixes (Grab these guys and use them for the next several days)

 

Mike Ribeiro, C, Nashville (Available in 79 percent of Yahoo leagues) – His stat line is that of a No. 1 fantasy defenseman (seven goals and 40 assists in 71 games), but fantasy owners should not discount what this veteran centerman can provide them. As DobberHockey’s Steve Laidlaw noted in one of his latest Ramblings, Nashville’s line of Ribeiro, Filip Forsberg and Craig Smith (more on Smith below) have shown great chemistry as of late. Ribeiro is also an integral member of the Preds’ forward corps, and he continues to see significant action on the power play. As far as plug-and-play options go this late in the season, poolies could do a lot worse than a 35-year-old who has scored at least 47 points each and every year since the 2002-03 campaign.

 

Craig Smith, C/RW, Nashville (Available in 54 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Don’t look now, but the 26-year-old Smith is right on the cusp of his third consecutive 20-goal season. If he gets there, a significant amount of credit should be given to his linemates, the aforementioned Ribeiro and Forsberg, for helping to get him there. Smith hasn’t been able to top his 52-point campaign from 2013-14, but poolies have to like him so long as he sees action with one or more of Nashville’s gifted forwards (be it Forsberg, Ryan Johansen or James Neal). Does he have another level to his game? It may be worth it to pick him up and find out. If not, he is what the fantasy owners already thought he was: a solid player whose stats are elevated by a productive supporting cast. All that being said, things are already going pretty well for the longtime Predator (11 points in 11 games since Feb. 23).

 

The Odd Men Out (Their short-term value is cause for concern)

 

Mike Hoffman, C/LW, Ottawa (Owned in 69 percent of Yahoo leagues) – Here is Hoffman’s shooting percentage by month:

 

October — 18.2 percent

November — 18.8 percent

December — 17.0 percent

January — 10.0 percent

February — 8.6 percent

March — 4.5 percent

 

No statistic better reflects how the Senators’ wingers season has played out. A few short months ago, the 26-year-old forward was a point-per-game player. Now he’s a lineup albatross. To make matters worse, Hoffman’s ice time is also trending down a bit from where it was during the fall and early winter months. There’s not a lot to like here for poolies looking for production down the stretch, so the Ottawa forward should be benched until further notice. He could get hot again at any moment, but fantasy owners should make him prove he offer something positive before trusting him again.

 

Marian Hossa, RW, Chicago (Owned in 68 percent of Yahoo leagues) – How is the veteran Blackhawks forward owned in nearly three out of four fantasy hockey leagues? Sure, Hossa is playing on the same line as talented teammates Jonathan Toews and Andrew Ladd, but he is averaging a point every other game and is hardly a shoo-in for totaling 35-plus on the year. Hossa’s shooting percentage has cratered (it currently stands at 6.3 percent) and he is taking fewer shots on goal than at any point since the 2012-13 campaign. It’s also important to remember he is a 37-year-old winger who just returned to the lineup after missing a month due to a leg injury, and he has put the puck in the back of the opposition’s net just once since Feb. 6. Simply stated, Hossa is a name-brand player that provides generic production.

 

By taking some time to analyze the upcoming NHL schedule, poolies can gain a significant and measurable edge over their opponents. Now let’s identify some teams that will help or hurt fantasy owners in the coming days.

 

Love ‘Em (These squads are sure to pay dividends in the coming days)

 

San Jose – The veteran-laden Sharks will benefit from a lengthy homestand during the second half of this month. San Jose will play five consecutive games on its own ice between Sunday, March 20 and Monday, March 28. Poolies should enjoy some nice production from Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski and the rest of the fantasy-relevant players on the team during this stretch.

 

Pittsburgh – The Pens’ plans for a lengthy playoff run took a hit with the recent injury to all-world forward Evgeni Malkin. However, the team can take solace in the fact that they close out the month of March with four of six at home.

 

Nashville – The Preds are quietly building a case as a Stanley Cup contender (mostly because starting netminder Pekka Rinne is playing like the Pekka Rinne of old rather than a less-desirable alternative to backup Carter Hutton). Also, starting Friday March 18, Nashville will play four of its next five contests at home. Three of those games will be against Vancouver, Columbus and (barely playoff-caliber) Colorado. Enjoy!

 

Leave ‘Em (These squads will leave fantasy owners sorely disappointed in the short term)

 

Ottawa – It’s quite possible no team has a more difficult schedule during the final few days of March. Of the Senators’ final five games, three of them will take them away from Ottawa. Their two home games? They will be forced to take on two Stanley Cup-contending squads in Washington and Anaheim. It’s safe to say things may not go well for the Sens. Not well at all.

