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:
Zdeno Chara is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. He hasn’t been very effective this season and lately he’s been completely invisible out there, so this doesn’t hurt anyone much. I wouldn’t let him eat up a roster spot right now in hopes you might get one good game out of him this week, it probably won’t happen.
Max Pacioretty suffered an upper-body injury, is listed as day-to-tday and traveling with the team, but there’s no word on whether or not he’ll play this week. With only two games left for the Habs, their playoff spot long locked up and hopes of a Presidents trophy all but gone there’s little reason for the Habs to put their leading goal scorer out there when he could do with a few days of rest going into the post season. Beware, you might get nothing from Max this week.
Steve Mason, G (W, 46 SV, 1 GA, .979%) – Since the All-Star Break Mase has been one of, if not the best goalie in the league. Given how well Carey Price has played all season that may sound like a little bit of madness, but hear me out. Over his last 20 games Mase has posted a line of 9-5-5/1.80/.943/2. Find me a better goalie over that span, seriously. The Flyers play three games this week and Mase should start them all. If you own him, don’t bench him.
Thomas Greiss, G (L, 16 SV, 4 GA, .800%) – The Pens gave Marc-Andre Fleury a rest to get his head straight last night but Greasy didn’t provide much support in relief coughing up four goals on just 16 shots. If you spot started Greiss here you were desperate and he probably put the nail in the coffin on your season.
Brayden Schenn, C (1 G, 2 A, 2 SOG) – I owned Schenn in a few leagues and held him all season long for the hits and decent offensive production. He wasn’t great, but he wasn’t awful, either. Fast forward to last week and I my team was fading fast so I figured I’d drop Schenn and use the slot to stream, I had already won hits for the week by a long shot, and of course he goes on a tear and puts up six points (3 G, 3 A) over his last three games so don’t bench the miserable bastard now, he’s finally scoring. Boooo! The salt is real.
Michael Del Zotto, D (1 G, 2 SOG) – I can see Del Zotto having a solid full season in 2015 but I can also seem him having a horrible full season in 2015. That doesn’t do much for you at the draft table next season, but for now the Flyers are hot and MDZ has been putting up solid back end blue line production for months now. If you need help on D to see you through to the championship, you could do a lot worse than Del Zotto and his three games this week.
Carey Price, G (W, 24 SV, 1 GA, .960%) – After a couple horrible games that may have sunk many of his owners’ hopes of survival last week, Price bounced back at the 11th hour steering away 24 of 25 shots to help down the Cats 4-1. It may have been too little too late, but at least he did better than Pekka Rinne. I’m so salty right now you could tip me over and dust me on some fries, y’all!
Dan Ellis, G (L, 24 SV, 4 GA, .857%) – Ellis was good for a few starts while Roberto Luongo was on the shelf for a week with a bum shoulder, but otherwise he’s been Dan Ellis. If you started him here you deserved to lose.
Aaron Ekblad, D (1 G, 1 SOG) – Ek scored his first goal in 15 games in this one and that pushed his stellar rookie season line to 12/25/37/+11 in 79 games this season. That’s absolutely ridiculous and the sky is the limit for this ultra talented 19-year-old rearguard. He’s a no brainer keeper in all formats.
Braden Holtby, G (W, 35 SV, 1 GA, .972%) – Holtby pulled a Carey Price and provided his owners with a heaping helping o’ crap play in two previous starts leading up to this gem. Like with Price’s owners this effort may have come too little, too late for Holtby owners, but at least it gave them a hope and a prayer. Unlike Pekka Rinne.
Petr Mrazek, G (L, 26 SV, 2 GA, .929%) – Jonas Gustavsson’s time with the Red Wings is over, that much is for sure. Next season Pete will be Jimmy Howard’s full time backup and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him earn the starting gig in 2016. Howard is solid, but he was never going to lead the Wings to a Stanley Cup. Mrazek on the other hand has the kind of talent to do just that given some more time on big ice and he’ll see plenty of that moving forward.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, C (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – Kooze hasn’t exactly been a revelation this year, but there have been good signs of things to come in the future. He scored just his eleventh goal of the year on three shots last night but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him put up 20 next season.
