Roos investigates the fantasy impact of teams changing philosophy down the stretch…
As if fantasy hockey isn't challenging enough, we've now entered the final stretch of the regular season. This means that NHL teams have changed their focus and approach, depending on where they are in the playoff hunt. Of course this will impact players on those teams, and fantasy owners who are in tight races will need to factor in even more variables than usual in setting their lineups. So this week, let’s discuss the ways that three types of teams will alter their game plans, and how that in turn will affect the fantasy value of their players:
1. locks for a playoff spot
2. actively fighting for a playoff spot
3. out of the playoff hunt.
Teams who are a lock for the playoffs (Chicago, Anaheim, Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Montreal, Boston, Los Angeles)
The remainder of the regular season is first and foremost about getting healthy and rested, even if that comes at the expense of winning each and every game or generating the kinds of stats that fantasy hockey GMs care about. And although these teams might try to experiment with different lines or power play combinations, they probably won't "rock the boat" too much, since whatever they were doing as a team up to this point has clearly worked well enough to get them locked into the playoff picture already. That means you're pretty safe if you have stars like Patrick Kane, P.K. Subban or Ryan Getzlaf on your roster, but you might not want to bet on banged up guys like Brad Marchand or James Neal being rushed back, even if they'd otherwise be considered healthy enough to suit up if these were do or die playoff games.
In terms of specific things to watch for, these kinds of teams will want to try to ignite important players who have underperformed (Milan Lucic, Drew Doughty, Brendan Morrow) or who are just returning from injury (Ryan Kesler, Kris Letang), perhaps at the cost of playing time for some