Winning a fantasy championship should be enough motivation for NHL hockey players to play their best in the final stretch of the season. Yet for these players, there are other factors that might provide the spark they need to finish strongly.
It’s taken seven straight wins for the Caps to get settled in the driver’s seat in the Southeast Division, but they shouldn’t get too cozy. With just a four-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets, Washington needs to keep up their mojo or else they could find themselves playing a whole lot of road games this May or even out of a playoff spot entirely. During their run Ovie has been magical, and the team simply can’t afford to him to trail off again. Expect number eight to continue being great.
Can last year’s worst team in West make the playoffs this year? Last year’s worst team in the East has, and if the Jackets have any chance of the post-season, this guy will be the reason. Bobrovsky is the same gifted goalie he was a couple of weeks ago except he’s playing in bigger games now as his team is a serious threat to steal a spot in the top eight. It’s sure good to own one of the hottest goalies in the league who will bear the load for his desperate team down the stretch.
Quite suddenly, the Toronto Maple Leafs seem poised to fight for a division title after a blowout win over Montreal and a relatively easy schedule to close out the year. With the Bruins in a slump and trying to overcome some major bites from the injury bug, Toronto could make a push from a four-point deficit to take hold of the Northeast. In order to do that, Kessel must continue producing elite numbers and carrying the offensive load for his team. He’s done it the past two years, and he’s got plenty of motivation to keep it up.
It’s time for the Wild’s off-season prize to step up and contribute more. His signing partner Ryan Suter overcame a weak first month by playing like one of, if not the best defensemen in the league since then. Parise hasn’t played like a number one center on a championship team yet, but now might be his time to rise. Minnesota has four teams chasing their tails for seventh spot and needs to finish off the season strongly. Perhaps Parise could boost his point total to a number more impressive than he’s on pace for as his team faces off with it all on the line.