Commentary

Fantasy Forecaster: Two games? So what!

Updated: March 15, 2008, 7:01 PM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

All statistics are through the games of Friday, March 14.

On tap

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

Minnesota Wild (COL -- Mon, @SJ -- Wed, @VAN -- Fri, @CGY -- Sat)
Phoenix Coyotes (@VAN -- Mon, @EDM -- Tue, LA -- Thu, ANA -- Sat)

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

Edmonton Oilers (PHO -- Tue, VAN -- Thu, COL -- Sat)
Nashville Predators (WAS -- Tue, DET -- Thu, CHI -- Sat)
Philadelphia Flyers (ATL -- Tue, NYR -- Fri, NYI -- Sun)

Short stick -- Teams with two games

Boston Bruins (MON -- Thu, @MON -- Sat)
Buffalo Sabres (TB -- Wed, TOR -- Fri)
Carolina Hurricanes (@ATL -- Wed, @FLA -- Thu)
Dallas Stars (ANA -- Wed, LA -- Sat)
Florida Panthers (CAR -- Thu, TB -- Sat)
Ottawa Senators (STL -- Thu, TOR -- Sat)

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

Anaheim Ducks (@DAL -- Wed, @SJ -- Fri, @PHO -- Sat)
Colorado Avalanche (@MIN -- Mon, @CGY -- Thu, @EDM -- Sat)
St. Louis Blues (@MON -- Tue, @OTT -- Thu, @CHI -- Sun)
Tampa Bay Lightning (@BUF -- Wed, @PIT -- Thu, @FLA -- Sat)
Toronto Maple Leafs (@NYI -- Tue, @BUF -- Fri, @OTT -- Sat)
Washington Capitals (@NAS -- Tue, @CHI -- Wed, @ATL -- Fri)

The matchups

Lightin' the lamp -- Good scorers matchups

[+] EnlargeAndrei Kostitsyn
Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty ImagesKostitsyn will never play for Boston. He plays too well against them.

Buffalo Sabres (TB -- Wed, TOR -- Fri): Two-game week or not, they're both home games, and come against teams averaging more than three goals per game allowed for the season (Maple Leafs, 3.03; Lightning, 3.23). The trio of Jason Pominville (12 goals, 22 assists in 36 home games), Derek Roy (18 G, 21 A in 35) and Thomas Vanek (15 G, 16 A in 36) ranks as must-starts despite the short schedule. ... Montreal Canadiens (STL -- Tue, @BOS -- Thu, BOS -- Sat): I don't think anyone can understand the Canadiens' level of sheer domination of the Bruins without being quoted the numbers; they've won nine straight meetings, all of those in regulation, at that. Andrei Kostitsyn (3 G, 5 A in 5 meetings this season), Alexei Kovalev (5 G, 3 A in 6), Tomas Plekanec (3 G, 6 A in 6) and Mark Streit (9 A in 6) absolutely own the Bruins, and as many as nine other Canadiens have at least four points against them this season. 'Nuff said. ... Ottawa Senators (STL -- Thu, TOR -- Sat): Again, it's a two-game schedule, but both home affairs, and these Senators are the game's second-most potent offense on their home ice (3.33 goals per game). Daniel Alfredsson (25 G, 23 A in 31 home games), Dany Heatley (21 G, 24 A in 32) and Wade Redden (3 G, 23 A in 36) are pretty much otherworldly at home, and Cory Stillman (1 G, 5 A in 7 home games for the Senators) warrants a look, too.

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

Anaheim Ducks (@DAL -- Wed, @SJ -- Fri, @PHO -- Sat): Even with Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne back in action these Ducks lack bite on offense, and it sure doesn't help that Corey Perry is out recovering from knee surgery. They play three road games against top-10 defenses this week (Stars, 7th, 2.45 goals allowed per game; Sharks, 2nd, 2.28; Coyotes, 10th, 2.58), so don't even bother with guys like Francois Beauchemin (1 A in his past 10 games), Todd Bertuzzi (1 G, 4 A in his past 10) or Chris Kunitz (1 G, 2 A in his past 6). ... Los Angeles Kings (SJ -- Tue, @PHO -- Thu, @DAL -- Sat): This is the same grouping of opponents the Ducks face, and while the Kings are actually a bit more potent offense, they're 6-11-0 against those teams this season, totaling 32 goals (1.88 per game). You shouldn't want anyone other than Alexander Frolov, Anze Kopitar or Lubomir Visnovsky in your lineup. ... Minnesota Wild (COL -- Mon, @SJ -- Wed, @VAN -- Fri, @CGY -- Sat): The Avalanche (9th, 2.57 goals allowed per game), Sharks and Canucks (6th, 2.41) rank as top-10 defenses, and look at Miikka Kiprusoff's extraordinary history against the Wild; he's 18-5-1 with a 1.70 goals-against average in 26 career starts against them. Marian Gaborik remains a must-start, but beyond him and perhaps Brent Burns and Brian Rolston, there's not a lot to like.

