For most of the season Rasmus Ristolainen, D (1 G, 2 SOG, +2) has been largely forgettable on a forgettable team. His season line currently sits at 8/9/17/-29 in 73 games played and that’s going to make most owners laugh and look elsewhere for blue line help at this point in the season, but if you did that you’d be making a mistake. As my mantra goes, at this point in the season it doesn’t really matter what has happened, it only matters what’s happening now and right now the talented young rearguard is starting to catch fire and is definitely worth a look in most formats now and should absolutely be on your radar for a breakout campaign in the next season or two.

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One of the most important variables to consider when making moves during the fantasy hockey playoffs is games remaining. How many games are your guys playing this week? You might be feeling confident with Vladimir Tarasenko slotted in on your right side, but he only plays two games this week and one of them is already done and gone so unless Vladdy blows up against the Jackets on Saturday he isn’t going to do much for you this week. Ah, head-to-head, she’s a fickle beast. Does that mean you should you drop the Tarasenko Express? Absolutely not, especially if you’re in a keeper league, but it does illustrate a point cannot be ignored at this point in the season; you absolutely must pay attention to games to be played on a weekly basis and how many games are left to be played in the second half of the week. When you can’t beat them with quality, beat them with quantity. To aid you in this effort I’ve compiled a list of the games remaining for each team this week (including today):

THREE GAMES LEFT – Anaheim, Boston, Carolina, Detroit, Florida, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Isles, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Washington.

TWO GAMES LEFT – Arizona, Calgary, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg.

ONE GAME LEFT – Edmonton, Philadelphia, St. Louis.

Clearly you want to avoid guys that skate for the Oil, Flyers and Blues for the rest of the week. That’s a bummer considering how beastly the Oil’s top line has been playing, but it is what it is. Manage your guys well and make sure you get more games in than the other guy and you should be okay. Next week I’ll post a more comprehensive list like this at the beginning of the week and update again mid-week with remaining games to keep y’all on track. Don’t fall apart now; the championship is within your grasp! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:

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Man, what the hell happened with Kari Lehtonen, G (W, 33 SV, 1.000%, SHO) this season? I honestly have no idea. Yes, the Stars have dealt with injuries since before the start of the season and that’s definitely hurt team chemistry. Yes, their defense is more offensively minded than they should be and when you mix that with a handful of youth on the blue line and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster. Yes, he sports a 31-14-10 record which is pretty stellar, but when you pair it with a 2.82 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage through 59 starts this season you’ve got yourself a recipe for a lot of disgruntled owners. Despite all that, and despite everything I’ve been saying for most of the season, Kari is getting hot at the right time and you’d do well to pick him up for the playoffs.

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It’s an interesting question, JD. Thanks, self! Just how good has Carey Price, G (L, 30 SV, 2 GA, .938%) been this season? Pretty damn good, that’s how good. In 52 starts he has posted a season line of 36-13-3/1.92/.935/6 and with 18 games left in the regular season for the Habs, Carey now leads the Vezina race over Pekka Rinne and will challenge Dominik Hasek’s ridiculous 1998-99 season. That year Hasek posted arguably the best season by a goalie ever putting up a 1.87 goals-against average to go with a robust .937 save percentage. That’s absolutely ridiculous. What’s more ridiculous is the shooting gallery he faced doing it. There has rarely been a better example of a one-man show than the 1998 Buffalo Sabres, who had no earthly business making the playoffs but no one told Hasek that. Then Sabres Head Coach Lindy Ruff would let his entire team pinch deep offensively allowing tons of odd-man rushes leaving Hasek hanged out to dry more often than not and more often than not Hasek shut the door. The 2014 Habs aren’t nearly that bad, but it can be argued that without Price they would be struggling to make the playoffs, don’t get me started on leading the Eastern Conference. Indeed, Carey’s 1.92 goals-against average to pair with his beastly .935 save percentage have carried the Habs to first overall in the east despite sitting just 22nd overall with 2.6 goals per game on offense and sporting one of the league’s more inept power plays ranking 24th overall converting on just 16.8% of their chances. That’s pretty ridiculous and come playoff time the Habs will have trouble advancing without a potent power play, but don’t put it past Price to carry them to the Eastern Conference Finals again. Is Price putting up the best season for a goalie ever? You could certainly argue that’s the case. I know I am. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:

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It seems like every season there’s one or two breakout goalies that can help make the difference between winning and losing when it counts the most. This season is no exception, and though John Gibson’s strong play is a surprise to no one, Andrew Hammond, G (L, 36 SV, 2 GA, .947%) has been a revelation. Though the two net minders couldn’t be more different; Gibson with his blue chip pedigree and ceiling as high as the sky and Hammond, a 27-year-old no-name never-has-been with a ceiling about as high as my living room’s, both goalies have been hot enough to earn the right to split time with their respective team’s starters making them both most owns in virtually every league. 

