James van Riemsdyk had 24 points in an injury-shortened 43-game season. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)
Congratulations! Unless, of course, you didn’t win your league this year. In that case, you’ll get ’em next year. Now you can finally sit back, relax, and enjoy some playoff hockey with absolutely nothing on the line.
Fantasy owners can’t just flip a switch. We can’t shut it off. Even if we didn’t enter a playoff pool (unlikely, but for the sake of argument), we’re still evaluating players long after regular season competition ends. Player X is playing with Player Y now? How are they doing? Wow, Player Z is really finding another gear in clutch time. The evaluation continues, you can’t help yourself and neither can I. Here are some thoughts and observations from around the NHL world.
James van Riemsdyk is back skating. He has missed more than a month with a broken foot and should be back for Round 2, assuming the Flyers get there. He would replace Eric Wellwood and it wouldn’t surprise me to see van Riemsdyk in Game 7 if their first round series goes that long. JVR had seven goals in 11 playoff games last year and the Flyers’ offense is already scary without him.
Daniel Briere enters a phone booth after Game 82 and emerges with an ‘S’ on his chest for the playoffs. It doesn’t matter how poor of a regular season he has, he can’t be stopped in the playoffs. Now that we’ve caught onto this, let’s keep it in mind come September. He’s not an 80-point player anymore. He’s closer to 60. But in the post-season, he’s easily a point-per-game guy.
I love Barry Trotz’s patience with his line combinations. Keeping the Mike Fisher, Sergei Kostitsyn and Martin Erat line together even if they go 10 games without a point (they haven’t, but you get the idea) is something we rarely see in today’s NHL. But that’s because most coaches don’t get to enjoy the job security Trotz has and thus they react quickly in breaking up a line that sputters.
YANDLE NOT LOST IN THE SHUFFLE
Phoenix rearguard Keith Yandle has 13 points in 13 career playoff games. His 16-point regular season dip from 59 to 43 points raised some concern in fantasy circles, especially with Oliver Ekman-Larsson growing into the job of future No. 1 guy. But even with all the solid offensive blueliners in the system, such as David Rundblad and Brandon Gormley, there will always be room for Yandle. He won’t take the back seat the way Brian Campbell did in Chicago. He’s just too good.
FLYERS LOADED WITH ROOKIES
One-third of Philadelphia’s forward corps is rookies - easy prey for the opposition. Just focus on the inexperience, right? On paper, it’s a “can’t miss” proposition. But Brayden Schenn, Matt Read and Sean Couturier have been three of the best Flyers. Schenn was tops in Game 1, Couturier was tops in Game 2 (despite Claude Giroux’s six points) and Read was one of the best in Game 3. It’s hard to see how the Flyers will fit all this talent into one lineup next season ( anddon’t forget about JVR, who is not even in the lineup right now). With everyone up front signed for next season except Jaromir Jagr (unrestricted free agent) and Jakub Voracek (who will be a restricted free agent), ice time will be tight.
Read saw 17:03 per game during the regular season, so he’s OK. But I’m thinking that Couturier is due a raise on his 14:08, or Schenn on his 14:07. All three are, in the long term, potential 70-plus point players.
BROWN BECOMES A PLAYOFF BEAST
Dustin Brown was a career minus-10 in the playoffs heading into Game 1. His performance so far (four points heading into Game 3) is a big weight off his shoulders. He also had 23 points in his last 21 regular season contests.
BOSTON’S UNLIKELY OFFENSE
Boston has two goals in the post-season and the line of Benoit Pouliot, Chris Kelly and Brian Rolston has scored both of them. All three are free agents in the summer, with only Pouliot restricted.
POULIOT COMING AROUND?
Pouliot has 16 points in his past 18 regular season and playoff games. We saw this sort of thing before, back in 2010 when he first arrived in Montreal, so it probably means nothing. But I can’t help but think he finally gets it. He was drafted fourth overall in 2005 for a reason.
NASHVILLE’S DEPTH DIFFICULT TO HANDLE
Three games into the post-season and the only Nashville skaters without a point are Ryan Suter, Roman Josi and Jack Hillen. That, my friends, is scoring depth. But we knew that was Nashville’s M.O. We’ve known it for years.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.
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