This column is the opposite of evergreen, as it says in the written article. We are at a point in the fantasy season where without a win today, there is no tomorrow. It’s time for the rival play-off managers to take on each other first this week before entering the penultimate round, if not the final marathon battle to determine the champion of this campaign. No one cares if you’ve ever dominated or not. There are only a handful of individual games left over a period of about 75 hours, starting Thursday night. Going forward, the NHL schedule, which ends this week, makes a big difference.
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Only six teams will have to play three games each on the four days between Thursday and Sunday at the end of this round. This means that members of the next six squads are more likely to make hay at the crucial moment. Especially for fantasy managers in an exciting battle. As usual, the focus is on the numbers from ESPN.com’s fantasy lineup.
Any fantasy manager who has problems with goaltending (maybe invested in Cary Price, Philip Grubauer, Maple Leafs goalies?) should at least consider Tokarski’s team in the short term. The Sabres’ only (basically) healthy goalie has an SV percentage of .938 and a respectable 2-2-1 record in five consecutive starts, including a game against the Penguins. Averaging 4.1 fantasy points per game in that span, Dustin Tokarski is employable for all three games between now and Sunday – one against the Rangers and one against the Bruins – unless the recovering Carter Hutton heals faster than expected. Buffalo center Casey Mittelstadt continues to show off, experiencing his most productive month (by a colossal margin) of his NHL career.
You don’t believe in Tokarski? After that, check to make sure David Creasy or Craig Smith weren’t left out of your H2H competition. Defensively, Matt Gjelcyk is emerging as a dangerous – and again healthy – player in the Bruins’ first pair and the No. 1 power play. Grzelcyk owns just 28% of ESPN.com leagues. After two games against Buffalo, Boston faces the Penguins on Sunday. The last time the B’s met Pittsburgh in early April, they scored seven goals (including an empty netter).
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Unfortunately, aside from the schedule, there hasn’t been much fun in Flyers fantasy lately. Since the 31st. In March, the team won three of eleven games, averaging just two goals per game. An exception to the managers needing a blue line might be Travis Sanheim. Due to penalties, blocked shots, penalty kicks and a few goals/assists, Philadelphia’s top-4 defense hasn’t been up to par since Week 5. April with an average of 1.9 fantasy points. That’s not a great number, but it’s still almost six points in three games. Any manager who loses a week by a few points – aren’t we all? – needs to appreciate the potential difference that even such a small cushion can make. Sanheim is available in nearly 84% of ESPN.com leagues. In addition to the game with the Rangers, it’s also worth noting that the Flyers will face New Jersey in a four-way contest starting Sunday. In April, no team gave up more goals than the Devils (4.64 per game in 11 games).
After Tuesday’s 7-6 victory, the Penguins will take on New Jersey again on Thursday and Saturday and the Bruins on Sunday. Fantasy managers still hesitant to contact members of Pittsburgh’s second line should change their minds quickly – especially Jeff Carter and Jared McCann. The former scored Tuesday when the Penguins scored three goals for 3.8 fantasy points. McCann is an additional threat on the team’s first power play. As long as Evgeni Malkin isn’t in action – and the center’s return from a lower-body injury for next week will be a big shock – the Carter/McCann combo has great fantasy potential in the coming days. The vast majority of available Mike Matheson presents himself as an intriguing, if volatile, asset on the blue line.
The Jersey Devil
For the Devils, who face the Penguins twice and the Flyers once from Thursday to Sunday, Nico Hischer should be considered a late acquisition. The sophomore center and top power forward has scored two goals on 11 shots in the last two games. Striker Egor Sharangovich is having another productive mini-cycle with two goals and three assists in three games. It could be useful in deeper H2H leagues. Please stay clear of all guards at all costs. This club is also allowing nearly five goals per game in April.
New York Rangers
With Jacob Trouba out until Thursday with a suspected concussion, K’Andre Miller becomes even more important on the Rangers’ blue line. An increase in quality minutes is guaranteed for a rookie defenseman already playing on New York’s second team in the network tournament. Miller is only listed in 5.6 percent of ESPN.com leagues, but could have a good weekend. Of those available in fantasy, attacker Colin Blackwell has the most potential. He is tied with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome in scoring with six goals and six assists in the last 13 games. The Rangers host the Flyers twice in the next 24 hours and face the Sabres on Sunday.
For those not reading this until Thursday night, it’s worth noting that the Montreal Canadiens, Calgary Flames, Minnesota Wild and Los Angeles Kings play twice from Friday to Sunday, in addition to the half-dozen clubs listed above. The majority of the championship will be played in singles during this period. The Edmonton Oilers don’t play at all until Monday.
One final comment: The Colorado Avalanche return to action on Thursday after not playing since Week 14. April was less by COVID 19 league protocol. Colorado has a chance to win for the ESPN.com fantasy game on the 13th. May still has 13 games on the schedule, most of them in the NHL. With Mikko Rantanen still out, Andre Burakovsky, ranked 33rd in ESPN.com’s rankings, joins Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskom as the Avalanche’s No. 1 forwards. Veteran Carl Soderberg is another interesting addition to the club’s leadership and second line. The Avs will take on the St. Louis Blues. We will be back in St. Louis twice to end the week and again on Monday.
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