Before we get started for the final time during the regular season, I wanted to thank everyone for reading. And, on an even more serious note, my condolences to the victims of the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team bus crash. As a hockey player, and as a dad, I am deeply saddened on multiple levels by this tragic story. As I expected, the hockey community from the NHL on down was classy as always on this terrible day.
The final Saturday in the National Hockey League was a busy one with several playoff races being decided in the final hours. It was exciting for fans of the Colorado Avalanche and Philadelphia Flyers, as they punched their tickets to the postseason with victories at home. The Nashville Predators received the Presidents Trophy for their 117-point season, and they will have home-ice throughout the playoffs. Oh yeah, and the scoring leader was determined on this day, and we also had a U.S.-born goalie win more times than any of his predecessors. Just one team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, did not get to take part in the last-day festivities. Well, last day unless you're the Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers, who have to skate on Sunday. Let's get started!
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Saturday's Fantasy Five
Claude Giroux really wanted to make the postseason. Not only did he show up and propel the Flyers to a win over the Rangers, he did it in historic fashion. Giroux netted three goals to finish with 34 goals and 102 points, becoming the sixth player in franchise history to reach 100 points in a season. In fact, he is the first Flyer to hit the century mark since Eric Lindros during the 1995-96 season. It's hard to believe this was Giroux's first-career hat trick in the regular season. He certainly picked a grand time to do it. His heroics meant that Brian Elliott had plenty of support, as he made all 17 saves he faced to help do his part.
So how many DFS players were rocking Mark Jankowski in their GPPs on Saturday? Even the experts probably weren't doing that, as he came in on a nine-game scoreless skid. He broke it in a big way and treated his owners to a huge day, as he rolled up a career-high four goals with a plus-3 rating and eight shots on goal in a 7-1 drumming of the Golden Nights in Calgary. The good news for Vegas is that they will be moving on to the postseason while the Flames have been extinguished for the season. It was an impressive finish for Jankowski, who ends up with 17 goals and 25 points after the huge outing.
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Connor Hellebuyck allowed just one goal on 31 shots to set an NHL record for the most victories in a single season by an American-born goaltender, as he picked up his 44th win of the season. He moved Tom Barrasso down to the No. 2 spot on the list, a record which had stood since the former Penguins netminder picked up 43 wins during the 1992-93 season. He also tied a league record with 30 victories at home, joining Philadelphia's Wayne Stephenson atop that particular record. That's one which hadn't been touched since the 1975-76 season. Hellebuyck still has business to attend to, as his Jets will be one of the favorites in the Western Conference playoffs.
Alexander Ovechkin posted two goals to finish with a league-leading 49 goals to pick up his seventh Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the league's top goal scorer. He was pressing hard in the final two minutes, especially at the behest of the cheering crowd, but he was unable to make it happen. He is the 13th player and first since Mike Gartner to tally exactly 49 goals in a season. He squeezed off 18 shots, as his teammates continued to feed him and feed him…and feed him. But it just wouldn't come. Connor McDavid picked up two helpers in his game to secure the Art Ross Trophy as the points leader, 108. It is his second straight Art Ross, joining former Oilers great and Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky as the only players in NHL history to win the trophy twice before the age of 22 or younger.
The Vancouver Canucks might not be going anywhere for the playoffs, but it was a special game on Saturday. Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin finished scoreless in regulation, but in a classy move by the Oilers the Twins were named the No. 2 and No. 3 stars in their final professional game. Daniel did bury a shootout goal past Cam Talbot to five the Canucks a short-lived lead, although Henrik whiffed on his final attempt. Henrik ends up 65th on the NHL's all-time scoring line with 1,070 points, while Daniel finished 73rd with 1,041 points. It was quite the career for both of the Swedish brothers.
Fantasy Game of the Night
The Devils rested plenty of regulars, including MVP candidate Taylor Hall. However, No. 1 overall pick Nico Hischier was in the lineup and he lit the lamp to reach the 20-goal plateau. He wrapped up his initial season with 20 goals, 52 points and a plus-10 rating in 82 games, also showing off his durability. Patrick Maroon went for a goal, three points and a plus-1 rating while also racking two penalty minutes and three hits. He wrapped up his season with back-to-back multi-point games with a goal, five points and a plus-3 rating, his best stretch since coming over from the Edmonton Oilers at the trade deadline. Miles Wood joined the club for the Devils, going for a goal, an assist and a plus-1 rating. He posted goals in back-to-back games for the first time in his NHL career. Pavel Zacha also carries momentum into the postseason after his two assists, and he has two goals with six points in the past eight outings.
We touched on the exploits of Ovie, but he was far from the only fantasy star in a Washington sweater. Nicklas Backstrom posted a goal, an assist and a plus-2 rating to give him 21 goals with 50 assists and a plus-5 rating in 81 contests this season. Michal Kempny posted a goal, an assist and a plus-4 rating in his best game since coming over from the Chicago Blackhawks in a deadline deal. John Carlson picked up an assist with a plus-4 rating in the finale, and he has four goals with 18 points over his past 18 games heading into the postseason. With all of the goal scoring, it's easy to forget Braden Holtby, but he allowed just goals on 26 shots. He has lost just once in regulation over his past eight starts, and he has yielded three goals or less in each of the outings.
Quick Hits: Frederik Andersen allowed two goals on 33 shots to pick up his 38th victory of the season against the Canadiens, setting a Maple Leafs franchise record for victories in a single season. … Sean Couturier notched two apples with a plus-4 as he finished with 31 goals, 76 points and a plus-34 rating. … Ryan Dzingel finished his season on a high note, potting two goals on three shots on goal. He ended up with 23 goals and 41 points, both career highs after his third full NHL season. … Auston Matthews posted goal with an assist and he won five of his six faceoff attempts in a win against the Habs. He missed 20 games this season, but still finished with 34 goals and 63 points with a plus-25 rating, hitting 18.2 percent of his shots for goals as opposed to 14.3 percent in his rookie campaign. And he's not done yet, as the Leafs are going to the postseason for a second straight year. … Mathew Barzal completed his amazing season with two assists and a plus-2 rating, giving him 22 goals and 85 points on the season. He'll head into the 2018-19 fantasy season with sky-high expectations now. … Vincent Trocheck is another player who we won't see again until the fall, but fantasy players will be drafting him high next season. He had a goal, an assist and a plus-1 rating to complete his season with 31 goals and 75 points through 81 games. … The Hurricanes brought in Scott Darling to be their top goalie, but Cam Ward rose to the challenge instead. He allowed two goals on 34 shots to finished 23-14-4 with a 2.73 goals-against average and .906 save percentage. … Gabriel Landeskog lifted his team to a playoff berth, and the Avalanche showed a child-like giddiness in accomplishing the feat. It was refreshing to see the smiles from all of the young Colorado players. He posted a goal with two assists and a plus-2 rating, while Nathan MacKinnon posted a goal, an assist and a plus-2. Landeskog ended up with 25 goals and 62 points while notching a plus-16 rating, and MacKinnon went for an amazing 39 goals and 97 points with a plus-11. … Ryan Miller stopped all 31 shots he faced to pick up another shutout, as he has done great work with John Gibson on the shelf.