Fantasy Nuggets

Week 26 Fantasy Nuggets

Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

While there is a lot happening in the battle for playoff positioning and there are a lot of teams still fighting to be mathematically guaranteed a postseason berth, the reality is that we know almost all the teams that will make the playoffs at this point, so these final couple weeks of the campaign won't feature much in the way of teams battling to stay alive.


That said there are some interesting storylines as the 2015-16 regular season winds down, so let's take a moment to look at five of them.


1) Is Detroit's playoff appearance streak at an end?


So let's start with the one team that doesn't currently occupy a playoff spot that still has a half-decent chance of securing a postseason spot (sorry Colorado fans, but five points is a big gap to close in five games).  The Red Wings are two points shy of the second Wild Card spot (that gap looks worse when you consider that Philadelphia has played in one less game) and one point behind in the battle for the third Atlantic Division seed.


Rather than rise to the occasion, the Red Wings have maintained the mediocre play that has defined their season and truthfully, if they do make the playoffs they're likely in line for a quick first round exit.  In any other scenario, Philadelphia's rise would be the far bigger story than Detroit's quiet slip from a postseason seed, but of course there's the Red Wings' postseason streak to consider.  Detroit has clinched a playoff berth in the previous 24 seasons, which is the fourth longest streak in history.


If Detroit misses this time around, Pittsburgh will take over as the longest active streak at 10 seasons (assuming the Penguins clinch the playoffs, which is very likely).


2) There might be no 50-goal scorer or 100-point player in 2015-16.


Jason Brough over at Pro Hockey Talk has also written about this today and I'll point you in the direction of that piece rather than largely repeating what he said.


The one piece of information I will retread though is the fact that the lack of high-end scorers this season is a reflection of a league-wide decline in scoring.  That's in contrast to last season when the lack of flashy scoring leaders (no one reached the 90-point mark, though Alex Ovechkin had 53 goals) led to speculation about a decline in scoring that wasn't true from a macro perspective.  In 2014-15 we averaged 2.73 goals per team per game, which was largely in keeping with where the league had been in the previous three seasons.  This time around though we're down to 2.70 goals per team per game, which is the lowest it's been since 2003-04 when we were at just 2.57.  That was also of course the last season before the lockout that ushered in the current era of the NHL.


I'll also add that while whether low-scoring games are just as fun as high-scoring games is purely subjective, I at least would like to see the league take measures to increase scoring.  It's exciting to see players chase after records, but from an offensive perspective we have almost no hope of that in the current climate.


3) Will Braden Holtby set a new record for wins in a single season?


Speaking of breaking records though, Holtby is just two victories short of Martin Brodeur's record of 58 wins in a single season.  Holtby hurt his chances of reaching that level with Washington's shootout loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday, but with six games left in Washington's schedule, there's still a chance that it will happen.


Just keep in mind that this isn't a question of Holtby winning two games (three to break the record) in six contests as he's not likely to appear in all of those games.  Washington already has won the Presidents' Trophy, so they will likely give Holtby some rest.  At the very least you shouldn't expect him to play in both halves of Washington's back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday as well as April 9-10.  In other words, Holtby is likely to get, at most, four more starts before the season's over.


4) Will Connor McDavid finish ahead of Jack Eichel in the scoring race?


It's a longshot, but the fact that it's even a possibility is impressive on McDavid's end.  Eichel has had a solid rookie campaign with 23 goals and 50 points in 76 contests, but McDavid is averaging more than a point-per-game with 15 goals and 45 points in 42 games.  Going into this season there was talk about this Calder Trophy race being between Eichel and McDavid, but it seems like McDavid might have ran away with the rookie scoring race if not for the fact that he suffered a broken clavicle.


As it is, there's a good chance that the trophy will go with Artemi Panarin (64 points in 75 games) or defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (42 points in 58 contests), but there's a strong argument to be made that McDavid should round out the list of finalists despite missing half the season.


5) Who will "win" the race for the bottom?


Washington has won the Presidents' Trophy and it's not even close, but there's a fairly tight race to see which team will have the best shot at winning the first overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.


Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver are all tied at 67 points, although Edmonton had the edge as its already played in 79 games to the Leafs and Canucks' 76.  Then there's Columbus at 68 points in 76 games, Winnipeg at 69 points in 77 games, and Calgary at 70 points in 77 contests.


Which begs another question: Could Canadian teams end up occupying all five of the bottom five slots?  This certainly isn't a great time to be an NHL fan in Canada, but at least the draft should be interesting for those cities.

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