We've finally reached the final four weeks of the regular season.  That means fantasy hockey playoffs!  This post is meant to help you plan for this specific week on a micro-sense.  For the macro picture, check the the Eastern Conference Playoff Manifesto here and the Western Conference here.  We'll take a look at every day this week and point out the best streamers to use or what games to target.  Let's get to it!
The Pittsburgh Penguins have taken a beating this season in terms of injuries, but they've kept chugging along piling up the wins.  On Tuesday, Sidney Crosby returned and he didn't miss a beat.  Crosby had a goal and three assists with three shots in the 7-3 win over the Wild.  So what impact does Crosby's return to the lineup have in fantasy?  Crosby centered Jared McCann and Dominik Simon on Tuesday.  McCann had a goal and an assist with three shots and two PIM while Simon had a goal and an assist.  These two guys are massive winners in this.  Both are elite streamers with upside from there.  Of the two, I prefer McCann going forward.  Props to Joey Jo Jo Jr. Shabadoo for picking Crosby for three points!  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
I'm a big fan of the revenge game and Semyon Varlamov had one on Monday night against his old team in Colorado.  Varlamov had a 32 save shutout to earn the 1-0 victory.  I have a few points on Varly.  One, he's proving to be the #1 goalie we hoped he would be when he went to the Islanders.  Barry Trotz has the best defensive system in the league.  Two, how the hell wasn't he an All-Star?  He's clearly had the best season for goalies in his division.  I get having Korpisalo because the Jackets need a representative, but Holtby?  Come on, Varly has been much better.  Anyways, keep rolling the Isles goalies.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
There weren't that many notable performances over the last two nights, but the big win came from the Wild going into Tampa Bay and emerging victorious.  The ultra-rare line with two players with Z last names led the charge as Mats Zuccarello had a goal and two assists with two shots while Jason Zucker had a goal and an assist with two shots.  Zuccarello is on a nice tear lately with 9 points in the last 9 games.  He's had moments of being a hold in the past, but that time is not now.  He's just under 1.5 shots per game which eliminates Zucc as a hold.  However, he's moving to the second tier of streamers.  Zucker is a tier above Zuccarello, but he's still only a top end streamer.  You simply can't shoot over 20% forever.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We're back with part two of this two part series.  In today's post, I am going to talk about the rest of the league that I didn't talk about on Monday and hit on one or two things that are interesting for fantasy hockey.  After today, I will be back to normal daily notes on Wednesday.  Let's get to it! MONTREAL CANADIENS Montreal is falling apart at the moment having lost their last eight games.  Carey Price has been a disaster with his season numbers below .900 sv% and his GAA above 3.  It's to the point where I wouldn't be playing him every night.  With the Islanders on the second of a back-to-back, I don't mind playing him tonight, but I definitely wouldn't play him against Colorado later in the week.
I've been stubborn in terms of thinking Dougie Hamilton was going to have a massive fantasy season for years now.  Loyal Razzballers know my love for guys who hit all of the categories, and Hamilton has always done that.  It seems like Carolina is finally giving him the chance to be the #1 guy in all situations and he's off to a tremendous start.  On Friday, Dougie scored a goal and an assist with four shots and two PIM.  He followed that up with a goal on five shots Saturday, bringing him to 4+4 in 6 games with 19 shots, 6 PIM and +7.  Obviously he's not going to keep up this pace, but this is the kind of start that can allow Hamilton to finish as a top five defenseman.  In fact, gun to head, I'd bet on it happening right now.  If you follow my rankings, odds are that you have Hamilton on your team in redrafts or keepers.  If that's the case, don't even consider selling high because this isn't a fluke.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
While general sports fans were watching playoff baseball (Go Braves!) or Sunday Night Baseball, hockey fans saw one of the best performances of the season take place on the first weekend.  Anthony Mantha scored four goals on eight shot, including the winner in the last minute of the game, to beat the Stars 4-3.  This comes after an incredible performance in his season opener in which he scored a goal and two assists with five shots and four penalty minutes in the upset win over Nashville.  In both games, the players on the top line were at or above 20 minutes each.  That's extremely encouraging for their long-term success.  Obviously we're not expecting Mantha to be a top 25 player all of a sudden, but the potential is there for 30 goals, 50 PIM and a very good shot rate.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Another year, another Capitals heartbreak.  Once again, Washington had the most points in the NHL during the regular season only to lose to the Penguins in the second round of the playoffs.  I feel pretty safe in saying that last season's Capitals was the best version of them all.  They still remain one of the best teams in the league but they lost plenty of talent in the offseason and their window is starting to close.  They have as much elite talent as anyone in the league but they desperately need some young players to produce to give them necessary depth.  Let's take a look at what the Capitals are working with:
The Washington Capitals ran train through the entire league last season finishing with an absurd 120 points. Like every other season in the Alex Ovechkin era, they fell short in the playoffs, although this time they weren't a prohibitive favorite despite their regular season dominance. They played extremely well only to fall short to their rival in Pittsburgh. They remain as loaded as before with the hope that some young guys on the roster find another gear. The Caps are full of fantasy superstars and others who carry plenty of value. Let's take a look at what they're working with: