Back-to-back games are nothing to fear (Niemi, Huet, Thomas, Fernandez, Danis, McDonald)

Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas has not yet played back-to-back games this year, paving the way for teammate Manny Fernandez to get today's easy start at the New York Rangers.

Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas seldom plays back-to-back days, paving the way for teammate Manny Fernandez to get today's easy start at the New York Rangers.

Back-to-back games typically give fantasy owners reason to fear, especially when there’s travel in between.

The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins played Saturday at 12:30 (a 5-3 Bruins victory) in Boston; today, both teams have afternoon games elsewhere.

So you might expect both the Blackhawks and Bruins to come out flat. But as it turns out, both teams have an advantageous fantasy matchup today. Specifically:

  • Antti Niemi, goalie, Chicago Blackhawks vs. Colorado Avalanche (3:00pm ET). Colorado has lost six straight and has scored only five goals in their last four games. So why would Niemi get the start against these cupcakes instead of nominal netminder Cristobal Huet? Mainly because Huet stunk it up (well, he stopped 34 of 38) in yesterday’s loss in Boston. Then the Blackhawks promptly traveled halfway across the country for today’s tilt vs. Colorado. Niemi is owned in fewer than two percent of both ESPN and Yahoo! leagues. That will change, quickly, if he delivers the goods in Chicago. Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that Colorado will have fresher legs: The Avalanche hasn’t played since Wednesday (March 4).
  • Manny Fernandez, goalie, Boston Bruins at New York Rangers (12:30pm ET). Fresh off their home whooping of the Blackhawks, the Boston Bruins make a short trip to New York to face a suddenly hot Rangers squad, coming off a 6-1 thrashing of the Avalanche Feb. 28 and a 4-2 pounding of the Islanders March 5. But let’s emphasize the opposition here: Avalanche and Islanders. Prior to those two victories, the Rangers had lost seven of eight, scoring more than two goals in only one of those eight games. They are a lousy offensive team, any way you slice it. Fernandez is 0-2-2 with a 3.42 GAA in his last four, but that’s to your advantage, dear fantasy owner: his cold streak has rendered him available in 57 percent of Yahoo! leagues. By contrast, ESPN owners (84.1 percent ownership) have shown more faith in Fernandez. Their faith should be rewarded if the Bruins prevail vs. their egregiously inferior opponent this afternoon.

Bonus back-to-back starter:

  • Yann Danis, goalie, New York Islanders vs. Phoenix Coyotes (3:00pm ET). Prior to his poor performance in the aforementioned 4-2 loss to the Rangers, Danis had allowed five goals in his last five games, including two shutouts. He is likely to get the start this afternoon, since his teammate Joey McDonald prevailed in yesterday’s 7-3 home destruction of the New Jersey Devils. So while this is a back-to-back for the Islanders, they are not traveling. Phoenix has lost four of five and has scored only six goals in those five games. The stage is set for another Danis shutout. Despite his recent hot streak, Danis is available in 81 percent of Yahoo! and 91 percent of ESPN leagues. How much longer will fantasy owners let this No. 2 goalie linger on the waiver wire?

photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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