Commentary

Fantasy Forecaster: Oilers finally a good play

Updated: January 13, 2008, 4:54 PM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

All statistics are through the games of Friday, Jan. 11.

On tap

Stacked! -- Teams with four-plus games, regardless of locale

Anaheim Ducks (DAL -- Tue, @NAS -- Thu, @MIN -- Fri, @DAL -- Sun)
Atlanta Thrashers (@DET -- Tue, MON -- Thu, @BUF -- Fri, EDM -- Sun)
Columbus Blue Jackets (VAN -- Tue, @PHO -- Thu, @DAL -- Sat, @COL -- Sun)
Dallas Stars (@ANA -- Tue, @SJ -- Thu, CLM -- Sat, ANA -- Sun)
Edmonton Oilers (LA -- Tue, @WAS -- Thu, @CAR -- Fri, @ATL -- Sun)
New York Rangers (@PIT -- Mon, BUF -- Wed, @BOS -- Sat, BOS -- Sun)
Ottawa Senators (@WAS -- Tue, CAR -- Thu, TB -- Sat, @PHI -- Sun)
Toronto Maple Leafs (CAR -- Tue, @BOS -- Thu, BUF -- Sat, @NJ -- Sun)

Home cookin' -- Teams with three-plus home games

New Jersey Devils (NYI -- Wed, FLA -- Fri, TOR -- Sun)
Phoenix Coyotes (SJ -- Tue, CLM -- Thu, CHI -- Sat)
Washington Capitals (OTT -- Tue, EDM -- Thu, FLA -- Sat)

Short stick -- Teams with two games

Minnesota Wild (CGY -- Wed, ANA -- Fri)
St. Louis Blues (@CHI -- Wed, NAS -- Sat)

The long haul -- Teams with three-plus games, all road

Florida Panthers (@PHI -- Wed, @NJ -- Fri, @WAS -- Sat)
Los Angeles Kings (@EDM -- Tue, @CGY -- Fri, @VAN -- Sat)

The matchups

Lightin' the lamp -- Good scorers matchups

Edmonton Oilers (LA -- Tue, @WAS -- Thu, @CAR -- Fri, @ATL -- Sun): Ah, the pleasures of a four-game week. It's an extra game in which to tally points, penalty minutes, etc., and for a team like the Oilers, ranked 26th on offense (2.42 goals per game), it's a perfect opportunity to play matchups. You might not want Ales Hemsky (2 goals, 12 assists in 12 games since Dec. 1), Dustin Penner (8 G, 6 A in 19) and Jarret Stoll (3 G, 7 A in 18) most weeks, but you do this one; none of these four opponents ranks better than 25th in terms of goals allowed per game (Capitals, 3.02). … Ottawa Senators (@WAS -- Tue, CAR -- Thu, TB -- Sat, @PHI -- Sun): Again, four-game week, but with the Senators, you already knew they were good, didn't you? Well, their matchups are every bit as favorable as the Oilers', with similar opponents except for the Flyers (and those Flyers are enduring a goalie controversy right now). Dig deep and give Mike Fisher (7 G, 4 A in his past 8), Andrej Meszaros (2 G, 1 A, plus-5 in his past 6) and Chris Neil (1 G, 3 A, 16 penalty minutes in his past 8) a whirl. … Pittsburgh Penguins (NYR -- Mon, TB -- Fri, @MON -- Sat): Can a team get much hotter than the Penguins are right now? Sure, it's the goaltending -- the incredible Ty Conklin -- that is most responsible for this team's current eight-game winning streak, but let's not knock the offense, which has averaged an impressive 3.38 goals during that span. The Montreal game isn't an easy one, but the Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist is in a dreadful funk, and the Lightning rank dead last in the league defensively. Beyond the obvious Penguins, Colby Armstrong (3 G, 7 A in his past 10), Ryan Malone (1 G, 3 A in his past 3) and Petr Sykora (2 G, 4 A in his past 4) are must-starts.

