Commentary

Fantasy Forecaster: Carolina will continue to roll

Updated: November 11, 2007, 4:39 PM ET
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN.com

On Tap

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

Carolina Hurricanes (@FLA -- Mon, @TB -- Wed, ATL -- Fri, FLA -- Sat)
Columbus Blue Jackets (NAS -- Mon, CHI -- Wed, @STL -- Fri, DET -- Sun)
Florida Panthers (CAR -- Mon, @ATL -- Tue, WAS -- Thu, @CAR -- Sat)
Minnesota Wild (@CGY -- Tue, @EDM -- Thu, @VAN -- Fri, COL -- Sun)
New Jersey Devils (@PIT -- Mon, NYR -- Wed, NYI -- Fri, @PHI -- Sat)
San Jose Sharks (PHO -- Mon, @DAL -- Wed, @PHO -- Thu, ANA -- Sat)

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

Philadelphia Flyers (NYI -- Mon, NYR -- Thu, NJ -- Sat)
Pittsburgh Penguins (NJ -- Mon, NYI -- Thu, NYR -- Sat)
Vancouver Canucks (EDM -- Wed, MIN -- Fri, CGY -- Sun)

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

Atlanta Thrashers (FLA -- Tue, @CAR -- Fri)
Boston Bruins (TOR -- Thu, @MON -- Sat)
Buffalo Sabres (@OTT -- Thu, MON -- Fri)
Colorado Avalanche (@DAL -- Fri, @MIN -- Sun)
Ottawa Senators (BUF -- Thu, @TOR -- Sat)
Washington Capitals (@FLA -- Thu, @TB -- Fri)

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

Chicago Blackhawks (@CLM -- Wed, @NAS -- Thu, @DET -- Sat)
New York Islanders (@PHI -- Mon, @PIT -- Thu, @NJ -- Fri)
New York Rangers (@NJ -- Wed, @PHI -- Thu, @PIT -- Sat)

The Matchups

Lightin' the Lamp -- Good Scorers' Matchups

Carolina Hurricanes (@FLA -- Mon, @TB -- Wed, ATL -- Fri, FLA -- Sat): It's a week of division games for the Hurricanes, the NHL's top offense (3.69 goals per game). Although Carolina has managed only 12 goals and two wins in five division games, the team should improve in those departments. Cory Stillman (4), Eric Staal (2) and Ray Whitney (2) each has double-digit goals in division contests. ... Montreal Canadiens (@TOR -- Tue, @BUF -- Fri, BOS -- Sat): Toronto's goaltending has been wildly inconsistent, and the Sabres' Ryan Miller has an underwhelming 2.83 goals-against average and .898 save percentage. Stick with red-hot linemates Andrei Kostitsyn, Alexei Kovalev and Tomas Plekanec, who have totaled 14 goals in 15 contests. ... Ottawa Senators (BUF -- Thu, @TOR -- Sat): The Senators have dominated the Maple Leafs in three meetings, winning all three and totaling 12 goals. Daniel Alfredsson (4) and Dany Heatley (3) have been responsible for more than half, but Patrick Eaves (1 G, 2 A) and Antoine Vermette (1 G, 2 A) also have had enough success in those contests to warrant using based upon the matchups.

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

Buffalo Sabres (@OTT -- Thu, MON -- Fri): Both the Senators and Canadiens boast two quality goaltenders apiece, and rank among the most defensively sound teams in the game. In a two-game schedule, call this a week to avoid Maxim Afinogenov (2 goals, 1 assist in his last 11 games), Jochen Hecht (2 G, 2 A, 10 games) and Jason Pominville (1 A, 5 games). ... Chicago Blackhawks (@CLM -- Wed, @NAS -- Thu, @DET -- Sat): Columbus' Pascal Leclaire is the league's leader in shutouts (5) and ranks second in GAA (1.41) and Nashville can't help but keep riding Dan Ellis' hot streak. Among the team's weakest road performers thus far: Duncan Keith (1 G, 0 A, 6 games) and Tuomo Ruutu (1 G, 2 A, 5 games). ... Colorado Avalanche (@DAL -- Fri, @MIN -- Sun): Marty Turco had allowed only six goals total in his past three games prior to this past Saturday's contest, while Niklas Backstrom has a 1.87 GAA on the season. Keep in mind Ryan Smyth (2 G, minus-5 rating, 7 games) in particular has been mediocre at best in road games thus far. ... St. Louis Blues (DET -- Tue, CLM -- Fri, @NAS -- Sat): Although the Blues get one more home game than the Blackhawks, their schedule really is no better. Brad Boyes, Paul Kariya and Keith Tkachuk are about the only trustworthy options on St. Louis' side, and only because they get three games, two at home.

