All season long, NHL.com's fantasy hockey staff will have you covered with daily lineup news, production trends and injury notes from around the League. We will identify how these developments affect fantasy owners in year-long (Yahoo) and daily (DraftKings) formats.
Favorable schedules for first round of fantasy playoffs
With the fantasy hockey playoffs starting this week, we look at some teams and players who have schedules that fantasy owners should target in their matchups:
Washington Capitals (four games): They play the Winnipeg Jets, New York Islanders (twice) and Philadelphia Flyers this week. Forward Jakub Vrana (LW/RW, 4 percent owned) is worth monitoring on the third line with T.J. Oshie (RW, 76 percent) and Lars Eller (C, three percent). He has three points (two goals, assist) and 12 shots on goal in his past five games. Others to consider: Tom Wilson (LW/RW, 40 percent), Matt Niskanen (D, 37 percent), Philipp Grubauer (G, 21 percent), Brett Connolly (LW/RW, fewer than 1 percent).
Winnipeg Jets (four games): They play the Capitals, Nashville Predators, Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars. Center Paul Stastny (C, 38 percent) has settled in well on their first line with forwards Patrik Laine (RW, 23rd in Yahoo) and Nikolaj Ehlers (LW/RW, 60th). Stastny has a four-game point streak (goal, four assists), and seven points (two goals, five assists) and three power-play points in six games with the Jets. He is a must-own with his exposure to Laine (15 goals in past 11 games) and good matchups against the Stars and Blackhawks. Others to consider: Kyle Connor (LW, 19 percent), Joel Armia (RW, 1 percent), Ben Chiarot (D, fewer than 1 percent).
Columbus Blue Jackets (three games): They play the Montreal Canadiens, Flyers and Ottawa Senators. Center Pierre-Luc Dubois (C/LW, 21 percent) has points in three of his past four games (six points; goal, five assists), one on the power play, and five shots on goal. He is centering their first line between forwards Artemi Panarin (C/LW, 45th in Yahoo) and Cam Atkinson (RW, 58 percent). Dubois is 10th in scoring among NHL rookies with 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists) in 69 games. Others to consider: Alexander Wennberg (C, 19 percent), Boone Jenner (C/LW, 14 percent), Thomas Vanek (LW/RW, 13 percent).
Smith activated, expected to start for Flames on Sunday
Calgary Flames goaltender Mike Smith has been activated off injured reserve and is expected to start against the New York Islanders on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; SN, MSG+, NHL.TV).
Smith (83 percent owned, 91st in Yahoo) is a must-start player in all fantasy formats. From a DFS standpoint, Smith ($8,100 in DraftKings) should return value against the Islanders, who have lost eight consecutive games. He is 23-16-6 with a 2.53 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 47 games this season. Smith had won three of his past four starts before his injury.
Grubauer worth adding down stretch for Capitals
Washington Capitals goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 24 saves in 2-0 win against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.
Grubauer (21 percent owned, 81st in Yahoo) has seen an uptick in playing time with starting goaltender Braden Holtby (407th in Yahoo) struggling. Grubauer is 5-1-0 with a 1.33 GAA and .954 save percentage in his past nine games (six starts) since Feb. 14, leading the League in GAA and SV% during that span. He is 9-8-3 with a 2.25 GAA and .925 save percentage in 27 games (20 starts).
Holtby is 1-5-0 with a 5.03 GAA and .842 SV% in his past six starts, so Grubauer could see an expanded role if the Capitals decide to rest Holtby heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Washington has 14 games remaining with two back-to-back sets and seven games against non-contending teams.
Video: Grubauer earns Saturday's Pepsi Zero Sugar Shutout
Worth noting: Arizona Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta is not expected to start against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. Here is the full list of projected goaltenders.
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