We're now in the middle of the fantasy hockey playoffs and it's time to start that final push. Just like last week's post, I'm going to break down the schedule for this week and as a compliment to the Playoff Manifesto, help you in terms of streaming. Let's get right to it!
For those of you doing well in your head to head leagues, this is the most important post of the year. This is my annual playoff manifesto where I break down every team's schedule for the last four weeks of the season. I tell you who are the best teams and players to stream from, who you should look to trade for or away if your deadline hasn't passed, and it allows you to plan ahead with ease. For those who haven't read it in the past, the numbers in the parentheses are how many games the team plays in each of those weeks, with the last number being the last week in the season and preceding accordingly. This is going to be a massive post so let's get right to the 2019 Playoff Manifesto!
On January 3rd, the St. Louis Blues were in last place of the entire NHL. Here we are six weeks later and they're safely in a playoff position. The Blues have matched the longest winning streak in the NHL this season at 10, winning two games this weekend in convincing fashion. First, Jake Allen shutout the Avalanche, then Jordan Binnington shut out the Wild on a back to back. Right now, Binnington is as hot as it gets in the league. I don't expect this to continue, but for now, he's a must start every time out. I still view Allen as somewhat of a desperation play, but with how well the team is playing in front of him, I'm fine with streaming him for the time being. Looks like a coaching change was what they needed to right the ship. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It was only a matter of time until Vladimir Tarasenko picked up his play. Tarasenko had four goals over the weekend, including a hat trick on Sunday, in two games against the Predators. That gives him an eight game point streak to get to 22+19 on the season. Obviously that's still disappointing, but there's time for him to salvage the season. Hell, the Blues are even in a playoff spot now because of how bad the Western Conference is. Look for them to make some additions at the deadline because of all of the moves they made in the summer. Missing the playoffs would be a major disappointment, and creating depth for the lineup would help things out for Tarasenko. The buy low window is probably closed but there's a strong chance that he's a top 30 player the rest of the way. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It feels like forever ago that Tomas Hertl took the league by storm as a rookie. He's shown signs of promise since, but never really put it together. Until. Hertl had a hat trick on Tuesday to lead the Sharks over the Penguins. That brings him up to 19+22 in 43 games, both numbers rapidly approaching career highs in mid-January. He is providing no penalty minutes and a below average shot rate which caps his long term ceiling, but he looks to be a guy who is a fringe top 100 player for the next few seasons. I would say if I had to say where I rank him next year, my guess is just outside the top 100 just because the downside is much higher for a guy whose sole value is coming from points and not the side categories. Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
It was quite the weekend for last season's Calder Trophy winner. Mathew Barzal entered Friday's game against the Senators with five goals on the season, and he matched that in two games. Barzal scored two goals and an assist against the Senators before scoring a hat trick against the Maple Leafs on Saturday. That brings Barzal up to 10+25 in 37 games with solid PIM and an improved shot rate. He's still only 21 years old so clearly the best is to come. For the rest of this season, I think he's just inside the top 50 now that his shot rate isn't far from average. If he can eventually get that up towards three a game, it's game over. Barzal has top 20 player upside down the line; hopefully the Isles get some more talent around him. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
In the game of the night, a stealth Hart Trophy candidate led his team to glory. Johnny Gaudreau scored a hat trick on four shots in the 4-1 win in Winnipeg. Just like that, he's 5th in the NHL in scoring with by far the best shot rate of his career. Couple that with a career high shooting percentage and Johnny Hockey is well on his way to a career high in goals. I've generally been lower on Gaudreau than most, but this year he has proven me wrong. That line is among the best in hockey and Gaudreau is at the forefront. I don't expect him to slow down much in the second half making Gaudreau is a good bet to finish as a top 20 player in fantasy. Let's take a look at what else happened on Thursday night:
Jonathan Quick was already out. Now Jack Campbell is out 4-6 weeks with a knee injury. That makes Cal Petersen the starter in Los Angeles for the time being. Petersen was a 5th round pick for the Sabres that blossomed at Notre Dame and signed with the Kings after he became a free agent due to waiting out his time at Notre Dame. He is a very good prospect, and now he's jumped into the show. In his two starts over the weekend, Petersen made 34 saves on 35 shots against the Blackhawks before stopping 38 of 42 shots against the Predators. Obviously the Kings are a bad team, but their schedule is decent for the next two weeks, so I don't mind taking a gamble on Petersen if you need goaltending help. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Mark Stone has been a favorite of Razzball Hockey (aka me) for a few years now. One of the most underrated players in hockey, Stone is an above average first liner, no doubt about it. Somebody is going to pay him a ton in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent and he'll be worth every penny. Stone had an incredible game on Tuesday scoring two goals on seven shots while adding in three assists as well. That brings him to 6+12 in 15 games. He's somehow available in 25% of leagues on ESPN, which is crazy. Stone should be owned everywhere, and while I've been clamoring for him to be traded so he's even better, it's become abundantly clear that he'll produce just fine in Ottawa this season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
I generally don't like to lead posts about obvious must-holds, but a five point game deserves recognition. Brayden Point went off on Tuesday night scoring a goal and dishing four assists. That brings him to a whopping 7+7 in 11 games. He's on the lethal top power play unit meaning the 22 year old looks like he can take another jump from last season's breakout. The shot rate will determine just how good Point will be for fantasy, but he looks the part of a borderline top 50 guy for the foreseeable future. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights: