It’s that time of the year!  We are rapidly closing in on the fantasy hockey playoffs, and to help everybody out in terms of streaming and bottom end holds, I am back with my playoff manifesto.  For those that are new here, I will break down the schedule of every team in the league over the last four weeks of the NHL Season (that means games starting with this Monday, 3/9) and highlight anything important, both good and bad.  A few things to note before I get going:

Here is an example of how I denote things: PHI 4(1SS), 3(1), 4(1SS), 3(1).  Since this is 4 weeks, that means the Flyers play 4 games the first week, then 3 the second week, 4 again, then 3 the last week.  The number in parentheses is how many back-to-backs that team has that week (if there are no parentheses, then they don’t have a back-to-back).  If there is an SS, that means the back-to-back is Saturday and Sunday, which is notable because that’s usually when your fantasy week ends and it’s a great spot to stream a player from this team.

I grade every team in both a holding grade and streaming grade.  Holding means for players that are holds and streaming is for, well, yeah you get the point.  C is average.

I usually highlighted all light days where streaming is a necessity, which are days where there are four or less games.  However, this year, there are none until the last week of the season, where there are three light days.  I will discuss these in each team’s blurb, but they will not have their own separate category because they don’t exist in the first three weeks of fantasy playoffs.

As you can tell by the title, I am breaking this into two posts because this is usually a massive post pushing well over 4000 words.  The Western Conference will come out on Friday.  I will also include concluding thoughts on the whole league at the end of Friday’s post.  Without further adieu, let’s do it!

BOSTON BRUINS:  3(1), 4(1), 3, 3

For their studs, 13 games is an average amount.  There also isn’t many good streaming spots given only two back-to-backs.  At the end of the first week, there is a 3 game in 4 nights with Buffalo, Toronto, and Columbus which is appealing.  Then later in that week, they go to California and play the three Cali teams in four nights.  That means you get can six games in nine nights (nice).  Jake DeBrusk is definitely the best streamer while Charlie Coyle and Ondrej Kase are worth using in that stretch as well.  They also don’t play on a light day the last week of the season, so I don’t want to stream any Bruins the last two weeks.

Holding Grade: C

Streaming Grade: C+

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: 4(1 SS), 3(1), 3(1), 3

Another 13 gamer, but the streaming here is much better.  In the first week, we get the back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday against Detroit and New Jersey.  Just terrific.  You can cut streamers after that, and grab them later in the week when they play 3 in 4 nights, then rinse and repeat for week 3.  No light days is the only thing holding this back from an elite streaming schedule.  If you aren’t holding Ondrej Palat, he’s top of the list, followed by Anthony Cirelli and Blake Coleman.  Even Curtis McElhinney should be a viable option with some good matchups.

Holding Grade: C

Streaming Grade: B+

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: 3, 3, 4(1), 3

Another 13 gamer, although it’s slightly better having the extra game during the finals if your league does two week playoff matchups or it’s single week but you don’t play the last week of the season.  They play every other day besides the one back-to-back which really sucks for streaming.  This isn’t the worst schedule, but it’s not far off.

Holding Grade: C+

Streaming Grade: D

FLORIDA PANTHERS: 3, 4(1), 4(1), 3

Fourteen games is obviously a good start, as is seven per two week interval.  You also get the Red Wings and Sabres as a part of three games in four nights in the second week.  To start week three, you get three games in four nights as well, meaning you get seven games in eleven days for your streamers and top guys.  Additionally, they play on one of the light days in the final week of the season.  We’ll have to see who is playing well, but Frank Vatrano and Erik Haula could be among the best streamers the rest of the way.

Holding Grade: B+

Streaming Grade: A-

MONTREAL CANADIENS: 3,3, 3, 3(1)

Twelve games is as bad as it gets this year.  There’s only one back-to-back, although it’s thankfully in the last week of the season with a light day included.  Honestly, I wouldn’t be holding many guys on this team anymore.  Brendan Gallagher, Tomas Tatar and Shea Weber, sure. Carey Price is also viable.  Anyone else, I’d probably cut bait with anyone else and only stream them at the end.

Holding Grade: D

Streaming Grade: D

BUFFALO SABRES: 4(1), 4(1 SS), 3, 3

Too bad the Sabres are a mess right now because their schedule is pretty good.  It’s the second best schedule for the first two weeks of the playoffs.  I would be holding onto the obvious guys but that’s about it.  The end of the schedule isn’t great, although they do play on a light day in the last week of the season.  Honestly, this team is such a disaster at the moment that I don’t feel the need to expand on them because there aren’t really players that people want to use.

