2017 Stanley Cup Playoff

Second Round Preview

It’s on to the second round with 8 remaining teams in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. Join the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs fantasy draft starting this Wednesday (Enter Now). Here are some insight into each series, we break them down one by one.

 PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (50-21-11) vs. WASHINGTON CAPITALS (55-19-8) 

Season series (2-0-2 WAS)

A rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinal will take place between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals. The Penguins enter as the defending Cup champs, and will be a rested team, having dispatched Columbus in five games in their first-round matchup. The Capitals knocked off the underdog Maple Leafs in six games, and are hoping that this is the year Washington finally wins its first Stanley Cup.

 EDMONTON OILERS (47-26-9) vs. ANAHEIM DUCKS (46-23-13) 

Season Series (3-2 EDM)

With there first playoff series win in more than ten years, the Edmonton Oilers are done talking about team inexperience. They’ll now be facing off against the Anaheim Ducks starting Wednesday in California. Goalie Cam Talbot led the Oilers past last year’s Western champion San Jose Sharks in six game during the first round. He frustrated the Sharks offense all series long, recording two shutouts along the way.

The Ducks will be counting on veterans like Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler to win. They’ve ended the regular season with an 11-0-3 record in their last fourteen games and finished ahead of Edmonton in the Pacific division by two points. Anaheim pummeled the other NHL team from the province of Alberta (Calgary Flames) in four game during Round 1 of the playoffs.  They’ll now be looking to ride that hot streak toward the Western Finals.

  OTTAWA SENATORS (44-28-10) vs. NEW YORK RANGERS (48-28-6) 

Season series (2-1 OTT)

The wild-card New York Rangers are fresh off bouncing the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens in six games, and the Ottawa Senators just got through a series against Boston that couldn’t really have been closer — four of the six games went to overtime, and a single goal decided each. At the top of the Rangers leaderboard is a familiar face for Senators fans: Mika Zibanejad’s goal and three assists has him leading New York this post-season after an up-and-down, injury-filled first year in The Big Apple. The comparisons will be plentiful in this series, as Derick Brassard, whom the Rangers dealt to Ottawa in exchange for Zibanejad, also leads his team after Round 1.

This series should be close, low-scoring and plenty physical, featuring two hungry teams. One hasn’t had a ton of playoff success (Ottawa), and the other recently come oh so close to winning it all (New York, the runner-up in 2014).

  NASHVILLE PREDATORS (41-29-12) vs.  ST. LOUIS BLUES (46-29-7)  

Season series (3-2 NAS)

The third- and fourth-best teams in the tough Central Division knocked off the two 100-plus-point Central teams in Round 1. Both opening round series were upsets, but for different reasons. Although the Blackhawks were the popular pick to come out of the Chicago-Nashville series, even those picking the favourite were expecting it to be close — most thought of it as a coin flip. So while it’s not a shocker that the Predators knocked off the Hawks, it was surprising to see them blow through the Windy City with such ease.

 The Blues, a seller at the trade deadline when they moved pending UFA Kevin Shattenkirk to the Capitals, got through the Wild in another short five-game series because Jake Allen was a brick wall standing against Minnesota’s onslaught. The Blues, clearly, were the inferior team in Round 1 and got through solely because of the play from their 26-year-old netminder.
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NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2017

First Round Preview

There are plenty of intriguing and exciting matchups that should make for tough decisions in your FanPicks NHL cash league (Enter Now). To help you out and give you some insight into each series, we break them down one by one.

 MINNESOTA WILD (49-25-8) vs. ST. LOUIS BLUES (46-29-7)  

Season series (3-2 STL)

Trade deadline buyer (Minnesota) versus trade deadline seller (St. Louis), but the way these teams played after the deadline, you’d think their outlooks would have been flipped. The Blues were tremendous down the stretch and re-established themselves as a Cup contender, even if they’re a bit more of an outside shot than they had been in recent years. The Wild, meantime, slowed considerably down the stretch, but still have plenty of depth and scoring which could be tough to handle.

MONTREAL CANADIENS (47-26-9) vs. NEW YORK RANGERS (48-28-6) 

Season Series (3-0 MTL)

When these two teams met in the 2014 Eastern Conference final, Rangers forward Chris Kreider crashed the crease and injured goalie Carey Price, forcing the Canadiens’ MVP out for the rest of the series. The Habs return to the playoffs with a healthy Price, while the Rangers look to avoid back-to-back first-round eliminations. The Habs may have won the Atlantic Division, but the wild card Rangers were a 100-point team themselves in the Metro Division, the NHL’s toughest this season.

EDMONTON OILERS (47-26-9) vs. SAN JOSE SHARKS (46-29-7) 

Season series (3-1-1 EDM)

The Oilers are back in the playoffs for the first time since many of their core players were in elementary school and their first test is last year’s Western Conference champs. The Oilers are a fast team, which is the kind of game that sunk the Sharks in the Stanley Cup final last season — but with youth comes inexperience. As they say, sometimes you need to lose before you can succeed. However, there have been plenty of exceptions to that rule over the years.

