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:
Wayne Simmonds, RW (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) suffered a fractured leg last night and won’t get a chance to set a new career high in goals because he’s out for the rest of the season. A sad time for the Wayne Train to derail as he would almost certainly scored 30 goals this season, but alas, with six games left he’s done. That’s a big blow to his owners who definitely needed his goals, hits and penalty minutes in the playoffs.
Pavel Datsyuk is officially out for tonight. There’s hope that he’ll skate this weekened. This is what you get when you draft Dats; amazing offensive numbers when healthy but rarely healthy.
Bryan Little won’t suit up again tonight and remains day-to-day.
Nick Bjugstad also remains out and is listed as day-to-day.
Niklas Kronwall is expected to return to the lineup after a brief absence so get him back in your lineups as well.
David Krejci is probable for tonight’s tilt but there’s a slight chance he might not suit up. It sounds like he’s ready to go, though, so expect him to play and skate on the team’s top line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron.
Dustin Tokarski is getting a start tonight against the Jets. Typically I’d say be careful starting him, and I suppose I have to say that here, but he’s been pretty brilliant on the road this season and this start comes on the road, so if you’re desperate for some goalie help he could provide.
Steve Mason, G (W, 34 SV, 1 GA, .971%) – Mase continued his strong play and delivered more peripheral goodness steering aside 34 of 35 shots to down the Hawks last night. He also delivered a rare win in this one, which is a bonus you’ll happily accept. He’s been good enough that you can trust him during your playoff run if you made it to the playoffs with Mase as one of your goalies. If so, bravo! That’s a feat so don’t bail on him now.
Corey Crawford, G (L, 29 SV, 4 GA, .879%) – Naturally if you can trust Steve Mason in goal you can absolutely trust Crawford, right? RIGHT?! Ugh. The Blackhawks hadn’t lost to the Flyers at home since 1996 before last night, so of course I started the red-hot Crow and he betrayed my trust and gave my goalie cats a beating. Thanks, buddy! I wouldn’t be surprised to see Scott Darling get another start in the next few games, so keep an eye on him for streaming purposes.
Michael Del Zotto, D (2 A, 2 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) – When the 2014 season started no one really talked about Del Zotto, he was mostly a forgotten commodity and for good reason, he’s been hot garbage for a few seasons now. That all changed about halfway through this season and while I have no idea what happened, who cares? He’s been rocking it to the tune of 20 points (7 G, 13 A) in his last 32 games. He has four power play points over that span and a short-handed point mixed in for flavor, too. But wait, there’s more! He has 83 hits and 61 blocks over that span as well.
Michael Raffl, LW (1 G, 5 SOG, +1) – Raffl is a poor man’s Brandon Pirri, or is Brandon Pirri a poor man’s Mike Raffl? Who the hell knows? I do know both guys are on the verge of finishing the season with 20 goals a pop and fewer than 10 assists each. How is that even possible? What puck hogs! Guys like this might seem like wire fodder but they shouldn’t be overlooked in deep leagues. The ability to score 20-plus goals is worth owning, even if that’s basically all the guy is doing this season.
Reto Berra, G (L, 26 SV, 1 GA, .963%) – It has been a long time since we’ve seen hide nor hair of Berra, but he had to come in and take over for starter Semyon Varlamov, G (4 SV, 3 GA, .571%) who coughed up three goals on seven shots in the first ten minutes of the game. Ah Varly, the rollercoaster season continues. I’d like to say you’ll see Berra in there for the Avs’ next tilt but who knows, they don’t seem to trust Berra much at all so I’d expect to see Varly back in there tonight.
Jordan Eberle, RW (1 G, 3 SOG) – Eebs should get a medal for how hard he’s worked over the second half of the season to make sure the Oilers aren’t the absolute worst team in the league. He’s put up 38 points (14 G, 24 A) in his last 36 games and his season line now sits at a totally respectable 21/38/59/-17 in 73 games.
