We're halfway through championship week, so it's time to take a look at some reinforcements. By now, you know where you stand in your championship matchup, and which categories you might need to focus on to get the edge on your opponent. At this time of year, it's important to make your moves count – there's no time to see if they'll pan out. If you need points, aim for players that have games against poor defenses. Volume shooting is a skill, so find guys who are pumping pucks on net. Stream goalies against weak offenses. If you need hits or penalty minutes, load up on Predators. With that in mind, here's my list of final recommendations to help you get to Titletown.
Jeff Petry's season didn't start as anyone expected it to, with two assists in 27 games before we rang in 2022. Fantasy managers likely cast him aside for any number of more productive defensemen. That should make him plenty available for the final push – he has eight assists, 16 hits, 20 blocked shots and 28 shots on goal in his last nine games. The Canadiens only play twice this week, so he won't be a big boost, but he can help across categories.
Ilya Mikheyev has enjoyed quite a run as well, with five goals, two assists, 20 shots and 12 hits in his last seven games. Like the Habs, the Leafs only have two games left in the regular season, so he'll have to make them count. That said, Michael Bunting (undisclosed) is expected to miss time with the injury he suffered Saturday, so Mikheyev could benefit from a little more ice time, which could even see him slot onto one of the top two lines.
Get on the Ross Colton train in this last week – a home-and-home with the defensively suspect Blue Jackets should help him continue an impressive run. He's posted 10 goals and two assists with 35 shots and 26 hits in April, and the Lightning have put up 22 goals in their last three games. This is a team that knows what it takes in the playoffs, especially for their third line, and they're rounding into form now. Colton should at least chip in solid hits and shots even if his offense goes dry.
A byproduct of Kevin Fiala's late-season surge has been the emergence of Frederick Gaudreau as a playmaker. Over the last eight games, he's picked up three goals and seven assists with 17 shots on net and a plus-9 rating. I'm not sure what exactly prompted head coach Dean Evason to roll with Gaudreau as a second-line center, but I won't question the results, especially given the chemistry with his linemates in Fiala and Matthew Boldy. The Wild end the season with a tough back-to-back against the Flames and the Avalanche, but Gaudreau could be a nice boost against the Coyotes on Tuesday.
If you need cheap help on defense, Travis Sanheim is a solid option. The Flyers' injury woes have returned late in the season, so it's unlikely the 26-year-old defenseman sits out for rest in the Flyers' last three games. They face the Blackhawks, Jets and Senators this week – there's potential for Sanheim to get a little more involved in offense than the two assists he has in his last five games. Also in that span: a plus-5 rating, 11 shots on goal, 12 hits, nine blocked shots and eight PIM. He doesn't have to score to help you, but it would be a nice bonus.
Sticking with the Flyers theme for a second, there's plenty of reason to trust Noah Cates. It took him a little time to find his way at the NHL level, but he's earned three goals, four assists, nine shots, 10 hits and a plus-4 rating in his last five games. The 23-year-old is seeing some sheltered minutes and hasn't played much on the power play, but again, the Flyers have favorable matchups in the final week.
If you want to take advantage of a scheduling change, you'll need some Kraken and Jets. Adam Larsson fits the bill – he's earned a goal, three assists, 17 hits, 16 blocked shots and a plus-1 rating across his last six games. Since those two teams had a game postponed due to weather, they play Sunday in the final game of the regular season. If you add him, don't forget to plug him into the lineup after Saturday's off day around the league. Expect the physicality, but don't count on a lot of offense.
The Jets don't have a lot of appealing options readily available in most fantasy formats, especially with Mark Scheifele (upper body) unlikely to play again this season. The best help you could get from them would likely be Eric Comrie, though it's unclear if Connor Hellebuyck will be given more rest with the Jets officially eliminated from playoff contention. Comrie would be a solid streaming target for Wednesday versus the Flyers and Sunday versus the Kraken, but you probably won't need him on a 15-game Friday when the Jets host the Flames. He's only 1-3-0 across his last six outings, but he's managed a .908 save percentage, and there's some favorable potential matchups ahead.
As long as top-line Nick Bonino is a thing, I'm willing to see how he can add to my team. In the last five games, he's earned four goals, one assist, a plus-5 rating, 13 shots on goal and four blocked shots. The 34-year-old toiled on the third line for much of the season, but playing alongside Logan Couture has unlocked a little offense to go with his steady defense – he's the only forward in the league to have blocked 100 shots, and the next closest is Kings center Anze Kopitar (70).
Jack Roslovic has turned up the offense lately with nine goals and two assists in his last seven games. The absence of Patrik Laine (upper body) hasn't had much impact on Roslovic's production. The 25-year-old is really only a points-and-shots option, but he'll look to finish strong to strengthen his case for a noticeable raise as he heads to restricted free agency this summer.
Tanner Jeannot has slipped on offense in April with no points in his last nine games, but he's still delivering pain at an astonishing rate with 53 hits in that span. The rookie winger has added 11 PIM and nine shots on goal. Without scoring, he's a one-trick pony, but he does that one trick really well with 300 hits and 123 PIM in 78 games this season. He's a big reason why the Predators lead the league in hits and PIM as a team, and that toughness might be just what your virtual team needs to get to the title.
Finally, if offense isn't your primary concern, give Erik Cernak a look. The Lightning have some question marks for health among their defensemen, and that could lead to the 24-year-old playing a larger role this week. He's picked up four assists, 26 hits, 12 blocked shots and nine PIM in his last six games. Cernak's not one to put up offense with just 12 points in 52 contests, but he'll help in just about every other category.
That's all for Hutch's Hockey this season. I appreciate everyone who stopped by to read my weekly thoughts, and I wish you all good luck as you look to finish your fantasy seasons with a win.