Holding Grade: B

Streaming Grade: B+

OTTAWA SENATORS: 4(1), 3(1), 3, 3

Ottawa gets a three in four nights right away, then have another one at the end of the second week.  Their schedule for the last two weeks is abysmal.  No back-to-backs, no light days, lot of tough teams.  Brady Tkachuk is worth holding, Thomas Chabot is on the fence, otherwise it’s an easy pass.  You can stream some guys during the first two weeks (Connor Brown is probably best) but we should be fading the Sens for the most part.

Holding Grade: C

Streaming Grade: C-

DETROIT RED WINGS: 3, 3(1), 3, 3

So the worst team we’ve seen in some time has an awful schedule?  I’d hold Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha, and that’s it.  Even their back-to-back is against Vegas and Arizona, teams I don’t want to stream against.  Woof.

Holding Grade: D

Streaming Grade: F

WASHINGTON CAPITALS: 3, 4(1), 3, 4(1)

Great schedule for the holds with fourteen games.  While three games the first week isn’t great, they get the Sabres and Red Wings.  They close the second week (end of playoff semi-finals) with three games in four nights.  Then they get this stretch from the Thursday of the third week: Rangers Thursday, Red Wings Saturday, Sabres Monday on a light day, Maple Leafs Tuesday.  Can you say goals?  Goals!  All of the usual guys get a boost and remain easy holds while Ilya Kovalchuk gets a bump to elite streamer in the spots where the schedule is loaded despite a slow start in Washington.

Holding Grade: B+

Streaming Grade: B

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: 4(1SS), 3(1), 4(1SS), 3(1)

Tied for the second best schedule in my book, the Flyers schedule is great in every way imaginable.  Fourteen games, four back-to-backs including two Saturday-Sunday’s, a back-to-back in the last week of the season which includes a light day against the Rangers, etc.  They are on fire right now having won six straight and are in a battle for seeding now, so look for Carter Hart to be a huge difference maker down the stretch, for better or worse.  Any of their fringe guys are worth holding through most of these four weeks.  James van Riemsdyk could be one of the best streamers down the stretch if he gets back on track.

Update: Of course JVR broke his hand and is no longer an option.  Kevin Hayes is really the only option left right now in terms of Flyers streamers.  His shot rate is up quite a bit this season and he’s rolling right now.  Given the lack of depth on the Flyers, he was a bit of an oversight on my part until now, but he would have been in JVR’s class of streamer had JVR stayed healthy.  His injury weakens PP2 for Philly, but Hayes should still be solid with Konecny on the second line.

Holding Grade: B+

Streaming Grade: A-

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: 4(1SS), 3, 4(2), 3

We have a rare week with Pittsburgh playing two back-to-backs in week three.  That’s amazing for streaming, as is the SS back-to-back week one.  Sure, there aren’t any light days in the final week, but this is still terrific.  The question is who are we streaming?  The obvious are all being held which leaves guys like Patric Hornqvist and Conor Sheary.  I clearly lean towards Hornqvist because of his PP1 time and the fact that I don’t think Sheary has much left in the tank.  Same goes with Patrick Marleau, but if either starts playing well, they’ll be elite options.

Holding Grade: B+

Streaming Grade: A-

NEW YORK ISLANDERS: 4(1), 4(SS), 3, 4(1)

Our first 15 game schedule.  That’s tied for the most which is a huge boost to guys like Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson for the stretch run.  Both goalies should play quite a bit with the heavy schedule making Thomas Greiss a fringe hold if you need the help.  I’d be holding Anders Lee and am on the fringe with Jean-Gabriel Pageau.  Jordan Eberle and Anthony Beauvillier could be great streamers.

Holding Grade: A

Streaming Grade: A-

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: 2, 3, 4(2), 3(1)

Let’s start with the bad: my god the first two weeks are terrible.  There are only five games and there are no back-to-backs, no games until the Thursday of the first week.  Honestly, I wouldn’t hold anyone on their team besides Zach Werenski, probably Pierre-Luc Dubois, and maybe a goalie.  However, once you get to the final two weeks, this schedule is amazing.  We got two back-to-backs week three and one in the final week, with two light days.  The biggest boost to their players is that their second light day is the second last day of the season when there are two games, and they don’t play the last day of the season, which doesn’t matter because every other team does.  The problem is that their team is currently gutted, but someone like Cam Atkinson should be back by then and could be a massive difference maker in the fantasy finals.  As far as other streamers, we’ll have to see how they’re playing in a few weeks.

