Fantasy Roundup: Week 21, Mar. 10-16
How you enter the playoffs can have a dramatic effect on how you push through the playoffs. Teams always want to hit the playoffs playing their best hockey and the same goes for fantasy hockey teams. Many fantasy leagues are entering their playoff stages, if they haven’t got there already, and if you’ve reached the playoffs here’s hoping you are streaking in the right direction. One NHL team worth keeping an eye on is the Montreal Canadiens. Peter Budaj looked shaky after taking the reins in net replacing an injured Carey Price, but Price’s return sparked an emotional come from behind victory over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night. A Stanley Cup victory requires a total team effort and the Canadiens are getting contributions from all sides. In particular, David Desharnais, who had a horrible start to the season, has become fantasy relevant again and is now centering Montreal’s two top fantasy assets Max Pacioretty and Thomas Vanek who have both struggled recently by their standards. Vanek has yet to score a goal for the Montreal Canadiens despite firing more shots than the rest of the team. Pacioretty is also slumping, having failed to score in 5 games. Desharnais is currently available in 75% of leagues and the time to strike is now because Vanek and Pacioretty are too good to be held off the score sheet for much longer.
He’s on Fire!
Mike Cammalleri, F CGY – One of the big non-moves from the trade deadline, Cammalleri is demonstrating to the contenders that he might have been worth betting on. Still available in nearly 50% of leagues, Cammalleri has registered a point in every game but 1 since not being dealt and scoring 4 goals and 6 points over the last week.
Anders Lee, F NYI – It’s probably hard to bet on anybody on the New York Islanders – especially on someone so unproven – but with just 11 games of NHL experience Lee has 12 points. He registered a point in every game last week with minimal ice time and fired 11 shots, so his production appears to be no accident. He’s benefitting from playing on the makeshift top line where he was also a +4 over the week. He’s maybe worth a pickup in your league if you’re looking for some production from the bottom end of your roster.
Antii Niemi, G SJ – It’s not really a surprise as Niemi has been solid all season. His 41-save shutout performance against the New York Rangers capped off a wonderful week. He’s won 5 games in arrow including 2 shutouts in that time which is a major reason why the Sharks are streaking in the right direction – is this their year?
He’s Heating Up
Sergei Bobrovsky, G CLS – The Blue Jackets have been on and off all season, but they’re currently clinging to a playoff spot in the logjam that is the Metropolitan Division with only 3 points separating four teams. Bobrovsky has been rock solid recently, earning him first star honors for the past week and he’ll have to be just as solid down the stretch if the Blue Jackets hope to make the playoffs. Although he gave up 3 goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Sharks, it’s his two 30+ save performances that bookended the week that were particularly pleasing.
Jordan Staal, F CAR – By all accounts Jordan Staal has had a tough year playing for an inconsistent team. Despite the Hurricanes’ continued struggles, Jordan Staal has sprung to life and is currently riding a 6-game point scoring streak accumulating 9 points (3 goals) in that span. He’s still available in almost 50% of leagues.
Alex Pietrangelo, D STL – Registering points in all three games last week, Pietrangelo has emerged as an elite fantasy defenceman this season. As if his 46 points weren’t attractive enough, his +22 rating and 143 blocked shots are peripheral stats that would make any fantasy GM’s mouth water. And hello… he’s only 24 years old – everybody ride that wave.
Cold as Ice
James Van Riemsdyk, F TOR – It feels weird putting someone who’s been so productive this season into this category, but JVR hasn’t scored a goal since March 1st. He’s been playing well over 20 minutes per night and has 19 shots during his current slump, but he’s also a – 6 over that span. With the Maple Leafs driving for the playoffs things have to change.
Jay Bouwmeester, D STL – He last registered a point on February 6th. For someone who plays so many minutes for such a good team it’s hard to believe he hasn’t picked up a point just by accident. Do you bench him?
The New York Rangers – From a fantasy perspective, unless you’re among the 4% of fantasy owners that actually have Carl Hagelin in their lineup and moved him from the bench to the roster on that exact moment when the stars aligned and he pummeled the Winnipeg Jets for a hat trick, then you’ve had very little to celebrate recently. Here are some of the big names who have failed to find twine lately: Rick Nash 0 goals in 5 games, Brad Richards 0 goals in 7 games, Martin St. Louis 0 goals in 6 games since joining the Rangers, Derick Brassard 0 goals in 8 games, Mats Zuccarello 0 goals in his last 11 games. Derek Stepan’s 2 goals in his last 15 games and Chris Kreider’s 4 goals in his last 17 games don’t exactly make owners overly excited. Kudos to Ryan McDonagh, the only remaining fantasy relevant skater on the Rangers, who has rewarded his owners with some measure of consistency.