 OTTAWA SENATORS (44-28-10) vs. BOSTON BRUINS (44-31-7) 

Season series (4-0 OTT)

This will be the first meeting between the Senators and Bruins in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, as Boston captain Zdeno Chara gets a crack at a team that chose to move on without him many moons ago. The Bruins recovered from a bad start after firing their long time coach, while the Senators are one of the more confounding teams in the league this season. It should make for a very interesting first round series.

 CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (50-23-9) vs. NASHVILLE PREDATORS (41-29-12) 

Season series (4-1 CHI)

Long-time rivals, but it’s more of a one-way street, with the Original Six Blackhawks a modern dynasty, and the 1998-expansion Predators still searching for their true breakthrough year. This was supposed to be the year Nashville really arrived as a contender after the big-splash summer acquisition of defenceman P.K. Subban, but they face the biggest test they could have in Round 1.

 PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (50-21-11) vs. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (50-24-8) 

Season series (2-1-1 Tie)

The Jackets return to the playoffs for the first time since 2014, when they were ousted by the Penguins in six games. Columbus comes in cold, but still have safety net Sergei Bobrovsky coming off one of his best seasons that will have him in the Vezina and perhaps even Hart Trophy conversations. In their third Stanley Cup Playoffs appearance, the Jackets are still looking for their first series win. The defending champion Penguins, meanwhile, will continue on without top defenceman Kris Letang, but we know all about their top weapons and rookie Matt Murray, who already has a Stanley Cup ring.

 ANAHEIM DUCKS (46-23-13) vs. CALGARY FLAMES (45-33-5) 

Season series (3-2 ANA)

The Ducks are the veteran team who’s been here many times before, while the Flames are just getting started and seeing the first shine through an opening window. Anaheim comes with the pressure of needing to win, while the Flames caught fire in the second half and bring a free-wheeling and exciting game. How that holds up against the tight-checking Ducks remains to be seen.

 WASHINGTON CAPITALS (55-19-8) vs. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (40-27-15) 

Season series (2-1 WSH)

Congratulations to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who get back into the playoffs with an exciting core of youth. Your prize? The Eastern Conference behemoth known as the Washington Capitals. Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and all the Leafs’ rookies will be thrown right to the wolves, but have nothing to lose. The Caps, meanwhile, would be devastated if an upset is in the cards here.

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Late Top NHL Picks

Here is the NHL rundown. We’ve got picks from Tuesday’s Fantasy Hockey matchups to get you ready for your cash drafts. Play at FanPicks now!

Washington Capitals (49-17-3) vs Minnesota Wild (44-24-5)

Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin is having a somewhat sub-par season by his standards, but he reached a milestone in his last game by becoming the third player in league history (Mike Gartner, Wayne Gretzky) to score at least 30 goals in his first 12 seasons. Minnesota ranked second in the league in scoring entering March with an average of 3.38 goals per game, but that number has dwindled to 2.21 this month, leading to 11 losses in 14 games (3-10-1). One of the few players who has been immune to the slump is Eric Staal, who has pumped in seven goals in the last 10 games to boost his total to 26.

Los Angeles Kings (35-32-3) vs Edmonton Oilers (41-25-4)

Kings captain Anze Kopitar (club-best 35 assists) has scored five goals and set up eight others in his last 14 games overall. Rookie Drake Caggiula has bounced back from a three-game benching, recording a goal and an assist in back-to-back outings as Edmonton completed a home-and-home sweep of the Avalanche.

Anaheim Ducks (41-23-8) vs Vancouver Canucks (30-36-7)

Jonathan Bernier has stepped up his game with fellow Ducks goaltender John Gibson nursing a lower-body injury, posting a stellar 9-1-1 mark in March with one shutout, a 1.71 goals-against average and .943 save percentage. Vancouver’s 28th-ranked offense is fueled by sophomore sensation Bo Horvat, who notched his team-leading 30th assist and 50th point in Sunday’s 2-1 setback at Winnipeg. The 21-year-old has 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in his last 21 games overall and three (two goals, one assist) against Anaheim this season.

New York Rangers (46-26-1) vs San Jose Sharks (42-26-6)

Just as the San Jose Sharks appeared on the verge of running away with the Pacific Division title, they have tumbled back to the pack in the wake of an ugly six-game losing streak. They will be without center Logan Couture, who was hit in the face by a deflected puck in Saturday’s loss. to Nashville. Rick Nash is riding a four-game goal-scoring streak and also tallied for the Rangers against San Jose in October.

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Primetime Top NHL Picks

Here is the NHL rundown. We’ve got picks from Tuesday’s Fantasy Hockey matchups to get you ready for your cash drafts. Play at FanPicks now!