Mike Green, D (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – There are some guys that don’t get many mentions here because they are so automatic and such known quantities that there really is no need. Mike Green is one of those guys and with a robust season line of 10/35/45/+15 in 70 games played you can see why. He had some injury woes that slowed him for a few years and he’ll never return to the ridiculous totals he put up early in his career, but he’s still a top 20 option on the blue line and should remain so for a few more years.
Jonathan Bernier, G (W, 43 SV, 2 GA, .956%) – The one freakin’ game all season I need Bernie to do exactly what Bernie has done all season – suck, and what does he do? He steers aside 43 of 45 shots to help down the desperate Ottawa Senators in OT last night. I’ll never forget this slight you jerkbag. I hope you tend net in Toronto for all eternity!
Andrew Hammond, G (L, 36 SV, 2 GA, .947%) – The Hamburgler has remained surprisingly solid after a few rough games last week made it seem like the wheels were coming off. The Sens play three games this week and I wouldn’t be shocked to see Hammy take all three. With the Sens still in the hunt for the post season you should feel fairly comfortable rolling him out there this week.
Matt Stone, RW (1 G, 1 A, 6 SOG) – Stone continued his surprisingly beastly sophomore campaign with another multi-point performance last night. Over his last 19 games he’s failed to put up at least a point just three times and finished last month with 15 points (4 G, 11 A) in 16 games. He’s been on fire for months now and should continue his success in 2015, so don’t bench him now and don’t sleep on him at the draft table next year.
James van Riemsdyk, LW (1 G, 6 SOG, +1) – With a goal last night JvR has goals in each of his last three games, giving him 27 on the year. He’s also a minus-32. Effin’ Leafs, man. What can you do? Look for a bounce back campaign in 2015 for JvR, he’s just too good to put up numbers like this again next season unless the Leafs do nothing to revamp their roster in the post season. Knowing them, that’s a possibility, so lets play it by ear until September.
Jake Allen, G (W, 38 SV, 1 GA, .974%) – What’s truly impressive about Allen is that he’s shrugging off 38 of 39 shots in the final week of the season after starting 35 games this season. That’s pretty freakin’ fantastic for a rookie, who often fade as the season wears on. It can be especially difficult for a rookie tender to stay sharp this long (see Michael Hutchinson) but here’s Allen looking as good as ever. Brian Elliott isn’t going to be the starter in St. Louis for long, but for now they’re rolling with the one-two punch and finding success so don’t look for them to stop in the final week of the season. If you own either netminder and you’re still alive, pay close attention to which is starting on a given day, it could be either one.
Corey Crawford, G (L, 31 SV, 2 GA, .939%) – As Crow winds down a largely successful season I’m sure he’s looking forward to the Stanley Cup playoffs but not quite able to shake off that whole broken food at the concert incidence. What’s the over/under on whether he was stoned while it happened? I’ll get in on that action!
David Backes, C (1 G, 2 SOG) – I love Backes, especially in hits leagues. He’s going to give you at least 25 goals, 175 shots, 200 hits and some sweet, sweet power play goals (he has 10 in each of his last two seasons). He continued the trend last night with a goal on two shots extending his mini-streak to three games. Don’t bench him now; he’s one of those multi-category guys that win leagues.
Kris Versteeg, RW (1 G, 6 SOG, +1) – It’s a shame what happened to Steeger. He was flying high in the Hawks’ top six for a good chunk of the season early on but he’s totally fallen apart after breaking his hand and missing six weeks of action to heal up. That’s always the knock on Steeger and he’s never going to shake it – talented as all hell and made of glass. Hey, maybe he can start a support group with Marian Gaborik!
Olli Jokinen, C (1 G, 5 SOG, +1) – This guy hasn’t retired yet? Lawd have mercy!