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Sport Fantasy Hockey 2021 playoff cheat sheet

01:25  14 april  2021
01:25  14 april  2021 Source:   sports.yahoo.com

Islanders-Penguins stream: Monday’s NHL on NBCSN matchup

  Islanders-Penguins stream: Monday’s NHL on NBCSN matchup Pre-game coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app.The Islanders and Penguins meet for the eighth and final time during this truncated 56-game regular season. The Penguins have won five of the first seven meetings, including Saturday’s 6-3 victory at home. These clubs represent two of the top-three teams in the East Division. Washington leads the division with 50 points, followed by the Isles (48 pts) and Pens (46 pts).

NHL.com provides fantasy hockey news, rankings, DFS picks, podcast episodes and more throughout the 2020-21 season. For more coverage, visit NHL.com/ Fantasy and subscribe for free to the "NHL Fantasy on Ice" podcast. Because the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline has been pushed back to April 12, any player who signs with a team before that date is eligible to play for that team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs . The NCAA conference playoffs begin this weekend and the 2021 Frozen Four is scheduled April 8 and 10 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.

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By Jason Chen, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

We're barreling toward the finish line, which means only one thing: Fantasy hockey playoffs. So, let's focus on matchups to target and avoid down the stretch.

It's been a tough year in head-to-head leagues with unexpected schedule changes, but all of the postponed games have been scheduled and hopefully, there are no more delays. I assume all 31 teams will play all 56 games, though how exactly that will work with the Canucks potentially playing games after the fantasy playoffs begin will be an interesting situation for league commissioners. The trade deadline just passed, too, so aside from call-ups and waiver-wire moves, there shouldn't be any significant roster changes.

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Cheat Sheet . Top 300 fantasy hockey rankings with 2020–21 stats. © Copyright 2021 - Roto Sports, Inc. All Rights Reserved Partners: RotoPass Portions copyright by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.

When it comes to the fantasy playoffs, two important things are worth considering: Strength of schedule and number of games played. Strength of schedule can be calculated in different ways, and the easiest way to do it is to simply average the points percentage of upcoming opponents; the number of games played is important for obvious reasons, especially in such a random sport where game-to-game performance is tough to predict. The easiest way to overcome that nuisance is to pick players who play the most games during the playoff week and hope that there are more good results than bad ones.

To start, let's begin with a simple schedule breakdown with points percentages as of Tuesday, April 13. Note that most Yahoo leagues are set to end May 8, which will leave games on the table for most teams. It's an overwhelming chart, but just remember that for opponents' point percentage (Opp P%), green = START, red = BENCH.

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Fantasy hockey cheat sheet : League-specific rankings and projections for 2021 (UPDATED). By Dom Luszczyszyn Dec 29, 2020 335. Fantasy hockey season is finally here! We have a confirmed date (January 13) and season length (56 games), and now it’s time to start prepping for your draft. For those who have followed my fantasy work in past years, you’re likely well aware of the very fancy spreadsheet I create every year, one that allows fully customizable rankings tailored to whatever weird way your league is set up. Previously, those were available at my own website, but I’m excited to

Cheat Sheet . Top 300 fantasy hockey rankings with 2020–21 stats. © Copyright 2021 - Roto Sports, Inc. All Rights Reserved Partners: RotoPass Portions copyright by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.

table: Fantasy Hockey playoff strength of schedule. © Provided by Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Hockey playoff strength of schedule.

Overview

Based on raw opponents' P%, the Penguins have the easiest schedule for the remainder of the season. That's because there's a five-game stretch starting Saturday where they play only the Sabres and the Devils before hitting a tougher stretch in Week 15 when they face the Bruins and the Capitals twice.

The Bruins face a similarly easy path because they play the Sabres and the Devils a combined eight more times, and given the additions of Taylor Hall, Curtis Lazar, and Mike Reilly, there's a reasonable expectation that they'll be an even better team down the stretch.

The two West Division juggernauts — the Avalanche and Golden Knights — draw the fourth- and fifth-lowest opponent P%, mostly because their division has four teams in the league's bottom 10. The Wild surprisingly rank third, mostly due to schedule luck because they have only two games remaining against the Knights and none against the Avs.

Canadiens-Maple Leafs stream: How to watch Wednesday Night Hockey

  Canadiens-Maple Leafs stream: How to watch Wednesday Night Hockey Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app.Toronto’s Auston Matthews is leading the race for this season’s goal-scoring title, which is named after Canadiens legend Maurice Richard. Matthews has scored 27 goals this year, including six in his last six games. Matthews would be the first Leafs player to win the award since its inception (1998-99 season). The last Toronto player to lead the NHL in goals scored was Gaye Stewart in the 1945-46 season (37 goals in 50 games).

