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Weekly Wrap: Playoff Fantasy Hockey Week in Review

The closing days of the regular NHL season unfolded with gripping drama and noteworthy milestones. Nikita Kucherov, Right Wing for the Tampa Bay Lightning, etched his name in history as only the fifth player to achieve 100 assists in a single season, following closely on the heels of Connor McDavid, Center for the Edmonton Oilers, who accomplished the feat just days prior.

Auston Matthews, Center for the Toronto Maple Leafs, narrowly missed the 70-goal mark despite a concerted team effort, firing off 27 shots in his final three games. He concluded the season with an impressive tally of 69 goals.

In the closing moments, pivotal matchups shifted, altering the playoff landscape. The Vegas Golden Knights suffered a 4-1 defeat against the Anaheim Ducks, while the Los Angeles Kings triumphed over the Chicago Blackhawks in overtime, resulting in the Golden Knights slipping to the second wild card position and the Kings securing third place in the Pacific Division.

Similarly, the Boston Bruins tasted defeat in their final game against the Florida Panthers, marking a significant change in their playoff seeding.

Even minor adjustments in matchups can have profound implications for a team’s postseason trajectory.

As we delve into the playoffs, now five days underway, each matchup has witnessed at least two games. It’s customary for knee-jerk reactions to emerge based on a team’s initial performances. While some reactions may be warranted in specific series, the dynamic of series transitioning between cities often reshapes the narrative.

Instead of meandering further, let’s examine some early trends and standout performers.

Fantasy Hockey Week In Review:

Atlantic Division

Florida Panthers

  • Carter Verhaeghe (C/LW) scored the overtime game-winner and has three points in two games.
  • Sam Bennett (C) took a Brandon Montour slapshot off his hand and left the game. If his hand is broken, he may be lost for the series.
  • Sergei Bobrovsky (G), has been solid early. He has only faced 40 shots in two games so he hasn’t been tested yet. Expect that to change in game three.

Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Steven Stamkos (C/RW), has scored in both games, both on the power play.
  • Nikita Kucherov (RW), only has three shots and two assists in two games. The Lightning will need to free him up in games three and four if they stand a chance.
  • Nick Paul (C), and Brandon Hagel (LW), will need to step up with complimentary scoring

Boston Bruins

  • Jake DeBrusk (LW/RW), stole game one with two goals and an assist. Likely not the fourth or fifth Bruin drafted, but he’s a gamer. DeBrusk steps up every playoff. With a goal last night, he now has five points in three games
  • Brad Marchand (LW), picked up the game-winning goal and an empty net goal. He now has five points in three games
  • Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ulmark (G), in the first two games, the Bruins have split the starts. Swayman was by far the better goalie in game one. You rarely see a team alter goalies throughout a full series just for the sake of it. With the 4-2 win last night, expect Swayman to get the next start.

Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Auston Matthews (C) was utterly dominant in game two. He factored in on all three of the Leafs’ goals, threw six hits, fired eight shots on the net, and won 69% of his faceoffs. He has a history of starting slow in a series. That’s not the case this year.
  • William Nylander (RW), missed the first two games with what is believed to be neck spasms. Over the past several years, he has been the most consistent playoff performer of the ‘core four.’
  • Ilya Samsonov (G), has a solid bounce-back game in game two. No goalie controversy here, it’s his net.

Metropolitan Division

New York Rangers

  • Alexis Lafreniere (LW/RW), had two assists, both on the power play in game two. I’m still convinced these playoffs will be his coming-out party. The Rangers will need two or three rounds for him to show his stuff.
  • Mika Zibanejad (C), has three points and ten shots through two games, as expected
  • Artemi Panarin (LW), had no points, no shots in game two. one goal, and seven shots in game one. Which Panarin shows up for game 3?

Washington Capitals

  • Alexander Ovechkin (LW) had one shot in the first two games. This has to change if the Capitals are going to win a game.
  • Tom Wilson (RW), has been the dominant Capital through two games, with three points.

Carolina Hurricanes

  • Their 5-3 comeback win in game two looked impressive. The Islanders only had 12 shots the entire game. A little smoke and mirrors when the Islanders were up 3-0 midway through the second period.
  • Seth Jarvis (C), had a big second game with a goal and two assists, leading the comeback
  • Jake Guentzel (LW), has been a playoff force going back to the Penguins back-to-back championships. He picked up a goal and an assist in game two
  • Brady Skjei (D), has three assists in two games.

Pacific Division

Vancouver Canucks

  • Thatcher Demko (G), missed game two and might be done for the series. The Canucks backups Casey DeSmith and Artur Silov aren’t the same caliber. If he can’t return, this is a huge blow.
  • Dakota Joshua (C), picked up two goals and an assist in game one. It’s drafting players like Joshua in the final rounds that can be pool busters for you.
  • Elias Pettersson, (C), has been invisible in the first two games. He needs to step up if the Canucks are going to avoid an upset.

Nashville Predators

  • Juuse Saros (G), could be the difference in this series if Demko doesn’t return. He would give the Predators a big advantage in the crease
  • Filip Forsberg (LW/RW), had two points in game two.
  • Anthony Beauvillier (LW), also had two points in game two. Of all the Predators drafted in playoff pools, Beauvillier likely was drafted in very few. I love a deep sleeper. We’ll have to see if Beauvillier is a one-game playoff wonder, or just that, a deep sleeper

Edmonton Oilers

  • Connor McDavid (C), did McDavid things in game one. He casually picked up five assists.
  • Zach Hyman (LW), had a hat trick and added an assist in game one
  • Evan Bouchard (D), had four assists in game one. There’s a good chance he could lead defensemen in scoring in the playoffs

Los Angeles Kings

  • Adriene Kempe (LW/RW), had a goal and an assist in game one.
  • Pierre-Luc Dubois (C/LW), had a goal on three shots. He also added five hits and four penalty minutes. Playoff fantasy hockey pools are almost exclusively points only. Yet, it is a great sign to see him so engaged in game one, after such a disappointing season
  • Cam Talbot and David Rittich (G) – It’s a bit surprising to see Talbot back for game two after getting lit up for six goals. There’s a strong chance you see Rittich in this series.

Central Division

Dallas Stars

  • Jamie Benn (C/LW) – there might be a youth movement in Dallas, but the veteran Benn showed up with a goal, seven shots and four hits in game one. They’ll need more from Benn in a very tough series against the Vegas Golden Knights.
  • Jake Oettinger (G), didn’t have his best game in game one. He looked far more solid early in game two.

Vegas Golden Knights

  •  Mark Stone (RW) is the most controversial player in the playoffs. He went on long-term injured reserve days before the trade deadline. He miraculously recovered and played in game one. To top it off, Stone scored the first goal of the game, just over a minute in.
  • Logan Thompson (G), played solid enough in game one for the victory. Wins are all that matter this time of year
  • Jonathan Marchessault (LW), last year’s Conn Smythe is back at it with goals in the first two games

Winnipeg Jets

  • Connor Hellebuyck (G), hasn’t looked very sharp. the Jets need their likely Vezina finalist to step up his game
  • Kyle Connor (LW), has four points in two games, as expected
  • Josh Morrissey (D), had two points in game one, none in game two. He was all over the ice in game two. Expect a big game three.

Colorado Avalanche

  • Cale Makar (D), has five points through two games. Makar being Makar.
  • Artturi Lehkonen (LW/RW), is a lot like Jake DeBrusk, he just shows up when the playoffs start. He plays at an entirely different level once the playoffs start
  • Nathan MacKinnon (C), has three points in two games. You get the feeling he is just getting warmed up.

That’ll do it for this week. Thanks for reading

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