Fantasy hockey: Forecaster for the week of March 15-21

Brayden Schenn of the St. Louis Blues may be a better bet on the road. Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire

When does a home versus road split for a team become fantasy relevant? It's tough to get into such minutiae when, for the most part, such splits aren't super predictive.

But, when the splits start to get ridiculous, they become worth our attention. While we may not be able to find a source for the bigger splits, we can keep them in the back of our mind when setting lineups.

Washington Capitals power play (45.2 percent conversion at home, 8.8 percent on the road): First in the league at home and 30th in the league at home is a pretty sizable disparity. This split is made manifest in John Carlson, who has 14 points and six power-play points at home, but eight points and one power-play point on the road. You probably wouldn't bench Carlson just because the Caps have a road trip, but the team split is enough to check the schedule for home games when making decisions about starting Jakub Vrana or T.J. Oshie for the week.

St. Louis Blues offense (2.67 goals per game at home, 3.57 goals per game on the road): Middling at home and second best in the NHL on the road for scoring shows two sides to this Blues team; On the road they are the team that took home the Stanley Cup just two seasons ago and at home they are 28th in the league for points in the standings. Brayden Schenn has been hit the worst with this home malady when it comes to the power play. All five of his power-play points this season have been on the road. It's certainly enough to keep an eye out for a week when the Blues are on the road ... such as next week! The team plays four road games. Make sure all the scoring pieces of the offense are in your lineup. Going forward, borderline fantasy plays like Jordan Kyrou and Mike Hoffman can crystallize as lineup options if the Blues are on the road.

Pittsburgh Penguins defense (2.54 goals against per game at home, 3.54 goals against per game on the road): These splits bear out big time with Tristan Jarry, who is 8-2-0 at home with a .925 save percentage, but 3-5-1 with an .864 save percentage on the road. So, for a week like next week, Jarry is a fantastic start. The Pens have five games, but the two tough ones against the Boston Bruins are at home, and one of the three remaining games against the New Jersey Devils is also in Pittsburgh.

Edmonton Oilers defense (3.29 goals against per game at home, 2.45 goals against per game on the road): As far as ranking goes, the Oilers are 26th in the league for allowing goals at home and third on the road. This entire split has been created by one man: Mike Smith. Whether the 38-year-old has something against playing at Rogers Place is a fair question. On the road, Smith is a perfect 5-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and .967 save percentage. Whatever the magic is for Smith on the road, it's the only time he should be in fantasy lineups. At home, his goals-against average is an ugly 3.14. It's just Smith, by the way; Mikko Koskinen does not have a significant home-road split.

Fantasy Forecaster: March 15 to March 21

It's a rare week when you actually have to think twice about starting the best skater in fantasy. Unless you are in a shallow league, you'll probably still start Auston Matthews and his 3.5 fantasy points per game (FPPG), but with other teams playing as much as five times there is a possibility you have better options. The Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets and Ottawa Senators all only play twice next week. There are some tougher calls on the Leafs, but you can probably go ahead and bench any Jackets or Sens on your roster.

For those new to the forecaster chart, here are some explanations: "O" (offense), which is on the left for each game, and "D" (defense), on the right, matchup ratings are based upon a scale from 1 (poor matchup) to 10 (excellent matchup) and are calculated using a formula that evaluates the team's season-to-date statistics, their performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played, as well as their opponents' numbers in those categories. The "Ratings" column lists the cumulative rating from 1 to 10 of that week's offensive ("O") and defensive ("D") matchups.

Team notes

Tampa Bay Lightning: The Bolts success has limited how helpful their five-game schedule next week can be to fantasy. Recent success from Ondrej Palat and Anthony Cirelli has all but closed the window of opportunity to add them from the waiver wire. Yanni Gourde and Alex Killorn are both widely available and currently on a scoring line with Steven Stamkos. Both have managed 1.4 FPPG this season, which of course is useful on a five-game week. Auston Matthews' two-game week at 3.5 FPPG is exactly equal with the projection for both Gourde and Killorn (seven fantasy points). Ryan McDonagh would be the other place to look on the wire, as his 1.9 FPPG ranks 22nd among defensemen, yet he remains available in 35 percent of leagues.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Also playing a five-game week, the Penguins have a few more options available that are likely free agents. Kasperi Kapanen should be your first stop, as he's settled into a groove on a line with Evgeni Malkin of late. In fact, 43 percent of his entire fantasy production for the season has come in the month of March. More folks are getting wise to Brandon Tanev's production, but he's still available in 58 percent of leagues. Tanev rides ridiculous hits and blocked shots points to the tune of 1.9 FPPG this season and 2.6 FPPG in the past two weeks. It's also worth noting the splits described above and the fact that three of the five games are at home, where Tristan Jarry has been putting up all his points: 43.8 fantasy points at home versus -9.0 fantasy points on the road.

Vegas Golden Knights: While his first three NHL goals as a hat trick is a pretty impressive feat, defenseman Dylan Coghlan's scoring isn't coming out of nowhere. With Alex Pietrangelo sidelined he has opportunity and as a top-five goal scorer among defensemen in each of the past two AHL seasons, Coghlan also has some talent. A week that features two games against the San Jose Sharks (30th in the league for goals against per game) and two games against the Los Angeles Kings (both goaltenders currently sidelined), is a good week to take a chance on Coghlan. Also keep watch on the goaltending here. Like the Kings, the Knights currently have both goaltenders sidelined -- Marc-Andre Fleury in COVID protocol and Robin Lehner still hurt. Oscar Dansk could be a deeper league option depending on how long Fleury is out.

Player notes

Adrian Kempe, W, Los Angeles Kings: We've been singing his praises this season, but Kempe remains available in 53 percent of ESPN leagues. If simply predicting his success didn't do it for you, there's still time to react now that the success has happened. In the past three weeks, Kempe has 3.2 FPPG in seven games.

Adam Henrique, C, Anaheim Ducks: Was getting waived and benched an effective wake-up call for Henrique? Since coming back to the Ducks roster, Henrique has 15.1 fantasy points in seven games (2.2 FPPG). That's closer to where I'd hoped he would be when I listed him as a sleeper forward pick before the season. Seven games isn't quite enough to make him a must-add in all leagues, but it's close. A couple more solid outings from Henrique -- who is on a line with Jakob Silfverberg and rookie Trevor Zegras -- and he should be scooped up.

Timo Meier, F, San Jose Sharks: His overall output has been low enough that a recent lower-body injury may have seen him dropped in your league. Go grab him. In his four games before getting hurt, Meier had shown promise with 14.2 fantasy points. His usual linemate, Tomas Hertl, should also be back by the time Meier returns.

Alexander Edler, D, Vancouver Canucks: Only Dougie Hamilton, Jeff Petry and Victor Hedman have scored more FPPG than Edler since Feb. 26. What do those other three have in common that is not true of Edler? They are not available in your fantasy league. Edler might be, as he's rostered in 76.1 percent. When he's blocking shots and throwing body checks, Edler is one of the best fantasy plays around. In 2018-19, he was second to Nikita Kucherov in FPPG among all skaters.