It's the final week of the regular season, and most teams have just three games in six days. The Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins will play April 28 in a make-up game after having their game from April 15 canceled due to the Boston Marathon bombings. Both the Bruins and Senators have four games on tap, too. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Sabres and Columbus Blue Jackets have just two games on the schedule for the upcoming week, so those in cumulative formats will want to go in another direction.
The Bruins have two games that should be very winnable, and two games that will be difficult against teams heading to the playoffs. The good news for fantasy owners of the Bruins is that there is a lot to play for still, as the B's are in a battle with the Montreal Canadiens for the Northeast division title, and that all-important No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference - rather than a four or potentially five, six or seven seed. That's all fantasy owners can ask for in the final week. Sometimes teams get locked into a spot and start resting people. That shouldn't be the case for the Bruins this week. Lastly, did anyone notice that left wing Brad Marchand has taken over the team lead with 16 goals and 33 points? The Bruins have three players - Marchand, center Patrice Bergeron and center Tyler Seguin - with plus-minus ratings of plus-21 or better.
Must start: Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Jaromir Jagr, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin, Dennis Seidenberg (hits/blocked shots leagues)
The Blackhawks have already locked up the top seed in the Western Conference, but head coach Joel Quenneville said the team will keep pushing for the President's Trophy, which is given to the team with the overall best record/point total in the NHL. That's good news for fantasy owners, although it wouldn't be surprising to see the major stars like right wing Patrick Kane or center Jonathan Toews play with a cap on ice time (TOI), or even miss a game or two down the stretch. The top players, or those with nagging injuries, such as goaltender Ray Emery (lower body) or left wing Patrick Sharp (upper body), are likely to see plenty of rest.
Must start: Corey Crawford, Niklas Hjalmarsson (hits/blocked shots leagues), Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brandon Saad, Brent Seabrook (hits/blocked shots leagues), Jonathan Toews
Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings are on the outside looking in for a playoff spot right now, although they have three home games at Joe Louis Arena to get back into the mix. But really, does anyone want that eight seed to face the Chicago Blackhawks? The good news is that the Red Wings do not have the luxury of resting anyone, and they will be playing hard.
Must start: Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Jimmy Howard, Niklas Kronwall, Henrik Zetterberg
The Oilers have dropped six straight games to fall out of the playoff hunt, but it's expected that the young Oilers will keep playing hard down the stretch to build for the future. There are plenty of jobs on the line for the 2014 team. Despite the lack of wins, goaltender Devan Dubnyk has really played well, allowing three or fewer goals in 16 of his past 17 games.
Must start: Devan Dubnyk, Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner, Taylor Hall, Ales Hemsky, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nick Schultz (hits/blocked shots leagues), Ladislav Smid (hits/blocked shots leagues), Nail Yakupov
Center Kyle Turris has turned up the intensity over the past five games, and he might be a nice addition for fantasy owners in the final four regular season games. He has two goals, two assists and a plus-6 rating over the five-game span. He has four multi-point games since March 16, making him an attractive addition off the waiver wire. Goaltender Craig Anderson is back, as he has won three straight games while posting a 1.00 goals against average (GAA) over the past three outings. He has been impressive after missing about six weeks due to an ankle injury.
Must start: Daniel Alfredsson, Craig Anderson, Sergei Gonchar, Milan Michalek, Jakob Silfverberg, Kyle Turris, Patrick Wiercioch, Mike Zibanejad
The Coyotes are technically still alive for a postseason spot, although their playoff aspirations are flicking. Still, their stars will be playing hard, and there will be no rest. Right wing Shane Doan has disappeared over the past two weeks, going scoreless with a minus-1 rating in five games from April 8 to 18. That has been a big reason why the Coyotes are fading. As such, fantasy owners might want to go away from Doan in the upcoming week. Defenseman Keith Yandle has posted just one point (a goal) in the past six games. He is also a risky play for fantasy owners, especially due to his poor plus-minus rating of minus-4 since April 8.
Must start: Mikkel Boedker, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Mike Smith, Radim Vrbata
Center Mikhail Grigorenko has a bright future, but he isn't worth activating for the final two games of the regular season. Still, if he is available off the waiver wire in long-term keeper formats, he should be stashed away. The rebuilding Sabres will make Grigorenko a huge part of their plans going forward.
Must start: Cody Hodgson, Ryan Miller, Steve Ott (PIM leagues), Thomas Vanek
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets are teetering on that line of making the playoffs. Fantasy owners of Blue Jackets in cumulative leagues will want to have their Columbus players reserved, as they have just two games. However, in rotisserie formats, guys like goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and right wing Marian Gaborik, should be started.
Must start: Sergei Bobrovsky, Nick Foligno, Marian Gaborik, Mark Letestu, Vinny Prospal, Fedor Tyutin