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Fantasy Forecaster: Heading into the break

1/20/2008

All statistics are through the games of Friday, Jan. 18.

On tap

All-Star week: The four-day All-Star break begins Thursday, leading to an abbreviated Week 16 of the fantasy season. Nevertheless, the league crammed a healthy share of games into the schedule; there are 32 games scheduled, down from Week 15's 48 but not significantly down. Still, take care not to leave yourself with a good dose of players on the league's one team that plays once, the Calgary Flames.

Stacked! -- Teams with three games, regardless of locale

Minnesota Wild (@VAN -- Mon, @CGY -- Tue, @COL -- Thu)
Nashville Predators (STL -- Mon, @COL -- Tue, @PHO -- Thu)
New York Islanders (CAR -- Mon, @CAR -- Tue, @BOS -- Thu)
St. Louis Blues (@NAS -- Mon, @VAN -- Wed, @SJ -- Thu)
Washington Capitals (@PIT -- Mon, @TOR -- Wed, TOR -- Thu)

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

Colorado Avalanche (NAS -- Tue, MIN -- Thu)
Dallas Stars (CLM -- Tue, BUF -- Thu)
Florida Panthers (OTT -- Tue, EDM -- Thu)
Los Angeles Kings (DET -- Tue, ANA -- Thu)
New York Rangers (ATL -- Tue, ATL -- Thu)
Philadelphia Flyers (NJ -- Tue, PIT -- Thu)
Phoenix Coyotes (BUF -- Mon, NAS -- Thu)
San Jose Sharks (CHI -- Tue, STL -- Thu)
Tampa Bay Lightning (EDM -- Tue, OTT -- Thu)
Vancouver Canucks (MIN -- Mon, STL -- Wed)

Short stick -- Team with one game

Calgary Flames (MIN -- Tue)

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

Atlanta Thrashers (@NYR -- Tue, @NYR -- Thu)
Buffalo Sabres (@PHO -- Mon, @DAL -- Thu)
Columbus Blue Jackets (@DAL -- Tue, @CHI -- Thu)
Detroit Red Wings (@LA -- Tue, @ANA -- Wed)
Edmonton Oilers (@TB -- Tue, @FLA -- Thu)
Minnesota Wild (@VAN -- Mon, @CGY -- Tue, @COL -- Thu)
Ottawa Senators (@FLA -- Tue, @TB -- Thu)
St. Louis Blues (@NAS -- Mon, @VAN -- Wed, @SJ -- Thu)

The matchups

Lightin' the lamp -- Good scorers matchups

Atlanta Thrashers (@NYR -- Tue, @NYR -- Thu): It's rare that a team plays another in back-to-back games in the same arena, but that's what the Thrashers and Rangers will do this week. That's good news for Thrashers skaters, who battle Henrik Lundqvist, 4-6-2 with a 3.28 goals-against average and .866 save percentage in his past 12 games. In particular, go for road warrior Tobias Enstrom (2 goals, 17 assists in 24 road games) and red-hot Mark Recchi (2 G, 7 A in 9 games in January). … Edmonton Oilers (@TB -- Tue, @FLA -- Thu): Pretty much anyone who faces the Lightning, the game's second-worst team defensively (3.32 goals allowed per game), stands a chance at a great offensive week. The Panthers' Tomas Vokoun, meanwhile, is 1-7-1 with a 3.34 GAA and .884 save percentage in his past nine games. Among the Oilers' best road plays: Ales Hemsky (3 G, 12 A in 18 games), Shawn Horcoff (10 G, 9 A in 20) and Dustin Penner (9 G, 7 A in 24). … Ottawa Senators (@FLA -- Tue, @TB -- Thu): The Senators draw the same road opponents as the Oilers, merely in reverse order. Their road standouts: Joe Corvo (1 G, 8 A in 18 games), Mike Fisher (6 G, 5 A in 19) and Andrej Meszaros (4 G, 9 A, plus-6 in 21).