Winnipeg Jets (34-35-6) vs New Jersey Devils (27-35-11)

Coach John Hynes is giving Keith Kinkaid an extended look in net with New Jersey set to miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season. The 27-year-old Kinkaid has started four of the last six games and yielded 12 goals in that stretch, while workhorse goaltender Cory Schneider is mired in one of the worst runs of his career with a 1-8-2 mark. With Kinkaid’s mild success, Schneider will need a good outing against the Jets to stay on the coach’s good grace. Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele, who scored and set up a goal in the first encounter with New Jersey, has collected 23 points (four goals, 19 assists) in his last 18 games.

Nashville Predators (39-25-7) vs Boston Bruins (39-30-4)

Preds leading scorer Ryan Johansen recorded his 100th career goal Monday to push his total to 58 points – seven in the last eight games. Boston captain Zdeno Chara has notched 24 points this season and is one shy of 600 for his career.

Ottawa Senators (41-25-6) vs Philadelphia Flyers (35-32-4)

Mike Hoffman set up Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s goal in Saturday’s 3-1 Ottawa setback in Montreal to extend his point streak to six games (one goal, six assists) while increasing his point total to 16 (three goals, 13 assists) in his last 15 contests. Claude Giroux, a Ontario native, will play in his 650th NHL contest on Tuesday. He enjoyed quite the homecoming when he last faced Ottawa. The 29 years-old center scored twice, which included the OT winner.

Buffalo Sabres (32-32-6) vs Columbus Blue Jackets (48-19-5)

Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly is one away from reaching the 20-goal plateau for the second straight season and third in his career. Sergei Bobrovsky, who was named Columbus’ nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy, is 9-0-2 in his last 11 starts. The Blue Jackets are 8-0-0 at home on Tuesdays this season.

Detroit Red Wings (31-32-12) vs Carolina Hurricanes (33-27-9)

The Hurricanes are looking to avenge an overtime loss to Detroit in the second of a Raleigh-based two day series with the Red Wing. Carolina lost a pair of players to injury on Monday. Defenseman Ryan Murphy went down with a lower-body ailment in the third period while goaltender Eddie Lack was carried off the ice on a stretcher after being hit in the head by Andreas Athanasiou on the winning play in overtime. Defenseman Justin Faulk scored a pair of goals for the ‘Canes to raise his season total to 16, matching the career high he set last campaign. Henrik Zetterberg has recorded two goals and six assists over his last seven games to get within one of 900 career points, all with the Red Wings organization.

Florida Panthers (33-31-5) vs Toronto Maple Leafs(35-24-7)

Panthers center Jonathan Marchessault scored his team-leading 29th goal Monday in his 68th game after recording eight over his first 49 NHL contests. Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner, who has recorded a career-high 36 points this season, is one game shy of 400 in the NHL.

Dallas Stars (31-33-9) vs Montreal Canadiens (42-24-7)

Although defense and goaltending have been a nightmare for most of the season, Stars starting netminder Kari Lehtonen was named the NHL’s Second Star of the Week following a stellar four-game stretch. Lehtonen started each game during the current 3-0-1 run and recorded an 0.98 goals-against average and .959 save percentage. Andrei Markov sat out 19 games this season after missing just four over the previous four campaigns, but is still providing solid production for the Habs with a pair of goals and an assist in Saturday’s win over Ottawa.

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Fantasy Hockey Preview

Here is the NHL rundown. We’ve got picks from Monday’s Fantasy Hockey matchups to get you ready for your cash drafts. Play at FanPicks now!

Detroit Red Wings (30-32-12) vs Carolina Hurricanes (33-27-8)

Elias Lindholm has been red hot of late for Carolina. He notched an assist in Saturday’s 3-1 triumph at New Jersey to extend his point streak to 10 games. Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg and teammate Gustav Nyquist are on the verge of milestones as both need two points to reach 900 and 200, respectively, in their careers.

Florida Panthers (33-30-5) vs Buffalo Sabres (31-32-6)

Making the postseason seems like less of a possibility for Florida with its injuries to key players. Defenseman Aaron Ekblad recently returned from a four-game absence due to a concussion only to suffer a neck injury that has sidelined him for the last two contests, while Jaromir Jagr went down with a lower-body ailment in Saturday’s 7-0 triumph over Chicago. Sabres center Jack Eichel recorded a three-point performance in Saturday’s 5-2 victory over Toronto, matching his output from the previous five games.

Nashville Predators (38-25-7) vs New York Islander (35-27-8)

Viktor Arvidsson continued his breakout season with his league-best fifth short-handed goal in the victory, giving him seven tallies in 10 games and a career-high 28 on the campaign as he moved into second place on the Predators lineup with 55 points. New York, which has lost four in a row at home (0-3-1), registered only 19 shots in the loss to the Bruins, with only 10 coming at even strength.

