Pictured: David Krejci
Source: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images North America

Preview: Lightnings at Bruins

The Boston Bruins are playing some of their best hockey of the season despite missing an important player as they prepare to host the NHL-best Tampa Bay Lightning for an Atlantic Division showdown on Thursday. The Bruins knocked off red-hot San Jose 4-1 on Tuesday to extend their point streak to 14 games (10-0-4), but All-Star David Pastrnak (thumb) has missed half of them.

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“At this time of year, (we are) just focusing game by game,” Boston’s David Krejci told reporters. “Obviously, we know where we are at in the standings, and that’s where we want to be. But we know that it’s going to be a battle. Hockey in March is one of the hardest months of the season.” The Bruins sit 19 points behind Tampa Bay in the Atlantic but are just one ahead of Toronto for second place and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Tampa Bay set a franchise record on Wednesday with its 10th straight victory as it coughed up a two-goal lead before defenseman Victor Hedman scored in overtime for a 4-3 triumph over the New York Rangers as it matched Boston’s 14-game point streak (12-0-2) – all this month. Nikita Kucherov set up Hedman’s game-winner for his third assist of the contest and league-leading 104th point of the season for the Lightning, who can reach 50 wins on Thursday.

TV: 7:30 p.m. NBC Sports Network, Sportsnet One, Sportsnet East, Sportsnet Ontario, TVA

ABOUT THE LIGHTNING (49-11-4): Kucherov is four points shy of matching the franchise single-season record set in 2006-07 by Vincent Lecavalier while Brayden Point reached 80 for the first time in his career on Wednesday with an assist. Captain Steven Stamkos added a pair of assists in the win, giving him 16 of his 77 points in his last 10 games, and J.T. Miller has scored in three of his last four contests. Andrei Vasilevskiy recorded his 29th win on Wednesday and is 9-0-2 with a .950 save percentage in February while backup Louis Domingue has won a franchise-best 11 straight starts.

ABOUT THE BRUINS (37-17-9): Brad Marchand has picked up his production level in linemate Pastrnak’s absence, collecting 17 of his team-high 74 points in the last 11 contests after scoring one goal and setting up two others on Tuesday. Krejci also has been a major factor during Boston’s 14-game run, registering five goals and 10 assists over the last 12 contests to push his season total to 55 points. Marcus Johansson notched an assist in his team debut on Tuesday, telling reporters: “It’s such a good team, you just go out and play, you don’t have to think too much.”

OVERTIME

1. The Lightning were 6-for-6 on the penalty kill during Wednesday’s win and are 25-for-25 over their last seven contests.

2. Boston C Noel Acciari, who took a puck to the face in Tuesday’s game, is questionable to face the Lightning while D Kevan Miller (upper body) is doubtful.

3. Tampa Bay C Tyler Johnson’s goal in the first period against the Rangers was the 300th point of his career.

Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

Photo: Jaroslav Halak
Source: Kevin Hoffman / Getty Image North America

Preview: Bruins at Flyers

The Boston Bruins have experienced a bit of turbulence after winning five straight, taking some stiff shots from upper-echelon members of the Eastern Conference en route to losing two of their last three. The Bruins will look to return to their winning ways on Wednesday when they visit the team residing one point out of the conference’s cellar: the Philadelphia Flyers.

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Boston was felled by the home-run swing of Jeff Petry, as the defenseman made like Mookie Betts and swatted the puck out of mid-air and into the net to give Montreal a 3-2 victory in overtime on Monday. Tuukka Rask’s first loss in his last six starts foiled his bid to tie Tiny Thompson (252) for the franchise record in wins, and the 2014 Vezina Trophy recipient will see backup Jaroslav Halak get the call on Wednesday before having another go at it the following night against St. Louis. James van Riemsdyk highlighted his three-game goal-scoring streak with his fourth career hat trick in Monday’s 7-4 triumph over Minnesota while fellow forward Nolan Patrick completed a personal-best four-point performance by tallying twice to put an end to a 24-game goal drought. “It weighs on you quite a bit,” the 20-year-old Patrick said. “It’s something you think about quite a bit when you go through a slump like that.”

