Most fantasy hockey leagues have the following playoff schedule:
Quarterfinals – March 13-19
Semifinals – March 20-26
Finals – March 27-April 2
If your league falls into that group there are a couple ways to take advantage of the NHL schedule those weeks. (Full list of games played at the end of the article)
Who plays the most games during the fantasy playoffs?
Answer: The Carolina Hurricanes
Carolina plays a whopping 13 games during the fantasy playoffs, 5 each in the quarterfinals and finals and 3 in the semis.
Carolina is an interesting team to have the most games because they have a roster full of mediocre players that are likely available on your waiver wire:
Justin Faulk and Jeff Skinner are taken in ~75% of leagues but they are worth trading for if your league counts shots on goal. Faulk is 3rd among defenceman in shots per game and Skinner is 7th overall. If you have both of them x 5 games you can pretty much count the shots category as a win. Skinner got off to a great start but has been dreadful lately (3 points in the last month) and Faulk is -19 and hasn’t met expectations so you may be able to get them cheaply from a frustrated owner.
Aho, Staal, Rask, Teravainen and Lindholm interest me as free agent pickups for the playoffs. If I have an injury or a struggling player come playoff time, I will likely grab one or two of these guys. The best strategy may be if you find yourself in 7th/8th and playing a far better 1st/2nd place team in the quarterfinals, to just say fuck it and drop your Sedin or Duchene-like underperformers and pick up all 5 of these guys and go for the win based on playing more games.
Who has the easiest NHL schedule during the fantasy playoffs?
Answer: The St. Louis Blues
Here is the St. Louis Blues schedule during the fantasy hockey playoffs:
Quarterfinals: @LA, @Anh, @SJS, @Ari (OK so that part’s not so easy)
Semifinals: @Col, vs. Van, vs. CGY (Yes Please!)
Finals: vs. Ari, @Ari, @Col, vs. Nsh (HELL YA!)
A combined 5 games against Colorado and Arizona in the fantasy playoffs is too good to be true and Vancouver and Calgary at home is a nice bonus. Let’s take a look at the Blues team that will try to take advantage of their cakewalk schedule:
Jake Allen: Terrible, Awful, Brutal. These are 3 words to describe Jake Allen’s season so far. If you spent an early draft pick on Allen, you probably aren’t even reading this post because fantasy playoffs are the least of your concern. However, trading for Allen is a crazy idea that just might work.
Since St Louis made a coaching change, Allen has been playing better (which unfortunately ups his trade value), but his season numbers are so poor that hopefully you can trade for him without giving up too much. Make no mistake, this is a high risk/high reward play. He could lose his job at the trade deadline or he could completely sink you in the first 3 games of the playoffs against LA, Anaheim and San Jose but if you make it past all of that, he’ll have a great opportunity to take you to title town with his breezy schedule.
Carter Hutton: If you aren’t willing to cannonball into the lake with a Jake Allen trade, picking up Carter Hutton could be the sort of dipping-your-toe-in-the-water that you’re into. This is a much lower risk pickup and stash and Hutton may get a few of the games against Colorado and Arizona.
Vladimir Tarasenko: Nobody is trading you Tarasenko.
Kevin Shattenkirk: Most people think Shattenkirk will be traded before the NHL trade deadline and even if he isn’t, his price tag would be too high for a trade thanks to his great fantasy season to date. Pass!
Pietrangelo and Parayko: If Shattenkirk is in fact traded and a PP specialist doesn’t come back to St Louis in the trade, these two will benefit the most as they will move up in Power Play time. With this easy a schedule in the playoffs, I’d look for a bump up in points, +/- and PPP for them. I’d trade for either of these guys if possible.
Steen and Schwartz: Same goes for these two. Both of their numbers are below their standards so far this year and I’d expect them to improve towards the end of the season, particularly against the peewee teams Colorado and Arizona will be putting forward at the end of the season. Trade for these guys too.
Paul Stastny: I think Stastny is under-rated and as he returns from injury, he’s slotted in to centre Tarasenko both in 5 on 5 and on the powerplay. Yes Please! If you’re looking for a centre, he’s worth a pickup now (don’t wait for the playoffs).
Perron and Bergland: I’m in no hurry to pickup either of these guys. I could convince myself to own Perron for the Colorado/Arizona portions of the playoff schedule and hope St Louis runs up the score but I’d pass on Berglund.
Who has the second easiest NHL schedule during the fantasy playoffs?
Answer: The Detroit Red Wings
Quarterfinals: @Col, @Ari, vs. Col (drools)
Semifinals: vs. Buf, @Mtl, vs. TB, vs. Min (Mon, Fri, Sun games are a nice bonus)
Finals: @Car, @Car, @TB, vs. Tor (not bad)
Here’s what you need to know about the red wings:
Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard: I would expect about a 2.50 GAA and 9.16 Save% from both of these guys in the fantasy playoffs, with Mrazek getting about two thirds of the starts. If that’s an improvement to your team, go get them.
Henrik Zetterberg: All hail Zetterberg! This guy is amazing on a sub-par team and I’d love to be in the 28% of leagues where he isn’t owned cause they’re either crazy shallow or full of idiots. Likely, nobody is trading you Zetterberg.
Thomas Vanek: Vanek is worth a pickup for the fantasy playoffs. He has low peripherals (shots, hits, pimmers, etc) and he only plays about 15 mins per game but he puts up solid points (0.80 points per game) and does so often on the PP. Grab him just before the playoffs start if he’s available.
Nyquist, Tatar, Nielsen, Green, Larkin: Similar to Carolina, Detroit has a pile of mediocre players. I would only recommend picking these guys up in very deep leagues or if you have injury trouble.
Anthony Mantha: Mantha’s 31 points are in just 44 games (0.70 points per game) and he plays first line minutes with Zetterberg both at even strength and on the powerplay. WHY ON EARTH IS HE AVAILABLE IN 82% OF LEAGUES!!! This is almost the end of the article, so like it, share it, then switch tabs to your fantasy hockey league and pick up Mantha right now if he’s available!
Full list of games played in the Fantasy Hockey Playoffs: