Though the first round of the NHL playoffs is already over, plenty of star-studded, exciting matchups have led to one of the best first rounds in recent years. With the second round already underway, we’ll be taking a quick look at some of the best first-round fantasy performances so far.
Starting off with the leader in points at the end of the first round, Sidney Crosby has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. His six goals and 13 points are tied for the league’s most in goal and points while he’s had at least two points in four out of his six games. Sid the Kid’s overall fantasy value is slightly limited by his low hit totals and relatively low shots on net, but his offensive production couldn’t be beat. Even though in the regular season he just barely made it inside the top 10 in scoring, Crosby has arguably had the best playoff performance so far, carrying the Pittsburgh Penguins into the second round with his offensive outburst.
Coming off a regular season that saw him set new career highs in goals, assists, and points, John Carlson was expected to carry the Capitals’ defense as the number one defender. And while the Capitals have plenty of offensive firepower among their forwards, Carlson’s offensive contributions played a huge role in Washington’s victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. His nine points in only six games were tied for the fifth most in the postseason while it was by far the most by any defender. But besides raw point totals, Carlson killed it almost everywhere else. His eight power play points were the most by any player in the playoffs while his 18 shots were the 3rd most by a defender. Carlson has had no trouble keeping up his regular-season scoring pace through the postseason and expect that to continue if the Caps’ power play keeps clicking.
Speaking of the Capitals, Alex Ovechkin once again delivered with another spectacular first-round performance. The Capitals have a terrible reputation for choking in the postseason, and this is usually attributed to Ovechkin’s inability to carry his team far in the playoffs. However, Ovechkin has historically always shown up in the postseason, ranking sixth overall in points per game out of all playoff skaters who’ve played in at least 50 games since 2006. This year’s been no different, as Ovechkin has even arguably turned it up another notch. His five goals are one short for the most in the playoffs while his 33 shots are by far the most in the postseason (with nobody else even cracking 30).
While he hasn’t been getting the attention that Ovechkin and Crosby have been getting, Dustin Byfuglien has been having a very underrated playoffs. His offensive output isn’t nearly as impressive as some of the other players on this list (as his five points through five games is only tied for the 25th most points by a player), but Byfuglien is once again dominating in the physical aspect of the game. His 25 hits are tied for the fourth most out of all skaters and he is the only player to have more than 20 hits while averaging over a point-per-game. His 14 penalty minutes are also tied for the seventh most out of all skaters and only trails Patric Hornqvist out of all the skaters in the top 50 for points. With Wayne Simmonds knocked out, Dustin Byfuglien is the best remaining player who can get you points while racking up the hits and penalty minutes.
Though Torey Krug isn’t as well recognized as Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, he has been having arguably an even better postseason from a fantasy standpoint. Through only the first round, our Fantasy Hockey Geek tool ranks him as second overall in terms of overall fantasy value (using an average Yahoo 12-team league measuring goals, assists, shots on goal, power play points, and hits).
As a defenseman Krug has being racking up points, being only one of three defenders to average over a point-per-game so far. He’s also second out of all defensemen in shots on goal and gets an admirable amount of hits and power-play points. While he doesn’t lead the league in any of these categories, Krug’s overall excellence in all five of the major fantasy categories has made him a fantasy force to reckon with so far this postseason.