Get Your Team Ready for the Fantasy Hockey Playoffs
Getting Ready For Your Fantasy Hockey Playoffs
If you’re in a head to head Fantasy Hockey league and in the middle of your playoffs, then it’s important to pay attention to team schedules. Not only will this allow you to make a better-informed decision about who to start and who to sit, but you will also make better waiver wire decisions. This is also the one time of the season when I will look at my opponent’s roster. You should want to see how many games your opponent has left in the week. This will give you an idea of how you should set your roster. If you have two players of close to equal value on your roster, one with two games to play and one with four that week, which one do you think you should start? You could also play defense and claim a player in a certain category that your opponent needs.
Who's takin' home the hardware? 🏆 pic.twitter.com/IT0eITtXHL
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) March 15, 2018
In general, when it comes to players who are returning from a long-term injury, I’d prefer not to start them in their first game back. Sure, they may be healthy, but it also may take them a game or two to shake the rust off and get back into the flow of the game. Mike Smith was a perfect example of this Sunday versus the Islanders. It was his first game back since, coincidentally, being hurt versus the Islanders on Feb. 11. During the first period, he was letting up huge rebounds that led to four quick Islanders goals. Smith settled down during the second and third periods, but by then the damage was already done to your Fantasy team. I always like to sit a player, especially a goaltender, for his first game back. Let him get his feet wet, but not at the expense of your Fantasy team. It was also the perfect situation for Fantasy owners, as his first game back was at the end of the week. At the beginning of the week in a weekly lineup league, you have to risk losing him for the remainder of the week to protect your ratios from that initial return.
The Return of Jack Eichel
Just like in any Fantasy league, injuries will always play a major part in who wins and who loses. Jack Eichel has returned to practice after missing about a month with a sprained ankle. While there hasn’t been any formal declaration about if/when he may return to the Sabres’ lineup, you probably should play it cautious with their top player. The Sabres don’t have much talent around him and it could take Eichel a few games to get back into the swing of things.
The Penguins may get back starting goaltender Matt Murray in the near future. He has been out of action due to a concussion but is taking shots in practice and could play as soon as this weekend. Like Smith, however, be cautious about using Murray as it has been a few weeks since he has seen any live action, and the Penguins aren’t known to have a great defense to protect him. Forward Bryan Rust, who has also been out with a concussion, could return no later than the weekend.
Don't Expect Mark Scheifele Back Anytime Soon
Mark Scheifele has been out of action with an upper body injury and missed his fourth straight game Tuesday. If not for several injuries this season, Scheifele would be in the MVP hunt. He is that good and probably the best unknown player in the NHL. The Jets have let it be known they won’t rush him back into action with the playoffs a little less than a month away. They have 92 points. That’s good for second in the Central Division. They are eight points behind the Predators for first place in the division and the Preds have a game in hand. So, the Jets aren’t going to win the division. They are also seven points ahead of Minnesota who is in third. They are stuck in second place. They have little reason to push anyone over the next month. Their sole goal should be to get ready to play Minnesota, Colorado, or Dallas in the first round of the playoffs.
The only other playoff team that has the same predicament as Winnipeg would be the Maple Leafs. They are stuck in third place in the Atlantic Division. This could be the reason it has taken Auston Matthews so long to get back into his lineup after his shoulder injury.
Mike Smith Photo Credit: AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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