In a one-on-one week, planning is important. The Canucks are the only team not to play again this week, with every other team playing at least once on Saturday or Sunday. That means dropping players like Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland and even injured Brock Boeser should be strongly considered.
You’ll probably want to hang on to Thatcher Demko, JT Miller, Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson, if you can, in case you need them next week, since the Canucks play four games. If it’s a matter of survival, ditching these players isn’t completely out of the question either, though you’ll want to research other, more eliminable candidates first. This is all written for the non-custodial leagues, because the guardian leagues deserve a longer-term strategy.
I was about to mention Bo Horvat among the Canucks to keep if possible since he’s been on a tear recently (5 G in 5 GP entering Thursday). However, Horvat left Thursday’s game with a possible foot injury after blocking a shot. Without fully knowing its status for the next week, you might be better off cutting it if you need a more immediate option. Some potentially good news surfaced after the game, however.
Vasily Podkolzin’s stock is on the rise right now. The rookie scored a pair of goals with an assist on Thursday, giving him power-play goals in back-to-back games. The visual test shows a player who is much more involved in the game, and this caught the attention of Bruce Boudreau, who increased Podkolzin’s ice time in the process. He is one of the actors featured in this week’s Frozen Tools Forensics article, so I won’t go into his whereabouts here.
Alex Chiasson is still hot, taking advantage of injuries to several Canucks forwards. Chiasson scored two more goals Thursday, allowing him five goals in his last four games and nine points in his last five games. I’ve talked about him in previous Ramblings as a player who needs high-level minutes and first-unit power play time to be of value, and he’s getting all of that right now. I doubt he fits into the Canucks’ long-term plans and will likely end up as a power-play specialist somewhere next season.
Miller had five assists in the Canucks’ 7-1 win over Arizona. He now has 91 points with nine games left, so he will be one of the few players to aim for 100 points.
Auston Matthews hit 100 points and Michael Bunting broke his 17-game drought…all on the same play.
Matthews is already the fifth player to hit triple digits this season. There are surely others to follow, even if no other player has reached 95 points yet.
As for Bunting, the regression that seemed long overdue since last season had finally happened. On that Bunting-Matthews-Mitch Marner line, Bunting still had 12 assists in those 17 scoreless games. That keeps him ahead in the rookie race with 59 points.
Bunting, Ilya Mikheyev and William Nylander each scored a pair of goals for the Leafs in their 7-3 win over Washington.
Ilya Samsonov hasn’t had a quality start since (scroll down) Feb. 15. It’s been 12 straight games where he hasn’t recorded a save percentage above .909 in a single game. Oddly enough, he entered Thursday’s game with five straight wins before getting a draw against the Leafs. The Capitals didn’t have an easy schedule during that time, but you’d think he’d have at least one stellar performance. If Washington takes on Florida in the first round, things could turn sour for the Capitals goalies. The Capitals better bring their score to the playoffs.
Owen Power scored his first NHL point in his second NHL game, which was an assist on Alex Tuch’s goal. Power finished the game with 23 minutes of ice time, although there was none on the power play. Although the Sabers seem to be providing him with regular minutes upfront, the lack of power-play time could limit his time. Sometimes we want to add the shiny new toy right away, but it can take a while for the 19-year-old d-man to stand out in the fantasy leagues.
Despite all his promises, Power received an official “Welcome to the NHL, Rookie” from Vladimir Tarasenko.
Tarasenko’s game didn’t end there, as he finished with a hat trick and two assists. He now has three consecutive multipoint games with 10 points in that span. He has also scored six goals in his last three games. Moreover, he has now scored 30 goals for the sixth time in his career. Remember when he was left unprotected in Seattle’s expansion draft? Even though he wanted to leave St. Louis, the Blues certainly dodged a bullet when the Kraken passed him.
Robert Thomas didn’t finish, extending his point streak to 11 games. Not only that, but he had five assists. That five assist tally matches the single-game high this season, which has been reached six other times, including the aforementioned Miller. Spoiler alert: I added him to the next Top 100 Roto Rankings, and that was even before the five assists. Why is Thomas one of the top 100 roto players, you ask? Well, he’s now a points-per-game player (71 points in 64 games).