No, it's a trap! -- Bad scorers matchups

Columbus Blue Jackets (VAN -- Tue, @PHO -- Thu, @DAL -- Sat, @COL -- Sun): It's a shame to waste a four-game week like this one, but that's Roberto Luongo, Ilya Bryzgalov and Marty Turco as the goaltending opponents for the first three. And be aware that the Avalanche's Peter Budaj is 10-3-0 with a 2.46 goals-against average in 14 games on his home ice. Don't be too hasty to activate Ron Hainsey (1 G, 1 A, minus-2 in his past 5) or Nikolai Zherdev (2 G, minus-6 in his past 5). … Minnesota Wild (CGY -- Wed, ANA -- Fri): The Wild are one of two teams with a two-game schedule, and that's Miikka Kiprusoff (15-5-3 with a 1.76 GAA in 23 career games against them) and Jean-Sebastien Giguere as their goaltending opponents. Even Pierre-Marc Bouchard (1 G, minus-5 in his past 4), Pavol Demitra (1 A, minus-2 in his past 4) and Mikko Koivu (fresh off a broken leg) warrant cozy seats on your bench this week. … San Jose Sharks (@PHO -- Tue, DAL -- Thu, DET -- Sat): The Sharks simply aren't getting it done on offense this season, ranked 23rd in goals per game for the season with 2.52 and averaging 2.41 since Dec. 1. You already know all about the Stars' and Red Wings' stifling defenses. What you might not have known is that the Coyotes' Bryzgalov has a 1.97 GAA and .935 save percentage in nine career games against the Sharks. Oh, you terribly loyal Jonathan Cheechoo (1 G, 1 A in his past 9) and Patrick Marleau (scoreless, minus-5 in his past 4) owners, looks like you'll be sitting on them for yet another week.

Stone 'em cold -- Good goalie matchups

[+] EnlargeMarty Turco
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesMarty Turco likely will take part in a couple low-scoring affairs this week.
Dallas Stars (@ANA -- Tue, @SJ -- Thu, CLM -- Sat, ANA -- Sun): The Stars' schedule might be somewhat weak regarding their scorers, but since this looks like a four-game span of low-scoring, defensive affairs, it's an incredibly favorable one for Turco (and backup Mike Smith). For the record, Turco is a perfect 2-0 with an 0.50 GAA and .975 save percentage in two games against the Ducks this season. … New Jersey Devils (NYI -- Wed, FLA -- Fri, TOR -- Sun): Not that you would ever sit Martin Brodeur, but it's money in the bank that he'll extend his current hot spell, now at 18-3-1 with a 1.66 GAA and four shutouts in his past 22 starts. To note, he has been beaten at home only once during the streak, a span of 11 contests. … Phoenix Coyotes (SJ -- Tue, CLM -- Thu, CHI -- Sat): The aforementioned Bryzgalov warrants so much more attention than he has received; he has a 2.31 GAA and .923 save percentage in 24 games as a member of the Coyotes. Both the Sharks (23rd, 2.52 goals per game) and Blue Jackets (24th, 2.52) rank as bottom-10 offenses, and Bryzgalov is 5-3-1 with a 1.74 GAA and .943 save percentage in nine games at the Jobing.com Arena this season.

The sieve -- Bad goalie matchups

Atlanta Thrashers (@DET -- Tue, MON -- Thu, @BUF -- Fri, EDM -- Sun): The Red Wings rank as the game's No. 2 overall offense (3.40 goals per game), the Canadiens boast the NHL's top power-play unit (25.1 percent success rate), and the truth is that Kari Lehtonen is no guarantee to hold back even an ice-cold Sabres team or an offensively weak Oilers squad. Don't bank on great numbers simply because it's a four-game week. … Florida Panthers (@PHI -- Wed, @NJ -- Fri, @WAS -- Sat): Tomas Vokoun is in a bit of a funk, with a 1-5-0 record and 3.19 GAA in his past six starts, and a three-game road schedule against two talented offenses (Flyers, Capitals) and a well-rounded team (Devils) isn't the type that will turn around that kind of cold spell. Steer clear. … Ottawa Senators (@WAS -- Tue, CAR -- Thu, TB -- Sat, @PHI -- Sun): Martin Gerber's full-season numbers might look exceptional, but in the past month-plus, he has perfectly fit the description of "streaky goalie." Don't be fooled by the 20 wins, because he has slipped into matchups status, and three of these four opponents rank as top-10 offenses. Oh, some will have to use Gerber as a No. 2 option, but I'd advise you to proceed with caution.

Lineup tidbits

Joffrey Lupul (concussion/spine): The best-case scenario has him returning shortly after the All-Star break, but remember, Simon Gagne missed a substantial amount of time with a concussion of his own. It's a shame, as Lupul was having a nice season.

Mattias Ohlund (concussion): Again, here's another example of the pesky concussion. If he's back around the All-Star break, consider that a quick recovery.

Jaroslav Spacek (back spasms): He left Thursday's game and is day-to-day; check his status heading into the week. Spacek is in the midst of a solid season, but he's not productive enough to use unless he's officially cleared to play.

Jonathan Toews (sprained knee): He has been out the past six games, and all indications are that he'll sit until after the All-Star break. That means Week 18, at best.

Vesa Toskala (groin): He aggravated his previous groin injury by coming into Thursday's game in relief and was questionable for Saturday's game. Toronto has a four-game week, but it's not an easy one, so be cautious with him if the reports aren't good.

Shea Weber (leg): That's nine consecutive games Weber has missed, and 26 overall this season, so let him play a healthy game or two before you consider activating him. At best, he'll resume practicing early in the week, so don't count on him in Week 16.

Tristan H. Cockcroft covers fantasy sports for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him here.