Commentary

Fantasy Forecaster: Bruins stay busy

Updated: March 9, 2008, 6:29 PM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

All statistics are through the games of Friday, March 7.

On tap

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

Atlanta Thrashers (COL -- Tue, CGY -- Thu, @WAS -- Fri, @FLA -- Sun)
Boston Bruins (@OTT -- Tue, TB -- Thu, PHI -- Sat, @WAS -- Sun)
Buffalo Sabres (NYR -- Mon, @PIT -- Wed, CAR -- Fri, @TOR -- Sat)
Calgary Flames (STL -- Mon, @WAS -- Wed, @ATL -- Thu, @CHI -- Sun)
Chicago Blackhawks (@DET -- Tue, CAR -- Wed, @CLM -- Fri, CGY -- Sun)
Detroit Red Wings (CHI -- Tue, DAL -- Thu, NAS -- Sat, @CLM -- Sun)
Edmonton Oilers (STL -- Tue, @COL -- Thu, @PHO -- Sat, @SJ -- Sun)
Philadelphia Flyers (@TOR -- Tue, TOR -- Wed, @BOS -- Sat, @PIT -- Sun)
St. Louis Blues (@CGY -- Mon, @EDM -- Tue, @SJ -- Fri, @ANA -- Sat)
Vancouver Canucks (@LA -- Mon, @ANA -- Wed, @PHO -- Thu, @DAL -- Sat)

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

Detroit Red Wings (CHI -- Tue, DAL -- Thu, NAS -- Sat, @CLM -- Sun)
Florida Panthers (NYI -- Wed, NYR -- Fri, ATL -- Sun)
Montreal Canadiens (NJ -- Tue, OTT -- Thu, NYI -- Sat)
Phoenix Coyotes (ANA -- Tue, VAN -- Thu, EDM -- Sat)
Washington Capitals (CGY -- Wed, ATL -- Fri, BOS -- Sun)

Short stick -- Teams with two games

Columbus Blue Jackets (CHI -- Fri, DET -- Sun)
Dallas Stars (@DET -- Thu, VAN -- Sat)
Minnesota Wild (NJ -- Thu, LA -- Sat)
Pittsburgh Penguins (BUF -- Wed, PHI -- Sun)

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

New Jersey Devils (@MON -- Tue, @MIN -- Thu, @COL -- Sat)
New York Islanders (@TB -- Tue, @FLA -- Wed, @MON -- Sat)
New York Rangers (@BUF -- Mon, @FLA -- Fri, @TB -- Sat)
St. Louis Blues (@CGY -- Mon, @EDM -- Tue, @SJ -- Fri, @ANA -- Sat)
Vancouver Canucks (@LA -- Mon, @ANA -- Wed, @PHO -- Thu, @DAL -- Sat)

The matchups

Lightin' the lamp -- Good scorers matchups

Boston Bruins (@OTT -- Tue, TB -- Thu, PHI -- Sat, @WAS -- Sun): This week looks like another busy, scoring-conducive week for the Bruins, though to be fair, they haven't exactly been tearing it up of late. Still it's worth keeping their top players active, especially for these matchups; use Zdeno Chara (8 goals, 5 assists in 18 games since the All-Star break), Marc Savard (2 G, 16 A in 18) and Marco Sturm (7 G, 8 A in 17). … San Jose Sharks (@NAS -- Tue, STL -- Fri, EDM -- Sun): It's about time the Sharks began lighting the lamp, with eight consecutive wins and 25 goals in those games. Among their hottest hands: Jonathan Cheechoo (13 G, 4 A in 19 games since the All-Star break), Patrick Marleau (4 G, 3 A in his past 6 games) and Craig Rivet (10 A, plus-5 in 19 games since the All-Star break). … Toronto Maple Leafs (PHI -- Tue, @PHI -- Wed, BUF -- Sat): The Flyers' Martin Biron has been in a bit of a funk of late, with a 4-6-2 record, 2.76 goals-against average and .907 save percentage in his past 12 games, and the Maple Leafs seem like a much better team now that the trade deadline distraction is behind them. Dig deep and toss Nik Antropov (8 G, 3 A in 15 games since the All-Star break), Jason Blake (4 G, 9 A in 18) and Darcy Tucker (9 G, 6 A, 38 penalty minutes in 18) into your lineup.

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

Atlanta Thrashers (COL -- Tue, CGY -- Thu, @WAS -- Fri, @FLA -- Sun): Losing Marian Hossa at the trade deadline has extended the Thrashers' scoring funk; they've lost eight of their past nine games and totaled 19 goals during that slump. At this point, Ilya Kovalchuk (7 G, 5 A in 15 games since the All-Star break) is about the only Atlanta scorer worth using every week, though a case could be made for Mark Recchi (3 G, 7 A in 17) in deeper leagues. Don't dig deeper than that, though. … Chicago Blackhawks (@DET -- Tue, CAR -- Wed, @CLM -- Fri, CGY -- Sun): The Red Wings, Blue Jackets and Flames boast elite goaltenders, and the Hurricanes' Cam Ward is one of the hottest goalies in the league, with a 6-1-0 record and 2.45 GAA in his past seven starts. There isn't much to like on the Blackhawks besides the three youngsters: Patrick Kane (4 G, 9 A in 18 games since the All-Star break), Patrick Sharp (11 G, 5 A in 18) and Jonathan Toews (4 G, 8 A in 14). … St. Louis Blues (@CGY -- Mon, @EDM -- Tue, @SJ -- Fri, @ANA -- Sat): The Blues are a bottom-10 offense overall, but they're even weaker on the road, averaging 2.23 goals per game, third-worst in the league. Avoid their poor road performers, such as Paul Kariya (7 G, 10 A in 30 games) and Andy McDonald (1 G, 4 A, minus-8 in 14).

