The all-in Columbus Blue Jackets are officially in as the final team to clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Jackets were able to get it done with a 3-2 shootout win over the Rangers on Friday, which officially eliminates the Montreal Canadiens from playoff contention.
It wasn’t easy, as Pavel Buchnevich scored his 21st of the season for the Rangers with just seven seconds in regulation to tie it for the Rangers. Chris Kreider also scored his 28th of the season to open the scoring for the Rangers in the second period.
Mika Zibanejad recorded two assists for the Rangers, extending his team-leading point total to 74 points in 81 games. His total this season is a new career high by over 20 points, a similar margin to his lead in team scoring. He’s on my short list of my top waiver-wire pickups for my personal fantasy teams.
— Hockey Daily #StickTogether (@HockeyDaily365) April 6, 2019
David Savard recorded two helpers for the Blue Jackets, which gives him seven points over his last 11 games. His overall point total won’t make him that appealing, but he has been just fine in the “what have you done for me lately” category. Four blocked shots on Friday too, if that matters to you.
In the end, the 2019 playoffs weren’t meant to be for the Canadiens. But when you consider that the Habs were being mentioned in the same breath as the Ottawa Senators before the season, they have at least exceeded expectations by competing for a playoff spot all the way up to Game 81. Narrowly missing the playoffs will sting, but the season still has to be considered a positive one, even for a franchise that once measured its season’s success by whether it had won La Coupe Stanley. Hopefully they can still put on a good show against the Leafs tomorrow for what will be Bob Cole’s final game.
The interactive playoff draft list is ready for download now! Don’t wait until five minutes before your draft or deadline to purchase it. If you haven’t already preordered it, get yours today! If you have already purchased it, jump right in. It’s available in the Downloads section on the Dobber website (login required for the site, not the forum).
Once you purchase the draft list, please take a moment to get familiar with it before your draft. Read the Instructions tab before you begin using it. The Excel spreadsheet file is interactive (macro-enabled) and not just a “list.” The point total projections depend on which teams you set to advance, or you could go with Dobber’s picks if you’re really not sure. I’m not trying to make it sound super complicated or anything, but it’s better to be prepared. Hey, we just want you to win your league!
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In a game with fewer playoff implications (although not none), the Dallas Stars could not clinch the first wild card spot, falling to Chicago by a score of 6-1. The Stars are still one point ahead of Colorado, with both teams playing their final game tomorrow.
Patrick Kane didn’t bail on fantasy teams still competing for all the marbles, scoring two goals with a plus-3 and nine shots on goal. With scoring up, Kane has benefitted with a career year of 109 points (44g-65a) with one more game to go. Whether that is a factor, Kane has simply been able to shoot the puck more, taking a career-high 339 shots, a number that is only exceeded by that of Nathan MacKinnon.
Jonathan Toews recorded a pair of assists, which extends his career-high point total to 81 points. Yes, we are saying that about Jonathan Toews, who will turn 31 later this month and was in recent seasons trending toward ordinary numbers. He appears to have benefitted even more than Kane with the scoring increase. Being deployed with talented scorers such as Kane and Alex DeBrincat at various points has helped Toews become a desirable fantasy commodity again.
Drake Caggiula assisted on both of Kane’s goals. He’s up to 11 points in 25 games with the Blackhawks, which equals his point total with the Oilers this season in four more games. His fantasy value appears to have improved with the Hawks, although not to the point where you’d should add him in anything more than the deepest of leagues. That’s even with him playing on the Kane/Toews line, although that line combination certainly makes the idea of adding him tempting. He’s entering his fourth NHL season next season, so perhaps a full season in Chicago with those linemates can result in some sort of breakout.
Corey Crawford left Friday’s game in the second period with a groin injury. He’s out for Saturday, as the Hawks have recalled Kevin Lankinen. As per usual, don’t forget to check Goalie Post for the latest starting goalie updates. And with it being the last day of the season, a higher-than-normal number of starting goalies will probably be given a rest.
Anton Khudobin has been solid for fantasy teams recently, but not on Friday night. Khudobin allowed six goals on 32 shots in the loss for the Stars.
It wasn’t Miro Heiskanen’s night either, as the rookie defenseman was tagged with a minus-5 to go with being held without a point.
The final game of Friday only had draft lottery implications, as the Ducks took it to their crosstown rivals with a 5-2 win over the Kings. John Gibson stopped 44 of 46 shots to earn the win, which gives him wins in four consecutive games and eight of his last nine games to close out the season. The Ducks overall have finished the season on a high note, but they’ll in tough to make the playoffs next season as a team in transition with a new coach (Dallas Eakins?)
The Ducks are the only team not to play tomorrow, so you’re already able to see their season stats. Just in case you want to get a head start on next season.
I made a very last-minute addition of Sam Steel, and he came through with one of the Ducks’ goals. The late-season callup ended the season on a high note, posting eight points (5g-3a) over his last seven games. Expect the former WHL scoring star to be on the Ducks’ roster on a full-time basis next season, as he had already posted solid numbers in the AHL (39 points in 50 games).
You may have been disappointed in Jakob Silfverberg this season. However, with his goal on Friday, he has set a career high in goals with 24. He still hasn’t reached 50 points in his career, and it may not happen next season with the Ducks’ scoring attack mainly either on the back nine (Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf) or just getting started (Steel, Troy Terry, Max Jones).
Potential waiver-wire pickups for tomorrow: Everyone. If they’re playing, they can contribute something, and you’re not attached to them beyond Saturday. The only exception might be if you’re trying to protect a lead in a non-count stat such as goals-against average, save percentage, or plus-minus. If not, you might need some reinforcements, as teams whose playoff seedings are already known may rest star players for the more important playoff matches coming up.
With a few teams resting their star players for the playoffs, should the fantasy hockey season end a week early?
— Ian Gooding (@Ian_Gooding) April 6, 2019
This practice has been taking place for years in the NFL and the NBA, so we shouldn’t be that surprised that it has now become a thing in the NHL. The Flames have rested Mark Giordano for the past two games and other regulars for the past game, while the Bruins rested now 100-point scorer Brad Marchand on Thursday. I’d expect these players and more to be rested again on Saturday, since these teams have nothing left to play for in the regular season.
Since the NHL is a copycat league, expect this practice to become even more widespread, perhaps even with teams implementing “load management” strategies (to borrow a term from the Toronto Raptors and Kawhi Leonard). Load management would affect teams beyond just the final week of the season, yet, this is the time in which teams rest players with the highest frequency. Therefore, I might have to agree with the majority here and at least bring up the idea of shutting the fantasy season down with a week to go in at least a couple of my leagues. Quality over quantity.
If you’re still competing, best of luck tomorrow! For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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