Week 18: Are the Caps on the Right Path?

The Washington Capitals have changed their system to focus more on defense in order to be more successful during the playoffs but will that shift pay off?

During the month of December the Capitals finished with a record of 5-6-3, which included an eight game losing streak. They followed up December with a 5-3-4 record in January and currently sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. The Capitals were shutout three times in January and only scored two or fewer goals in seven of the 12 games. This new system has fantasy players so frustrated as they drafted Capitals expecting a lot of offense.

Alexander Ovechkin scored just nine points and Nicklas Backstrom scored ten points in the month of January. Only time will tell if the Capitals are on the right path to the Stanley Cup.

Games to be played in week 18:

Four Games: Montreal, New Jersey and Pittsburgh

Three Games: Atlanta, Boston, Calgary, Carolina, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Nashville, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Jose, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington

Two Games: Anaheim, Buffalo and Chicago

When it comes to dressing your players for the upcoming week, especially your goalies, it is important to know which team is on a long road trip and which team is enjoying an extended period at home. Listed below are the teams that play at least three home/away games this week or play all their games at home or on the road (home/road records up to January 27, 2011):

HOME: Montreal (16-6-4) and Tampa Bay (16-4-2)

AWAY: Chicago (10-7-4), Florida (11-14-0) and Los Angeles (10-13-0)

If you participate in any type of head-to-head hockey pool then you are likely dressing a lineup for each scoring period, which usually ends on Sunday. As the week comes to an end and you find yourself in a close battle for those wins you want as many players as possible playing for you. Here are the teams that play on Sunday (record for Sunday games up to and including Week 17):

Montreal (0-3), New Jersey (2-2), Pittsburgh (0-1), St. Louis (3-1), Tampa Bay (2-3) and Washington (6-1)

When you are deciding which goalie to dress you need to look at the NHL schedule to see if your goalie’s team will play in a back-to-back game that week. Most coaches will not dress the same goalie in back-to-back games so that is something to consider when you are thinking about which goalie to dress for the week. Here are the teams that play in back-to-back games this week (record of second game of back-to-back up to and including Week 17):

Buffalo (4-8), Columbus (7-4), Detroit (5-3), Edmonton (2-4), Florida (3-7), Los Angeles (3-5), Montreal (5-6), New Jersey (3-8), NY Islanders (3-8), Ottawa (2-7), Phoenix (5-6), Pittsburgh (6-3), San Jose (3-5) and Vancouver (5-3)

Montreal plays in two sets of back-to-back games in week 18.

Knowing which team is on a hot streak or cold streak will help in making your lineup decisions, for example you definitely want to dress a goalie from teams that are on a hot streak. Here are the top five and bottom five teams up to January 27, 2011:

TOP FIVE: Philadelphia (8-2-0), Dallas (7-2-1), Boston (7-3-0), Tampa Bay (7-3-0) and Anaheim (7-3-0)

BOTTOM FIVE: Ottawa (1-6-3), Edmonton  (2-7-1), NY Islanders (2-7-1), St. Louis (2-7-1) and Columbus (3-5-2)

Most elite stars are consistent scorers, but there are several players who are very streaky so keep an eye on their stats so that you can dress them while they are on a hot streak. Here are the top five scorers up to January 27, 2011 for the past 7 and 14 days:

SKATER PAST 7: Claude Giroux-PHI (4GP, 1G, 6A), Mike Richards-PHILADELPHIA (4GP, 2G, 5A), Keith Yandle-PHO (4GP, 1G, 6A), David Moss-CGY (4GP, 4G, 2A), Michael Grabner-NYI (5GP, 4G, 2A)

SKATER PAST 14: Yandle (8GP, 2G, 11A), Lee Stempniak-PHO (8GP, 5G, 6A) Giroux (8GP, 3G, 8A) Jeff Carter-PHI (8GP, 7G, 3A), Steven Stamkos-TB (7GP 7G 3A)

Here are the top five goaltenders and bottom five goaltenders up to January 27, 2011 for the past 14 days:

HOT GOALTENDERS PAST 14: Marc-Andre Fleury-PIT (4GS, 4W, 1SO, 1.25 GAA), Sergei Bobrovsky-PHI (5GS, 5W, 1.79 GAA), Martin Brodeur-NJ (6GS ,4W, 1SO, 1.98 GAA), Tim Thomas-BOS (6GS, 5W, 1SO, 2.01 GAA), Henrik Lundqvist-NYR (6GS 3W 2SO 2.15 GAA)

COLD GOALTENDERS PAST 14: Brian Elliott-OTT (5GS, 0W, 3.45 GAA), Nikolai Khabibulin-EDM (4GS, 0W, 3.31 GAA), Rick DiPietro-NYI (4GS, 1W ,3.29 GAA), Tomas Vokoun-FLA (4GS, 1W, 2.28 GAA), Jean-Sebastian Giguere-TOR (4GS, 1W, 2.91 GAA)

For more fantasy hockey analysis, check out FantasyHockeyCoach.com.

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