It's that time of the year again.  For those of you who haven't seen this post in the past, I will break down every team's schedule for fantasy hockey playoffs i.e. starting on this coming Monday, 4/4.  I will note when a team has a back to back or a light day.  A light day is a day where there are four or less games on the schedule, with the exception of Wednesday, 4/27.  I am including that day where there are five games because it's the last day of the season where you'll need streaming, as the last two days both have a lot of games.  I will do the teams in alphabetical order so it's easy to find everyone, and next to each team, there will be (A,B,C,D).  Those numbers will be how many games the team has in each of the four weeks left in the season.  For example, (4,2,3,3) means they have four games from 4/4 - 4/10, two games from 4/11 -4/17, etc.  This post is going to be extremely long, so it will be broken into two parts, with part two coming on Monday.  If you have a specific question about a team next week that will be in part two and you need it answered immediately, please let it be known in the comments section and I'll answer it for you.  And away we go!
As a Sabres fan, the last decade has been bleak, to say the least.  There's starting to be some light at the end of the tunnel, and the newest example came on Monday night.  The Sabres did something they hadn't in 33 years: win a game after being down by four goals. The Sabres came back from 4-0 to tie the game at 4, then went down 5-4 before Alex Tuch tied the game with 2:14 left, then Tage Thompson won it with 11 seconds left. The team is 6-1-2 in the last nine games with plenty of encouraging signs.  We should see Owen Power sooner than later as well.  From a fantasy perspective, the biggest story has to be Thompson.  He's up to 28 goals on the season and over three shots per game.  The jump he's made this season while moving to center is remarkable.  Thompson is still available in over 50% of leagues and quite frankly, I don't understand it at all.  He's a clear hold.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Yes, the Sabres are still a bad hockey team, but the good news for long suffering fans like me, is there are finally some signs of hope.  One of the best signs is how well the first line has performed since Tuch returned from injury after the trade.  They single-handedly won the game for the Sabres on Sunday against Montreal, and it started with their highest paid player.  Jeff Skinner was left floundering on the fourth line or scratched by Ralph Kreuger last season because, well, Krueger had no clue about coaching hockey.  Skinner had one of the games of the season on Sunday afternoon, scoring four goals and an assist on six shots in the 5-3 win over the Canadiens. That bring Skinner up to 20 goals with 14 assists in 45 games.  Is he worth his massive contract?  No, but he's proving once again that he's still a damn good hockey player.  I've had him on the fringe for a while, but I feel good about holding him now.  His shot rate is back over three per game on the season so that's plenty good enough given his contribution in points.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
We don't know what's going to happen come playoff time, but the Florida Panthers have established themselves as a regular season juggernaut.  After destroying the Stars 7-1 on Friday, they came back to score nine goals on Saturday, beating Columbus 9-2.  Among the highlights between the two games were Sam Bennett scoring a hat trick on Friday and totaling six points between the two games, Jonathan Huberdeau having six points, and MacKenzie Weegar having a rare four point game from a defenseman on Saturday.  They're clicking on all cylinders right now and that means great things in fantasy.  They have ten skaters that I consider locks to be held, and another four that are quality streamers depending on team needs.  Side note, I'm going to do another hold/stream list soon.  Could we see the Panthers win their first playoff series since 1996?  As long as their goaltending is passable, it's firmly in play despite being in a division with three elite teams.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
In Ilya Sorokin's first two starts, he allowed ten goals.  In the next seven, he's allowed eight total.  Sorokin kept up his hot streak with a 24 save shutout against the Jets on Saturday.  Semyon Varlamov is back for the Islanders, but for now, Sorokin is getting all of the volume.  I had him pegged as a great platoon guy this year who ideally was your #3, but would be fine as a #2.  Now, it would be terrific if Sorokin is your #2 because he could easily end up being a top 10 goalie even without much volume.  The GAA and save percentage look to be elite while the wins on a per-game basis should be as well.  Long term, Sorokin looks like a top five goalie.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Joel Eriksson Ek took a big step forward last season, one of the main reasons the Wild made the playoffs with relative ease.  It was more on the defensive end than offensively, but he showed plenty of offense with 19 goals in 56 games.  On Tuesday, Eriksson Ek controlled the game for the Wild, scoring a hat trick on seven shots in the 6-5 OT win over the Jets.  Eriksson Ek averaged just over two shots per game last season, but he now has twelve shots in three games.  The minutes are going to be there so there's a chance he could push into bottom end hold territory.  For now, he's an elite streamer.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
I certainly won't be doing any victory laps after the first weekend, but Sam Bennett made me look good on Saturday, scoring a hat trick on six shots in the 5-1 win over the Islanders.  Bennett finds himself in the same role as last season when he blew up after the trade deadline.  Remarkably, he's still available in 40% of leagues on ESPN.  I assume nobody that reads my posts would be in a league where Bennett is on the waiver wire, but if he is, grab him right now.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It's not the first time this season, but Jonathan Huberdeau had five points in Tuesday's 7-4 win over the Predators, scoring twice and adding three assists.  I know I'm a broken record with Huberdeau, but there's no superstar that gets less recognition than Huberdeau does.  Thankfully, the Panthers clinched a playoff berth with the victory so he'll get back on the big stage.  He's playing a 95 point pace again and should be around 25th overall going into next season in standard leagues.  If your league doesn't include shots, he'll be even higher.  It took longer than anticipated, but Huberdeau has proven to be worth the third overall pick from 10 years ago and then some.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We're down to the last few weeks of the season, and whether you play in a roto league or H2H league, it's time to be aggressive with your moves.  The 150th best player could easily be better than the 50th over a small sample. so we want to be getting volume from our players.  This is especially true in net where variance swamps everything.  Carey Price suffered a concussion on Monday and is ruled out for at least a week, if not more.  Jake Allen has fallen off a bit lately, but his overall numbers are still quite strong.  He's available in over 80% of leagues which doesn't make any sense.  If you need any goaltending help, go get him now.  With Montreal having a back to back with Calgary on the weekend, the expectation is that Cayden Primeau starts one of the games.  He's been solid in Laval this season so if you're in a deep league, I'm fine with streaming Primeau given Calgary's struggles.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
If you just looked at the boxscore from Wednesday night, you'd see Jesse Puljujarvi scored a goal.  Nothing exciting there.  However, the big news is that he spent the entire game on the first power play unit.  The person in that spot has changed throughout the season.  Neal, Chiasson, Yamamoto, and now Puljujarvi have all had the opportunity.  It's also notable that with 3 minutes left, the Oilers went on the power play up one.  Nurse was out there to be safe having two defensemen out there, but it wasn't Puljujarvi who lost his spot, it was RNH.  With Puljujarvi locked into that spot for the time being, he gets bumped up to elite streamer status.  With five points in the past six games, things are starting to look up for the former fourth overall pick.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights: