Fantasy Hockey Playoffs Power Play Preview: Metropolitan Division
The Fantasy Hockey Playoffs start next week and an expanded team-by-team overview of the Power Play Point Potential Rankings is in order. To best prepare your Fantasy Hockey teams for the most important time of the season, also check out these Metropolitan Division Team Previews from Zach Schipper.
The data has been crunched for the latest edition of the Power Play Point Potential Rankings.
Power Play Point Potential Rankings: Metropolitan Division
Schedule Analysis: Carolina has an extremely favorable schedule in terms of their power play potential. However, they only have three games in each of the first two weeks of the playoffs. Two matchups with the Blue Jackets will test their power play, but otherwise there are favorable matchups throughout. In finals week, the Canes get the Pens and Devils, which are horrific matchups, but the Sens and Stars aren’t tough. It is a nice stretch for the Canes.
Power Play Assessment: The Hurricanes haven’t been able to get it going with the man advantage all season. It is quite probable they waste the nice schedule during the fantasy playoff run. They don’t lack talent, but without a true offensive defenseman capable of setting up the attack, it is difficult to stabilize pressure and exploit opponent’s weaknesses. Perhaps, Ryan Murphy can step up and fill the void.
Players to Watch: Up front, Elias Lindholm and Andrei Loktionov are getting time with the man advantage and Lindholm in particular is worth a look. Assuming of course, Jordan Staal, Alexander Semin, Jeff Skinner, and Eric Staal are taken. On defense, a risky upside pick might be the above mentioned Ryan Murphy, whereas Andres Sekerea has been an under-the-radar fantasy star all season.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Schedule Analysis: Columbus is looking to climb out of the Eastern Conference and make the playoffs. Having five games against top ten favorable matchups means their power play could be a significant factor. Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and the Rangers are obviously difficult matchups, while the Blackhawks are only a power play specific favorable matchup, so it isn’t all clear skies. If you’re in need, on April 6, Columbus hosts the Islanders, in what could be an NHL and fantasy playoffs decider.
Power Play Assessment: The octane on these units comes from the back-end, with James Wisniewski, Jack Johnson and Nikita Nikitin all having fantasy value and sound offensive instincts. Up front it is more of a hodge podge. Ryan Johansen is the team’s best player and he is surrounded with all kinds of boot-leather and sandpaper: Nathan Horton, Brandon Dubinsky, R.J. Umberger and Nick Foligno. There are underrated options here.
Players to Watch: Nikita Nikitin’s value is dependent on getting opportunities with the man advantage and could be a viable fantasy option, especially when there is a favorable matchup. The forward ranks aren’t as clear cut. The Jackets, outside of Ryan Johnasen, are a scoring-by-committee type of team, although, Nathan Horton and Brandon Dubinsky are potential additions, if they’re even available.
New Jersey Devils
Schedule Analysis: In power play terms, New Jersey must have cut a deal with the … Devil? Only their March 22 matchup against the Rangers and April 1 game against the Sabres are unfavorable. Otherwise, they play below average opponents throughout the fantasy playoffs. Note, they only play twice in week two, but the Coyotes and Islanders are great opponents. One of those unfavorable matchups is the lowly Sabres too.
Power Play Assessment: As if the favorable schedule wasn’t enough the Devils’ power play is scorching hot. Countrymen Patrik Elias and Jaromir Jagr are playing like it is 2001, cast offs Ryane Clowe and Michael Ryder are chipping in, while Adam Henrique, Travis Zajac and Damien Brunner are keeping the median age in check. On defense, Marek Zidlicky is showing he is still a capable offensive weapon. Youngster Eric Gelinas has a cannon and former first rounder Jon Merrill is slowly earning more time with the man advantage. Andy Greene is quietly chipping in as always too.
Players to Watch: Firstly, can this Devils’ surge continue? Regardless, Marek Zidlicky and Patrik Elias should be owned in all leagues. Otherwise, it is really hit and miss, however, if capable of adding and dropping a few Devils for those favorable nights, there could be upside. It is just difficult to project their success to continue, or is it with such a smooth schedule?
New York Islanders
Schedule Analysis: Looking just at their total games, the Islanders only have five in the first two weeks of the fantasy playoffs. Although, four of those five are favorable matchups, there isn’t a lot to like given the state of the Islanders. In finals week, they play four times, with three more favorable matchups. If you’re desperate, you could go for broke with a few Islanders when it counts the most.
Power Play Assessment: Their roster has been depleted by trades and injuries and it is a largely unproven offensive group marching out with the man advantage. It is no surprise the Islanders’ power play is headed south in the rankings. Power play ice-time and opportunities are enviable though and even the worst team’s score with the man advantage. With a spoiler role in mind and youngsters looking to earn a job for next season, there could be a little uptick in production.