Stone 'em cold -- Good goalie matchups

Calgary Flames (@CLM -- Tue, COL -- Thu, MIN -- Sat): I've already mentioned Kiprusoff's favorable history against the Wild, but let's toss his performance in 15 career games against the Blue Jackets into the mix; he's 10-2-0 with a 1.73 GAA. By the way, both of his shutouts have come since the All-Star break, so expect a strong week. ... Detroit Red Wings (CLM -- Wed, @NAS -- Thu, @CLM -- Sat): Chris Osgood had been a bit shaky in February, but with Dominik Hasek again ailing, it's Osgood's time once again to shine. He has back-to-back wins, and gets two games against the Blue Jackets, the league's second-weakest offense (2.39 goals per game). ... Montreal Canadiens (STL -- Tue, @BOS -- Thu, BOS -- Sat): Again, this all draws back to the Canadiens' pure manhandling of the Bruins the past calendar year. Carey Price is a perfect 3-0 in three starts against them, managing a 2.34 GAA, and he'll love the kind of support he'll receive in these games.

The sieve -- Bad goalie matchups

[+] EnlargeTim Thomas
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesTim Thomas has nightmares about the Canadiens.

Boston Bruins (MON -- Thu, @MON -- Sat): There seems to be a theme to this week's Forecaster, wouldn't you say? Look at what the Canadiens' mastery of the Bruins has led to: Tim Thomas is 0-3-0 with a 4.94 GAA in four games against them this season. No thank you! ... Columbus Blue Jackets (CGY -- Tue, @DET -- Wed, DET -- Sat): Pascal Leclaire might have two wins in four tries against the Red Wings, but his 2.68 GAA against them leaves a bit to be desired, and besides, they're the league's No. 2-ranked offense to date (3.10 goals per game). The Flames aren't a bad offensive team, either, so steer clear of this schedule. ... Tampa Bay Lightning (@BUF -- Wed, @PIT -- Thu, @FLA -- Sat): There might have been a lot of excitement surrounding Mike Smith upon his trade to Tampa Bay, but in seven starts for his new team, he's an underwhelming 2-5-0 with a 2.73 GAA. Things aren't likely to get any better in a three-game road schedule, with two of his opponents top-10 offenses (Sabres, 5th, 3.04 goals per game; Penguins, 7th, 2.90).

Lineup tidbits

Zdeno Chara (upper body): He's day-to-day, but with the Bruins scheduled for only two games, both against the Canadiens, don't gamble on a guy uncertain to play. Good news: The Bruins played Saturday and Sunday, so see if Chara was able to return.

Sidney Crosby (ankle): After experiencing soreness in his ankle during this past Wednesday's morning skate, Crosby will sit out at least three more games, meaning he's got an outside shot at playing one of three games this week, but not more than that.

Peter Forsberg (groin): He's hurt again? Shocking! Forsberg is the poster boy for "injury-prone player," so he'll need to play a full game, and play it well, before being a trustworthy guy to activate. Check his Saturday status; he was questionable.

Jeff Halpern (back): He's in the midst of a nice hot streak -- five goals and 10 points in nine games for the Lightning -- but isn't productive enough to gamble on when not fully healthy. Check whether Halpern played Saturday; sit him if he didn't.

Dominik Hasek (back): Though Red Wings coach Mike Babcock thinks Hasek will play Saturday, I'm not so certain. The veteran ranks among one of the most brittle players in the game, so don't gamble on him if he doesn't officially return then.

Marian Hossa (knee): The Penguins anticipate they'll get Hossa back before they do Crosby, perhaps as early as Sunday. Check the box scores from that day; if Hossa plays, he's well worth activating for the team's three-game Week 25.

Mats Sundin (groin): He's day-to-day and was expected to sit out on Saturday. As such, if there's no indication Sundin will travel with the team for their three-game Week 25 road trip, he's probably better off reserved in such a key week.

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

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