Cheat Sheet . Top 300 fantasy hockey rankings with 2020–21 projections. Cheat Sheets .

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On the other hand — ignoring the lottery-bound Sabres — the Sharks, Blues, Predators, and Panthers face pretty tough schedules to close out the season. The Panthers will be hard-pressed to win the division and will have to play the rest of the way without Aaron Ekblad, while the Blues will have to get their goaltending in order and hope that their veterans snap out of their slump.

START

Week 13: Penguins, Golden Knights, Canadiens, Rangers (ranked in order of opponents' P%)

The Pens play the Sabres back-to-back over the weekend, so look for Casey DeSmith (36 percent rostered) to get at least one start and hopefully nab a win. Sidney Crosby's line is an obvious start here, but also don't forget about Jared McCann (40 percent, 3-2-5 in last five games) as their No. 2 center and the newly acquired Jeff Carter (16 percent), who should get a look on the top two lines.

Artemi Panarin and the Rangers are also a good play the rest of the week with four consecutive games against the Devils before their schedule gets significantly more difficult. It includes one back-to-back, so that might be a possible win for Alexandar Georgiev in a spot start, though he hasn't fared well against them (.860 Sv%, 3.97 GAA) in three appearances. The sneaky play will be Colin Blackwell (5 percent), playing on Panarin's opposite and finishing at an astonishing rate (12 goals on 46 shots). The Blackhawks have two enticing matchups against the Red Wings, but that's also the problem — they play just twice the rest of the week.

Golden Knights-Kings stream: How to watch Wednesday Night Hockey

  Golden Knights-Kings stream: How to watch Wednesday Night Hockey Coverage begins at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app.The second half of the Wednesday Night Hockey doubleheader will see the Kings host the Golden Knights in West Division action. Vegas trails first-place Colorado by four points for the division lead, while Los Angeles’ playoff hopes have grown dim. The Kings trail fourth-place St. Louis by six points for the West’s final playoff spot.

Week 14: Bruins, Stars, Golden Knights, Senators, Penguins

Players on the Bruins and Stars are very desirable this week because they have easy schedules and they play four games. The Bruins will face the Sabres six more times this season, three of which will happen in Week 14, setting up an extended revenge tour for Hall. Depending on the health of the Bruins' goalies, this could also be a chance for Jeremy Swayman (20 percent) and Daniel Vladar (10 percent) to pick up a win or two. The Sabres allow 32.6 shots per game, fourth-most in the league, and in their two previous meetings were outshot by a combined 22 shots. Depth scorers such as Craig Smith (26 percent), Nick Ritchie (19 percent), and Jake DeBrusk (5 percent) may be good plays this week too, having combined for four goals in five games against the Sabres.

The Stars should have it even easier with four straight games against the Wings, who picked up Jakub Vrana (49 percent) at the deadline but are missing just about everyone else in their top-six. It should be easy wins for Anton Khudobin and Jake Oettinger with a good defense that's been bolstered with the addition of Sami Vatanen, and also a good chance for rookie Jason Robertson (38 percent) to pick up a few more points, especially against the Wings' 26th-ranked PK. Don't forget about Roope Hintz (71 percent), who has been phenomenal with 32 points in 29 games while playing through injury.

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  Avalanche-Blues stream: Saturday’s NHL on NBC matchup Coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET on NBC and the NBC Sports app.On Thursday, the Avalanche joined the Golden Knights as the only NHL clubs to have secured a spot in the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs. This marks the fourth consecutive season that Colorado will be making a playoff appearance, the longest streak for the franchise since making 11 straight trips from 1995 to 2006, a run that included a pair of Stanley Cup titles (1996, 2001). The only other time the club reached the playoffs in four or more consecutive years was a seven-season run from 1981 to 1987 as the Quebec Nordiques.

The Senators, including Brady Tkachuk, Drake Batherson (25 percent), Tim Stutzle (20 percent), Josh Norris (9 percent), and Colin White (1 percent) are a sneaky play because they play the Canucks twice on home ice, following a stretch where the Canucks play two back-to-back series despite just returning from a COVID-related break. The Canucks had their number early in the season but that may no longer be the case; the Sens should be in better condition and it's possible the Canucks work out a rotation in which taxi squad members start playing to give their veterans a break. Star forward Elias Pettersson also does not seem close to returning.

Week 15: Kings, Flyers, Bruins, Lightning, Ducks

Both the Kings and Ducks are sneaky plays because they play each other four times, and in their three previous meetings averaged a combined seven goals per game. Proven scorers such as Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty are worth starting. Otherwise, it's a crapshoot with inconsistent scorers on both teams. However, the Kings should have the edge with Gabriel Vilardi (2 percent), Andreas Athanasiou (2 percent), Alex Iafallo (13 percent), and Adrian Kempe (25 percent) offering more consistency than Sam Steel (1 percent) or Troy Terry (1 percent), and Trevor Zegras is likely to finish the season in the minors.

