With just more than one week to go in the National Hockey League season, fantasy pool GMs are looking for that extra edge to either get their team into the playoffs or that push to win it all. Here are a few tips for deciding on which players you are going to dress in the final week of the regular season.
Playoff Teams: Teams that have already locked up a playoff spot will start to play their star players less in order to reduce the chance of injury. Expect teams to rest their No. 1 goalie more, especially during back-to-back games. Older players will see reduced ice time and may even be a healthy scratch in order to be well rested for a long playoff run. Don't expect the Pittsburgh Penguins and New Jersey Devils to play their stars less as they are battling for the division lead and home-ice advantage. A couple of players to keep an eye on are Washington's Alexander Ovechkin and Vancouver's Henrik Sedin as they battle for the Art Ross Trophy. Henrik is on a five-game point streak with one goal and nine assists during that period while Ovechkin has three points in his last two games. Anticipate Ovechkin to kick it up a notch as he trails Henrik by three points for the Art Ross and is one goal behind Sidney Crosby for the top goal scorer.
Teams on the Bubble: This is the time of year where a team's success will be based on the play of its top players, which will benefit your fantasy roster. If you have any players from Ottawa and Detroit, be sure to dress them. Both of these teams are playing their best hockey of the season. The Senators had a big overtime win over the Capitals Tuesday and the Red Wings are 9-0-1 in their last 10 games. If the Calgary Flames are going to make the playoffs, it will be on the backs of Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff, so make sure they are in your lineup. Tuukka Rask may have stolen the No. 1 job in Boston and could be the difference maker in your fantasy lineup. As the New York Rangers are only four points behind the struggling Philadelphia Flyers for the final playoff spot in the East, it may come down to the last two games of the regular season as the Rangers and Flyers have a home-and-home series. The season series is 2-2 with the Flyers outscoring the Ranger 10-5.
Eliminated Teams: These teams have nothing left to play for and most of these players just want to get the season over with. These games won't be very intense except for when an eliminated team has a chance to play spoiler, especially against a rival team. Toronto would love to beat rivals Boston and Montreal to possibly knock them out of playoff contention. Several young prospects may get called up to the show to audition for next year, which could result is numerous mistakes and turnovers, so if possible stay away from dressing goalies from eliminated teams. The players you want to dress from eliminated teams are players that have expiring contracts, as this is their last shot to impress a GM. Here are a few players hoping for a pay increase: Nikolai Kulemin (Toronto), Antero Niittymaki (Tampa Bay), Martin Biron (New York Islanders), Ray Whitney (Carolina), Fernando Pisani (Edmonton), Mike Comrie (Edmonton), Anton Stralman (Columbus) and Marty Turco(Dallas).
Good luck to everyone in the final week.