Andrei Vasilevskiy fails during fantasy playoffs. Vasilevskiy was replaced by Brian Elliott midway through the second period after allowing three goals, the last two less than 30 seconds apart. The star goaltender is winless in his last five games and has had three terrible starts in his last seven games. Tampa commentators suggested the allure was more to shake up the team than the goaltender himself, so it’s possible the team ahead of him already has their eye on the playoffs and aren’t thinking about the playoffs. regular season matchups against Anaheim. Either way, it’s not as obvious a departure as usual.
Vasilevskiy was last taken out of a regular season game in March 2018. That gives you an idea of his reliability game after game.
Vasilevskiy wasn’t the only goalkeeper to wreak havoc on fantasy teams on Thursday. Jacob Markstrom was retired for the second straight game, allowing four goals on 17 shots. Both Markstrom and Vasilevskiy are in the top 5 in terms of games played, which should come as no surprise. These guards could burn out from the heavy workload, which means they could be a little more rested than usual as their teams prepare for the playoffs. I would still start them as you normally would, but lower your expectations.
Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson led Vegas’ charge in their victory in Calgary, each scoring a goal and adding two assists with a plus-3 differential. Marchessault in particular has warmed up recently with 15 points in his last nine games.
In this alternate universe that we seem to be living in this fantastic week of the playoffs, Vasilevskiy and Markstrom sputter as Alex Nedeljkovic threw a 46-save shutout on the team that traded him. Ned came into this game with just one win and one quality start in his last five games, a span that included seven goals in one game and five goals in two other games. It wasn’t a game we would have recommended Nedeljkovic start on, but we know that nothing in life and fantasy hockey is ever certain.
In more results that defy logic, Mike Smith recorded a 30-save shutout in Nashville. He now has four straight quality starts, allowing just four goals in that span. He also picked up five straight wins. I’ve kind of hung on to Smith all season on one of my teams and I have a playoff game next week – do I really have to throw it? The Oils will face Dallas, Colorado and Columbus. The second game in particular scares me; otherwise, it’s food for thought if you’re wondering the same.
Leon Draisaitl recorded a hat trick – no, not the one he’s known for on Frozen Tools. The original kind. Draisaitl finished the game with three goals and a plus-2 (credit where credit is due). His 54 goals trail only Matthews.
Linus Ullmark left after the first period of Thursday’s game, and it wasn’t performance related as he didn’t allow a goal. Ullmark came into this game with a 0.932 SV% in his previous eight games, so this is a potentially premature injury.
Tim Stutzle continued his hot game against Ullmark replacement Jeremy Swayman and the Bruins. Stutzle scored a goal and added two assists on five shots in the Senators’ 3-2 win. He may be playing the best hockey of his career right now, having scored points in each of his last seven games (interrupted by injury, so not a true scoring streak). More recently, Stutzle has back-to-back three-pointers. Stutzle has quietly reached 50 points this season – the third senator to reach that mark.
Josh Norris also hit 50 points in that game with another goal, giving him 14 points in his last 11 games. He is also in the top 25 in goals (33) in the league, despite missing 13 games.
Jake Guentzel scored two goals and added two assists to help the Penguins clinch a playoff spot. Guentzel scored twice in consecutive games and had seven points in those two games.
Is Michael Misa the next long-term keeper you need to watch? Misa is the sixth player in OHL history and the eighth player in CHL history to be granted exceptional status. If you’re not familiar with outstanding status, it allows a young prodigy to play in the Canadian major junior at age 15. Connor McDavid, John Tavares and Aaron Ekblad are the most notable players to make their OHL debut at the age of 15. , while current CHL stars Shane Wright and Connor Bedard also started their junior careers at this age.
If I missed something important, I’ll try to pick it up tomorrow, because Friday’s program only has two games. I will also try to help you out with some weekend waiver wire pickups. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding for more fantasy hockey.