Players to Watch: Ryan Strome should seize any and all opportunities coming his way, while it appears Andres Lee has already done so. Otherwise, potentially Matt Donovan on defense, but currently, it is Lubomir Visnovsky, Travis Hamonic and Calvin De Haan gobbling up the power play minutes. Targeting Islanders for more than a day at a time isn’t overly advised, but a plug-and-play might be beneficial.
New York Rangers
Schedule Analysis: Beyond the matchups against the Devils, Blue Jackets, and Avalanche, the Rangers appear to have a tidy schedule. They get a road trip through Western Canada, which hasn’t scared anyone all year and start and finish the fantasy playoff run against the Senators, who haven’t stopped a power play all season. It is also worth noting, the Rangers only have ten total games through the playoffs and only three in the final week.
Power Play Assessment: The Rangers added Martin St. Louis, which should eventually kick-start their power play. Currently, they’re not exactly clicking. Given the capable offensive weapons they can assemble and the perfect blend of skill and grit, it would seem to only be a matter of time. The Rangers’ schedule might also help their cause. Perhaps, an issue is their lack of a true defenseman to quarterback the power play, a role currently being filled by Brad Richards.
Players to Watch: It is very likely most of the Rangers’ power play players are taken in most leagues. Furthermore, line juggling is probable too, but make sure Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, and Dan Girardi are taken. Girardi in particular is by no means an offensive rearguard, but is getting power play time and could be a fantasy option because of his propensity to take penalties and usual strong plus-minus rating. John Moore is a deep sleeper to get a chance with the man advantage.
Schedule Analysis: It is a tough road for the Flyers over the fantasy playoff stretch. The Blackhawks are a good matchup according to the rankings, in addition to the Leafs, but after the pounding Toronto put on Philadelphia recently and projecting the defending champs as favorable showcases just how difficult the road will be. The Flyers are rolling, but their path through the fantasy playoffs is difficult.
Power Play Assessment: The current numbers don’t support this, but there is no better power play than Philadelphia’s. When Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek are in sync the puck moves on a string. The gritty Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds are proven offensive contributors and Kimmo Timonen takes care of the top of the umbrella. The second unit is lethal too, Brayden Schenn is a budding star, while Vincent Lecavalier‘s shot arsenal has been a welcomed addition.
Players to Watch: It is unlikely any of the Flyers power play options are available, but Andrew MacDonald might be worth a look in deep leagues.
Schedule Analysis: The Penguins have four games in all three weeks of the playoffs, but an already injury depleted lineup got more bad news with James Neal‘s concussion diagnosis. The Pens’ schedule plays out fairly evenly, but given the dynamics of the Penguins team, any fantasy relevant player is already owned and you’re starting him regardless of the matchup. Whoever replaces Neal gets an uptick in value though. With the Penguins all but clinched in the standings, there is potential for some off nights down the stretch.
Power Play Assessment: Expect more of the same from Pittsburgh with the man advantage. James Neal’s top unit slot will be replaced by either Lee Stempniak or Jussi Jokinen, but there is an outside chance Taylor Pyatt could battle in front of the net. Regardless, as with who replaces Neal at even strength, whoever replaces Neal on the power play gets a huge boon in their fantasy stock.
Players to Watch: Taylor Pyatt is a big body, former eighth overall pick and has posted a twenty goal season in the NHL, but only in the deepest formats is he worth a look. The young defense duo of Simon Despres and Robert Bortuzzo, when he dresses, might be worth a look, but make sure Olli Maatta is taken first. Then there is Brandon Sutter, who might see more minutes on the power play, but has never capitalized on his opportunities in the past, so expecting it to suddenly click now isn’t advised. Unless Olli Maatta or Lee Stempniak are somehow available on your waiver wire, it is likely best to look elsewhere.
Schedule Analysis: In the first week of the fantasy playoffs the Capitals get the dreaded California swing. Given Washington’s limitations and inabilities at five-on-five, it is horrible timing for fantasy owners. Week two isn’t much better with the Kings and Bruins headed to town and a trip to Nashville. With just three games in the final week and only the April 5 game against the Islanders being favorable, it is a difficult stretch. Also, note the Capitals only play nine total games over the final three weeks, further limiting their upside.
Power Play Assessment: The Capitals’ power play is as good as there is. All players on the top units are likely unavailable on your waiver wire. The addition of Evgeny Kuznetsov makes the team’s power play even more lethal. Similar to Philadelphia, there is ample grit in Troy Brouwer, Brooks Laich and Joel Ward to complete the high-end skilled players. Mike Green and John Carlson are exceptional quarterbacks.
Players to Watch: If Evgeny Kuznetsov is somehow still available in your league add him, otherwise the gritty forwards mentioned above make fringe fantasy players. However, given the tough schedule ahead, the likes of Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward, and Brooks Laich are far less intriguing. Outside of Mike Green and John Carlson, the Capitals’ defense corps should be avoided. Similar to the Penguins, all the viable options are likely unavailable in your league.
Good Luck in your Fantasy Hockey Playoffs!