Chicago Blackhawks (48-21-5) vs Tampa Bay Lightning (36-29-6)

Reigning Hart Trophy winner Patrick Kane was one of several Chicago players to struggle Friday as he posted a minus-4 rating, but the team’s leading scorer still has recorded 21 points in his last 15 games. Nikita Kucherov is two away from his first 40-goal season and has prospered with new center Brayden Point in Tampa Bay. The rookie set up the talented Russian for the overtime winner at Detroit on Friday.

Arizona Coyotes (27-39-7) vs St. Louis Blues (40-28-5)

Defenseman Oliver-Ekman Larsson has snapped out of a long slump with goals in two of the four games on the road trip. , He’s second on team with 37 points. Jake Allen has played a big role in St. Louis’ revival this month, going 7-1-1 with a .951 save percentage.

Colorado Avalanche (20-51-2) vs Calgary Flames (42-29-2)

Sven Andrighetto scored the lone goal in Colorado’s 4-1 loss at Edmonton on Saturday, giving him three tallies and seven points in 11 games since coming over from Montreal at the March 1 trade deadline. Several Flames players can hit milestones Monday as captain Mark Giordano is one goal away from 100 for his career, Kris Versteeg needs one assist for 200 and Johnny Gaudreau is one point shy of 200.

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Late DFS draft picks

Thursday NHL Rundown

Here is the NHL rundown. We’ve got picks from Thursday Late Fantasy Hockey matchups to get you ready for your cash drafts. Play at FanPicks now!

Vancouver Canucks (29-34-7) vs St. Louis Blues (39-28-4)

Vancouver’s captain Henrik Sedin (club-best 30 assists) joins twin brother Daniel with one goal and three assists in his past four games overall and the Swedes each have two points versus St. Louis this season. Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko (team-leading 34 goals, 64 points) has eight points in as many games overall and had two goals and an assist in the first two meetings versus Vancouver.

Calgary Flames (41-28-2) vs Nashville Predators (36-25-7)

Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau collected four assists last month versus Nashville. This has sparked a 14-game stretch in which he’s amassed 18 points. Gaudreau has lit up the Predators in his career with three goals and nine assists in eight games. Nashville’s Craig Smith has not been able to score since the All-Star break, but he set up a pair of tallies in Monday’s victory versus Arizona.

Philadelphia Flyers (33-31-4) vs Minnesota Wild (44-22-4)

Philadelphia center Brayden Schenn has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in eight career meetings with Minnesota and has five (three goals, two assists) in his last five games overall. It won’t be easy for him and his team as they face one of the best goalies this season, Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk hopes to have put a painful stretch in his rear-view mirror after recording his career-high 37th victory on Tuesday, matching Niklas Backstrom’s franchise record for wins in a season.

Dallas Stars (29-33-9) vs Chicago Blackhawks (47-20-5)

Curtis McKenzie, who scored the Stars lone goal on Monday, is enjoying a career season by setting personal bests in goals (five), assists (eight), points (13) and games played (48). The 26-year-old British Columbia native has recorded points in two of his three contests at the United Center and in three of his six career games versus the Blackhawks. Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, who is riding a five-game point streak (three goals, three assists), and winger Patrick Kane have each scored three goals and set up two others versus Dallas this season.

Edmonton Oilers (39-25-4) vs Colorado Avalanche (20-49-2)

The NHL top scorer, Connor McDavid, is riding a five-game point streak during which he has collected three goals and seven assists for the Oilers. Colorado’s Matt Duchene has gone three games without a point, keeping him tied with Valeri Kamensky for 10th place on the franchise list with 414.

Winnipeg Jets (33-33-6) vs Los Angeles Kings (34-31-3)

Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler (one goal, two assists), Mathieu Perreault (one goal, one assist) and Mark Scheifele (one goal, two assists) combined for eight points in the win over Philadelphia on Tuesday. Los Angeles’ defense and goaltending have been solid most of the season, giving up just 2.46 goals per game (fifth) through Tuesday, but the Kings has surrendered seven goals in their past two contests.

 

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Primetime DFS player picks

Thursday NHL Rundown

Here is the NHL rundown. We’ve got picks from  Thursday Primetime Fantasy Hockey matchups to get you ready for your cash drafts. Play at FanPicks now!

Tampa Bay Lightning (34-29-6) vs Boston Bruins (38-29-4)

Tampa Bay won a lot of games with its power play this season, but it converted once in 11 tries over the last four games and failed on two late opportunities Tuesday. Bruins winger Brad Marchand was kept off the scoresheet in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to Ottawa after posting 10 points (five goals) in the previous four games to push his total to a career-high 80.

Columbus Blue Jackets (47-19-5) vs Washington Capitals (47-17-3)

Columbus defenseman Zach Werenski recorded an assist against Toronto on Wednesday to give him eight points in his last seven contests. He’ll be up against the top line of Nicklas Backstrom, Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie. The trio has led the way for the Capitals as of late, totaling 23 points over the last five games.

