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:
Alex Steen is not going to play tonight due to a knee injury. He’s getting examined today so there’s no word on how bad it is, but it’s bad enough that he isn’t skating tonight.
Tyler Johnson is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury and he won’t be in the lineup tonight. Like Steen there’s no word on how bad the injury is or how much more time he’ll miss so stay tuned.
Shea Weber remains day-to-day after missing his last two games with no word on how soon he’ll return to the lineup.
Kris Letang is out for the rest of the season with a concussion. Like any concussion how long he’s out is completely up in the air, but we know for sure that he can’t help his owners win their leagues. You have my condolences Letang owners.
Nick Bjugstad had lower-back surgery and will be out for the rest of the season as well. That “lower body soreness” he was feeling must have been pretty damn severe.
Cam Talbot, G (L, 26 SV, 4 GA, .867%) – So the Rangers had two games this weekend and since Henrik Lundqvist took Saturday’s tilt Sunday’s fell to Talbot and he coughed up four goals for the second start in his last three. Now would be a good time for the wheels to come off for Talbot who will likely not see more than one addition start this season now that Hank is back and in desperate need of games to get back up to speed for the playoffs. It was a magnificent run for Talbot but it’s over, so if you own him feel free to drop him for a streamer as needed.
Henrik Lundqvist, G (L, 26 SV, 4 GA, .867%) – Hank was shaky in his return to action after missing most of the last two months with a crazy arterial neck injury, but only for the first period. Really, the normally staunch Rangers defense looked horrible and the Rangers turned the puck over routinely leaving Hank out to dry. He settled down after allowing three goals in the first, but the Rangers didn’t have the give-a-damn to muster a comeback. Either way you can expect Hank to play every game remaining for the Rangers unless there’s a back-to-back set. If you’ve made it this far with him on your roster (bravo!) he’s relatively safe to start, but know that he’s using this time to get his mechanics back up to snuff and the Rangers will be tinkering with their lineup a bit, so don’t expect the King to carry you to the promised land.
Rick Nash, LW (1 G, 4 SOG, 2 PIM) – Nash really fell asleep at the wheel towards the end of the season but he finally snapped the 40-goal barrier and his personal eight game scoreless streak with a goal on Saturday. He remains a must start, but the Rangers clinched a playoff spot already and they’re so deep on offense that there isn’t a need for him to push too hard or play huge minutes for the rest of the season so temper your expectations.
Kevin Hayes, C/RW (1 G, 3 SOG) – With each passing game I get more excited about the potential for a breakout season in 2015 for Hayes. Last night’s tally gives him six points (2 G, 4 A) over his last five games and while that’s good he’s been putting up near point-per-game production for the last two months with 22 points (9 G, 13 A) over his last 24 games. He’s hot right now and he’s been hot for a few months, so why haven’t you picked him up yet?
Derick Brassard, C (1 G, 5 SOG, +1) – Brass is hard to peg at this point. He shows flashes of point-per-game brilliance for a month here or a month there and then reverts to a more conservative rate of production for the rest of the season. He’s probably going to finish with fewer than 20 goals and 60 points in a full season of play, but he has set new career highs in assists with 39, points with 55, and plus/minus (+8). He’s likely to match or set new career highs in goals and power play points this season, so it’s clear that he’s taken a big step forward this season, but the question is can he take another step forward next season? I’m not sure, but all the pieces are there for him to make it happen, anyway.
David Pastrnak, RW (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – The more I watch Pasta play the more I think he could be next year’s Tyler Johnson. He has four points (1 G, 3 A) over his last five games and 25 points in 40 games so far this season and he’s just 18 years old. The sky is the limit here and he’ll get every opportunity to excel with solid top nine minutes in 2015 making him well worth a mid-round draft pick next season.
Milan Lucic, LW (2 G, 2 SOG, +2) – After scoring two goals in his previous 12 games Cheech blew up on Saturday with two goals against a shaky Henrik Lundqvist in the first period of the Bruins’ 4-2 victory. He’s playing on a line with Pasta and Ryan Spooner and that seems to be working out quite well for all parties involved. It’s been a streaky year for Cheech but you can’t give up on him now, he can still help you win.
Ryan Spooner, C (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – I though the return of David Krejci would create a bit of a shuffle in the lines for the Bs but that hasn’t happened in a significant way and doesn’t seem to be in the books. Spooner seems to have solidified his role as the pivot on a line with Cheech and Pasta and given how well all three are playing there’s no reason to bail on any of them at this point.
Anton Khudobin, G (L, 28 SV, 2 GA, .933%) – For the fourth time in his last five games Dobby held the opposition to two goals and for the fourth time in the last five games he took the loss anyway. The Canes are brutal.
