Commentary

Fantasy Forecaster: Flames caught in trap

Updated: October 21, 2007, 3:55 PM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

On Tap

Stacked! -- Teams with 4-plus games, regardless of locale

Carolina Hurricanes (VAN -- Mon, BUF -- Wed, MON -- Fri, @NYI -- Sat)
Edmonton Oilers (COL -- Tue, MIN -- Thu, @LA -- Sat, @ANA -- Sun)
Vancouver Canucks (@CAR -- Mon, @DET -- Wed, @WAS -- Fri, DET -- Sun)

Home Cookin' -- Teams with 3-plus home games

Carolina Hurricanes (VAN -- Mon, BUF -- Wed, MON -- Fri, @NYI -- Sat)
Calgary Flames (SJ -- Mon, MIN -- Wed, COL -- Fri)
Los Angeles Kings (NAS -- Tue, DAL -- Thu, EDM -- Sat)
Pittsburgh Penguins (NYR -- Tue, TOR -- Thu, MON -- Sat)

One Game! Are you kidding?!

New York Islanders (CAR -- Sat)
Ottawa Senators (@NJ -- Sat)

Short Stick -- Teams with 2 games, 1-plus road

Dallas Stars (@LA -- Thu, @PHO -- Sat)
New Jersey Devils (@NYR -- Thu, OTT -- Sat)
Phoenix Coyotes (@ANA -- Thu, DAL -- Sat)

The Long Haul -- Teams with 3-plus games, all road

Atlanta Thrashers (@TOR -- Tue, @NAS -- Thu, @CHI -- Sat)
Buffalo Sabres (@CAR -- Wed, @FLA -- Fri, @TB -- Sat)
Minnesota Wild (@CGY -- Wed, @EDM -- Thu, @COL -- Sun)
Philadelphia Flyers (@FLA -- Wed, @TB -- Thu, @BOS -- Sat)
San Jose Sharks (@CGY -- Mon, @DET -- Fri, @CLM -- Sat)

The Matchups

Lightin' the Lamp -- Good Scorers' Matchups

Dallas Stars (@LA -- Thu, @PHO -- Sat): Neither the Kings nor the Coyotes has much stability in net, with players better suited for backup roles currently being asked to take on starters' workloads. Sure, the Stars have only seven goals in their first four road games, but expect that pace to pick up this week, with hot hands like Niklas Hagman and Brenden Morrow being fine choices. ... Nashville Predators (@LA -- Tue, ATL -- Thu, FLA -- Sat): Again, the Kings are inexperienced, while the Thrashers are missing starting goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who is out with yet another groin injury. Jason Arnott, Martin Erat and Alexander Radulov should be in for a healthy week of scoring. ... New York Rangers (@PIT -- Tue, NJ -- Thu, TOR -- Sat): Note that Thursday's game represents the Devils' final stop in a nine-game road trip to begin their season, and Martin Brodeur has hardly looked like his usual self to date. That makes for three underachieving opponents, defensively speaking, for a Rangers team that's brings a good share of offense. Chris Drury, Michal Rozsival and Brendan Shanahan are well worth slotting in for what should be three high-scoring affairs.

No, It's a Trap! -- Bad Scorers' Matchups

Calgary Flames (SJ -- Mon, MIN -- Wed, COL -- Fri): There are two teams I'd avoid outright for scorers when possible: Minnesota and Philadelphia. So even though the Flames have three games, one of them is a brutal matchup. Plus, the Sharks have Evgeni Nabokov and a respectable defense, making it a week to consider sitting Adrian Aucoin, Craig Conroy and Michael Lombardi. ... New Jersey Devils (@NYR -- Thu, OTT -- Sat): The last game of their nine-game road trip comes at the Rangers, who have a toughHenrik Lundqvist in net. Then, in their home opener, the Devils draw the red-hot Martin Gerber and the stout Senators defense. The Devils have looked bad so far, and things won't improve much for guys like Brian Gionta, Paul Martin and Dainius Zubrus. ... New York Islanders (CAR -- Sat): One game. That's probably enough to avoid Islanders players, but it doesn't help that the one game comes against a Hurricanes team that looks more like the Stanley Cup finals squad of 2005-06 than the average team of a year ago. With the exception of Marc-Andre Bergeron -- defensemen are much tougher to sub out than forwards -- and perhaps Bill Guerin, I don't know that there's a single Islander I'd play this week.

