I preface this blog by sending my deepest sympathies to Evgeni Malkin owners. I wish I could help you in this time of need. In addition, I’m sure there’s plenty of Dalton Prout haters out there (Nikita Kucherov) as well right now.
It’s nail biting time across the fantasy hockey world as the post-season is upon us and it’s time to put up or shut up. Now, if you’re in a rotisserie league, the road for you may be a bit longer but as for head-to-head leagues, the time is certainly now to produce.
On a weekly basis, plenty transpires around the NHL that is sure to have a massive impact in your fantasy league. In the past seven days, it was all about the returns of some pretty notable players that could help you achieve your goals and aspirations for this fantasy hockey season. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do this time of year with regards to the dreaded “injury bug”. It hurts – I know.
Rick Nash – LW – New York Rangers
After a twenty game hiatus due to a bone bruise, Nash returned to the Rangers lineup this past weekend taking part in both of New York’s contests. While he was understandably rusty, the 31-year-old had multiple chances and looks to be in fantastic shape as well. He’s currently skating on a line with Eric Staal and Viktor Stalberg but as we know in this day and age of the NHL, that can change on a whim. Don’t expect to him to set the world on fire like his 42 goal outburst last year. That being said, the production should come. Then again, I’ve been saying that and waiting all-season for it to happen. To be honest, Nash’s stats are a bit deceiving – his all-around game has been respectable this year. When you’re making that kind of dough though, people want production and lots of it.
Henrik Lundqvist – G – New York Rangers
Welcome back, King Henrik! While Nash’s return is extremely significant, Lundqvist is definitely the heart and soul of this squad. As he goes, the Rangers will go. The Swedish netminder missed just over a week due to neck spasms and it was encouraging to see him get the call in goal on back-to-back days. The Rangers lost both games this weekend but they played two pretty formidable and desperate clubs in Detroit and Pittsburgh. Let’s hope Lundqvist is saving his best for the fantasy hockey playoffs!
Mike Smith – G – Arizona Coyotes
Sticking with the goalie theme – Put your hand up if you activated Smith off the Injured Reserve in time for Saturday night’s game in Edmonton. Well, too bad if you didn’t because he was marvelous in his return from injury. All he did was post a 44-save shutout in his first action in about three months! Undoubtedly, it’s too late to save Arizona’s year but the Coyotes figure to play the role of spoiler superbly between now and the end of the regular season. Smith’s return also has a significant impact on Louis Domingue owners. While he filled in admirably during Smith’s long absence, there’s no question (in my mind at least) who the number one goaltender in Arizona is.
Sergei Bobrovsky – G – Columbus Blue Jackets
It has been a rather inauspicious return thus far to the Jackets lineup for their number one netminder. Bobrovsky allowed four goals on 37 shots in Sunday’s 4-0 loss to Tampa. That’s now seven goals in two games since returning from his latest ailment with Columbus losing both games. Those fortunes should turn around as Bobrovsky shakes the rust off and gets more comfortable in between the pipes. After all, the Blue Jackets have been one of the more consistent teams over the past couple of months in the Eastern Conference. Again, a horrible start to the season did them in. So, it’s time to play the role of spoiler to perfection once again.
Furthermore, look for the likes of Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek, Buffalo’s Ryan O’Reilly and Stars stud defenseman John Klingberg to return to their respective lineups very soon.
Meanwhile, the Justin Faulk file must be driving fantasy owners crazy. He’s been considered day-to-day for seemingly forever despite not having played a game since February 23rd! This situation is very similar to the Rick Nash one – he wasn’t put on the IR for the longest time and he’s certainly a guy you don’t want to drop. (Especially in keeper leagues.)
The playoffs are here and you need your team firing on all cylinders! (Pardon the cliché but it’s true) Here’s a list of players who’ve been on complete fire and should be big-time difference makers in the post-season for your squad(s).
Jason Spezza – C – Dallas Stars
Something has become crystal clear in the last little while – this is Jason Spezza’s world. We’re just living in it. After an up and down first season in Dallas, year number two has been fantastic for this former Senator. In fact, lately, he’s been one of the hottest players in the entire league. The 32-year-old scored two more times on Saturday night in the Stars’ 5-4 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues. He’s now scored in six straight games and has 10 goals in the last 10 games. This is Spezza’s best season in about five years so might as well ride the momentum!
Alex Galchenyuk – C? – Montreal Canadiens
There’s no doubt about it – Galchenyuk is on a cold streak. He didn’t score on Saturday which put his goal drought at one WHOLE game. Joking aside – has Galchenyuk finally turned the corner in his NHL career? While the sample size is very small, any positivity and or good fortune this season in Montreal is always welcome. In the last ten games, the former 3rd overall pick has been impressive. In the past six games alone, he’s had four two-goal performances and has mustered a total of 12 points during this 10-game explosion. Now, it’s time to show some consistency. Perhaps, the 22-year-old is blossoming into the super stud many thought he’d become.
Mark Scheifele – C – Winnipeg Jets
Who would’ve thought Scheifele would crack this list but stats don’t lie. Like Galchenyuk, this former 7th overall pick has been tremendous lately for the Jets. He’s potted seven goals in the last six games and quite honestly, he’s not overly owned in many fantasy leagues. Scheifele is trending upwards and is just five points away from setting a career high. He’s already at a career best 22 goals. Impressive file!
Brayden Schenn – C – Philadelphia Flyers
Had to give a bit of love to Schenn too. Weirdly enough, he’s been unbelievable since Philadelphia dealt his brother, Luke, to the Los Angeles Kings. His 23 goals are already a career high and he needs just two more points to eclipse his career best of 47 from a year ago. It finally looks like Schenn is developing into the player the Kings thought he’d be when they drafted him 5th overall way back in 2009.
Zack Smith – C – Ottawa Senators
Reilly Smith – LW, RW – Florida Panthers
Alex Tanguay – LW, RW – Arizona Coyotes
Antoine Vermette – C, LW – Arizona Coyotes
Shea Theodore – D – Anaheim Ducks
Matt Cullen – C – Pittsburgh Penguins
Have a great week and good luck in the playoffs!
For inquiries and thoughts, you can find me on twitter: @thegoldenmuzzy