Each week, Jordan will try to provide you with guidance and inside information as you pick your lineup in the Hockey Night in Canada Fantasy Pool presented by Kia, with a focus on finding "sleeper" picks to help fill the roster when cap space is low.
For Week 26 (March 24-30)
The final gasp, the last 10 games of the NHL regular season.
By now, it's clear which teams are for real and which teams have been pretending. As a fantasy owner, these last weeks of the regular season are in fact "our playoffs."
Teams who are not in contention may feature star players no longer going at their usual clip. On the other side of things, teams on the bubble, or teams inside the playoff picture have likely converted to "playoff mentality" quite awhile ago.
This will translate into more productive players. It's these guys who owners should target during the closing weeks of the Hockey Night in Canada Hockey Pool presented by Kia.
As an overall rule for Week 26, go heavy on Penguins, as they play in five games. This means even Penguins players who might not usually be so fantasy relevant.
On the flipside, I would avoid any players from Anaheim and Ottawa as they play only twice this week. Even fantasy studs like Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, and Corey Perry should be removed from all rosters.
One of your goalies this week has to be Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pittsburgh plays five games in Week 26 (@ OTT, VS NJ, VS NYI, @ NYI, @ BUF), including three games against teams out of the playoffs and all games against opponents beneath them in the standings. The furthest afield the Pens play is in in Ottawa.
During Pittsburgh's hot streak, Fleury has not disappointed. Going back to Feb. 24, he has a 12-3-2 record, recording fantasy points in 14 of 17 contests.
At a player value of '4' he is an elite goalie for an elite price but it truly doesn't matter. In short, this is the hottest team in the NHL, sporting the hottest goalie. Fantasy owners need to take notice and advantage by adding Marc-Andre Fleury and making him your three star goalie selection.
This week I am recommending expensive options at forward and in the net. This will result in the need to find cheap yet useful help on the blue-line, and Flames defencemen Mark Giordano is the perfect fit. This guy was starting to heat up right before the player values were raised yet he managed to escape the increase.
Giordano has 13 points in 24 games since the all-star break and is tied for first among defencemen for points scored in the last two weeks with seven. Giordano is second on the Flames in average time on ice (22:46) and eight of his 23 points have come with the man advantage.
At a player value of '1' you can add him to your lineup for four games as the Flames have home-and-home dates with Dallas and then host Los Angeles and Colorado. Calgary is a good example of a bubble team as they sit in 11th spot in the Western conference but are only a few points out of 8th place. Giordano is a good play as the teams standing in Calgary's way of a playoff spot are none other than the Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche, and Los Angeles Kings. Giordano and his Flames should be plenty motivated to pick up as many wins as possible, and that will translate into points.
He's back, and if the first few games are any indication, he's just as good as he always was. Of course I'm talking about Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. Despite missing more games than he's played in this season and last he has made his second comeback of the 2011-12 campaign. Through four games he has nine points, with tjree multi-point contests. In short, he doesn't seem to have lost a step, and although he is seeing his minutes managed early on, he is still getting top power play time. Since Week 26 sees Pittsburgh play in 5 games (@ OTT, VS NJ, VS NYI, @ NYI, @ BUF) I think it's a worthwhile to pay the '4' player value points and add Crosby to your team.
When Pittsburgh has played without Crosby they have scored goals at a pace of 3.08 goals per game. With Sid The Kid, that average mark improves to 3.83 goals per game, a significant jump that cannot be overlooked. It's almost fact that Crosby simply makes everyone around him better. Just ask Tyler Kennedy (2G, 4A), and Matt Cooke (4G, 2A).
I think owners should assume Pittsburgh has learned from mistakes in the past in rushing Crosby back from injury and that he is healthy and poised to finish the last 10 regular season games in typical strong fashion.
Good luck this week and be sure to have your picks in place in time for the Saturday March 24th, 2pm/et deadline.
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