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Unlikely fantasy players could help down the stretch

by Bill Dean recently published a story about rested players to watch for heading into the fantasy playoffs. Big stars such as Alex Ovechkin, the Sedin twins and the Lightning's duo of Stamkos and St. Louis could see some rest heading into the NHL playoffs which can only mean a dip in some stats for your fantasy team. There are many teams that will be fighting for a playoff spot all the way to the final game, and those are the players you want to get your hands on.

The Philadelphia Flyers have 12 games remaining on the year and while they are in first place, they have teams like the Penguins and Capitals chasing them for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. One player to keep an eye on is Ville Leino. He has been playing on a line with Mike Richards and Scott Hartnell. He has 5 points in his last four games and had a hat trick against the Thrashers on March 12th.

Another East player to take a look at is Tyler Ennis of the Buffalo Sabres. Playing with new addition Brad Boyes and 26-goal scorer Drew Stafford, Ennis quietly has 5 points in the last four games and could help you down the stretch as he looks to do the same for the Sabres, currently in eighth place.

In the Western Conference, the Anaheim Ducks were in 8th place as of Thursday night and have games in hand against the two teams behind them (Calgary and Nashville). One Duck who is very important to the team's success is Saku Koivu. The first line of Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry is lethal, but it's the second line of Koivu, Jason Blake and Teemu Selanne that take on other teams' second- and third-pair defensemen. Koivu is the facilitator for the two snipers and when healthy, can dish the puck with the best of them. He should be on your radar.

Another team fighting for position in the West is the Blackhawks. While he's likely to remain with his current fantasy owner, Marian Hossa has 15 points in the last 11 games and is trying to ensure the Hawks find a more comfortable place in the standings. Hossa, who has 56 points in the playoffs in the past three seasons, knows how to score as the games get more important.

Top Pick-Ups (owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo! Leagues)

1. Patrik Berglund, C, Blues (17 percent): The young Swedish center has developed some nice chemistry with new power forward Chris Stewart (12 points in 13 games). Since February 11th, Berglund has 14 points (8 while with Stewart), 6 power-play points and 47 shots on goal. He is having a very nice season and should match or succeed career highs in goals, assists, points, power-play goals and shots.

2. Jamie Benn, LW, Stars (34 percent): Benn is the fourth member of the Stars to score 20 goals on the season and looks to add to that total not only this year, but for years to come. His 21 goals, 26 assists, 48 penalty minutes, 9 power-play points and 156 shots remind some pundits of a young Corey Perry. He has yet to find a steady line to play with, but has no problem tallying points for his team. In 12 games since the trade of James Neal, Benn has 14 points, 12 penalty minutes, 3 power-play goals, 47 shots and is a plus-5. If he's available in your league, snatch him up quick.

3. Ryan Callahan, RW, Rangers (39 percent): Like Benn, it is hard to figure out why ‘Cally' is only owned in 39 percent of Yahoo! Leagues. He leads the Rangers with 42 points, and also has 38 penalty minutes, 14 points on the man advantage and 154 shots -- all numbers that can help you win a fantasy league. Another reason he should be on your team is the 11 goals and 8 assists in 19 games since returning from a broken hand. Add 12 PIM's and 9 points on the power play and you might want to add a red-hot player when others, for some reason, have failed to do so.

4. Grant Clitsome, D, Blue Jackets (9 percent): The rookie D-man has played very well in his short time in the NHL. His stat line of 4 goals, 14 assists, 16 penalty minutes, 9 power-play points and 41 shots might not look overly appealing, but you have to remember this is only in 27 games. He is a plus player that sees ample time on the power play and has a reliable 'D' partner in Fedor Tyutin. Clitsome is reliable and could help your playoff run.

5. Braden Holtby, G, Capitals (35 percent): His percentage owned has increased mightily in the past week and for good reason. The 21-year-old Caps goaltender has gone 5-0 with a 1.25 goals against average and a .957 save percentage in 5 games from March 7-15. He was also named the first star of the week and had some impressive wins against the likes of the Canadiens, Blackhawks and Lightning (in relief of the injured Michal Neuvirth). Add the goalie while he's hot.

Offensive Schedule Strength
RANK TEAM 3/21 3/22 3/23 3/24 3/25 3/26 3/27
1 Off Off vs. FLA Off Off vs. ANA Off
2 Off Off @DET Off @ATL Off @CBJ
3 vs. PIT Off vs. VAN Off Off vs. TOR Off
4 Off vs. NYI Off Off vs. CAR @CAR Off
5 Off @PHI Off Off @OTT @MTL Off
6 Off Off vs. CGY @LAK Off @PHX Off
7 Off vs. NJD Off vs. MTL Off vs. NYR @PHI
8 Off vs. EDM Off vs. ANA Off vs. DAL Off
9 Off vs. FLA Off vs. OTT Off @BOS Off
10 vs. CGY Off Off vs. SJS Off vs. COL Off
11 Off vs. WAS Off vs. PIT Off @NYI vs. BOS
12 Off Off vs. ANA Off Off @NSH Off
13 Off @MTL Off Off vs. FLA vs. NJD Off
14 Off Off Off @NYI vs. VAN Off vs. OTT
15 Off vs. CBJ Off vs. TOR Off @LAK Off
16 Off @PHX Off vs. EDM Off @MIN Off
17 Off vs. BUF Off @BOS Off vs. WAS Off
18 @DET Off Off @PHI vs. NJD Off vs. FLA
19 Off vs. TOR Off Off Off vs. STL Off
20 Off vs. OTT Off Off @TBL vs. TBL Off
21 @LAK Off @SJS Off Off @EDM Off
22 Off @COL Off @PHX Off Off vs. VAN
23 Off vs. STL Off vs. CBJ Off vs. SJS Off
24 Off Off @DAL @NSH Off @CHI Off
25 Off @BOS Off Off @PIT @BUF Off
26 Off @TBL Off vs. ATL Off vs. PHI Off
27 Off @NSH Off @STL Off vs. CGY Off
28 Off @MIN Off @COL Off @DET Off
29 Off @NYR @CHI Off @BUF Off @PIT
30 Off @CAR Off @NYR vs. WAS Off @ATL

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