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network

ABOUT THE BRUINS (26-15-5): Patrice Bergeron joined fellow top-line forward Brad Marchand (club-best 32 assists) with receiving a maintenance day at Tuesday’s practice, but coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters that the two will suit up versus Philadelphia. The 33-year-old Bergeron has collected 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 11 contests since a 16-game absence due to a rib injury and has flustered the Flyers to the tune of recording 33 (14 goals, 19 assists) in 45 career contests — including a goal in a 4-3 overtime loss on April 1. Cassidy expressed optimism about the availability of forwards Chris Wagner (illness) and Jake DeBrusk (lower body) to face Philadelphia after the pair sat out Tuesday’s session.

ABOUT THE FLYERS (17-23-6): Wayne Simmonds, who is the subject of persistent trade rumors and is an unrestricted free agent after this season, upped his value a bit by scoring twice and posting a campaign-best plus-3 rating on Monday. Captain Claude Giroux set up a pair of goals against the Wild to reside within one assist of 500 in his career. The 31-year-old All-Star scored two goals and set up another in three meetings with the Bruins last season, boosting his total to 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) in 26 career encounters.

OVERTIME

1. Philadelphia has permitted the first goal in 22 of its last 29 games.

2. Boston reached out to Providence of the American Hockey League on Tuesday and recalled F Peter Cehlarik, who leads the team with 29 points.

3. The Flyers placed Dale Weise on waivers Tuesday while Edmonton claimed fellow F Colby Cave from the Bruins.

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Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

Preview: Stars at Bruins

The Dallas Stars have reversed course from their considerable troubles away from home, rebounding from dropping the opener of their six-game road trip to win a season-high three straight heading into Monday’s contest against the Boston Bruins. The Stars hope their run of good fortune continues at TD Garden, where they have won four of their last five matchups.

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Dallas captain Jamie Benn pushed his club-best goal total to six after scoring in his second consecutive contest on Saturday in a 4-3 overtime win over Washington. The 29-year-old made his presence felt against Boston, registering at least one point in six of his last seven encounters – including notching two assists in a 3-2 overtime victory at TD Garden in January before scoring a goal in a 3-2 setback in March. While the Stars have yielded 13 goals en route to winning five of their last six overall, the Bruins found themselves shut out for the second time in three outings with Saturday’s 1-0 setback in Nashville. “Clearly, if our power play and top line (David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand) don’t score, we have a tough time,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy told reporters.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet East, Sportsnet Ontario, Sportsnet Pacific, FS Southwest (Dallas), NESN (Boston)

ABOUT THE STARS (8-5-0): A visit by Dallas brings about a return to Beantown for Tyler Seguin (team-leading 11 assists and 14 points), who will look to end a 10-game goal drought when he faces a franchise with which he captured a Stanley Cup in 2011 before it traded him away two years later. Coach Jim Montgomery isn’t so much worried about the 26-year-old Seguin’s history with the Bruins as he is with the forward’s play over the last few contests. “I think the last two games, he’s really increased his shot total and his chances, right?” Montgomery told reporters. “So I don’t worry about Tyler Seguin. He’s a goal-scorer. He’s a sniper and he keeps getting chances like that, it’s going to go in.”

ABOUT THE BRUINS (7-4-2): Cassidy said he’s not interested in breaking up the team’s vaunted top line as a means to ignite a spark to its ailing offense. “The problem I have with that is now you’re letting people off the hook a little bit,” Cassidy told reporters. “You have to take ownership of your own game at some point. This is the National Hockey League. … I’m not gonna put (Marchand), (Bergeron) and (Pastrnak) all on separate lines.” The top line has combined for 22 goals and 50 points this season, and Marchand and Pastrnak totaled two goals and three assists against Dallas in the last encounter – highlighted by the latter’s go-ahead tally with 12 seconds left in the win in March.