New Jersey Devils (27-33-10) vs Toronto Maple Leafs (34-23-7)

Devils rookie center John Quenneville had a game he’ll never forget Tuesday, scoring his first NHL goal and adding an assist for the first multi-point performance of his career.  Despite the accomplishment, Quenneville will face Leafs star prospect Auston Matthews who scored his team-leading 33rd goal against the Blue Jackets on Wednesday. It tied him with Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine for tops among all NHL rookies. The 19-year-old is heating up at the right time, tallying twice in his last three contests after enduring a seven-game drought.

Carolina Hurricanes (31-27-8) vs Montreal Canadiens (41-23-7)

Forward Jeff Skinner continues to do the heavy lifting for Carolina, scoring the tying and winning goals against Florida to give him five tallies in his last three games and three multi-goal efforts in his last six. Montreal coach Claude Julien decided to shuffle his lines at Wednesday’s practice, taking center Alex Galchenyuk off the No. 1 unit and shifting him to left wing alongside center Andrew Shaw and Artturi Lehkonen. Galchenyuk, who had a career-high 30 goals last season, is scoreless in nine games this month.

Pittsburgh Penguins (46-17-6) vs Ottawa Senators (40-24-6)

The Penguins’ top line of Crosby, Conor Sheary and Jake Guentzel had been humming along with a staggering 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists) over the past five games, but Guentzel’s won’t be available after receiving a concussion from a blindside hit he suffered on Tuesday. Senators captain Erik Karlsson (team-leading 52 goals, 66 points) has erupted for 22 points (six goals, 16 assists) in his last 20 games overall and could easily add to that total if the first two meetings with Pittsburgh are any indication. The two-time Norris Trophy winner erupted for six points (one goal, five assists) versus the Penguins, highlighted by a season-best four-point total (one goal, three assists) in an 8-5 setback on December 5.

Arizona Coyotes (27-37-7) vs Florida Panthers (31-30-5)

‘Yotes rookie forward Christian Fischer was recalled from Arizona’s American Hockey League affiliate on Tuesday to make his fourth NHL appearance and he certainly is making the best of his few chances. Fischer scored the opening goal at Tampa Bay to give him three tallies Tuesday. The Chicago native actually scored all three of his NHL goals in the Florida region (2 vs Tampa Bay, 1 vs Florida). With starting netminder Roberto Luongo still injured, James Reimer will get back to work after resting on the bench during Tuesday tilt against the Hurricanes. He has won 2 game out of the 8 since Luongo’s injury.

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Primetime hockey

NHL Rundown

Here is the NHL rundown. All of Tuesday Fantasy Hockey matchups to get you ready for your cash drafts. Play at FanPicks now!

Ottawa Senators (39-24-6) vs Boston Bruins (38-28-4)

The Ottawa Senators lost a chance to take control of the Atlantic Division race over the weekend. They have gone four games without a victory (0-2-2), including overtime and regulation losses in a home-and-home series with first-place Montreal, and lead Boston by four points for second place in the Atlantic. The Bruins will be trying to avoid a three-game slide when they return home from 2-2-0 road trip that ended with a 4-2 setback at Toronto on Monday that reduced their lead over the Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic to one point.

Pittsburgh Penguins (45-17-6) vs Buffalo Sabres (30-31-6)

The Pittsburgh Penguins hope recent history repeats itself Tuesday as they attempt to clinch a playoff spot with a road win over the Buffalo Sabres for the second time in three years. A victory, which would be its third straight, also could put Pittsburgh in the lead for the Presidents’ Trophy. Buffalo is aiming for its third consecutive victory of their own.

New York Rangers (45-24) vs New Jersey Devils (26-33-10)

The New York Rangers have lost touch with the top teams in the Metropolitan Division but maintain a firm grip on the top wild card. They continued their road prowess with a 3-2 win at Minnesota on Saturday but sits six points behind third-place Columbus in the Metropolitan. New Jersey has been unable to prevail in any venue over the past month, dropping 12 of its last 13 games (1-10-2) to plunge into the basement of the Eastern Conference.

Calgary Flames (41-27-2) vs Washington Capitals (46-17-3)

Offseason acquisition Brian Elliott didn’t turn many heads with his play to begin the season, but the veteran goaltender certainly has the league’s attention now. With 11 consecutive victories under his belt, Elliott will look to eclipse Mike Vernon’s franchise-record win streak on Tuesday as the red-hot Calgary Flames vie for their 13th triumph in 14 outings. Washington punched its playoff ticket for the ninth time in 10 seasons with Saturday’s 5-3 victory over Tampa Bay.

Detroit Red Wings (28-32-11) vs Montreal Canadiens (41-23-6)

Montreal owns a four-point advantage for first place in the Atlantic Division over the Senators, after posting a 4-3 shootout win in Ottawa on Saturday and a 4-1 home triumph over them a day later. The Red Wings have gone 3-6-1 this month, practically assuring their 25-year playoff streak will come to an end in what is their final season at Joe Louis Arena.

