Fantasy Hockey: Weekly Strength of Schedule and Streaming Targets — Week 8

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      Identifying the players with four games each week and filling your roster with those players can increase your chances of winning your fantasy hockey matchup. That’s why our Weekly Schedule tool is so helpful!

      I took that weekly schedule and combined it with a Team Defense Score I created using key defensive metrics to find which teams/skaters have the best schedule this week.

      Last Week’s Streaming Targets (Results)

      How it Works:

      • Team Defensive Ratings are given on a scale of 0-100, with 0 being the best possible defensive team and 100 being the worst. For context, CBJ currently grades as the worst defensively, with a rating of 92.16. Carolina is the best, with a rating of 12.46.
      • SCORE: The sum of all of the Defensive Ratings that the team will face this week.
      • AVG Opponent: The Average Defensive Ratings that the team will face this week.
      • Strength of Schedule is determined by the sum of defensive ratings, because we want players that play the most games but also have the easiest matchups.
      • Light Nights: A night in the NHL with eight or fewer games.

      Week 8 – Strength of Schedule

      Week 8 Opponent Ratings

      Team Ratings are based solely on defensive metrics and goaltending quality in order to identify the best matchups for skaters. They are in no way a reflection of overall team quality. The lower the rating, the better the team is defensively = worse skater matchup.

      Week 8 Streaming Targets

      • SOS = Strength of Schedule Rank (1 good, 32 bad)
      • Light = No. of games on Lighter days (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun)

      Boston Bruins

      The Bruins have by far the best schedule of Week 8. In fact, with a Schedule Score of 288.0, it’s the easiest week of the season to date. Their week is bookended by matchups with the Blue Jackets (5th-best matchup) and includes games vs. San Jose (1st) and Toronto (12th).

      Jake DeBrusk (LW/RW – 38% Owned)

      DeBrusk got off to a really slow start this season, failing to score a goal with just two assists in his first seven games. Things have mostly stayed the same, but he has six points (3G / 3A) in his last 12 games. The discouraging part about DeBrusk’s game this season is the dip in shot volume. He operated around 3.0 SOG/gm last year but is at 2.3 this season. Still, his lack of production can be explained by a 7.0 personal SH% and an 8.7 on-ice SH%. DeBrusk has had some poor puck luck so far, so I’m hopeful some of those rates will regress to the mean in some cushy matchups this week.

      Charlie Coyle (C – 33% Owned)

      Coyle wasn’t known for his offence during his first four years with the Bruins–he averaged 16 goals and 25 assists (41 points) per 82 games. However, with the departures of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci in the offseason, Coyle has taken on a more prominent offensive role this season. He’s flourished with 19 points (9G / 10A) in 20 games but has been especially hot lately, scoring seven goals with four assists (11 points) in his last eight games. Coyle’s 30.4 SH% and 16.7 on-ice SH% over that span suggest it’s largely unsustainable, but we don’t care when we’re only looking to stream him for the week (most likely).

      James van Riemsdyk (LW – 15% Owned)

      van Riemsdyk made this list last week and was solid, despite being healthy scratched on the front end of a back-to-back. He had three assists and five shots in three games. The veteran winger is over a point-per-game in his last nine games, scooping up two goals and eight assists (10 points) during that stretch. His role on the Bruins’ top power-play unit is what makes him most enticing because his ATOI (14:13) and shot volume (2.3 per game) are pretty pedestrian.

      Matthew Poitras (C – 4% Owned)

      Poitras would be fine in deep leagues if the three players mentioned above are unavailable. The rookie got off to a fast start in the NHL, with five points (3G / 2A) in his first seven games. However, he’s cooled off mightily, scoring just one goal and three assists (four points) in his last 13 games. He’s still playing around 14:30 ATOI per game on a line with DeBrusk and the second power-play unit, so there’s potential for him to have a strong week, given the matchups.

      Florida Panthers

      The Panthers are in Eastern Canada to start week 8, and Montreal (3rd-best matchup), Ottawa (8th) and Toronto (12th) haven’t exactly been stellar defensively. The issue with streaming the Panthers this week is that their one ‘Light Night’ game could make getting them into your lineup difficult. Make sure to plan ahead before scooping Panthers this week.