The Lightning are an interesting play and should have no problems with games against Chicago, Dallas, and two against Detroit, but they've been hit with an injury to Steven Stamkos and have lost two of their last three meetings against them. However, even if the scoring isn't there, this should be a very good week for Andrei Vasilevskiy, who is a combined 14-1-0 with a .938 Sv% against those three teams this season.

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Week 16: Islanders, Jets, Penguins, Oilers, Avalanche

If the Islanders win the division, they can thank the scheduling gods — they face the Sabres and Devils twice each in the final week. Hopefully, Kyle Palmieri (48 percent) will have found his groove by now, having scored in his third game as an Islander and carved out a niche on the power play. Mathew Barzal is an obvious start this week, but note Brock Nelson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau have also fared well against both teams.

Things get very interesting in the North in the final week. The Jets face the Sens twice (with the Flames sandwiched between), so Mark Scheifele, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Kyle Connor, who have combined for 30 points in seven games against the Sens, are must-starts. The Oilers also play three games, but all will be against the Canucks, who will be reaching the tail end of a grueling stretch of 19 games in just 31 days. I'm not convinced the Canucks will have any energy — or even be able to stay healthy — to make these games competitive. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Kailer Yamamoto (44 percent) are solid plays because the Canucks' thin defense has not been able to keep them in check all season, even at full strength.

BENCH

Week 13: Kings, Predators, Flyers, Canucks, Sabres

The Canucks have the most games remaining (19), but five will be played after May 8, and having seen how the Flyers and Sabres responded following a lengthy break due to COVID, the outlook just isn't good. They're risking injury playing so many games in such a short time, and no doubt they'll be less than 100 percent effective when they begin play Friday.

The Preds face one of the toughest parts of their schedule with games against the Hurricanes and Lightning. They should be avoided until Week 14 and 16 when their schedule eases a bit.

Week 14: Blues, Jets, Sharks, Capitals, Hurricanes

The Blues face the most daunting schedule with a three-game series against the Avs. It looks like Philipp Grubauer is prone to the odd bad start, but the Avs have also bolstered their goaltending with Jonas Johansson and Devan Dubnyk, who may be able to nab a win. The Jets should be similarly avoided not because they're a bad team, but because they play the Maple Leafs three straight times, which makes the normally reliable Connor Hellebuyck a shakier play than usual.

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The Capitals have little upside this week, playing just two road games against the Islanders. Weeks 14 and 15 are by far the toughest stretch for the remainder of their season, facing the Isles and Penguins five times combined. The Caps are a combined 5-3-3 against them this season with at least four goals allowed in four games. The Hurricanes, meanwhile, face Tampa Bay and Florida twice each, all on the road.

Week 15: Blackhawks, Stars, Red Wings

The Stars will be hard-pressed to make the playoffs partly because their schedule is so tough to close out the season. In Weeks 15 and 16 they play the Lightning three times, the Hurricanes twice, and the Panthers once. It's not like the Stars have no chance, but they clearly aren't in the same class this season. Even a late-season return by Tyler Seguin and/or Ben Bishop won't alter their course.

Week 16: Blackhawks, Stars, Sabres, Flyers, Flames, Red Wings, Panthers

The Blackhawks will close out the season with three consecutive road games against the Canes in Week 16, and that's after they face the Lightning and Panthers in the previous week. Hopefully, their play picks up late in the season with Kevin Lankinen struggling in April (.884 Sv%, 3.34 GAA). Otherwise, it's going to be a rough end to a season that started very promising.

It would also be best to ignore the Panthers, Red Wings, and Flames, who play just two games. Their seasons are not over, but the current cut-off date for Yahoo's head-to-head leagues means the Panthers' final game and the Flames' remaining three games won't count.

The Flyers are in the same boat with their final game slated for May 10 against the Devils, but in Week 16 will have to face the Penguins in back-to-back home games and then hit the road for another back-to-back against the Caps. Neither Carter Hart nor Brian Elliott should be relied upon in the final week of the 2021 fantasy season.

Blue Jackets-Lightning stream: Sunday’s NHL on NBCSN matchup .
Coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app.Defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay is firmly in the top three of the Central Division standings with nine games left on its regular season schedule. The Lightning, which has yet to secure a playoff spot, trail Central-leading Carolina by four points. They enter Sunday’s contest against Columbus having alternated wins and losses in each of their last six games (3-3-0). The Blue Jackets were eliminated from playoff contention with the loss.

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