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

Chicago Blackhawks (@SJ -- Tue, CLM -- Thu): The Sharks' Evgeni Nabokov ranks among the league's top 10 in wins, GAA and save percentage, and the Blue Jackets' Pascal Leclaire not only beat the Blackhawks on Nov. 14 but is 7-1-0 with a 1.95 GAA and .929 save percentage in his past nine games. Be prepared for a quieter week from Duncan Keith (3 A in his past 11 games), Tuomo Ruutu (4 A in his past 15) and Patrick Sharp (1 G, 1 A in his past 7). … Philadelphia Flyers (NJ -- Tue, PIT -- Thu): The Devils' Martin Brodeur is already 4-1-0 with a 1.80 GAA and .929 save percentage in five games against the Flyers this season, and he's 11-1-1 against them in 13 games against them since the start of last season. The Penguins' Ty Conklin, meanwhile, is as hot as a goalie can get, with a 10-1-1 record, 1.63 GAA and .951 save percentage in 11 starts. Temper your expectations from Mike Knuble (4 G, 3 A in his past 13 games) and R.J. Umberger (1 G, 9 A in his past 16). … Los Angeles Kings (DET -- Tue, ANA -- Thu): You can't get much hotter than the Red Wings' Dominik Hasek and Ducks' Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Since Dec. 15, they're a combined 16-3-2 with a 1.56 GAA and .939 save percentage in 22 games. Don't bother with struggling Tom Preissing (1 A in his past 7), and consider sitting Dustin Brown.

Stone 'em cold -- Good goalie matchups

Atlanta Thrashers (@NYR -- Tue, @NYR -- Thu): The Rangers rank 29th in goals per game (2.36), and they're not getting much better offensively, averaging 2.13 per contest in the month of January. Kari Lehtonen, meanwhile, is 7-4-2 with a 2.40 GAA and .926 save percentage in his past 14 games. Seems like a good mix, doesn't it? … Carolina Hurricanes (@NYI -- Mon, NYI -- Tue): The Islanders aren't much better on offense than the Rangers, ranking 28th (2.39 goals per game), and averaging 2.25 goals per contest in January. Cam Ward might be in the midst of a dreadful slump, but for the record, he's 4-1-0 with a 1.99 GAA and .936 save percentage in six career games against the Isles. … Phoenix Coyotes (BUF -- Mon, NAS -- Thu): Ilya Kovalchuk has dominated at home this season, with an 8-4-1 record, 2.06 GAA and .928 save percentage in 15 games. The Sabres, incidentally, have lost 10 of their past 11 games, scoring 26 points combined.

The sieve -- Bad goalie matchups

New York Rangers (ATL -- Tue, ATL -- Thu): As mentioned above, Lundqvist is in the midst of a slump, and the Thrashers have averaged 3.00 goals per game in the month of January. It might take the four-day All-Star break's rest for Lundqvist to get back on his game. … Toronto Maple Leafs (WAS -- Wed, @WAS -- Thu): The last time Vesa Toskala faced the Capitals, on Oct. 29, he served up four goals on 13 shots in 14 minutes of action. The Capitals rank among the game's hottest offenses, scoring 34 goals in their past eight contests, so consider sitting Toskala for this week. … Washington Capitals (@PIT -- Mon, @TOR -- Wed, TOR -- Thu): At this stage of his career, Olaf Kolzig is a matchups play, nothing more. Two road games against potent offenses such as those of the Penguins and Maple Leafs doesn't qualify as a favorable-matchup week, so don't be fooled by the three games.

Lineup tidbits

Daniel Alfredsson (hip): He's day-to-day, but remember, this is a similar injury to the one that cost him five games last season. The matchups are favorable for Senators skaters, so if he's cleared to play, use him, but be aware that he might miss some time.

Dan Boyle (wrist surgery): A report in Friday's St. Petersburg Times suggested Boyle might be back this week, though it's possible he'll be held out until the first game after the All-Star break. Even if he plays in Week 16, consider it an evaluation period for you.

Sidney Crosby (high ankle sprain): Huge loss for fantasy owners, as high ankle sprains often take a month or more to heal, so don't count on Crosby this week, or in any one in the near future, at that. Downgrade the Penguins' offense a tad while he's out.

Ron Hainsey (back): He's expected to miss at least Tuesday's game at Dallas, and the smart play would be to reserve him, counting on the Blue Jackets' playing it safe with him with two road contests heading into the All-Star break.

Sergei Zubov (foot): He missed this past Saturday's game and was expected to sit out Sunday's, too, putting him at risk to miss the Stars' two home games this week. Barring a significant change in his status before your lineup deadline, keep him reserved.

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