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In a move that can only be seen as trying to tank for a better position in the McDavid sweepstakes, Sabres GM Tim Murry pulled the trigger on a deal that sent Jhonas Enroth to the Dallas Stars for backup goaltender Anders Lindback and a conditional third-round pick in 2016 today. This move comes right on the heels of another that sent arguably their best defenseman Tyler Myers to the Jets for injured winger Evander Kane. Regardless of whatever the thinking behind this move was, it radically alters the goalie landscape in Dallas and the number one job is most definitely up for grabs with Enroth in town. Maybe the Stars are looking for a way to motivate the struggling Kari Lehtonen to start playing up to his usual standards, but one thing is for certain, Enroth has the ability to take the job from Kari and it sounds like the Stars are going to give him every opportunity to do so.

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I’m not sure if someone put a hit out on goalies in the NHL recently or there’s some there’s a really cranky Oilers fan sitting up in the bitter cold of Edmonton with a set of voodoo dolls he attacks routinely, but whatever the case may be, but life has been tough for starting goalies in the NHL lately. On the heels of the devastating news that the fantasy owners will be without the services of Henrik Lundqvist for at least the next three-to-four weeks due to a blood vessel injury in his neck two more starting goalies went down over the weekend when Frederik Andersen, G (L, 17 SV, 5 GA, .773%) took his neck to the back of the head and Steve Mason, G (8 SV, 0 GA, 1.000%) tried to stretch between plays only to have his knee buckle on him.

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Yesterday I wrote at length about the possibility that Henrik Lundqvist was poised to miss significant time with a mysterious neck injury that the Rangers were saying very little about. They didn’t have much to say about it this morning, either, other than the fact that Hank is out for at least a month, perhaps longer. The exact nature of the injury has not been disclosed and honestly, I wouldn’t expect to hear much about it for at least a few more days. All that is known is Hank did not develop a blood clot, suffer nerve damage or, despite the reports of intermittent headaches, he is not suffering from post-concussion syndrome either. This changes everything for the Rangers and Lundqvist fantasy owners. It goes without saying that Cam Talbot is now a must add everywhere as he is now the undisputed starter for the high powered Rangers with the 20-year-old, unfortunately named and wholly unproven MacKenzie Skapski getting recalled from the Hartford Wolfpack of the AHL to serve as Tablot’s backup.

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The chance of a potentially season shattering injury exists for both the New York Rangers and owners of Henrik Lundqvist today, who remains day-to-day with a neck injury that the Rangers are saying very little about. What is known is that Hank took a Brad Malone slapper to the neck in the opening minutes of the second period during the Rangers’ 4-1 win over the Canes this past Saturday. He finished that game in his usual stellar, Kingly fashion and then went on the down the Florida Panthers 6-3 in Monday’s tilt before sitting out last night. Here’s the scary part, he’s experiencing intermittent headaches since the incident and, given that he played a full game before sitting, one can assume that his symptoms worsened over the course of the last few days. Speculation is a dangerous game, but the Rangers are leaving little room for much else at this point. Whether The King will be off his throne for more than a few games is unknown at this point, so it’s a wise precautionary move for all Hank owners to add Cam Talbot, G (W, 18 SV, 2 GA, .900%) as a handcuff for now.

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After Devan Dubnyk, G (W, 24 SV, 1.000%, SHO) was dealt to the Wild I took a deeper dive into his numbers and quickly jumped on the bandwagon and you should too. Since joining the Wild Doobie is 6-1-0 with a 1.48 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage with three shutouts. Obviously those aren’t sustainable numbers, but given his season line now sits at a robust 15-6-2/2.35/.923 in 27 games and taking into account he’s amassed much of that line while playing for the woeful Coyotoes, that’s pretty damned impressive. Hell, those numbers would be impressive anywhere, but for some strange reason people aren’t flocking to pick him up before it’s too late. Owners in CBS leagues know what’s up and he’s owned on 60% of teams there with Yahoo clocking in at 53% and ESPN way behind the times at 41% owned. These numbers are about as ridiculous as Doobie’s. There’s no way he shouldn’t be owned just about everywhere by now, so if you need help in the crease you should definitely go ahead and pick him up. Don’t be shy. I know his time on the Oil might have you looking at his name on the wire and rolling your eyes, but don’t pass on him this season, you’ll regret it. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:

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