Every Monday, NHL.com contributor Matt Sitkoff identifies waiver wire pickups, roster trends, schedule notes and a prospect to watch in fantasy hockey.
The fantasy championship week is finally here, and knowing the schedule is the most important piece to your championship. You can make a plan to drop some players who only have two games for players who play four games and bring more value to your team.
The teams that have four games this week are the Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets.
The teams that have only two games during championship week are the Anaheim Ducks, Florida Panthers, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals.
Note that while we are not suggesting dropping fantasy MVP candidates like Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos or P.K. Subban, if you have a role player on one of these teams it's time to part ways with them and find a role player on a team with more games.
WAIVER WIRE WATCH
Cody Eakin, Dallas Stars (owned in 4 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- The Stars are playing some of their best hockey as the season concludes with 11 wins in their past 17 games. The offense has been more than Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, as Eakin has six goals, seven assists and 25 shots on goal while playing almost 18 minutes a game over his past 17 games. The 23-year-old became the first Stars player to win a game in overtime on a penalty shot in franchise history Saturday against the Nashville Predators. The Stars finish up the season playing two games on those coveted slow days of Monday and Wednesday, which could benefit your fantasy championship team.
Patrik Berglund, St. Louis Blues (owned in 9 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- A healthy scratch for some games this season, the 26-year-old has turned his season around lately. He has four goals, two assists, 10 shots on goal and a plus-3 rating while playing over 15 minutes a game in his past five. The Blues are pushing hard for a Central Division title and have a big game Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks, a team the Swedish forward has 16 points against (5 G, 11 A) in 36 games.
Alec Martinez, Los Angeles Kings (owned in 8 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- The Kings are making a push to defend their Stanley Cup championship, and a big part has been the return to health of Martinez. The 27-year-old has four points, 13 shots on goal and 17 blocked shots since coming back from an upper-body injury on March 23. The Kings have a busy week with games scheduled on the road against the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames before finishing at home against the San Jose Sharks. We expect Martinez to finish the season strong.
Balanced scoring -- An important trend to keep in mind for championship week is depth scoring; this is where you can find some hidden fantasy gems. The Blues pace the NHL with nine players with 40-plus points while the Lightning lead the League with 11 players with 30-plus points. If you need goal scorers, the Ottawa Senators are the only team with five players with 20-plus goals and the Stars lead the NHL with 12 players with 10-plus goals. If you need to find some game-winning goals, the Anaheim Ducks have had 18 players score at least one.
Back-to-back stats -- There are 10 back-to-back games scheduled this week which features the Hurricanes, Kings, Wild, Rangers, Jets, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins. With it being the final push for the playoffs for most of these teams, how goalies have fared in the second game becomes more important. The starting goalies in the second game of back-to-back starts have a record of 51-51-17 with a 2.78 goals-against average and .912 save percentage.
Alexander Wennberg, Columbus Blue Jackets -- The Blue Jackets have set a franchise record with nine consecutive wins and are helping teams win fantasy championships. The 14th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft has been making his impact felt during this hot streak with seven points, 19 shots on goal and nine hits while playing almost 19 minutes a game on a line with red-hot goal-scoring Scott Hartnell and fellow first-round pick Marko Dano. This late run by Columbus makes everyone on the team a must-own.