Stone 'em cold -- Good goalie matchups

Florida Panthers (NYI -- Wed, NYR -- Fri, ATL -- Sun): This one isn't meant as a ringing endorsement of Tomas Vokoun, 5-6-3 with a 2.89 GAA in 14 starts since the All-Star break. It's more a tip to look at red-hot backup Craig Anderson as a potential matchups option. All Anderson has done lately is win four consecutive starts, two of them shutouts, while registering a .981 save percentage. These are home games for him, and favorable matchups at that, so take a look at him in deeper leagues. … Montreal Canadiens (NJ -- Tue, OTT -- Thu, NYI -- Sat): This is another case of play-the-goalie-at-home, but in Carey Price's defense, he's 7-2-0 with a 2.38 GAA and .929 save percentage in his past 10 starts. The Canadiens made quite an endorsement of him when they traded Cristobal Huet at the deadline, and Price thus far has been more than up to the task of playing regularly. … Phoenix Coyotes (ANA -- Tue, VAN -- Thu, EDM -- Sat): Again, it's a matter of a favorable stretch of home assignments, and Ilya Bryzgalov has been nothing short of dominant at Jobing.com Arena, with an 11-6-2 record, 2.10 GAA and .929 save percentage in 20 starts there. That's a hot streak well worth banking on continuing.

The sieve -- Bad goalie matchups

Ryan Miller
Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty ImagesRyan Miller has a pretty tough schedule ahead, and it's not as if he's tearing it up anyway.

Buffalo Sabres (NYR -- Mon, @PIT -- Wed, CAR -- Fri, @TOR -- Sat): Ryan Miller is back in a bit of a funk, with a 4-6-1 record, 3.46 GAA and .886 save percentage in his past 11 starts, and you can't get much hotter as an offense than the Rangers or Penguins. There'll be leagues in which you're forced to use Miller as a No. 2 fantasy option, but you shouldn't want to. … Carolina Hurricanes (@CHI -- Wed, @BUF -- Fri, OTT -- Sun): As noted above, Cam Ward has been performing nicely in net, though his GAA and save percentage do leave a bit to be desired for the season; he ranks outside the top 30 in both categories. Those Blackhawks and Sabres have a combined total of 120 goals in 38 games since the All-Star break (3.16 average), so Ward will be hard-pressed to keep his streak up. … Ottawa Senators (BOS -- Tue, @MON -- Thu, @CAR -- Sun): The Senators haven't found any kind of consistency in net all season between Martin Gerber and Ray Emery, and those Canadiens and Hurricanes represent two of the most potent offenses in the game. Be aware that in 19 games since the All-Star break, Gerber and Emery are a combined 6-10-3 with a 3.02 GAA and .897 save percentage, awful numbers.

Lineup tidbits

Daniel Alfredsson (lower back spasms): He has missed three straight games yet remains day-to-day, but coach Bryan Murray says Alfredsson would play if this were playoff time. Keep tabs on his health; he's looking iffy to play all of Week 24.

Marian Hossa (sprained knee): He resumed skating Wednesday, and coach Michel Therrien believes Hossa will be back in time for Sunday's game. There's a good chance Hossa will be active for both Penguins games in Week 24, so activate him.

Cristobal Huet (back spasms): He returned Saturday, and the good news for fantasy is that the goalie controversy created by his trade to Washington has inspired both him and Olaf Kolzig to step up their games. The Capitals play three home games this week, making each goalie worth a look in deeper leagues.

Nikolai Khabibulin (back): The Blackhawks expect him to be out at least a few more days, and there's a very real chance he'll miss all of Week 24. It's not a great schedule for Chicago goalies anyway, so play it safe and keep the "'Bulin Wall" reserved.

Nicklas Lidstrom (sprained knee): He has been practicing hard the past week and might be back in time for Sunday's game. It appears Lidstrom should be available for the Red Wings' four-game Week 24, so feel free to activate him.

Paul Martin (bruised foot): He has missed four consecutive games but is day-to-day. With the Devils on the road for three games in Week 24, keep him reserved.

Corey Perry (lacerated leg): Tough blow to Perry's fantasy owners; he's out at least six weeks after suffering a deep laceration on his leg this past Thursday. With him out, the Ducks' struggling offense takes an even bigger hit in the weeks ahead.

Ryan Smyth (concussion, slightly separated shoulder): He's almost assuredly out for Week 24 and perhaps several more weeks, though the Avalanche believe he'll be back before season's end. Concussions can be tricky, though. Don't expect Smyth back any time soon.

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

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