Arizona Coyotes (26-37-7) vs Tampa Bay Lightning (34-28-6)

The Tampa Bay Lightning have hit a bump in the road during their quest for a playoff spot. The Lightning earned points in 15 of 17 games (12-2-3) before allowing a total of 10 goals in back-to-back losses to Toronto and Washington, which have dropped them four points behind Toronto for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.  The Coyotes officially were eliminated from playoff contention with Monday’s 3-1 loss at Nashville but have earned points in five of their last seven games (3-2-2).

Carolina Hurricanes (30-27-8) vs Florida Panthers (31-29-5)

The Hurricanes and Panthers are tied with 73 points and trail the Toronto Maple Leafs by eight points for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.

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NHL Rundown

Thursday Fantasy Hockey Preview

The NHL rundown examines Thursday Fantasy Hockey matchups (Enter contest) to get you ready for your cash drafts.

Canadiens vs Flyers

The Montreal Canadiens’ top line of captain Max Pacioretty, Alexander Radulov and Phillip Danault are showing signs of coming together as a group while the Philadelphia Flyers quickly came apart at the seams in their first game back from the NHL All-Star break. Pacioretty, who leads the team with 24 goals, recorded his second hat trick of the season and sixth of his career during the Habs last game.

Senators vs Lightning

The Ottawa Senators hope to rebound from an uncharacteristically sloppy performance. They’ll battle their Atlantic Division rivals Tampa Bay Lightning. The Sens saw their six-game point streak come to an end with a 6-5 loss at Florida on Tuesday despite 41 shots on goal in the first contest after the All-Star break.

Rangers vs Sabres

The All-Star Game gave NHL teams a chance to get recharged but the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres each appeared to extend their respective breaks by about two hours too long. Both the Rangers and Sabres will look to avoid getting off to disastrous starts when the clubs square off for the third time this season.

Oilers vs Predators

The Edmonton Oilers and Nashville Predators cruised into the All-Star break before stumbling out of the blocks in their first trip to the ice. The Western Conference upstarts look to regain their footing at the other’s expense.

Jets vs Stars

The Dallas Stars look to exact revenge for their worst loss of the season but more importantly pick up two key points in the Western Conference standings. Dallas lost 8-2 their last meeting against the Jets on November 8. Both teams have 52 points and are four points behind third-place Nashville in the Central Division. They are also among six teams bunched together fighting for the two wild card positions.

Blackhawks vs Coyotes

The Chicago Blackhawks aren’t getting much bang for their buck from their vaunted second line, with Artem Anisimov struggling to find the words in much the same manner as he’s struggled to find the net in the last 11 games. Anisimov, Artem Panarin and reigning Hart Trophy winner Patrick Kane look to rediscover their scoring touch as the Blackhawks bid to snap a three-game skid on versus the Arizona Coyotes.

Maple Leafs vs Blues

Less than nine months after advancing to the Western Conference finals last season, the St. Louis Blues pulled a shocker by dismissing veteran coach Ken Hitchcock on Wednesday. Mike Yeo, designated the coach-in-waiting for 2017-18, had his timetable pushed up and will be behind the bench for their confrontation with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Sharks vs Canucks

While Patrick Marleau continues his quest for career goal No. 500, the Pacific-leading San Jose Sharks are aiming to remain successful on the road . Marleau has closed in on the milestone by netting six tallies over his last four contests and is one shy of tying Lanny McDonald and becoming the 45th player in NHL history to reach the plateau.

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NHL Rundown

Wednesday Fantasy Hockey Previews

The NHL rundown examines Wednesday Fantasy Hockey matchups (Enter contest) to get you ready for your live drafts.

Bruins vs Capitals

Less than 24 hours after wrapping up their three-game road trip with a tough loss, the league-leading Washington Capitals return to the comforts of home against the Boston Bruins. Washington took an early lead Tuesday before allowing three straight goals en route to a 3-2 setback against the New York Islanders that concluded a 1-2-0 trek.

The Capitals have been playing extremely well at the Verizon Center, however, winning all seven of their contests there in January and going 8-0-1 since dropping a 2-1 decision to Montreal on December 17. While Washington looks to extend its home winning streak, Boston is aiming for its fourth consecutive overall victory after posting a 4-3 triumph at Tampa Bay on Tuesday. All-Star Brad Marchand recorded his third straight two-point performance with a pair of assists to raise his team-leading point total to 51 as the Bruins halted a three-game road slide (0-2-1) during which they scored one goal on two occasions. Nicklas Backstrom, who notched an assist Tuesday, scored at 1:36 of overtime on December 7 as Washington registered a 4-3 home victory over Boston after squandering a three-goal lead.

Wild vs Flames

The Calgary Flames hope a winning goal last Thursday and a trip to All-Star weekend will be the springboard Johnny Gaudreau needs to provide the team a big boost in the final 30 contests of the season. Johnny “Hockey” snapped an 11-game goal-scoring drought last game. He’ll try to extend this into a streak versus the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Wild.

