Most head-to-head fantasy hockey leagues have semifinals the week of Mar. 12-18 and finals the week of Mar. 19-25. Your success these two weeks will be driven primarily by your core starters but you can give yourself an advantage by surrounding them with waiver adds that will play lots of games, and play on days that your starters don’t.
Most games are played on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays including the following:
- Thursday, Mar. 15: 18 teams playing
- Saturday, Mar. 17: 20 teams playing
- Tuesday, Mar. 20: 22 teams playing
- Thursday, Mar. 22: 20 teams playing
- Saturday, Mar. 24: 24 teams playing
The majority of your starters will play on those days, so filling your bench with waiver adds that play on the other days is valuable so everyone is playing and no one is stuck on your bench.
Best Fantasy Schedules for Semifinals & Finals
Anaheim Ducks – 7 Games
The Anaheim Ducks have by far the best schedule for fantasy hockey during the semis and finals. Not only do they have seven games in the final two weeks, but all seven of them are played on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Sunday and the opponents aren’t exactly scary (STL, VAN, DET, NJ, CGY, WPG, EDM).
Adam Henrique and Brandon Montour are currently seeing time on the top power play and Jakob Silfverberg, Ryan Kesler and Ondrej Kase can be found on the second unit. Josh Manson doesn’t spend any time on the power play but has plenty of value in banger leagues with hits, blocks and penalty minutes. All six of those players are available in over 50% of leagues on Yahoo.
Boston Bruins – 7 Games
The Bruins play seven games between the semis and finals and are the only team in the NHL to play on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday during the week of the finals – an extremely valuable schedule. As long as Patrice Bergeron is injured, Riley Nash provides value on Boston’s top line playing with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. The other Nash (Rick) and his linemates David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk are also widely available to put your team over the top in the finals.
Montreal Canadiens – 8 Games
Owning a lot of Montreal Canadiens hasn’t been a particularly good strategy in fantasy hockey this season but that could change in the final two weeks. The Habs have eight games, four each in the semis and final, and they play Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday during the final.
Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk, Jonathan Drouin and Jeff Petry are all on the top power play unit and are owned in between 34%-51% of Yahoo leagues. The fifth member of the top unit, Artturi Lehkonen is owned in just 1% of Yahoo leagues and can be considered in extremely deep leagues.
Dallas Stars – 7 games
The Dallas Stars are worth mentioning here because of their favourable schedule but unfortunately there are exactly four skaters worth owning from the Stars (Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Alexander Radulov and John Klingberg) and none of them will appear on your waiver wire. The only other player worth considering is goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who will see more action than usual if Ben Bishop’s injury keeps him out of the lineup.
Winnipeg Jets – 7 games
The Winnipeg Jets play some tough teams in the final two weeks of the fantasy hockey season (WSH, NSJ, CHI, DAL, LA, ANA, NSH) but they have seven games between the semis and finals, including two Sunday games, a Friday game and a Monday game. While their schedule isn’t as good as the teams listed above, they make up for it with quality pickups including recent acquisition Paul Stastny and dynamic rookie Kyle Connor.
Los Angeles Kings and Edmonton Oilers – 8 games
The Kings and Oilers are tied with the Habs for most games in the final two weeks at eight, however, most of those games take place on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday. If you’re going for sheer number of games though, some players to consider would be Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson from the Kings and anyone that plays with Connor McDavid for the Oilers, which is currently Milan Lucic and Ryan Strome.
Worst Fantasy Schedules for Semifinals & Finals
Hopefully by now you have a good idea of who you want to pick up to put your team over the edge and win your fantasy hockey league, but who do you drop? These are the teams with the worst schedules in the last two weeks of the fantasy hockey season.
Chicago Blackhawks & Toronto Maple Leafs – 6 Games
The Blackhawks and Maple Leafs have the worst schedules for fantasy hockey down the stretch. They play just six games, three each in the semis and finals, and all but one of them is played on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday. For Chicago, anyone other than Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews can be dropped, and Patrick Marleau and Nikita Zaitsev are droppable players for Toronto.
New York Islanders, New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning – 6 Games
The Islanders, Rangers and Lightning also only have three games each in the fantasy hockey semis and finals. They each play Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday in the finals but at least their semifinal schedules are a bit more creative.
Giving advice on Rangers’ players is easy. Drop them. All of them.
What to do about the Islanders is a bit more challenging and depends on how deep your league is. John Tavares and Mathew Barzal obviously must stay planted in your lineup. Recent waiver wire favourite Anthony Beauvillier can be dropped. That brings us to Jordan Eberle, Josh Bailey and Anders Lee. I would only drop them in extremely shallow leagues.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are far too good to be dropping many of their players but the one player I would drop immediately is recent acquisition Ryan McDonagh, who is owned in 70% of Yahoo leagues.
Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres – 6 Games
The Penguins and Sabres both only play two games during the fantasy hockey semis but then play four games in the finals with good schedules. You’re going to want these players for the finals but if you think you can drop one of the Penguins or Sabres now and pick them back up at the end of the week, go for it.
Streaming Backup Goalies
Here are some back-to-back situations during the fantasy hockey semis and finals to keep an eye on if you’re interested in streaming backup goalies.
- Mar. 12/13 – Los Angeles Kings vs. Vancouver Canucks and Arizona Coyotes. With the Kings there’s always a chance they will play Jonathan Quick every single game but Jack Campbell may get one of these two games.
- Mar. 14/15 – Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Dallas Stars and Buffalo Sabres. Curtis McElhinney will get the game against the Sabres.
- Mar. 15/16 – Nashville Predators vs. Arizona Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche. Juuse Saros will get one of these two games and is a great option, holding a 2.39 GAA and .924 save percentage for the season.
- Mar. 16/17 – Minnesota Wild vs. Vegas Golden Knights and Arizona Coyotes. Alex Stalock against the Coyotes is an attractive option.
- Mar. 17/18 – Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Boston Bruins and Edmonton Oilers. Andrei Vasilevskiy will obviously start against the Bruins which means Louis Domingue will likely get the start against the Oilers (who will also be on the back end of a back-to-back). This is a Sunday game so if you’re losing goalie categories on the last day of the semifinals, Domingue is your guy.
- Mar. 19/20 – Florida Panthers vs. Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators. James Reimer will likely get one of these two matchups for the surging Panthers.
- Mar. 20/21 – Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens. Both of these games make decent starts for the Penguins goalies but in particular, I would want the start against the Habs for either Tristan Jerry or Casey DeSmith.
Good luck in your Fantasy Hockey Playoffs!
I’m a Toronto Maple Leafs contributor for THW and a fantasy sports guru (hockey and football). I have a BBA and MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University and my day job is as a finance manager for a fortune 500 company. Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org