Head-to-head Fantasy Hockey leagues will start their playoffs next week or the week after. How do you go about filling out your roster for these matchups? The first thing I do is to look at the schedule for each one of the players on my team. Does their NHL team only play two games that week? Having a player or two playing only two games is not a big deal, but if you have three or more; well that’s a problem. I also look at the team I’m playing against for the same reason. Is that team going to get eight more games of offense from his players than I am? If so, then I am probably going to have to make some moves. Next, I will check out how my team has performed over the past couple of weeks. Is there a category or two that I have struggled in? Do I need to find replacements for those players? I’m not afraid to churn the bottom of my roster to pick up players who are hot now, dropping those that are not.
I also need to figure out if players who are battling injury on my team are worth carrying on my roster if I’m not going to be able to use them next week. Sure, they will give my team a great boost when they come back, but I still have to win to get that bonus next week. I’m not afraid of making changes that assure me of the best chance to win. I’d hate to lose when I didn’t think I did everything I could to win. I treat head-to-head league playoffs much like Keeper or Dynasty Fantasy Hockey leagues; I worry about the present much more than I worry about the future because in the case of H2H playoffs, if I lose during the first week there is no future.
Fantasy owners need to keep an eye on the injury reports now. Since the trade deadline has passed NHL rosters have expanded, so teams are no longer in any rush to place injured players on injured reserve. This clerical problem could cost you, as you may have a player eating up a roster spot with no chance of playing in the near future. Islanders’ defenseman Nick Leddy is one such player. It has been announced that Leddy will be out of the lineup for at least the next two weeks. Leddy has been one of the main reasons for the Isles’ success this season, as he and Johnny Boychuk have stabilized a defense that had been a weakness in past seasons. Fantasy owners will miss his offense, as he has 10 goals so far this season and is on the number one power play unit. Lubomir Visnovsky could be an option for those needing offense from their back line, but he has also been a liability on defense for most of this season, so plus/minus could be a problem. These are the kind of injuries that seem minor but can determine a playoff matchup.
Whether it’s in your Fantasy Hockey playoffs, yearly leagues, or DFS, you may want to cool it on your Lightning players for a while. Recently acquired defenseman Braydon Coburn will be out 4-6 weeks with a lower body injury; Ondrej Palat will be out 2-3 weeks with a lower body injury, and Craig Paquette up to two weeks with an upper body injury. This will certainly test the team’s depth up front. This is not to say I wouldn’t start Steven Stamkos, but I might be a bit more worried now that he won’t be as productive. Goaltender Ben Bishop could also feel the sting of a few more shots per game; not necessarily a bad thing as long as he makes the saves, but not something his Fantasy owners would root for either.
Not that we didn’t already know it, but the Maple Leafs are a train wreck. They have now suspended forward Nazem Kadri for three games (one for being late to practice, and two more for past indiscretions). Conspiracy theorists think they are doing this to ensure that they finish as low in the standings as possible. Well, if this were true you would think they might go after Phil Kessel. Then again, it’s not like he’s scoring anyway, with just one goal in his last 10 games. The Leafs should be a team to watch over the summer, they will be a wheeling and dealing.
The teams I want to pick against in DFS and my Fantasy playoffs the most are Edmonton, Buffalo, Toronto, and Arizona. Good luck.
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