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Weekly Wrap: Fantasy Hockey Playoffs Week in Review

Through 12 days of games, there has been little in the way of surprises so far during these NHL playoffs in terms of how the match-ups have gone. That in and of itself might be the biggest surprise.

Heading into Wednesday’s games, four series ended in five games or less, with the potential of the Edmonton Oilers making it five. Top seeds have won every series to date. The series playing into game six, likely surprises no one.

When a series ends early, the fun of playoff fantasy hockey begins. If you drafted heavily on the New York Rangers, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, or Colorado Avalanche, a large portion of your roster is safely into the second round. However, you now sit idle and watch General Managers with players from the teams playing into games six and potentially seven, continue to pick up points.

Fantasy playoff hockey is about survival, not who picks up the most points in the first round, or even the first and second rounds. The fantasy team that wins, most often has the most players still playing come finals. Breathe, and trust your picks.

Let’s look at the biggest performances over the last seven days.

Fantasy Hockey Playoffs Week in Review

Carter Verhaeghe, LW, Florida Panthers

Verhaeghe is tied for the team lead with nine points in five games. He tallied three points in the series-clinching, game five, versus the Tampa Bay Lightning. Likely, teams drafted Matthew Tkachuk, Alexander Barkov, and Sam Reinhart before Verhaeghe. If you were lucky enough to pick him, you’ve been rewarded handsomely early on.

This is the type of player that can have a stand-out performance and surprise fans by winning a Conn Smythe. Look no further than Jonathan Marchesseault last year.

Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers

It should be no surprise to see McDavid leading the playoffs in scoring, with ten points through four games. He remains assist-heavy, with nine of his ten points coming the way of assists. His playoffs are buoyed by the monster, five assists in game one.

The five points in the three subsequent games are good. It’s just not the dominant McDavid we hold unreasonable expectations of seeing every game. He’ll average at least two points per game, as long as the Oilers remain in the playoffs.

Cale Makar, D, Colorado Avalanche

Makar was a force against the Winnipeg Jets. He did everything, including scoring two goals and adding seven assists in the five-game series victory. Likely, the third Avalanche player drafted, behind Nathan MacKinnon, C, and Mikko Rantanen, RW, in your draft. He is already paying huge dividends.

Makar was just announced as a finalist for the Norris Trophy (Defencemen of the Year Award), nine points shouldn’t be a surprise.

Valeri Nichushkin, LW/RW, Colorado Avalanche

A lot like Carter Verhaeghe, Nichushkin had a heck of a first round. Before Wednesday’s games, Nichushkin leads the playoffs in goals scored, with seven.

He scored a goal in all five games, including a hat trick in game four. All I can think of is, where was this streak in the final two weeks of the regular season? It may have been enough to tip the scales in one of my finals and give me a victory.

I digress, no one cares about my spilled milk.

Auston Matthews, C, Toronto Maple Leafs

Doctor’s pulled Matthews from game four. He did not play in game five. We won’t know exactly what is ailing Matthews until the Leafs playoffs are over. Most reports indicate an illness, not an injury. I haven’t seen doctors pull a player from a game due to illness, maybe ever.

If he’s back for game six, there could be rust. I know it’s only been a few days, but we’re talking fatigue and energy levels. It can be easier to play through a shoulder or wrist injury than play with 50% strength and energy. He should be a game-time decision tonight.

Joseph Woll, G, Toronto Maple Leafs

Woll was brilliant in game five for the Leafs. The team played their best-structured game of the playoffs in front of him, but he made the big save when called upon to give the Leafs a chance.

Sheldon Keefe (coach) has already confirmed Woll as the starter for game six. If the Leafs see a game seven, Woll will be a big reason why.

The Leafs should also be a more relaxed and dangerous offensive team tonight. They have confidence Woll will make the save. That should allow the players to relax their grip on their sticks and just play.

Mika Zibanejad, C, New York Rangers

He picked up four assists in games three and four versus the Capitals and had multiple points in three of the four games. Even though the Carolina Hurricanes have won their series, both teams will sit and wait for the Maple Leafs – Bruins series to wrap up before beginning the second round.

That rest could interrupt Zibanejad’s hot streak. It’s one of those playoff anomalies that players just need to play through.

Steven Stamkos, C, Tampa Bay Lightning

Stamkos picked up five goals in five games before the Lightning were eliminated. More than a few teams would have taken the Lightning to upset the Panthers in the first round.

If that was you, and you have multiple Lightning players on your roster, the chances of winning your playoff pool are either over, or severely damaged.

Side note, there is a real possibility Stamkos has played his final game with the Lightning. It doesn’t seem right. This is one of those players that should retire having worn only one jersey.

Seth Jarvis, RW, Carolina Hurricanes

Jarvis really stood out against the New York Islanders. If his 67-point, breakout season wasn’t enough, Jarvis is doubling down and building on it. In the fifth game, Jarvis picked up assists on the first two Hurricanes goals before adding an empty net goal. It was his second three-point game of the series.

In the past couple of seasons, the Hurricanes struggled to score goals in the playoffs. Jarvis has really stepped up to fill that void. At least in the first round.

Wyatt Johnston, C/RW, Dallas Stars

He’s another young, mid-tier draft option that has provided significant production in the first round. Five games in, Johnston has six points, including two assists last night.

In only his second NHL season, Johnston has become a fixture in the Stars top six. If the Stars go deep, he has a legit shot at 20-plus points.

Brock Boeser, RW, Vancouver Canucks

He led the Canucks to an improbable comeback on Saturday night with a hat trick. Including goals two and three in the final three minutes of the third to tie it and send it to overtime.

Through five games, the Canucks are averaging under 19 shots per game. The next lowest shot total, Vegas Golden Knights, are averaging over 24 shots per game. Needless to say, if the Canucks expect to go on any kind of run, they’ll need to flip the switch and start shooting the puck on net, a lot more.

Casey DeSmith, G, Vancouver Canucks

It looks like DeSmith will start game six for the Canucks. He missed game five, but it doesn’t appear his injury is too serious.

I’d say this is good news, but there isn’t a whole lot separating DeSmith and Artur Silov. DeSmith does own a sizeable experience advantage and has had a few strong stretches in the past. If the Canucks make it into round two, they’ll need Thatcher Demko to be healthy and return, otherwise, the hill is a lot steeper.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading.

Follow me on X: @doylelb4

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