 

Chicago – No one is really worried about this team over the long haul, but many squads have it better in the latter days of March. The Blackhawks close out the month with four of six away from the Windy City, and their two home tilts are against the Minnesota Wild (the homeless man’s version of themselves) and the always-dangerous Dallas Stars.

 

Buffalo – Four of six on the road to close out the month? Uh-oh. Also, the Sabres have three consecutive nights off during the week of Sunday, March 20. Pass.

 

Friday, March 18 to Thursday, March 24

Best Bets

Edmonton 4.44 – four games – VAN, COL, ARI and SJS

Columbus 4.41 – four games – three at home

San Jose 4.36 – four games – four at home

Arizona 4.30 – four games – three at home

Philadelphia 3.94 – four games – PIT, NYI, CBJ and COL

Steer Clear

St. Louis 2.04 – two games – both on road

Tampa Bay 2.30 – two games – ARI and DET

Detroit 2.84 – three games – two on road

Washington 2.85 – three games – two on road

Chicago 2.90 – three games – WPG, MIN and DAL

Saturday, March 19 to Friday, March 25

Best Bets

Columbus 4.41 – four games – three at home

San Jose 4.36 – four games – four at home

Arizona 4.30 – four games – three at home

New York Islanders 4.15 – four games – DAL, PHI, OTT and TBL

Philadelphia 3.94 – four games – PIT, NYI, CBJ and COL

Steer Clear

Chicago 2.00 – two games – MIN and DAL

Buffalo 2.04 – two games – both on road

Nashville 2.05 – two games – LAK and VAN

Colorado 2.15 – two games – EDM and PHI

Calgary 2.66- three games – all on road

Sunday, March 20 to Saturday, March 26

Best Bets

San Jose 4.46 – four games – four at home

Arizona 4.41 – four games – three at home

Edmonton 4.20 – four games – COL, ARI, SJS and LAK

Columbus 4.15 – four games – NJD, PHI, CAR and NSH

New York Islanders 4.11 – four games – PHI, OTT, TBL and CAR

Steer Clear

Buffalo 1.95 – two games – CAR and WPG

Vancouver 2.71 – three games – all on road

Detroit 2.79 – three games – TBL, MTL and PIT

Ottawa 2.79 – three games – WAS, NYI and ANA

Florida 2.80 – three games – all on road

Monday, March 21 to Sunday, March 27

Best Bets

Carolina 4.36 – four games – three at home

New York Islanders 4.11 – four games – PHI, OTT, TBL and CAR

Philadelphia 4.09 – four games – NYI, CBJ, COL and ARI

New York Rangers 3.96 – four games – three at home

Los Angeles 3.72 – four games – NSH, MIN, WPG and EDM

Steer Clear

Buffalo 1.95 – two games – CAR and WPG

Colorado 2.05 – two games – PHI and MIN

Detroit 2.79 – three games – TBL, MTL and PIT

Ottawa 2.79 – three games – WAS, NYI and ANA

New Jersey 2.80 – three games – two on road

Tuesday, March 22 to Monday, March 28

Best Bets

Tampa Bay 4.57 – four games – four at home

Arizona 4.41 – four games – four at home

Carolina 4.36 – four games – three at home

Winnipeg 4.19 – four games – VAN, LAK, BUF and PHI

San Jose 4.15 – four games – all at home

Steer Clear

Florida 1.90 – two games – both on road

Ottawa 2.79 – three games – WAS, NYI and ANA

New Jersey 2.80 – three games – two on road

New York Rangers 2.81 – three games – BOS, MTL and PIT

Calgary 2.89 – three games – two on road

Wednesday, March 23 to Tuesday, March 29

Best Bets

Pittsburgh 4.31 – four games – NJD, DET, NYR and BUF

Nashville 4.31 – four games – three at home

Boston 4.20 – four games – NYR, FLA, TOR and NJD

San Jose 4.15 – four games – three at home

Carolina 4.11 – four games – CBJ, NYIx2 and NJD

Steer Clear

Ottawa 1.84 – two games – NYI and ANA

Chicago 2.76 – three games – all on road

Edmonton 2.79 – three games – two on road

Columbus 2.81 – three games – two on road

New York Rangers 2.81 – three games – BOS, MTL and PIT

Thursday, March 24 to Wednesday, March 30

Best Bets

Pittsburgh 4.31 – four games – NJD, DET, NYR and BUF

Nashville 4.31 – four games – three at home

San Jose 4.15 – four games – three at home

Washington 4.14 – four games – NJD, STL, CBJ and PHI

Winnipeg 4.13 – four games – LAK, BUF, PHI and OTT

Steer Clear

New York Rangers 1.76 – two games – MTL and PIT

Ottawa 1.80 – two games – ANA and WPG

Chicago 2.76 – three games – all on road

Edmonton 2.79 – three games – two on road

Columbus 2.81 – three games – two on road