So you’ve survived the first round of the playoffs and you’re feeling good, but the game isn’t over so don’t slack now. Last week I touched on a few key bits of strategy to help you win your league and promised an update on one of the most important aspects to victory in the playoffs, tracking games remaining for all 30 teams. Since its Monday it should really be “games this week” but you mean what I know. There are a good amount of teams with four games this week, so that’s good, but some key players like Devan Dubnyk and the Wild only get a couple this week, so it’s as important as ever to keep your eyes on the schedule and make sure your key players aren’t left putting up goose eggs on off nights when you need them the most. Anyway, you know I’ve got your back so I won’t waste more time with a bunch of blah blah hoopla, you’ve got lineups to set and moves to make, so without further adieu he’s the breakdown for games remaining this week:

FOUR GAMES REMAINING – Washington, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, St. Louis, Colorado, Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Detroit, Buffalo, Chicago, Florida, Edmonton.

THREE GAMES REMAINING – Calgary, Dallas, Carolina, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Columbus, Arizona, San Jose, New York Rangers, Boston.

TWO GAMES REAMINING – Minnesota, Anaheim, Winnipeg, New York Islanders, Nashville. 

I’ll update this list halfway through the week and be back again next Monday with another reminder. Good luck this week! Also, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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It can be hard to pivot away from the strategy that helped carry you this far and into the playoffs, but often you have no choice but to leave behind the ways that got you this far and adopt a more drastic approach in the playoffs. When your season starts you must be patient. Have patience with the elite veteran you know will get up to speed to actually get up to speed and start producing. Have patience with for the budding superstar you know will produce, he just needs time to adjust to the North American style. That works if you have the discipline, but now it’s do or die and the moves you make are as critical to your success as the moves you don’t make. Now you need to act and learning to know when it’s time to cut bait on a guy you really, really don’t want to. It gets a bit hairy in keeper leagues when you have to decide between now and next year, but in redraft leagues it gets pretty simple, pretty quickly; as the clock ticks down on your first round matchup you may have to bite the bullet and ditch your idle big guns for long shot streamers, and that’s okay so long as you make the right moves.

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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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Through nine seasons with the Buffalo Sabres Drew Stafford has mostly been a yawnstipating, forgettable skater that shows intermittent flashes of solid play but quickly regresses to his usual bleh. He did have a couple 20-goal seasons and even a 30-goal year back in 2010 when he potted 31 goals in just 62 games and it seemed like he might be poised to take a step to the next level. Alas, he never did and the Sabres didn’t help much by getting worse and worse until they hit rock bottom in 2014. Luckily for Staff he was traded to the Winnipeg Jets in the Great Tank for McDavid campaign and with 12 points (6 G, 6 A) in his last 11 games he’s playing at a level that he may never have achieved before on big ice.

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When the season started no one expected much from Thomas Vanek, RW (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) after he crash-landed to end his 2013 season with the Habs. It was so bad by the end that the Habs were giving Vanek fourth line minutes or just flat out benching him during the Eastern Conference Finals, so if you expected a move to Minnesota to instantly fixed what ailed him, you were cray cray. Shockingly, the move did little to help matters but come to find out he was having some serious off-ice troubles that were at the heart of his sudden departure from the NHL’s goal scoring elite. Well, that nonsense has been cleaned up, he’s been rocking it for almost two months and now Charlie Coyle, C (1 G, 1 SOG, +2) is joining the party.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The Columbus Blue Jackets have had a rough year. Before the season even started they lost their entire first line to injury and a contract hold out that ended in the nick of time, but wasn’t enough to help them avoid stumbling out of the gate. Mix in a horrible season by franchise goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, G (W, 38 SV, 2 GA, .950%) and down years by just about everyone else and there wasn’t much to cheer for in Columbus this season, that is, until now. The Jackets are mostly healthy now and after a few deadline deals trimmed some fat there was room for a recall of talented rookie pivot Marko Dano, C (2 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) who has wasted no time making his mark on big ice and could absolutely be an asset to many fantasy teams in the playoffs.

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When the Anaheim Ducks made what many consider to be a very smart move and traded Bobby Ryan to the Senators a few years back the primary return in the deal was a talented young winger with a killer wrist shot and a knack for finding the back of the net. Everything was going swimmingly at first. He potted four goals in his first four games with the Ducks but then doom descended from the heavens; he broke his hand and finished his rookie campaign with just 23 points in 50 games played. Sadface. Fast-forward to now and he’s finally regaining his early rookie season form and with eight points (3 G, 5 A) over his last eight games, Jakob Silfverberg, RW (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) is once again worth a look in deep leagues.

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I’ve been weaving a theme through most of my posts over the last week or so and today isn’t the day to try something new because baby, my words of wisdom are still hella applicable in a big way. What’s that maxim everyone? It doesn’t matter what’s happened to this point in the season, it only matter what’s happening right now. What’s happening right now is two guys who haven’t done a ton on offense this season are blowing up, and who helps you win your league title? Those guys, that’s who. So who are those guys? Brandon Pirri, C (1 G, 10 SOG) and Justin Abdelkader, RW (2 PIM, 2 SOG, +1) are those guys and they’re both putting the biscuit in the basket at a high rate lately, didn’t you know? Well, now you do. You might go to the wire to add either, see their overall offensive numbers for the season and shy away, but you’d do yourself and your chances of winning a serious disservice if you do.

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Over the past week my posts have been focused on the fact that at this point in the fantasy season it doesn’t matter what happened before this point in the season, if a guy is scoring you pick him up and if he’s cold and you’re about to get knocked out of the playoffs, or knocked out of playoff contention, the time is now to make big moves. Sometimes that means you have to drop a superstar you can’t keep for next season that’s been nothing but an anchor for the last few weeks or more, and that can be tough, but if you don’t have the stones to make those big risky moves you don’t deserve to win. It’s harsh, but it is what it is. It’s a dog eat dog world and we’re just trying to get our just deserts. If you fancy deserts you might fancy winning, and if you fancy winning you might consider picking up the newest hot hand on the blue line, Marek Zidlicky, D (1 G, 2 A, 4 SOG).

Please, blog, may I have some more?