Holding Grade: F

Streaming Grade: B-

CAROLINA HURRICANES: 4(SS), 4(SS), 4(SS), 3(1)

I have done this post for at least three years now, and every year Carolina has had the best schedule.  Once it was because of makeup games, but that schedule was arguably the best without a five game week.  Well, here we are again with it being the best.  Fifteen games, a back-to-back every week, the first three being Saturday-Sunday, the last week including a light day, the second last day of the season when there are two games.  Petr Mrazek has the chance to swing leagues.  Nino Niederreiter is back on the top line and can salvage his season with a big finish; he’s an elite streamer.  Vincent Trocheck is worth holding onto while Martin Necas is also a top streamer.  Aho, Teravainen, and Svechnikov can all be top 20 players the rest of the way with this volume and Carolina pushing.  If you own Carolina guys, you should be in great shape.

Holding Grade: A

Streaming Grade: A+

NEW YORK RANGERS: 3(1), 4, 3, 4(1)

The Rangers have a very good schedule, mostly based on the finish.  Four games the last week of the season is terrific, but having a back-to-back and two light days is incredible.  Pavel Buchnevich is the top option for streaming here and could have a big impact.   Otherwise, it’s hard to say how things shake out in net.  We don’t know when Igor Shesterkin will return and how much he’ll play down the stretch.  We’re holding the obvious guys given their 14 games, but we kind of need to take a wait and see approach for the rest.  This is why my future Monday posts looking at the week ahead will be important because a lot of things can change for the Rangers over the last month.

Holding Grade: B+

Streaming Grade: B+

NEW JERSEY DEVILS: 4(SS), 3, 4(SS), 3

It’s a nice schedule, but it’s another team with limited options.  Hold Kyle Palmieri and MacKenzie Blackwood, that’s a given.  You can stream Nico HischierJack Hughes, and Nikita Gusev when they have their back-to-backs if you wish, although you run a risk of a bad plus-minus.  Honestly, their schedule is brutal with only one game against a team not in playoff contention (and that’s Buffalo the second last day of the season) that I’m probably passing on streaming anyone from the Devils despite the schedule.

Holding Grade: B+

Streaming Grade: C+

That’s all for now guys.  We’re already over 2000 words so I’m definitely going with a part two.  That should be out on Friday morning with all of the Western Conference schedules broken down.  If you want to make a Three Point Challenge pick for Thursday’s games, you can do that here or on yesteryday’s daily notes post.  As always, feel free to ask any questions, leave any comments, or give any suggestions below.  Thanks for reading, take care!

  1. ashtray says:
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    ” James van Riemsdyk could be one of the best streamers down the stretch ”

    … and just like that he’s not. Does anyone benefit from his injury?

    Awesome write up by the way.

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      Yeah, of course he gets injured last night. It’s a shame because his team is rolling and the opportunity was going to be there for him. As for anyone benefiting, it’s hard to see who. I assume Farabee will play, but he’s more of a deep league streamer. Honestly, the only guy outside of their big 4 forwards I could see going on a points run is Hayes. It won’t be quite as good being off the first PP, but the shot rate is the highest of his career while being right around his normal shooting percentage, so I can see him turning into a very good streamer.

  2. LG Hockey says:
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    Viz,

    No specific question but just massive appreciation for your insight and work here. Look forward to the second instalment and a super valuable tool to field the best playoff lineup!

    LG

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      Thank you very much LG. The comments like this throughout the year are what makes me want to continue doing this writing at Razzball. Is it helpful for me to do all of this work for this post? Of course. Would I do it if not writing at Razzball? Probably not. It takes a lot of time going through every team’s schedule, but I know it helps everyone out. I really hope it leads you to glory this year. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions. Thank you again!

  3. fleeced says:
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    Hi Viz,

    I’m holding a logjam of goalies right now. Who should I drop? Fluery, Shesterkin, Korpi, Saros and Grubauer.

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      It’s between MAF and Korpi. I’m not a big fan of either going forward. Honestly, if I was DeBoer, it would clearly be Fleury as I would roll Lehner. However, I don’t expect that to happen, so I guess I would lean Korpi? It’s very close between the two.

  4. Chicago/Venice Canuck says:
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    Thanks for all of your heavy lifting. It really helps out in my leagues, as I have byes (fortunately) and it allows me to position things for the next playoff round early on.

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      No problem, glad I can help. Congrats on the bye!

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