Fantasy Hockey: Winners and losers for the semifinals

By Jan Levine, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

This week's fantasy hockey article includes Dallas' captain rising, a pair of former teammates on rolls, a pair of players to acquire, Montreal losing another netminder, a cold winger on the Island and a slumping goalie in the Steel City.

First Liners (Risers)

Jamie Benn, C, DAL

Dallas' captain has picked up his game down the stretch to help keep the Stars in playoff contention. Sunday was Benn's fifth consecutive game with an assist and the first time he's scored a goal in that stretch. Since February 23, Benn has tallied six goals and 16 assists in 23 games giving the 32-year-old forward 18 goals, 45 points, 167 shots on net, 132 hits and 76 PIM through 72 games. His overall numbers show just how cold Benn was before this stretch, but he has stepped up when needed.

Josh Norris, C, OTT

The Norris continues to chug in Canada's Capital. His goal and assist Sunday moves the 22-year-old pivot's numbers in his last 17 outings to 13 markers and eight apples. The 19th overall pick in the 2017 draft, Norris has 48 points (21 on the power play), 150 shots on net, 70 hits and a minus-8 rating in 56 games, a noticeable step up from the 35-point campaign he had in the same number of games last year. Ottawa is starting to build a solid team with the current young players and pipeline, with Norris firmly in the middle of that rise.

Artemi Panarin, LW, NYR

There is hot, red-hot and then there's Panarin. The Russian winger has five multi-point performances in his last seven games, totaling four goals and nine assists over that stretch. Those numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. Panarin has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 10 games since March 22 and 52 points (11 goals, 41 assists) in 35 games since Jan. 15. With nine games remaining, Panarin has 21 goals and 67 assists, seven points shy of the career-high 95 points he posted his first year as a Ranger two seasons ago.

New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) is a fantasy hockey star
Artemi Panarin's hot streak is a boon for fantasy hockey managers in the playoffs. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Pavel Buchnevich, RW, STL

Buchnevich, after a mild slump and a three-game absence, is off and running again. In his last 13 games, the 26-year-old winger has lit the lamp six times while adding eight assists. In his first year as a Blue following his offseason trade from the Rangers, Buchnevich has notched 25 goals while adding 35 assists — career highs each — in 63 games. He has thrived in the Arch City skating on the first line both at even-strength and on the man-advantage.

Jared Spurgeon, D, MTL

Spurgeon extended his point streak to seven, notching his first goal along with an assist in that stretch Sunday. The reliable blueliner has seven goals and 29 assists, which leaves Spurgeon just four points away from reaching 40 for the second time in his 12-year career. Spurgeon, who has played his entire career in Minnesota, plays on the first pair in all situations with a plus-27 this season.

Noah Hanifin D, CGY

Hanifin's magical season went to another level Sunday when he notched four assists. Those four helpers are a career-high for Hanifin, who has had three assists in a game three times. With the four apples, Hanifin is up to 32 assists and 39 points this season, both career highs. Add 159 shots on goal, a plus-25 rating, 21:07 of ice time a game, 52 hits and 75 blocked shots and Hanifin is contributing across the board in almost all league formats.

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Darcy Kuemper, G, COL

The change from Philipp Grubauer to Kuemper has certainly paid dividends for Avalanche. The full story won't be written until the playoffs, but at least for the regular season, the swap could not have gone much better. Kuemper has won consecutive games and is up to 34-9-3 with a 2.37 GAA and a .926 save percentage through 50 appearances. His fine season has helped the Avalanche clinch first place in the Western Conference.

Others include Bo Horvat, Dylan Larkin, Auston Matthews, Robert Thomas, Matt Duchene, Mikael Backlund, Nico Hischier, Jack Eichel, Matt Beniers (signs ELC with Seattle), Adrian Kempe, Cole Caufield, Nikolaj Ehlers, Chris Kreider, Timo Meier, Jason Robertson, Kirill Kaprizov, Ivan Barbashev, Elias Lindholm, Jake DeBrusk, Kyle Connor, Andrei Svechnikov, Jeff Skinner, Sam Reinhart, Cody Ceci, Justin Faulk, Zach Werenski, Roman Josi, Evan Bouchard, Charlie McAvoy, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Ville Husso, Jake Oettinger, Juuse Saros and Marc-Andre Fleury.

