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Fantasy Pool Look: Stretch run danger

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

With just more than a dozen games left in the regular season, there are some teams in a pretty lucky position, meaning some poolies are in an unlucky one.

Take the Pittsburgh Penguins, for example. Here is a team that, for the most part, boasts a healthy lineup. Naturally, as with any smart team, GM Ray Shero prepared his squad for injuries. Now the Pens have 14 healthy forwards and seven healthy defensemen. Furthermore, their place in the Eastern Conference standings is pretty secure: making the playoffs is a lock. Home ice advantage also seems to be assured.

We’re getting close to that time, folks. You know the story – you have a three-point lead over second place in your league and you find out Evgeni Malkin, your top player, will be a healthy scratch to “rest up” for the playoffs. For now, the scratches are on a slightly lesser scale; Sunday it was defenseman Alex Goligoski and center Max Talbot, but over the next two weeks we could see it more.

The same situation is happening over in Washington. The Caps have a commanding lead over second place in the conference and some names are being scratched. Tomas Fleischmann, Eric Belanger, Scott Walker and Jason Chimera have already been sat.

Chicago and San Jose are also relatively comfortable in the standings. In another week and a half, Vancouver and Buffalo should join them. The Blackhawks could start scratching forwards any game now, although the defense has been hit pretty hard with the loss of Brian Campbell and Kim Johnsson’s short-term injury absence. The Sharks, on the other hand, are not as deep up front, so you likely won’t see the big-name scratches.

Just something to keep in mind when playing the waiver wire: Anyone who is on the wire is the exact caliber of player who is in line to be scratched and if he plays for any of the teams noted above, you may not get as many games out of him as you think…

Blake Comeau of the Islanders has been hot of late and he is available in most fantasy leagues. The 24-year-old has 12 points and is a plus-6 in his past eight games and he has six penalty minutes thrown in for good measure. We’ve seen different players on this team get hot at various times this season (John Tavares, Matt Moulson and Josh Bailey come to mind), so it is unlikely Comeau’s streak will last. However, he’s hot for now and is worth grabbing to ride the wave. From a keeper standpoint, this is promising and he could be a 50-point player next campaign…

Injuries, from a fantasy league perspective: With the aforementioned Campbell out for the season, look for Brent Seabrook to get a shot in the arm. He’ll absorb most of Campbell’s minutes and the difference in production could be as many as five or six extra points in the final 14 games. Another player who could be impacted by this is Dustin Byfuglien. The Blackhawks are deep up front and although they have recalled defenseman Nick Boynton from the American League, if Johnsson remains on the shelf the team may consider moving Byfuglien back to his former position on the blueline, at least temporarily.

Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Tuesday and Saturday throughout the season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.

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