Gaudreau’s overtime winner in a 3-2 triumph at Ottawa gave him 11 goals on the season, and allowed his team to snapped a four-game losing streak. He produced four points during the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament on Sunday. Minnesota is coming off a 5-2 victory at Edmonton on Tuesday as Mikael Granlund notched an assist to extend his point streak to a franchise record-tying 10 games. All-Star Devan Dubnyk (27-8-3, 1.88 goals-against average, .936 save percentage) watched backup Darcy Kuemper make 41 saves against the Oilers but is expected to be back in net.

Avalanche vs Kings

The Los Angeles Kings attempt to extend their winning streak to four games when they face the Colorado Avalanche. Los Angeles wrapped up a 3-2-0 trek on Tuesday with its third straight victory, a 3-2 triumph at Arizona, and heads back out on the road for four more contests following its meeting with Colorado.

Captain Anze Kopitar has been thriving in 2017, collecting 14 points in 12 games since the beginning of the calendar year after a one-goal, two-assist performance against the Coyotes. The league-worst Avalanche once again failed to reach the 30-point mark for the season on Tuesday as they suffered their season-high eighth consecutive loss (0-7-1) with a 5-1 setback at Anaheim. Colorado, which also has dropped six straight on the road (0-5-1), has scored an NHL-low 94 goals and has netted more than two tallies just once in its last 13 contests. The Avalanche had a solid offensive showing in their first meeting with Los Angeles this campaign, however, as defenseman Patrick Wiercioch recorded a goal and an assist in a 4-1 home victory November 15.

Posted in NHL

NHL Daily Rundown

Thursday Fantasy Hockey Previews

FanPicks.com has an NHL daily rundown to get you ready for live fantasy hockey contests.

Penguins vs Bruins

The Pittsburgh Penguins look to pick up the pieces on Thursday after a lackluster performance in their last outing. Pittsburgh’s high-octane offense was stuck in neutral in Tuesday’s 3-0 setback to St. Louis. It ended the team’s streak of scoring at least four goals during its four-game winning streak, which included a 5-1 rout of Boston on Sunday.

Capitals vs Devils

The Washington Capitals have surged to the top of the NHL standings but will look to rebound from their first regulation defeat in 14 games. Washington suffered a 3-0 loss at Ottawa on Tuesday.

Canadiens vs Islanders

The New York Islanders have reversed course on the direction their season was headed by recording at least a point in five straight games (4-0-1), highlighted by a 3-0-1 mark under the watch of interim coach Doug Weight. The Montreal Canadiens have outscored the Islanders by a 28-14 margin en route to winning the last seven encounters.

Maple Leafs vs Flyers

The Toronto Maple Leafs are showing no signs of cooling off as the All-Star break approaches, recording at least one point in 13 of their last 15 games (11-2-2). Toronto looks to remain ahead of schedule and knock off the Philadelphia Flyers.

Kings vs Hurricanes

The Los Angeles Kings snapped a four-game losing skid in their last outing. Carolina has been outscored by a disastrous 20-5 margin during their four-games losing streak, but it improved to 3-0-1 in its last four meetings with Los Angeles after posting a 3-1 victory on December 8.

Flames vs Senators

The All-Star break can’t come soon enough for the stumbling Calgary Flames, who will try to stop a four-game slide when they visit the Ottawa Senators. Calgary has surrendered 20 goals during its four-game skid and has been manhandled by Toronto and Montreal on the first two legs of its three-game road trip.

Lightning vs Panthers

The Tampa Bay Lightning will attempt to win back-to-back games for only the second time since Thanksgiving. They followed up one of their worst losses of the season Saturday in Arizona with one of their most inspiring triumphs Tuesday, when they rallied for four third-period goals to beat Chicago 5-2.

Blue Jackets vs Predators

The Columbus Blue Jackets have answered the franchise-best 16-game winning streak by surrendering 33 goals to record losses in six of their last 11 games. The Blue Jackets look to tighten their defense and resume their pursuit of the top spot in the Metropolitan Division versus Nashville Predators.

Blues vs Wild

The Minnesota Wild look to wrap up a scintillating 7 1/2-week stretch when they host the St. Louis Blues in their final game before the All-Star break. Minnesota holds a two-point lead atop the Central Division and owns the best record in the Western Conference in the wake of a spectacular 20-3-1 mark since December 4.

Jets vs Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks are among the most successful teams in the NHL this season, but 20 percent of their regulation losses came against the struggling Winnipeg Jets. Winnipeg has allowed only two goals in three victories over Chicago, and the Jets can use a victory entering the All-Star break after back-to-back home defeats.

