Special to Yahoo Sports
Many head-to-head leagues have started their playoffs. If you’re among those participating, congratulations. If you’re not, um … try to do better next year.
With the volatility of a short stretch possibly deciding your fate, extra care must be taken with your lineups. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been coasting for a while, because the minute you take your eye off the latest updates, you’ll end up missing a late injury or a surprise line change/scratch.
In these late stages, every little bit of help can make a difference. That’s why we’re offering a few widely available players who could move you on to the next round.
(Yahoo roster rates/stats as of March 5.)
Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings (27 percent rostered)
Brown hasn’t produced a lot this season, but he’s picked it up of late with six points, 22 shots and 19 hits in seven games. It’s no coincidence this streak matches up with Tyler Toffoli‘s trade to Vancouver, as Brown has enjoyed top-line duties — including a sizable role on the power play — the last two weeks. The Kings will probably be done by early April, but the veteran should provide enough to help you progress deeper into your playoffs.
Nikita Gusev, New Jersey Devils (23 percent)
Two goals and seven assists from seven outings sound great. Six power-play points and 18 shots over the same stretch couldn’t be much better. Sure, the Devils are destined for another high lottery pick this summer, and even though Gusev doesn’t receive a ton of minutes, the stats make it clear you need to add him ASAP.
Conor Garland, Arizona Coyotes (15%)
Like Gusev, Garland continues to flourish with a condensed workload. The 22 goals on 156 shots with a 14:10 average suggest a better-than-average skill set, but some may believe the 14.1 shooting percentage just proves he’s lucky. One still can’t ignore the fact Garland’s racked up 10 PPPs, two coming during a four-point performance against Tampa on Feb. 22. It’s absurd he’s not rostered in roughly 85 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Ryan Reaves, Vegas Golden Knights (15%)
If you’re looking for a boost in the physical categories, Reaves provides a great example with his league-leading 302 hits. He won’t supply much else in fantasy, though he’s compiled a modest two goals and two assists in his last seven games — while dishing out an eye-popping 45 hits. Let’s not overanalyze this selection any further, as you know what Reaves is good for and that’s his obvious draw.
After one-and-a-half so-so seasons in Buffalo, Sheary was saved with a move back to Pittsburgh and a place alongside Sidney Crosby on even strength. The two-time Cup champ enjoyed No. 87’s company during his previous stint in the Steel City, and I’m sure Sid doesn’t mind having a speedy winger to pick out. There’s no guarantee the two will stick together, but Sheary’s two points Tuesday at least provide a preview of their teamwork.
Milano never really got much of an opportunity in Columbus, at least for someone selected 16th overall in 2014. With Anaheim slated to miss its second straight postseason, the 23-year-old should be allowed to show what he can do. Milano immediately contributed with a pair of goals versus the Oilers during his Ducks’ debut and has since added a pair of assists across four games while being inserted on the Ducks’ first power play.
Greenway accumulated five assists in five October contests, but nothing notable came over the next few months. However, the 6-foot-6 winger has hinted at his potential with eight points, 22 shots, 16 hits and 16 blocks since Feb. 7. He’s also getting his turn skating on Minnesota’s top trio with Eric Staal and Kevin Fiala and has not looked out of place. For someone as big and talented as Greenway, it’s baffling as to why the Wild haven’t used him more on the man-advantage in front of the net.
Sam Gagner, Detroit Red Wings (0%)
A Red Wing forward in this column? Berofsky, have you finally gone crazy?! No, I haven’t. I’m quite well, thank you for asking. Gagner’s inclusion here is solely because he recently occupied Detroit’s first power play and actually tallied a PPG Saturday. He’s also on their second five-on-five line, which must count for something. Will Gagner’s advanced standing continue? Maybe not, but the 13-year NHLer can at least round out your PPP quota for now.
Alex Goligoski, Arizona Coyotes (41%)
Since being featured at the end of October, Goligoski has seen his roster rate jump by more than 30 percent as a result of recording 26 points — eight of those PPPs — 80 shots, 81 hits, and 120 blocks. The former Star has continued this consistency as a member of Arizona’s second man-advantage while averaging 23 minutes a game. Goligoski probably won’t hit the 40-point plateau reached way back when (currently at 32), but he’s still a well-rounded fantasy blueliner.
John Marino, Pittsburgh Penguins (7%)
INJURY RETURN ALERT! Marino came back Tuesday and picked up a goal, three hits, and one block while skating 2:05 on the power play. With 26 points this season and a strong foothold on the Penguins’ depth chart, others will quickly snap him up. And for those in weekly formats, Marino plays Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Don’t be the one who misses out.
David Savard, Columbus Blue Jackets (7%)
I’ve been trying to fit in Savard the last month or so, but better immediate options prevailed. And thanks to a partial recovery of his former power-play days, the 2009 fourth-rounder is receiving more attention. He’s registered two PPAs in 12 days, though it’s the secondary statistics that bring in a wider appeal. Savard is second in the league with 157 blocks and has also managed a respectable 126 hits. Even if he can’t maintain the special-teams role, you’re not going to find many comparable D-men at this type of availability.
Christian Djoos, Anaheim Ducks (0%)
Ducks’ defenders are dropping by the day, with Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm among the casualties. Michael Del Zotto — who was mentioned last week — looks to be the head interim offensive defenseman, though there’s room for others to take the lead. Enter Djoos, who was acquired from Washington at the trade deadline after going off for 32 points in 42 games at the AHL level. The young Swede is already seeing mega minutes with his new club while averaging 2:55 on the power play. Might as well take a chance on Djoos while his window remains open.
Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks (47%)
Robin Lehner had been the Blackhawks’ main man between the pipes for a while, but Crawford’s performance in 2020 made the ex-Islander an afterthought and he was subsequently dealt to Sin City. As for Crawford, he’s posted a 2.37 GAA and .930 save percentage in 16 outings — and has started the last six. Malcolm Subban may have been brought in for Chicago’s future, but the 35-year-old Crawford isn’t ready to relinquish his No. 1 spot.
Cal Petersen, Los Angeles Kings (3%)
After their projected playoff elimination, LA has decided to play better defense. In fact, they come into action Thursday having only allowed one goal in three consecutive games. This run includes impressive wins over Pittsburgh and Vegas, both achieved by Petersen. You may remember him from his fill-in job last year when the Kings’ goaltending contingent couldn’t stay healthy and he produced a 2.60/.924 line over 11 appearances. The coaches have probably seen enough of Jonathan Quick over the years, so it’s time to give Petersen a longer look.
Players to consider from past columns: Bo Horvat, Clayton Keller, Sam Reinhart, Patric Hornqvist, Zach Parise, Kevin Fiala, Phillip Danault, Gustav Nyquist, Adam Henrique, David Krejci, Tyler Toffoli, Tyler Ennis, Zach Sanford, Jordan Eberle, Jason Zucker, Dominik Kubalik, Josh Bailey, Alex Killorn, Ryan Strome, Bryan Rust, Nikita Gusev, Pavel Zacha, Andrew Mangiapane, Neal Pionk, Anthony DeAngelo, Jaccob Slavin, Damon Severson, Jared Spurgeon, Samuel Girard, Duncan Keith, Devon Toews, Tristan Jarry, MacKenzie Blackwood, Jaroslav Halak, Pavel Francouz, Juuse Saros, Antti Raanta, Alex Stalock, Anton Khudobin