Taylor Hall, LW (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – Hall has returned to action and picked up where he left off, uh, well, in 2013 and has points in all four games since his return. Last night’s goal was his first in two freakin’ months, so it has been a brutal campaign for the talented young winger. Despite that he has four points (1 G, 4 A) over that span and is playing like the Taylor Hall I pegged for a 90-point year in the preseason. Yeah, that was a bit off. Despite that, I think Hall is going to be undervalued at the draft table next season and you shouldn’t sleep. This season was a total disaster for the Oilers from top to bottom, but their top line trio is still as talented as ever and they should find a way to gel into one of the league’s most dangerous lines next season.
Alex Tanguay, LW (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – The old man still some juice left in the tank and puts up a two-point effort last night to inch closer to a 50 point season. He crossed the 20-goal mark on Monday and moves further into the 20s with another one last night. It has been an impressive season for the 14-year veteran, one I think he can replicate in 2015 so don’t sleep on him in later rounds.
Jarome Iginla, RW (1 G, 6 SOG) – Iggy has been having a good year for his age, too. In fact, you could argue that for much of the season Iggy and Tanguay have been the Avs’ most consistent skaters. That’s scary.
Ryan O’Reilly, C (1 G, 2 A, 6 SOG) – Over his last five games O’Reilly has a whopping nine points (4 G, 5 A) as he starts to light it up offensively at the best possible time for his owners. There was always upside here and he’s finally finding a way to tap into it on an Avs team just now starting to find their stride. It might be too little too late for the team’s playoff hopes, but the resurgence is great for fantasy owners who should keep all of their Avs in their lineups until further notice.
Kari Lehtonen, G (W, 31 SV, 3 GA, .912%) – Kari is back to being Let-one-in (or two, or three) again, but his team is finding ways to win. He’s coughed up six goals in his last two games, both wins. I still own him and I still can’t find a way to trust him enough to start him during the playoffs. I just can’t do it and I don’t blame you if you can’t either. I know the second I do he’ll give up like seven goals and get yanked in the second.
Tyler Seguin, C (2 A, 5 SOG) – Seguin might not be scoring many goals since he returned from a knee injury, but he does have points in four straight with five points (1 G, 4 A) over that span. It goes without saying he should be in your lineup no matter what.
Jamie Benn, LW (1 G, 7 SOG) – After taking a skate to the family jewels in his last game Benn was doubtful for this one but left no doubt that he and his jewels are still in game shape with a goal on seven shots last night. Fantasy owners absolutely need their big gun in the lineup and they’ll get just that, so y’all can exhale now.
Ales Hemsky, LW (2 G, 3 SOG, +1) – For most of the season Hemsky has been worthless, but there have been a few surges here and there that tantalize and tease from the wire, only to dry up the moment you pick his fragile ass up. Well, he’s at it again with four points (2 G, 2 A) over his last three games with at least a point in each contest. He’s getting some power play time, too, and added a helper in the man advantage a few games ago. If you’re hurting for offense late in the week and need to take a flyer, Hemsky couldn’t hurt. The Stars are fighting for a playoff spot and it seems all their guys are on board for the effort.
Johnny Gaudreau, LW (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – Another great game for Johnny Hockey as he stream rolls his way towards the Calder. There’s no reason to expect this rookie to slow at this point so keep him in your lineups.
Sean Monahan, C (1 A, 6 SOG, +1) – Money extended his point streak to four games with a helper on six shots last night. He has five points (2 G, 3 A) over that span and with every passing game I get more and more excited about this dynamic duo in Calgary for next season. Like Johnny Hockey there’s no reason to expect a slow down now so keep him in your lineups.
Karri Ramo, G (L, 27 SV, 3 GA, .900%) – Does it really matter whether it’s Ramo or Jonas Hiller in net? The answer is no, no it doesn’t. Don’t trust either with your fantasy playoff life.