It’s Thursday in the final week of the regular season and that means you not only have to keep an eye on how many games each team has left over the next 72 hours, but you also have to track who is riding the pine and the opportunities that may create for streaming success. Oh yes, the brutal reality of those of us in leagues that use the final week of the season as the championship round comes back to bite us once again as many star players will be getting rested as the playoff picture is nearly complete. Frankly, I’m against this policy in Head-to-Head leagues for this very reason. Do you really decide who is the better team when half your guys are benched? I suppose in H2H it’s more about being attentive and making sure your lineup is always fresh and stacked as opposed to the roto mentality that rewards the manager who puts the best team on the ice over the full course of the season rather than last week. At any rate, lets get into the games remaining business and I’ll et into who is sitting and who is starting after the jump because baby, there’s almost no hockey left and you don’t want to lose your league because you started Rick Nash and found out too late that he’s a healthy scratch. By the bye, he’s a healthy scratch tonight. Anyway, here’s the list o’ games remaining by team: Games Remaining for Week 25 Apr 6-Apr 11: 2 Games – Phoenix Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets 1 Game – Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals That’s a lot of teams with two games left, but bear in mind that there are only four teams playing two games after today; the Sabres, Jackets, Isles and Pens. The other twenty-some teams play a game today and one more for the rest of the week. If you’re trying to stack your lineup for this weekend those are the teams to target for streamers. Every team plays on the final day, so it won’t be hard to stack for Sunday. Good luck, y’all! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
At this point in the season the wire has been picked clean and then picked clean again like so many bones days after Thanksgiving. Sometimes you’ll get lucky and an owner who dumped some key guys who had no games remaining last week but lost so they’re still sitting there for you to bolster your roster with in the championship round, but normally there isn’t much to work with. Given that, the emergency recall of high scoring prospect Stanislav Galiev might be worth your attention. A former third round pick in 2010, Galiev posted 45 points (25 G, 20 A) in 64 games with the Hersey Bears this season and gets a chance late this season due to the mounting injury woes the playoff bound Caps are facing. They’ll want to rest some of their key guys and that gives Galiev a chance to play a couple games on big ice. You can’t expect a ton from the kid given his past struggles; he bounced back and fourth between the ECHL and AHL in two seasons prior to his successful campaign this year, so he hasn’t exactly torn it up and skyrocketed to big ice as a result, but like I said to open this little blurb, it’s slim pickings right now and you can expect Galiev to get decent minutes and maybe pot a goal or two over the next two games and at this point in the season that can make all the difference. If you’re in a deep league he’s absolutely worth streaming. If you’re in a more shallow league I might hold off, but not too long as the Caps only play two more games this week and if you’re going to get anything from this kid you’ll need both games to make it worth your while. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
So here we are folks. It’s been a great year and some of you are reading this and feeling just as salty as I am after having been burnt by Pekka Rinne’s horrible week and wondering what might have been otherwise. Ah yes, the fickle mistress of fantasy hockey has lured you in with her siren song with high hopes in October only to dash them on the rocks of despair in April while pointing and laughing. Hey, just like your senior prom! Ah, memories. I digress, it’s the final week of the season and all your moves count more now than they ever have. The wire has been picked clean by guys stacking their lineups for yesterday and many of them didn’t survive. Guess what happens to the guys they picked up? They’ll languish unused on those abandoned teams, so your wire might be thinner than you’d expect. In that case, knowing who plays when and how often this week is again central to success because if you can’t beat ‘em with quality, beat ‘em with quanitity. This strategy becomes especially important this week because many actual hockey teams have already clinched their playoff spots and they’re not going to risk their Stanley Cup dreams for your fantasy title hopes, so keep a close eye on the counts and good luck! I’ll be here all week with updates an advice to hopefully guide you through the final leg of this long, grueling, beautiful marathon we call fantasy hockey. Without further ado, here’s the final breakdown of games remaining for the year: Games Remaining Week 25 Apr 6-Apr 11 4 Games – Los Angeles Kings, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, Winnipeg Jets, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets 3 Games – New York Islanders, Dallas Stars, New Jersey Devils, Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, Arizona Coyotes, Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Colorado Avalanche 2 Games – Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks, Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning As you can see there aren’t many teams with four games this week and at the halfway mark in the week there will be even fewer so snatch up guys playing on those teams while you can. I’ll be back again on Thursday with an update on games remaining for the weekend push. Good luck to all of you that are still alive, go win that title and make us here at Razzball Hockey proud! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
If you hadn’t already seen or heard about the hit yet you’re about to get a heavy dose because the league has levied a four game suspension against Dustin Byfuglien today for his brutal cross-check to the back of the head of the Rangers’ J.T. Miller earlier this week. No one can deny it was a dirty play. It happened away from the puck and Miller was completely defenseless, so the suspension is absolutely warranted. I like Buff but I think he can get a bit out of hand sometimes and this is one of those times. This sort of thing is a risk with his style of play so it’s to be expected in small doses, but to pull this kind of crap when his team is fighting for their playoff lives and worse, fantasy owners are fighing for their own playoff lives and championship dreams this garbage costs his owners in the biggest way at the worst possible time. There aren't many options at this point in the season, but there are moves you can make to mitigate the damage.
As promised we’re halfway through the week and I’m back with a quick update to help you track games remaining this week for all 30 teams. What? You think Wednesday is halfway through the week? Wrong you are, math majors! I’ll let you figure that one out but in the meantime pay attention. If one of your guys on a team with only a game or two left this week are hurt you have some tough decisions to make as we approach the weekend. Remember what I wrote about knowing when to cut bait on the right guys at the right time and with a little luck you’ll be just fine. Games remaining by team for the Week of March 30 – April 5: 3 Games– Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals 2 Games– Columbus Blue Jackets, Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, Phoenix Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks 1 Game– Anaheim Ducks, Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets Remember that those totals include tonight’s games and there are 12 teams with two left right now that only play one game from Friday through Sunday and they are the Ducks, Bruins, Flames, Blue Jackets, Oilers, Kings, Wild, Preds, Isles, Rangers, Canucks and Jets. So keep these numbers in mind when making your moves and make sure to choose wisely my friends. Good luck to all and here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
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.
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: Games By Team For The Week of March 30 - April 5: 4 Games– Washington, Tampa Bay, Vancouver, St. Louis, Colorado, Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Detroit, Buffalo, Chicago, Florida, Edmonton. 3 Games– Calgary, Dallas, Carolina, New Jersey, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Columbus, Arizona, San Jose, New York Rangers, Boston. 2 Games– 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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.