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Hey, everyone.

Working in higher ed admissions means my workload has picked up significantly, but I’m setting time aside to throw some fantasy hockey streaming advice your way!

As you might know by now, my managing style and what I discuss in my advice column is maximizing games played and putting more skaters on the ice that your opponent. I use data pulled from my own league as well as the two RCL’s to give this idea some supporting data, so let’s dive right in!!

Using the Active Stats tabs from my most competitive league as well as the two RCL’s, I’ve compiled a table of every matchup we’ve played this year (up to week 13) Out of 580 data points, managers who have played ten or more skaters than their opponents are 65-5-6. 65 wins, 5 losses, 6 ties. Even 5 more players on-ice than your opponent moves your meter considerably closer to the Wins column (from a coin-flip to winning 62% of the time). Yes, some teams might have better players, or might put up more points (G+A), but nothing correlates more accurately to a win than the difference of games played between teams. Points, goalie starts, you name it… the bottom line is, you want to put more decent skaters on the ice per week than your opponent, and wins will follow.

To wrap that up, this column isn’t for spot-streams, it is for grabbing players on Monday or Tuesday and having them play on short-slate days in order to maximize player starts.

A side note is that micro-managing your lineup this way means fewer counting stats left on the bench. An opponent I played had Dylan Larkin sitting when he got a SHP, which is a total waste you cannot get back. When I play, I rarely, if ever, have a player on the bench accumulating stats.

In order to give Razzball readers a potential plus-6 or plus-8 skaters on the week of 1/29, I’m going to cover the three teams with an optimal schedule to grab additional starts. This is an interesting week with a ton of teams only playing one or two games, so be sure to look at your own team and plan accordingly.

Week of 1/29

Back to normal hockey scheduling, we have short slates on Wednesday (3 games), Friday (4 games), and Sunday (3 games). The odds are high that your opponent will have limited player availability on these days, so plan to grab 2-3 guys to make sure you have skaters going every night.

San Jose: (T, W, F, Su)

The Sharks have a terrific schedule this week, playing on all three short days- great news for you Brent Burns owners. Tomas Hertl Is owned in 40% of ESPN leagues and posts a fair amount of hits and PIM to go with his scoring. He’s also way behind on expected goals and has been ‘unlucky’ all year, making him an easy pickup if he’s available. For deeper leagues, Timo Meier is worth a look, taking 2.6 shots per game (with only ~14 minutes of ice time) and is way behind on expected goals. The more I look at Meier, the more I like him. For those of you in super-deep leagues, I might keep an eye on Joonas Donskoi. His production to this point hasn’t been amazing, but he pops up on my radar for exceptional possession numbers and is right on the line for his expected goals.

Washington: (W, F, Su)

The Caps are a little slim for good streaming, and their schedule doesn’t help matters (PHI, PIT, VGK). With stiff competition in town, I could see the Caps bringing these games to the boards. In my most competitive league, I frequently reach for Brooks Orpik, for help with hits and the rare assist. If your league counts PIM along with hits, I might snag Tom Wilson.  Unfortunately, nobody jumps out at me for offensive help. Lars Eller is available in most leagues and has been playing good hockey, but there’s nothing that says he’s more than average. Average can help, though- you never know when an assist or two might push you over the top.

Detroit (W, F, St)

Detroit is a good option to pick up guys for W/F and then dropping them to plug lineup holes with spot streams over the weekend. I’m an Anthony Mantha fanboy, and if you’re in one of the 40% of leagues where he’s available, he’s worth a long look as a hold. Gustav Nyquist is worth a stream for two games, as he leads the Red Wings in shots and has a large role on the (admittedly underwhelming) power play.

I’m going to find time this week to update my spreadsheets with Games Played statistics, but an important task on my radar is looking towards the playoffs. What follows is not for the high-roaders among you!!

Maximizing Games Played is even more meaningful in the playoffs, and you have tons of time to prepare. Both RCLs begin their playoff matchups on the 12th of March, but both of my leagues begin after week 20 on February 26th. If you’re in already, congratulations. Once you do punch you ticket in, if you live in my world of playing dirty, you have a few next steps:

  1. Know when your first playoff week is, and look at NHL scheduling to get a sense of teams playing 4-5 games or who are scheduled to play on short-slate days.  For those in RCL’s or leagues that have their playoffs during the last 4 weeks of the NHL season, Viz has you covered here.
  2. When you’re doing this, look at teams with only 2 or 3 games (or 1) or who only play on busy days.
  3. Extrapolate who your playoff 1 opponent might be, and trade them anyone who has a crappy schedule for their guys with good schedules, as long as the trade makes sense.
  4. If it works, you’ll be in round 1 with skaters every single day of the week, and your opponent will be kneecapped with overstocked days followed by days with only two or three skaters. Well played!!
  5. Depending on your playoff format (1-week or 2-week matchups) you can build a scheduling juggernaut even 4-6 weeks out from the playoffs. Once you lock in your playoff spot, that’s when the underhandedness can begin.
  6. Make sure the trades make sense!! This can be a tricky strategy, but if you see an opportunity, grab it.

That’s all for now- I’ll be in the thread as much as I can responding to questions and doling out advice. Good luck this week!!