Week 21 Preview

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Duncan Keith Chose the "Hockey Background" for his Portrait - Harry How/Getty Images

In a lot of leagues, Week 21 is the beginning of the playoffs. Woo hoo! You made it! That makes this week’s preview really important if you’re looking to move on to the second round. I’ll do my best not to screw it up for you!

I have mentioned this before, but in my estimation, the best way to get a leg-up on your opponent in a head-to-head format is to maximize your roster spots. To do this, you want to fill your roster with players from teams playing four-game weeks. The more games played, the more opportunity to contribute. It is also important to take advantage of off-nights. You want to have as many players as possible playing every night during the week. The fewer players sitting on your bench accruing meaningless points, the better.

By no means is this my idea and I don’t want to take credit for it. However, it is a strategy that I have used in the past and has worked very well for me. I encourage you to try it. The suggestions I make in this space I made with this strategy in mind. Good luck!

Colorado Avalanche

J.T. Compher – The Avs have an excellent schedule this week. Like, couldn’t be better: four games all on off-nights. They also have the same great schedule next week. The problem is the Avalanche top line is the only one that can really be counted on for minutes and scoring. However, over his last 10 games, Compher has averaged 18:30 TOI as well as 2+ minutes per game on the PP. In that time he has four points and 17 shots but not many other peripherals. Compher would be best suited for a pickup in a points league, as he won’t do much for you other than have an opportunity to score.

Valeri Nichushkin – After a terrible season in Dallas last year, Nichushkin has been a good depth player for the Avs. His ice-time has been a bit all over the place, but that is the case with a lot of the Avalanche forwards. He gets a decent amount of shots and hits so his value would really be felt in a league that counts those categories.

Vladislav Namestnikov – Overall, the trade from the Senators to the Avalanche is a slight upgrade for Namestnikov’s fantasy value. His ice time is hovering right around where it was in Ottawa but in now he gets to share some of that time with players like Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. He’s probably not going to stick on that top line for any length of time, but if he does, make sure he’s on your team when he does it.

Anaheim Ducks

Adam Henrique – One of the hottest players over the last month or so, Henrique has been scoring points in bunches. With 13 points in his last 11 games, he also isn’t afraid to throw the body around racking up 11 hits in that same time period. Will this hot play continue? Probably not, his shooting percentage is around 30 percent right now and is IPP is 100 percent. These rates are sure to normalize, but if you can get in on the tail end of this hot streak this week, you should. The Ducks play four games, three of them on off-nights.

Sonny Milano – A recent acquisition for the Ducks, Milano is playing on the wing with Ryan Getzlaf. Now, that might not be as good in 2020 as it was in 2013, but he’s got three points in two games since coming over from Columbus. He isn’t going to fill your categories, but in a points league, he’s worth a pickup.

Danton Heinen – Another recent acquisition, Heinen is also being put into a position to succeed. As Adam Henrique’s linemate, head coach Dallas Eakins may have been hoping some of that hotness would spread, and it has! Two points in two games with the new club as well as 50 percent of the team’s PP time. Let’s hope for our sake a change of scenery was all Heinen needed for a breakout.

Chicago Blackhawks

Duncan Keith – Over the last week, Keith has been moved back up to the first PP unit. In that time, he’s racked up four power-play points, 10 shots, and 9 blocks. Not bad! Obviously, things aren’t going to continue at that rate, but it’s clear things are working.

Brandon Saad – Ice time has been a little bit up and down for the veteran winger. He’s also been playing up and down the lineup, which isn’t great. However, Saad is a shooter and outside a few games recently, he’s been firing on net at a pretty solid clip. His shooting percentage is elevated in relation to his career norms, but it’s not egregious. Saad isn’t a flashy player but he can score regularly and has a good schedule.

Connor Murphy – Murphy has been a pretty solid player in bangers leagues all season. The same can be expected for this upcoming week. Hits, blocks, and shots are all very good. The points contributions leave you wanting more but Murphy will be a solid pickup for filling up your peripherals.

Detroit Red Wings

Robby Fabbri – It’s hard to recommend picking up players from the worst team in the salary cap era, but they play all three of their games and they have a good schedule. All three of their games come on off nights. Fabbri is seeing plenty of ice time, and in a points league, he’s a good bet to help you out.

Filip Hronek – Since coming back from injury, Hronek has slid right back into his role as the Wings #1 defenseman. In a standard league or league that counts +/- as a stat, Hronek might be a risk. But in a bangers league, he is a great pick up and should probably be rostered already.

Vancouver Canucks

Jake Virtanen – Like the Red Wings, the Canucks also only play three games during Week 21, but they are all off-nights. Virtanen was seeing top-six time earlier this season but that seems to have faded. Even in his limited TOI though, he is managing to get a decent amount of shots and chip in on hits. His PP time is minimal but he can contribute there as well.

Best of the Rest

Targets for Next Week

If you have a bye week in the first round of your playoffs, you probably didn’t get all the way down here. But just in case you did, you should be using your adds this week to get a leg up on your opponent next week. Here are the teams you should be targeting:

  • Edmonton Oilers
  • Buffalo Sabres
  • Ottawa Senators
  • Winnipeg Jets
  • New York Islanders

Week 21 Conclusions

For many of us, the season has been leading up to this. The first week of your playoffs should be pretty exciting if nothing else. Let’s hope you make it through. If your playoffs start next week or the week after, check-in here for streaming advice and recommendations.


Follow me on Twitter @TZLsports for more of my content!

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