Stone 'Em Cold -- Good Goalies' Matchups

Los Angeles Kings (@ANA -- Tue, ANA -- Thu, PHO -- Sat): Jason LaBarbera has wins in four of his last six starts, grabbing hold of the starting role, and if you're hurting at goalie, he's not a bad one-week play here. Although he lost the Ducks in London on Sept. 30, LaBarbera should be able to handle them a little more capably back in the States. ... Philadelphia Flyers (NYI -- Mon, NYR -- Thu, NJ -- Sat): The fact that this is a three-home-game schedule makes this a must-start week for Martin Biron. He's a perfect 4-0 with a 0.75 GAA in four home games on the season, and by the way, the Rangers have totaled six goals in six road contests all year. ... Phoenix Coyotes (@SJ -- Mon, SJ -- Thu, @LA -- Sat): Platoon mates Alex Auld and Mikael Tellqvist have combined for wins in five of the Coyotes' last seven games, though neither has officially stepped up as the go-to guy. Tellqvist, who has won three straight, is a slightly better fantasy choice, but either warrants spot-start status if you check on the listed goalie before the first puck drops each night.

The Sieve -- Bad Goalies' Matchups

Boston Bruins (TOR -- Thu, @MON -- Sat): The Canadiens boast the game's most potent power-play unit (22-for-74, 29.7 percent), and the Bruins rank among the weakest penalty-kill teams in the league. Tim Thomas might be performing well -- allowing no more than three goals in any of his 11 games and registering a 1.71 GAA for the season -- but this is a week to steer clear of him. ... Buffalo Sabres (@OTT -- Thu, MON -- Fri): Ryan Miller has underperformed to date, with a 2.83 GAA for the season, and the Canadiens have already beaten him twice this season. He might be too talented to sit, but if you're chock full of depth at goalie, the tough schedule is worth taking into account. ... Ottawa Senators (BUF -- Thu, @TOR -- Sat): Martin Gerber is performing too well to sit, sure, but until it's clear he's getting almost all the starts and not sitting out occasionally for Ray Emery, he's a risky play in a two-game week. That's especially true when the opponents are the Sabres and Maple Leafs, offenses that rank among the NHL's top 10.

Lineup Tidbits

Dan Boyle (wrist surgery): After he went scoreless with a minus-7 rating in five games, Boyle succumbed to a second surgery on his wrist this past Friday. He missed five weeks the last time and all reports indicate that he'll be out for longer this time around.

Pavol Demitra (groin): He aggravated a groin injury on Nov. 3 that cost him four games in late October, and wasn't scheduled to play Sunday. It's a shame to be without him in a four-game week for the Wild, but he's likely to miss a good chunk of it.

Marian Gaborik (groin): How coincidental is this? Gaborik aggravated his groin injury on Nov. 3, which is just eerie. His reports suggest he has a better chance of playing this week, but he's also the one much more susceptible to setbacks. Be cautious.

Simon Gagne (headache, dizziness): A hit he suffered this past Wednesday put him back on the sidelines, with the same injury as before, one the Flyers refuse to call a concussion. Until he can play back-to-back games without issue, he's a risk to count on.

Daymond Langkow (concussion): He sat out this past Friday's practice and wasn't scheduled to play Saturday after being diagnosed with a concussion he suffered on Thursday. These things tend to take time to heal, so expect him to miss the week.

Jason Spezza (groin): He was scheduled to sit this past Saturday, and with the Senators scheduled for only two games, it's probably safer to keep him reserved.

Ryan Whitney (groin): He has missed four consecutive games, and although he remains day-to-day, there's no word when he might return. Let him get back on the ice to prove his health before you consider putting him back in your active lineup.

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