Dan Ellis, G (W, 25 SV, 2 GA, .926%) – Ellis gives Roberto Luongo a breather due to Lu’s shoulder giving him some problems and comes away with a 25 save victory. Don’t expect Ellis to get many more starts this season; in fact, this was probably his last unless Lu’s shoulder remains an issue.
Craig Anderson, G (L, 33 SV, 3 GA, .917%) – After Andrew Hammond finally came back down to earth in a big way recently the Sens had little choice but to go back to their starter and man alive did he suck it up this weekend. He allowed seven goals on 60 shots in a 4-3 loss to the Leafs and a 4-2 loss to the Cats. Yeah, that’s Craig Anderson for you. Don’t be foolish and trust him in the playoffs, he’ll kill you.
Jaromir Jagr, RW (2 G, 4 SOG, +1) – Jags potted two goals to extend his point streak to five games last night. He’s been absolutely fantastic since coming over from the Devils in a trade a month ago and in 14 games with the Cats he has 12 points, 64 shots on goal and a plus-8 rating. That’s baller and despite being 43 he’s playing like he’s 37 and while that’s not very good for most skaters, for Jagr it’s elite. Keep him in your lineups.
Jonathan Huberdeau, C (2 A, 2 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) – I’ve been telling peeps to pick up Hoobs since the Jagr trade so I’ll just break it down real simple like for those of you who haven’t caught on yet. Behold; Hoobs + Jags = mad points. Savvy?
Aleksander Barkov, C (2 G, 2 SOG) – Barky is the third piece of the Jagr/Huberdeau line and he’s not getting left out of the action. He has five points (2 G, 3 A) over his last five and he too should be owned just about everywhere right now.
Erik Karlsson, D (1 G, 4 SOG, -2) – Over the three months of the season EK put up just 25 points in 36 games and while that’s great for most defenseman, it’s a worrying sign for a guy like Karlsson. No worries, though, he has 28 points over his last 29 games and he’s on track for a 65-point campaign, which is right on target.
Jaroslav Halak, G (W, 21 SV, 4 GA, .840%) – The Halakness Monster might have risen from the deep to snatch this win from the choppy waters that are the choppy end of the Isles’ 2014 regular season, but he coughed up four goals on just 25 shots to do it. Yeah, that win wasn’t worth it unless it put you into the next round, but I have a feeling his horrible peripherals knocked more people out of the playoffs than the win kept alive. I wouldn’t trust Halak with my fantasy season at this point and I don’t suggest you do either.
John Tavares, C (3 A, 1 SOG, +1) – Remember when you could actually try and buy low on JT earlier this season? Heh! Good times. Good times.
Pavel Datsyuk, C (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – It didn’t take Dats long to get back in the saddle after missing a few weeks of action with an LBI. He potted a goal and added a helper for flavor on three shots yesterday and is all systems go for the last few games of the season. It goes without saying, but I’ll say it; keep him in your lineups.
Kyle Okposo, RW (1 G, 2 SOG, -1) – It took Okie four games to get a point after missing nearly two months with a detached retina, that was worrisome. He has three points over his last five games sense with two goals, so that calms the hysteria a bit, but I’m still worried. Until I see him return to his pre-injury form I’m going to stay worried. That doesn’t mean you can take him out of your lineups though, he remains a must start in most leagues.
Ryan Strome, C (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) – For all the young talent the Isles have that people are worked up about; I think I might like Strome the most. It’s a toss up between him and Anders Lee, C (-2). Either way, Strome has five points (2 G, 3 A) over his last five games and continues to impress game-in, game-out. He’s going to finish the season with around 50 points and 18 goals with a plus-20 and around 185 shots on goal in his first full season on big ice. I fully expect him to take another step forward next season, too, so keep him if you can and if not, target him in next year’s drafts.
Jonas Hiller, G (W, 27 SV, 2 GA, .931%) – Yeah, Hiller won last night steering aside 27 of 29 shots and looked solid, but I still wouldn’t trust him with my fantasy season. Calgary goalies are best spot started against weak opposition, don’t buck the tiger and roll either of them out against a team like the Red Wings or Kings right now.
Carter Hutton, G (L, 25 SV, 4 GA, .862%) – I could see Hutton getting one or two more starts this season to keep Pekka Rinne fresh for the playoffs, but I don’t know that they’ll be good starts.
Roman Josi, D (1 G, 1 A, 5 SOG) – There isn’t a single category I can think of that Josi has not set a new career high in this season. He’s set career bests in goals with 15, assists with 39, points with 55, plus/minus at plus-15, shots on goal with 189, power play points with 14, hits with 51 and blocks with 206. Yeah, he’s top five now.