OVERTIME

1. Boston G Jaroslav Halak has allowed three goals in his last three outings to improve his league-leading goals-against average (1.45) and save percentage (.952).

2. Stars G Ben Bishop has dropped nine of 13 career decisions (4-6-3) versus the Bruins.

3. Boston has lost four of five meetings with Western Conference representatives.

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Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

Preview: Flyers at Bruins

The Boston Bruins boast one of the NHL’s most productive top lines, with Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak scoring 19 of the team’s 31 goals and posting a combined plus-19 rating and 44 points this season. The top-heavy Bruins will look to that line once again on Thursday as they open a two-game homestand against the Philadelphia Flyers.

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Pastrnak recorded his fourth career four-point performance (two goals, two assists) on Tuesday as Boston salvaged the finale of its four-game road trip with a 4-1 win over Ottawa. “His abilities are so much better than everyone else’s, the way he sees the ice, his confidence level right now, it’s a lot of fun to watch,” Marchand said of the 22-year-old Pastrnak, who collected two goals and three assists in three encounters with Philadelphia last season. “They’ve been playing together for a couple years now and each player brings a little something to the line,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said of the Bruins’ celebrated trio. The 30-year-old Giroux, who saw his team felled by Colorado’s vaunted top line in Monday’s 4-1 setback, flustered Boston in the teams’ last meeting as he capped a two-goal performance by scoring in overtime of a 4-3 win on April 1.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBCS Philadelphia, Sportsnet 360, TVAS, NESN (Boston)

ABOUT THE FLYERS (4-5-0): Second-year forward Nolan Patrick has returned from an upper-body injury with a flourish, scoring for the second time in as many games on Monday. While the 20-year-old has hit the ground running, the Flyers have failed to gain any traction as they have traded losses and wins over the last seven contests (3-4-0). Travis Konecny is expected to return to the top line with Giroux and Sean Couturier, with coach Dave Hakstol saying that the speedy Konecny “has to be a worker and has to let his dynamic abilities help him be a good player on that line.”

ABOUT THE BRUINS (5-2-2): Tuukka Rask turned aside 38 of 39 shots against the Senators and returns to TD Garden, where he has won both of his starts this season while recording a .923 save percentage. While those numbers are solid, the former Vezina Trophy recipient’s career statistics versus Philadelphia are significantly better (14-2-3, 1.99 goals-against average, .930 save percentage). Bergeron, who had a goal and two assists versus Ottawa, has lit up the Flyers for 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) in 44 career encounters.

OVERTIME

1. Philadelphia rookie C Mikhail Vorobyev will return to the lineup on Thursday after serving as a healthy scratch in the previous three games.

2. Boston has outscored its opponents by a 20-13 margin in 5-on-5 play this season.

3. Flyers G Michal Neuvirth (lower body) was loaned to Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League on Wednesday for a conditioning assignment.

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Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

Top Fantasy Picks from the NHL Eastern Atlantic Division

The fantasy hockey staff identifies relevant players from each team for 2018-19. Today, we look at the Eastern Atlantic division franchise players.

Top Tampa Bay Lightning Players

Nikita Kucherov, RW — The 25-year-old finished third in the NHL with 100 points (39 goals, 61 assists) in 80 games. He also finished top 10 in shots on goal (279), power-play points (36) and even-strength goals (31). He’s a near lock to finish top 10 in fantasy points this season based on his 100-point potential.

Steven Stamkos, C — The 28-year-old had his highest point total since 2011-12. His 86 points (27 goals, 59 assists) were second on the Lightning behind Kucherov and 12th in the NHL. He finished tied for third in the NHL with 15 power-play goals, a trend he carried over to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, when he scored six (T-1st). The Lightning had the third-ranked power play in the NHL (23.9 percent) and should have the opportunity to be among the best in the NHL for a second straight season. Given the chemistry formed with Kucherov and Tampa Bay’s overall team security, Stamkos should a top center in fantasy drafts.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, G — The No. 1 goalie had a breakout season with 44 wins (T-1st in NHL), including eight shutouts (T-1st), a 2.62 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage. He has the potential to finish as the best goaltender in the NHL.