Players to Add

Jakub Vrana, LW, DET (23 percent rostered)

Vrana lands on the side of the ledger largely due to the amount of time he missed with an injury. After coming from Washington to Detroit at the 2021 trade deadline, Vrana saw his ice time jump from 14:22 to 17:16 after the trade and scored 11 points in as many games with his new team. A shoulder injury suffered this preseason sidelined the winger until March 8. Since returning, the 26-year-old winger has posted 10 goals and four assists in 16 games, filling a top-six role with the Winged Wheel.

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Spencer Knight, G, FLA (56 percent rostered)

Yes, I know Sergei Bobrovsky is still in Florida. I am aware that he is 8-0-0 in his last 10 decisions. But behind those eight wins are a troubling 3.08 goals-against average (GAA) and .892 save percentage. On the flip side, Knight has won four consecutive decisions and six of his last seven, posting a 2.18 GAA and .915 save percentage in that stretch. Will coach Andrew Brunette go with the neophyte or the veteran when the postseason begins? Check if Knight is still available in your league.

Training Room (Injuries)

Jake Allen, C, MTL

Allen, who returned March 15 after missing three months with a lower-body injury, suffered another lower-body injury Saturday. With Carey Price (knee) still working his way back, Allen had appeared in 11 of Montreal's last 12 games in which he went 4-4-2 with a 3.61 GAA and .911 save percentage. It's unclear whether he will return this season. With Price and Allen sidelined, Sam Montembeault stepped into the starting role Monday versus the Jets and possibly beyond.

Others include Jack Hughes (sprained MCL, suffered April 3, out for season), Kaapo Kakko (wrist, missed 31 games, returned to action Saturday), Mark Stone (back, has played in only 45 of 73 games this season, game-time decision Tuesday), Drew Doughty (wrist, out since March 7, missing the last 16 games, underwent surgery Monday, will miss rest of the regular season) and Mackenzie Blackwood (heel, missed last 34 games, participated in morning skate Tuesday).

Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)

Oliver Bjorkstrand, C, CLM

Bjorkstrand, who centers the Blue Jackets' first power-play unit, is having a career season in terms of goals and points. But he is limping down the stretch with no points and a minus-seven rating his last six games. Bjorkstrand has 24 goals and 26 assists in 71 games, the second straight season he has increased his point output. One concerning number is that even though Columbus is 34-33-6, Bjorkstrand is an unsightly minus-33 rating.

Anthony Beauvillier, RW, NYI

The Islanders have remained on the outer fringes of playoff contention despite little assistance from Beauvillier. He is scoreless in six straight and has just 11 goals and 21 assists with a rating of minus-9 in 68 games. Beauvillier, selected in the first round 28th overall in 2017, has only eclipsed 20 goals in a season once, and that was in 2017-18 when he had 21. His name was mentioned in trade rumors in the offseason, but the Isles decided to hold on to the winger. A parting of ways might be beneficial for both sides.

Jonas Brodin, D, MIN

Brodin has 27 points — one shy of his career-high — with 108 shots on net, 108 blocked shots and a plus-five rating in 62 games. Those numbers reflect a solid fourth or fifth defenseman in most leagues, but he too appears to have hit a wall. Brodin has notched just four assists in his last 16 games, though that doesn't distract from his fine overall campaign. But to expect him to reverse his recent trend and step into a scoring role, given what we have seen — especially lately — would be a stretch.

Tristan Jarry, G, PIT

Jarry is limping down the stretch. His loss Sunday extended Jarry's winless streak to five consecutive starts and six of his last seven. During that stretch, he has posted a shaky 3.55 GAA and .894 save percentage. Overall, Jarry still has a 33-18-6 record along with a 2.41 GAA and .919 save percentage. Pittsburgh still is in third place in the Metro, though Washington sits just four points shy of the Penguins with a pair of games in hand. Jarry regaining his form would go a long way to helping the Penguins secure that spot.

Others include Ryan Getzlaf, Martin Necas, Joel Kiviranta, Jordan Eberle, Tyler Bertuzzi, Duncan Keith, Thatcher Demko and John Gibson.