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.
Week 27 (Saturday March 31- Friday April 7)
After a long fantasy season we have reached the final week of The Hockey Night in Canada Hockey Pool presented by Kia.
This week will feature an eight day schedule to account for the final Saturday of the regular season (April 7th). As such, seven teams will play in five contests and Calgary and Colorado play only three and two games respectively. Fantasy owners will want to pick the lion's share of their roster from these five game teams while avoiding the Flames and Avalanche.
It's also important for owners to keep an eye on the standings when selecting goalies because teams with something to play for (playoff spot or better seeding) will ride their starting goalies despite back to back game scenarios.
Such teams like Boston, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, New York Rangers, San Jose, Dallas, Phoenix, Washington, and Los Angeles are the teams to target for goalies this week. These teams are playing for playoff spots or division crowns.
Pay particular attention to the Pacific Division where the Sharks, Stars, Coyotes, and Kings are divided by a thin margin. It is possible that only two teams in that division will see the postseason.
In net this week I think owners should look at Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres. Although Buffalo isn't a team playing in five games, Miller will still get four starts. Despite a back-to-back scenario beginning March 30, I don't see Miller taking a turn on the bench because the Sabres then have Sunday and Monday off. Buffalo starts the week with a home and home series with the Maple Leafs who are currently in 14th place in the East and are 5-12-3 in their last 20 games. Buffalo finishes the week on the road at Philadelphia and at Boston. Those will be tough games but it's entirely possible that they will determine the playoff fate of the Sabres. In 14 March games the Sabres are 10-2-2 and Miller has played in all but one of those games. Buffalo is currently the NHL's hottest team and owners should be glad to pay the '3' player value cost to add Miller this week. I think owners also should confidently give Miller their goalie three star status.
Going with someone with fantasy swagger and who plays five games, I'm going to pay the '2' player value points for Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins.
Chara is always a good fantasy option and this week he plays in five games which makes him that much more desirable. Chara currently sits fourth in scoring among defencemen and has eight points in his last 10 games. Depending on who else you add for defencemen, I think Chara deserves consideration for your three star selection. Boston's five games are: @ NYI, @ NYR, vs. PIT, @ OTT and vs. BUF. This isn't an easy schedule but all but one team is likely playoff bound and this is a perfect way for the Bruins to tune up for the postseason.
I am going to recommend Buffalo Sabres forward Tyler Ennis. This is a speculative pick based on a player and his linemates going through a hot streak. Ennis usually plays on a line with Drew Stafford and Marcus Foligno who as a line have notched 38 points in their last 10 games. During that span Ennis has five goals and nine assists.
Ennis should be a nice play for a player value of '2' in the final week. Buffalo play in four games this week (@ TOR, VS TOR, @ PHI, @ BOS) and Ennis and his line will see plenty of action as the Sabres second line both even strength and on the power play.
In the last two weeks Ennis ranks sixth in scoring, only behind fantasy studs like Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby who both cost '4' player value points. This is the classic case of an owner buying low and hoping for elite player output.
Good luck this week and be sure to have your picks in place in time for the Saturday March 31st, 1pm/et deadline.
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