      Evan Rodrigues (C/LW/RW – 36% Owned)

      While the one ‘Light Night’ game will make it challenging to fit Panthers into your lineup this week, Rodrigues’ triple position eligibility will at least make it easier. The issue for Rodrigues is he’s pointless in his last six games and has just five points (1G / 4A) in his previous 14 games. Still, he’s been skating on the top line with Aleksander Barkov and Sam Reinhart, so he’s set up to have a big week; he needs to capitalize on it.

      Sam Bennett (C – 14% Owned)

      Bennett is likely the better option this week, but only if you can fit a strict centre into your lineup on those busy nights. I doubt it, and his one goal in eight games doesn’t inspire much confidence. When you look under the hood, though, Bennett has been extremely unfortunate. He’s carrying an absurdly low 1.3 on-ice SH% and has personally shot just 6.7 percent (10.1% for his career). Things will likely improve soon, and you could not ask for a better spot in the lineup. Bennett skates with Matthew Tkachuk and Carter Verhaeghe at 5v5 (one of the best lines in the NHL) and was recently bumped to the top power-play unit. Maybe this is Bennett’s breakout week.

      New York Rangers

      The Rangers have some really nice home matchups this week, facing Buffalo (6th-best matchup), Detroit (19th) and San Jose (1st) at Madison Square Garden. They also mix a day trip to Nashville (21st) in there. Overall, they have the sixth-best average opponent rating this week, and their three ‘Light Night’ games make them easy to stream.

      Alexis Lafrenière (LW/RW – 39% Owned)

      Lafrenière had 11 points (7G / 4A) in his first 14 games this season and just when you thought he’d finally figured it out at the NHL-level, he posts one goal and no assists in his last five games. Still, he’s skating on a line with Artemi Panarin and Vincent Trocheck, and they have been outstanding, averaging 3.2 xGF/60, 37.6 SCF/60 and 14.9 HDCF/60 this season. With great linemates and matchups, this week sets up nicely for Lafrenière to get back into the points column.

      Blake Wheeler (RW – 10% Owned)

      At 37 years old, Wheeler isn’t the player he used to be, and that’s reflected in his paltry usage (12:21 ATOI). However, after going pointless in his first 10 games with the Rangers, his promotion to the top line has led to six points (2G / 4A) in his last nine games. While that’s great, his usage and suddenly depressing shot volume make him a deep-league target only.

      Columbus Blue Jackets

      The Blue Jackets are 10th in Average Opponent Rating this week, but they have four games on ‘Light Nights, ‘ which makes them optimal streaming targets. The two meetings with the Bruins aren’t ideal, but some of Boston’s magic seems to be wearing off. After getting .935 SV% goaltending in their first 16 games, Boston has surrendered 18 goals in their last four games with .875 SV% goaltending.

      First of all, if you’re in a league where any of Johnny Gaudreau (60%), Boone Jenner (60%), or Patrik Laine (52%) are available, then go with them. If you’re in the 60 percent of leagues where they’re not available, here are two other options:

      Adam Fantilli (C – 26% Owned)

      Fantilli is due to breakout. He has no goals and one assist in his last six games despite firing 24 shots on net (4.0 per game). The rookie’s defensive metrics aren’t pretty, but we only care about offence in fantasy, and he’s averaging a strong 3.0 xGF/60, 29.8 SCF/60 and 10.3 HDCF/60 through 22 games. He’s been held back by a 6.9 SH% and 8.1 on-ice SH%. This is a great time to scoop Fantilli, and hopefully, he will break out and become a season-long asset for you because all the metrics and usage are there.

      Kirill Marchenko (11% Owned)

      Marchenko is another player with potential season-long value. After being healthy scratched earlier in the season, Marchenko has settled in with eight points (5G / 3A) in his last 12 games. However, it’s the robust 18:10 ATOI in his previous five games that has me most excited. He finally seems to be earning the trust of the Blue Jackets’ coaching staff and his spot on the top line (with Jenner and Gaudreau) and top power-play unit make him one of this week’s most intriguing streams.

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