Sabres vs Stars

The Buffalo Sabres’ newfound knack for winning games has them within striking distance of their first Stanley Cup playoff berth since 2010-11. They’ve won three straight, all in overtime. Buffalo erased a two-goal deficit and Jack Eichel scored twice, including the one in the extra session in Tuesday’s 5-4 victory in Nashville.

Canucks vs Coyotes

The Arizona Coyotes look to remain perfect on their five-game homestand and seek their first three-game winning streak of the season when they battle their Pacific Division-rival Vancouver Canucks.

Oilers vs Sharks

The streaking San Jose Sharks will be sorry to see the All-Star break come as they aim for the seventh consecutive victory. San Jose has posted four one-goal victories during the run, including a 4-3 triumph at Winnipeg on Tuesday in which Patrick Marleau scored his fifth goal in two games with 4:33 remaining in the third period to snap a tie.

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NHL Rundown

Wednesday Fantasy Hockey Previews

FanPicks.com has an NHL rundown to get you ready for live fantasy hockey contests.

Maple Leafs vs Red Wings

The Toronto Maple Leafs went through some early-season struggles away from home but have righted the ship, going nearly two months without a regulation loss on the road. The Red Wings are coming off their third consecutive overtime loss. It was a 4-3 setback in Boston on Tuesday in which they allowed a 3-2 lead to disappear in the third period. The Original Six rivals had their first meeting of the season in the Centennial Classic at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium on January 1st. Rookie Auston Matthews scored his second of the game at 3:40 of overtime to give the Maple Leafs a 5-4 victory after they squandered a three-goal advantage over the final 6:06 of the third session.

Flyers vs Rangers

The New York Rangers would be sitting in a tie for first place in the Atlantic Division, but the margin of error is much smaller in the highly competitive Metropolitan. They are coming off their first home victory of 2017 The Red, White and Blue could extend their winning streak to four games against Philadelphia Flyers.

Canucks vs Avalanche

The Vancouver Canucks are one point out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, thanks to an impressive record at home. However, they are tied with Arizona for the fewest road wins (five) in the NHL. The Canucks have won both matchups against Colorado this season, including a 3-2 shootout win at Denver on November 26.

Oilers vs Ducks

The Edmonton Oilers are making a spirited run for first place in the Pacific Division and get a chance to make up ground with back-to-back matchups against the two teams ahead of them. Riding a six-game point streak (5-0-1), the surging Oilers are taking on the Anaheim Ducks. Ducks goalie John Gibson is 4-0-1 with a 1.19 goals-against average against Edmonton.

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NHL Rundown

Friday Evening Fantasy NHL Previews

FanPicks.com has all of Friday’s hockey matchup ready for live Fantasy NHL contests.

Blackhawks vs Bruins

The Chicago Blackhawks averted matching their longest losing streak of the season with a stirring comeback last time out against the Boston Bruins. Chicago scored three unanswered goals in the third period Tuesday to rally for a 6-4 victory over league-worst Colorado. Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, coming off a three-point game at Detroit, has seven goals and 19 points in 14 games versus Chicago.

Red Wings vs Sabres

The Detroit Red Wings are sitting in seventh place in the Atlantic Division but are well within striking range of second. Detroit erased a pair of three-goal deficits before knocking off Boston in a shootout Wednesday to move within six points of the Bruins with three games in hand. Rookie goalie Jared Coreau was yanked after giving up three goals in under nine minutes at Toronto, but even that had a silver lining for Detroit. Petr Mrazek, winless in his previous six appearances (0-5-1), turned aside 23 of 25 shots in relief. He is slated to start for the Wings in this one.

Penguins vs Hurricanes

The Pittsburgh Penguins will look to ride the momentum of their first road victory of the new calendar year into Friday’s tilt with the host Carolina Hurricanes, who have won four in a row at home and boast a 14-1-1 mark in their last 16 games at PNC Arena. Evgeni Malkin failed to record a point in Pittsburgh’s 3-2 win over Carolina on December 28, but extended his point streak to five games (five goals, two assists) with an assist in Wednesday’s 4-1 victory over Montreal.

Canadiens vs Devils

Taylor Hall was quick to label the New Jersey Devils’ recent four-game road trip as a “make or break” moment of their season, and he responded by recording a point in each contest. Hall (team-leading 29 points) hopes his productive play continues when New Jersey begins a stretch of 12 of its next 16 games at home. It all starts against the Montreal Canadiens.

Predators vs Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers wrap up a six-game homestand in search of their fifth consecutive victory agaist the Nashville Predators. Edmonton began the string with a loss to San Jose but has reeled off four straight wins since, including Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime triumph over Florida in which captain Connor McDavid capped his three-point performance with a goal at 4:57 of the extra session.

Panthers vs Canucks

Captain Henrik Sedin looks to make franchise history as the Vancouver Canucks attempt to extend their home point streak to eight games. The 36-year-old Swede moved to within one point of becoming the first member of the franchise to reach 1,000 in his career by scoring his 232nd career goal in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory over Nashville.

 

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