Jiri Hudler, C (1 G, 2 A, 3 SOG) – There’s no denying that Jiri is having a Hudler of a season and he continued to roll last night with a goal and two assists on three shots last night. That gives him 69 (28 G, 41 A) points in 73 games and while I don’t doubt he’ll remain a productive fantasy contributor for at least a few more years, at 31 this may be his career year. I can see him being way overvalued at next year’s drafts but for now he’s a must start.
John Gibson, G (W, 26 SV, 1 GA, .963%) – The goalie merry-go-round continues in Anaheim and baby, it ain’t stoppin’ for nothing this season. I think at some point soon the Ducks will have to trade one of these goalies and it’s probably going to be Frederik Andersen. Either way, there’s no way to know who will be between the pipes in given game for the Ducks so keep a close eye on who is getting the call on game days.
Corey Schneider, G (L, 23 SV, 2 GA, .920%) – Solid effort for Schneids yet again as he brushed off 23 of 25 shots and in typical New Jersey Devils fashion they lost anyway. Maybe Schneider and Dobby can form a support group for talented netminders that get sold out by their teams routinely.
Ryan Kesler, C (1 G, 3 SOG, +2) – Kessler quietly scored his 20th goal of the season last night and that gives him 47 points (20 G, 27 A) in 78 games this season. That’s about what he’s going to do in any season for the rest of his career. I’m not sure why people keep expecting more; it’s very likely not going to happen. Still, you don’t kick a guy who scores 20 goals off your team for nothing. He remains one of the best secondary scoring options in fantasy hockey.
Alex Stalock, G (L, 31 SV, 2 GA, .939%) – It’s been a long, up and down season for Stalock, a guy I pegged to be a starter at this point in the season. I figured Antti Niemi would be bad enough that the Sharks would have to go to Stalock, and while the former condition was met, the latter was not and the Sharks kept going back to Niemi over and over. To be fair, Stalock did nothing to earn the job so it what’s a coach to do? I doubt the Sharks re-sign Niemi next season so Stalock will get an opportunity to win the starting job in camp next season unless they ink a big name free agent.
Corey Crawford, G (W, 31 SV, 3 GA, .912%) – Man, just when you think Crow is back on track he coughs up four goals three times in five games and three in another. He’s allowed 16 goals on 153 shots good for a .895 save percentage and a 2-3-0 record over that span. Sadly, if you own Crow and you’re still alive (lucky you!) you kind of have no choice but to start him unless he’s your second goalie. In which case you’re likely in an eight team league and get the hell out of here with that eight team league garbage. That all being said, I don’t doubt we’ll see a dose of Scott Darling over the next few games and perhaps as soon as the Hawks’ next tilt, so you’d do well to handcuff Darling to Crow if you can.
Ondrej Pavelec, G (L, 20 SV, 4 GA, .833%) – Pavs finally returns to his true form and coughed up four goals on just 24 shots in a 4-3 loss to the Hawks last night. Given how shaky Michael Hutchinson has been lately and how good Pavs has been, I doubt this changes much for the Jets and I fully expect to see Pavs get rolled out again as the starter in their next tilt.
Patrick Sharp, C (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – Sharp’s stint on the top line wasn’t long lived and he’s been skating with Brad Richards, C (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) and Antoine Vermette, C (1 A, +2) for the past three or four games, but that hasn’t slowed him down much. He has four points (2 G, 2 A) over that span and continues to find ways to contribute late in what long ago became a lost season for the talented sniper. Look for a rebound in 2015.
Dustin Byfuglien, D (2 G, 5 SOG, -1) – With two more goals last night that gives Big Buff three in his last two games since returning from injury. He remains a must start whenever healthy and lets just hope that next season the Jets don’t do something stupid like shift Buff from wing to D to wing again. It didn’t work. It’s not going to work. Stop trying to make Buff on the wing happen. It’s not going to happen. “Buff on the Wing” sounds like a great name for a wings joint, doesn’t it? Not really, but still, keep Buff where he belongs. Fo’ serial.
Blake Wheeler, RW (1 G, 7 SOG) – Big Wheels keep on turnin’ as he extends his goal streak to three games with a tally on seven shots last night. I was able to draft Wheeler in late-middle rounds this season and while I won’t complain, I have no idea why. He’s going to finish with close to 30 goals, 65 points, 250 shots and a whopping plus-25. Why are you still sleeping on him? Wake up to the glory of Wheels! Or not and let me keep drafting him, that’s cool too.