Fantasy Hockey: Streaming tips for Week 23, the playoff quarterfinals
Special to Yahoo Sports
It’s playoff time in fantasy hockey which means hard decisions need to be made for the stretch run. Do you ditch the player who held your roster together only to fade when you needed him most? Do you grab that risky young talent who’s getting more ice time now that his team’s out of playoff contention?
Here’s all the latest to help you win your week.
TEAMS TO TARGET
The reigning champs kicked off the week with an easy 5-0 win over the Hawks, and the rest of the week should be a cinch too. They’ll host the struggling Penguins on Wednesday and then finish the week with a home-and-home series against the Coyotes on Friday and Sunday, two days with sparse action that will allow fantasy managers to gain a few more points when the majority of teams have the night off.
Depth players such as Denis Malgin, Evan Rodrigues and J.T. Compher are all good streaming options, as is Bowen Byram, who would be a top power-play quarterback on any other team and may play an even bigger role if Cale Makar (lower body) misses time due to injury.
St. Louis Blues
They’re not an obvious choice to pick players from, which is what makes the Blues such a great option. They’ve won four of their past six. Scoring goals hasn’t been a problem and, who knows, maybe they’ll keep Joel Hofer around for a little while longer just to see if they can keep the good mojo going. Their scoring is a little more spread out with Pavel Buchnevich now playing center (and excelling), and both Kasperi Kapanen and Jakub Vrana (more on him below) are starting to pitch in some points, too. The Blues play a home-and-home series against the Wings, who are in the midst of a 2-9-1 slump, before facing the lottery-bound Ducks on Saturday and the Kings on Sunday, which will surely be their toughest game of the week.
TEAMS TO AVOID
The Canes play four games this week but it might be the toughest schedule of any week this season: A home-and-home series against the red-hot Rangers on Tuesday and Thursday, and then a weekend back-to-back hosting the Leafs and Bruins, who are a combined 3-1-0 against the Canes this season. Carolina has lost three of their last five. Their scoring comes and goes and their goaltending is in a bit of a flux with both Frederik Andersen and Pyotr Kochetkov struggling and Antti Raanta still on the mend. After an impressive start, trade-deadline acquisition Shayne Gostisbehere has only one helper in his past seven games, and only four forwards — Sebastian Aho, Martin Necas, Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Jack Drury — have managed to score a goal over the past week. A slumping team and a difficult schedule are a bad mix.
It’s not that the Stars are bad, but they play all three of their games at home this week, where they’ve won just 17 games, the second-lowest total among teams in playoff position in the West. They’ll host the Kraken on Tuesday (who are excellent on the road) have an easier matchup against the Penguins on Thursday but then host Thatcher Demko (1.99 GAA over his last seven games) and the Canucks on Saturday, who are 2-0-0 against Dallas this season with 10 goals scored.
While certain players — ahem, Miro Heiskanen — have been brilliant, Jake Oettinger really hasn’t, and he’s arguably Dallas’ most important player. The depth players that seemed appetizing at first, including Evgenii Dadonov (one goal in four games, minus-4 rating) and Max Domi (four-game cold streak), no longer look like good options anymore.
Streamers (rostered in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues)
Owen Tippett, LW/RW, Flyers
Tippett has scored five points in his past two games and, on a team short on high-end offensive players, the Flyers have no choice but to lean on the big winger for offense. He’s averaging over 21 minutes per game in March after skating in the middle-six for much of the season, and he’s been a shot-generating machine, averaging five shots per game.
The drawback is the Flyers play only three times this week, but they may be good matchups with the Panthers expected to start their backup, Alex Lyon, on Tuesday, the Wild and their suddenly shaky goaltending due up on Thursday and then the struggling Wings on Saturday.
Jakub Vrana, LW, Blues
Vrana was always an immensely talented player, but the Wings just didn’t have any room for him with their glut of wingers. Sidetracked by a stint in the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program earlier this season, Vrana has gotten a fresh start with the Blues and has been fantastic with five goals and six points in seven games. He’s now playing on the top line with Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou. While Vrana doesn’t get a lot of ice time, his matchups this week are very favorable.
Marcus Johansson, LW/RW, Wild
Johansson has been very good in his second stint with the Wild, scoring eight points in nine games and his line with Joel Eriksson Ek and Matt Boldy has picked up the slack on offense with Kirill Kaprizov sidelined. Without Kaprizov, Johansson’s line will be counted on to provide the bulk of the offense. They’ll face the Flyers and Hawks later in the week, two opponents who have routinely allowed a lot of goals.
Pierre Engvall, LW/RW, Islanders
Shockingly, Engvall has actually produced in a top-six role. With injuries to several key players, Engvall has played higher in the lineup than he normally would, and he enters Tuesday’s matchup on a four-game goal streak. He still doesn’t shoot the puck much, but he’s providing offense playing on a line with Brock Nelson and a rejuvenated Kyle Palmieri. Matchups against the lottery-bound Jackets and struggling Sabres later in the week should make it easier for the Isles to generate offense and score goals.
Tom Wilson, RW, Capitals
In banger leagues, Wilson is still the guy. While his scoring pace has fallen off a little bit due to injuries, he’s still a steady contributor in hits and gets involved on the offense often enough to be more than just a one-trick pony. He’s not playing with Alex Ovechkin at the moment but he has played over 20 minutes in four of his past six games, and one game where he played 19:49. The Caps have one of the easiest schedules this week despite playing just three games, hosting two of the league’s worst teams in the Jackets on Tuesday and the Hawks on Thursday.
Mattias Ekholm, D, Oilers
Ekholm’s tied with Evan Bouchard for the lead among Oilers defensemen with nine points in 10 games. The veteran rearguard’s point production was bound to spike while sharing the ice with Connor McDavid, and Ekholm also looks much more active since moving on from the Predators.
Ekholm presents as much upside, if not more, than both Bouchard and Darnell Nurse due to his consistency, yet Ekholm is rostered in the fewest percentage of leagues. Who wouldn’t want a defenseman who plays in all situations on one of the league’s best offensive teams?
Source: Yahoo Sports