NHL Fantasy Mailbag: Trust Crawford in championship week

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Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford. (LM Otero/AP)

At this point, you can just about taste victory.

With most standard head-to-head leagues culminating on Sunday, the attention now focuses primarily to advising those of you still in the fight, namely rotisserie owners. The job is far from done.

At this point in the season, the strength of schedule is everything.

On Wednesday, Pete Jensen and Rob Reese, the leaders of NHL.com’s tremendous fantasy coverage published an extremely useful piece. It headlined and ranked the most favourable to least favourable remaining schedules based on the average points percentage of each team’s remaining opponents.

By their calculations and observations (and I trust them), Calgary, Buffalo, San Jose, Pittsburgh and Vegas are the top five teams to zone in on. By the math, Carolina, Tampa, Minnesota, Montreal and Washington appear to have the most difficult roads ahead to finish up the regular season.

Certainly some food for thought, especially for those of you battling it out in the Sportsnet Fantasy Hockey Pool.

Now to your questions:

Doug Von Vader – @DougieDiggles: Help me choose one keeper, Johnny Gaudreau or Filip Forsberg?

Easy response for me – it’s Gaudreau. The Flames star is a bona fide top-15 fantasy player.

Don’t get me wrong, Forsberg is no slouch. In fact, I’d argue he’s the better goal scorer of the two. In terms of category coverage however, there are few that can match what Gaudreau can bring to the table. Forty goals and 100 points is hard to find.

In the fantasy world, I’d place Gaudreau at least a tier (and a couple of rounds) ahead of Forsberg. Both are great.

TinyTimSilver – @silver_tiny: Aaron Ekblad or Dougie Hamilton – rest of playoffs?

Based on offensive pedigree and career production, I’d take Hamilton. I said it earlier this season and I’ll say it again, I don’t view Ekblad as a steady option from the back end in fantasy hockey. Keith Yandle is the money maker and clearly the top offensive talent from the blue line in Sunrise.

After a turbulent start, Hamilton has had a much better second half to the season. That trend has continued lately – the 25-year-old has tallied four goals and nine points over the past 11 games.

Take note. Easily, Hamilton over Ekblad.

Douglas Forsyth – @douglas_forsyth: What should I do with Pierre-Luc Dubois? Zero points in March (11 games).

Yeah, from a fantasy perspective, I’m done with Columbus. They had so much post-deadline promise. Honestly, it’s quite shocking and startling to see how anemic their offence has been.

Time to drop Dubois and not look back. There are far better waiver options at this point.

Marcus Smarf – @KingisPingis: How much trust should be put in Garret Sparks for streamer purposes?

Considering Toronto’s recent play defensively and Sparks’ ineptitudes at the best of the times, I’d stay away unless it’s your last resort. He’s far too shaky to be considered a legitimate option. If you’re chasing the wins category, give Sparks a look.

Don’t expect much in terms of consistency.

Jason Tebeau – @jason_tebeau: What do you make of Corey Crawford for the rest of the season?

I really like Crawford down the stretch. The 34-year-old has surrendered two goals or less in five of his last six appearances. He continues to be one of the most underrated goalies in the league right now.

Playoff bound or not, Crawford has a lot to play for to finish up the season. He’s eligible for a contract extension on July 1. Who knows if he’s in Chicago’s plans. If not, Crawford knows very well that he may be auditioning for a future employer.

Valarie Mcclellan – @ValarieMcclell5: What are your thoughts on Darcy Kuemper & Samuel Montembeault? How much trust should I put in them right now – considering the stakes?

Both guys are certainly deserving of must-own status in the fantasy world.

When it comes to Kuemper, fatigue may have an impact down the stretch. He’s played a lot of hockey with the Coyotes in the fight of their lives to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Let’s hope that he doesn’t burn out.

Meantime, we don’t know much about Montembeault but we do know that the Panthers are super hot. They’re healthy and very dangerous. I expect him to play quite a bit down the stretch. My sense is that Dale Tallon wants to know what he has there before determining what to do in the off-season with his crease.

Suffice it to say, it’s been a less-than-ideal season for both Roberto Luongo and James Reimer.

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