Stone 'Em Cold -- Good Goalies' Matchups

Anaheim Ducks (@STL -- Tue, PHO -- Thu, EDM -- Sun): The Blues are off to a hot start, but the Ducks are talented enough in net to keep them at bay, and the Coyotes and Oilers rank among the league's 10 lowest-scoring teams. Jean-Sebastien Giguere, fresh off hernia surgery, has posted back-to-back solid outings and should be primed to recapture his standing as a weekly No. 1 goaltender. ... Dallas Stars (@LA -- Thu, @PHO -- Sat): Though the Kings are playing with a lot of heart, note that Marty Turco did stop them on 32 of 33 shots on Oct. 10. Dating back to the start of last season, Turco is a perfect 6-0 against the Kings and 6-1 against the Coyotes. ... Nashville Predators (@LA -- Tue, ATL -- Thu, FLA -- Sat): The Kings, as I said before, are inexperienced, while the Thrashers and Panthers, offensively speaking, are off to poor starts compared to their preseason expectations. Though Chris Mason has been a bit shaky between the pipes of late, it'll help him that these are games in which the Predators should have no problem scoring. With more offensive support, Mason should be in for a big week.

The Sieve -- Bad Goalies' Matchups

Florida Panthers (PHI -- Wed, BUF -- Fri, @NAS -- Sat): Tomas Vokoun's ankle could limit him, and it's not going to be easy for a goalie at less than 100 percent to succeed against two Eastern Conference powerhouses in the Flyers and Sabres. His past success speaks for itself, but you have every reason to bench him this week. ... Montreal Canadiens (BOS -- Mon, @CAR -- Fri, @PIT -- Sat): It's still Cristobal Huet's job, in what is effectively a 2-to-1 split of the starts with Carey Price. But Huet could ask for better than two road games against elite offenses (the Hurricanes and Penguins). Sooner or later, Pittsburgh is going to go on a tear, and this week looks about as likely as any for that to happen. ... New York Islanders (CAR -- Sat): Again, one game, and it's against a team ranked seventh in overall offense (3.50 goals per game) and second on the power play (26.5 percent). You do the math. ... New York Rangers (@PIT -- Tue, NJ -- Thu, TOR -- Sat): As I noted in the "Lightin' the Lamp" section, the words "high-scoring affairs" are what matters here. The Devils shouldn't give Henrik Lundqvist much trouble, but the Penguins and Maple Leafs will. Not that I'd sit him, but I'd temper my expectations.

Lineup Tidbits

Todd Bertuzzi (concussion): He's on the IR and out until at least Tuesday, and there's a good chance he'll miss more time than that. Don't take the chance on him this week.

Ray Emery (wrist surgery): He debuted Saturday, but with Martin Gerber performing at an elite level, the best Emery can hope for is an every-other-game workload. The Senators play one game this week, though, so don't bother with Emery.

Milan Hejduk (back): He returned to action Friday, skating 13:23. With three games this week, Hejduk is worth getting back into your active lineup.

Erik Johnson (foot): The Blues couldn't take any more precautions with him than they have, even though he resumed skating Thursday. We'll likely see Johnson at some point this week, but he'd be better to keep reserved to evaluate him initially.

Kari Lehtonen (groin): The length of his absence has been described as "weeks." Having been placed on IR, he'll be out until at least Friday, and that'd be incredibly optimistic. Johan Hedberg will start in his place; go pick him up.

Alexander Semin (sprained ankle): At this point, he has missed so much time that the Capitals want him to get in a week's worth of practice time before activating him from IR. He hasn't practiced yet, so that likely rules him out for this week.

Jaroslav Spacek (shoulder): He missed both Friday's and Saturday's games but remains day-to-day. He's not considered an "elite" fantasy defenseman anyway, so Spacek should be reserved for what's not all that easy a three-game schedule for his team.

Kyle Wellwood (hernia surgery): Originally scheduled to make his season debut Friday, Wellwood suffered a setback a day earlier in practice, pushing back his timetable. He's now out at least another week, so keep him reserved for now.

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

ALSO SEE