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Fantasy All-Access: 'March Madness' comes to an end

by Matt Sitkoff

Tuesday marks the start of the last month of the NHL regular season and the start of fantasy championships. Before we look forward let's focus on some players that have gone into March like a lion and left that way.

Claude Giroux
Center - PHI
GOALS: 25 | ASST: 53 | PTS: 78
SOG: 194 | +/-: 7
It took Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux 15 games to score a goal this season, but in March he had a League-leading 21 points in the 14 games. The Boston Bruins' Jarome Iginla led the League with 13 goals in the month with one day to go. The Calgary Flames' Mark Giordano is leading all defenseman in scoring with 16 points in 16 games. And the Ottawa Senators' Chris Neil has a league-high 50 penalty minutes with one game to go in the most crucial month in fantasy hockey.


Cody Eakin (owned in 3 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- The Dallas Stars are in a fight for their playoff lives this week, and a busy schedule with four games on tap, all against Eastern Conference teams (at the Washington Capitals, at the Carolina Hurricanes, at the Tampa Bay Lightning, at the Florida Panthers). That should bode well for Eakin, a former Capitals prospect who has career points against all those teams except the Lightning. The 22-year-old has five points and 12 penalty minutes in March, including goals in two-straight. With the Stars playing a busy schedule that includes back-to-back games Saturday and Sunday, this makes for great contributions toward the back end of your fantasy playoff week.

Sami Vatanen (owned in 3 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- With Cam Fowler out for the rest of the regular season, the 22-year-old defenseman, a 2009 fourth-round pick (No. 106), has played more than 19 minutes in three of his past four games and is on a career-high four-game point streak. The Ducks are in a race for the Pacific Division crown with four games against teams currently not in the playoffs this week (Winnipeg Jets, Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators, at Oilers) and that should mean more points for Vatanen.

Thomas Greiss
Goalie - PHX
RECORD: 9-6-2
GAA: 2.30 | SVP: 0.924
Thomas Greiss (owned in 17 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- The Phoenix Coyotes announced on Saturday that goaltender Mike Smith will be re-evaluated in a week, which means Greiss likely will start all three games for Phoenix this week (Jets, at the Los Angeles Kings, Oilers). The 28-year-old never has faced the Jets in his career but is 2-2-1 with a 1.26 goals-against average and .947 save percentage in his career against the Kings and Oilers. Greiss has played well in Smith's absence, stopping 76 of 82 shots in the Coyotes' past three games, and is a good start in the fantasy playoffs this week.


April fools -- There are 101 games in the last month of the NHL season, and after an extended April last season, the following players have led the League the past three seasons in the stretch drive. The Capitals' Alex Ovechkin had 22 points last April and has 31 points in the last three seasons in the last month. The New York Rangers' Martin St. Louis has 28 April points the past three seasons, and his teammate Brad Richards has 26 points during that same span. Giroux has 25 points the last three seasons in April.

Johnny Boychuk
Defense - BOS
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 18 | PTS: 21
SOG: 132 | +/-: 30
Plus/Minus -- One of the hardest categories to win in a fantasy week is the plus/minus statistic, but there have been some standout performances in that area that have been given a plus to your fantasy team all season. Entering play Monday the Bruins lead the League in goal differential (plus-83), and have the three top players in plus/minus. If you need help this week in that category look, at Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who has been a plus player in 34 of his 68 games. If you need a forward with a strong plus/minus try the Predators' Craig Smith, who is a plus-11 on the season and has 28 games with a positive rating.


Calle Jarnkrok -- Drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft (No. 51) by the Red Wings, Jarnkrok was acquired by the Predators at the NHL Trade Deadline for veteran center David Legwand. The 22-year-old Jarnkrok was part of Sweden's gold-medal team from the 2013 IIHF World Championship and started his North American career last season with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League and was part of that team's run to the Calder Cup. His first full season in the AHL started great, with 36 points in 57 with Grand Rapids, and he continued that hot play with seven points in his five games played with Milwaukee, Nashville's AHL team. That prompted his promotion to Nashville. The 5-foot-11 forward has five points in six NHL games and could be a great pickup, especially in keeper/dynasty leagues.

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