A look at the post-Olympic schedule for teams with favourable stretches to close the season.

This is a special article due to the upcoming Olympics in Sochi, Russia which necessitates a 16-day break from NHL hockey.  Unless you’re in an Olympic pool, you’re just praying your fantasy players come back from Russia uninjured and ready to crank it up for your playoff run.  I’m sure Steven Stamkos and Henrik Sedin owners are a little relieved that their players will be at home resting for two weeks instead of sharing a room with two other players and sleeping in tiny beds.  I also guess you could be rooting for your home country too, but let’s be honest, what’s more important: your country or your fantasy team?


Something to keep in mind is the effect of playing in the Olympics and the toll it could take on some players and teams.  The Olympic tournament consists of a 3-game preliminary round followed by a 12-team playoff (with the top four receiving byes).  So the maximum number of games played by a team is seven.  But the Gold Medal Game will feature two teams that have played at least five games to that point.  So every player, barring injury or benching, going over to Russia will play between three and seven intense hockey games.  That can add up.


Here’s a list of the number of players from each NHL team going to Sochi:


10 Players: Chicago & Detroit

9 Players: St. Louis*

8 Players: Montreal

7 Players: Anaheim, NY Rangers, Pittsburgh

6 Players: Los Angeles, Tampa Bay & Vancouver+

5 Players: Boston, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Phoenix

4 Players: Buffalo, Colorado, New Jersey, NY Islanders, San Jose, Washington*, Winnipeg & Columbus^

3 Players: Carolina, Dallas, Edmonton, Toronto & Calgary+

2 Players: Florida, Nashville & Ottawa


* = Vladimir Sobotka (STL) was replaced by Martin Erat (WSH) on the Czech Republic roster

+ = Henrik Sedin (VAN) was reportedly replaced by Mikael Backlund (CGY) on the Sweden roster

^ = Marian Gaborik (CBJ) will not be going to Sochi, his replacement has not been named for the Slovakia roster


As a Red Wings fan, I’m not super excited about the fact they’re sending ten players to the Olympics.  They are already an older team (although getting younger with players like Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar emerging) and sending Pavel Datsyuk (who has been battling injuries), Henrik Zetterberg (who has chronic back problems) and Niklas Kronwall to the Olympics just means that’s less rest for our key contributors and more of a chance for these players to experience an injury that isn’t going to help keep the playoff streak alive in Detroit.


When players do return from Sochi, what do their NHL schedules look like and how will they help you bring home your fantasy championship?  Here are the remaining games after the break for all teams:


25 Games Remaining: BOS, BUF, CAR, STL

24 Games Remaining: CGY, COL, CBJ, DAL, DET, FLA, PHX, PIT, TB

23 Games Remaining: LA, MIN, MTL, NSH, NJ, NYR, OTW, PHI, SJ, WSH

22 Games Remaining: ANH, CHI, EDM, NYI, TOR, VAN, WPG


If you can swap a similar valued player from the Canucks for a player from the Blues, for example, that extra three games could make a big difference in your playoff push or in the playoffs.  That’s something to keep in mind.


When NHL play resumes after the Olympic break, the NHL regular season will have less than two months left; which means only about seven matchups remaining in those weekly head-to-head leagues, including playoffs.


So I think it’s not too soon to start thinking about your lineup for the fantasy playoffs.  Are you holding onto a fringe player that you would only start two or three times over the course of your playoffs?  Maybe you could flip him for a similar (or slightly less) valued player that will get you significantly more starts.  Now this takes more than just looking to see which NHL teams play during each fantasy playoff week.  Go take a look at your roster and use the Same Night Tool to see what teams give you the most starts.


Your typical league has three weeks of playoffs, so depending on the setup, a Monday to Sunday head-to-head league will have playoffs from 3/17 to 4/6 or 3/24 to 4/13.  A couple of my leagues end on April 6th because a lot of times studs that play for NHL playoff teams that have already clinched get sat during the last couple games of the NHL regular season to save them for the NHL playoffs.  Well that sucks for fantasy playoffs when you’re in the middle of fighting for a championship and your top players are being sat.  It’s the same reason a lot of fantasy football leagues have their final week on Week 16 of the NFL season instead of Week 17.  But a lot of leagues could still use that last week.


Here’s a breakdown of what teams play what during those four weeks:


March 17 to March 23:

    - 5 Games: MIN

    - 4 Games: BOS, CHI, CBJ, DET, FLA, NSH, NJ, PIT, STL, TB, TOR

    - 3 Games: The rest

    - 2 Games: NYI


March 24 to March 30:


    - 3 Games: The rest

    - 2 Games: NJ


March 31 to April 6:


    - 3 Games: The rest

    - 2 Games: NSH, VAN


April 7 to April 13:


    - 3 Games: The rest


March 17 to April 6 Playoffs:

    - 12 Games: PIT

    - 11 Games: BOS, CHI, CBJ, DAL, DET, FLA, LA, MIN, OTW, PHI, STL, TB, PIT

    - 10 Games: The rest

    - 9 Games: NYI, WSH

    - 8 Games: VAN


March 24 to April 13 Playoffs:

    - 12 Games: OTW, PHI

    - 11 Games: ANH, BOS, BUF, CGY, CAR, COL, DAL, DET, LA, NYI, PHX, PIT, STL, TB

    - 10 Games: The rest

    - 9 Games: TOR, VAN


A few takeaways here:

    - Having one or more Minnesota players during the March 17 to March 23 week will be a huge advantage (possibly Week 1 of the playoffs)

    - Vancouver doesn’t look like a great team to own depth players from for either three-week playoff period above (either eight or nine games)

    - Surely Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Kris Letang are already owned in your league, but guys like Jussi Jokinen or Matt Niskanen could be available and give you a huge advantage for the playoffs with all those extra games (either 12 or 11 games)


If you don’t play in a Monday to Sunday league, go use the Same Night Tool, enter the dates of each your fantasy playoff weeks and look at the “GP” column to see how many games each team plays.  Then go look at your rosters and see what days you have open spots and what days (and who) you are benching on busy days.  Come playoff time, it’s all about the quantity of starts from your fringe players.


Regardless of when your playoffs start, it’s never too early to start planning in order to maximize your games played and give yourself an advantage when it matters most.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.

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