Top Boston Bruins Players

David Pastrnak, RW — The 22-year-old has increased his point total in each of the past two seasons, including an NHL career high 80 points (35 goals, 45 assists) last season. He was plus-10, led the Boston Bruins in power-play points (26) and finished tied for 10th in the NHL with 13 power-play goals. Pastrnak, who finished among Stanley Cup Playoff leaders with 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 12 games, forms the NHL’s most potent line with left wing Brad Marchand and center Patrice Bergeron.

Brad Marchand, LW  — The left wing had 85 points, tying his NHL career high from the previous season, despite being limited to 68 games. He scored 34 goals and had 51 assists, his third straight season with at least 34 goals. Marchand has been plus-21 or better in six of his past eight seasons, and factors in on the power play (23 PPP) and penalty kill (four shorthanded points). He’s also had at least 63 penalty minutes in each of the past five seasons and has greater value in PIMs leagues compared to ones with hits (37 last season; 0.9 per game in NHL career).

Top Toronto Maple Leafs Players

Auston Matthews, C — Matthews, who turns 21 on Sept. 17, leads the NHL in even-strength goals per game (0.42; minimum 100 games) since entering the League in 2016-17. He was better than a point-per-game player (63 points in 62 games) last season despite missing 20 games because of multiple injuries. The potential 2019 restricted free agent has room for improvement in power-play points (13 last season) and could exceed 90 points with a plus/minus (plus-25 last season) among the NHL leaders on a line with wings Patrick Marleau and William Nylander.

John Tavares, C — Leaving the New York Islanders to sign a seven-year, $77 million contract with the Maple Leafs (average annual value $11 million) has catapulted Tavares back into the top 10 overall fantasy rankings, right behind fellow elite center and new teammate Matthews. Coach Mike Babcock said he plans to start Tavares on a line with right wing Mitchell Marner (led Maple Leafs with 69 points last season) and left wing Zach Hyman (38 even-strength points; tied for fourth on Toronto). Tavares, who had three seasons with at least 81 points and two with at least 30 PPP for the Islanders (often with ordinary linemates) joins a power play that ranked second in the NHL last season (25.0 percent) behind the Pittsburgh Penguins (26.2).

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Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Second-round previews

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Boston Bruins

The Lightning will come into this series as the more rested team after making quick work of the New Jersey Devils in Round 1. But after coming off an emotional high from a wild Game 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs, don’t take the Bruins lightly. In fact, the Bruins owned the Lightning during the regular season after walking away with the W in three of their four meetings.

The matchup should be highlighted by a battle between two of the best lines in hockey: Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak versus Kucherov-Stamkos-Miller. The Bruins’ trio combined for 30 points in Round 1, while the Lightning’s top three had 20 points in its five-game series with the Devils.

Washington Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins

What would a second round be without the Capitals and Penguins going head to head?

The Capitals will be looking for revenge after being eliminated by their Metropolitan rivals the past two postseasons. And, of course, the spotlight will once again shine brightest on the renewed showdown between the teams’ respective captains. While Sidney Crosby (10 goals, 22 points) historically comes out on top in terms of series wins, Alex Ovechkin (12 goals, 26 points) has statistically fared better between the two in their 20 playoff contests against one another.

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Nashville Predators vs Winnipeg Jets

It’ll be a Battle of the Titans in this second-round series. The Predators and Jets finished first and second league-wide, while their regular-season meet ups were always competitive. One key to the series could be the Predators’ Pekka Rinne, who was only average in Round 1 against the Colorado Avalanche, while Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck put up a far superior performance in eliminating the Minnesota Wild.

Vegas Golden Knights vs San Jose Sharks

Both sides made quick work in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, sweeping away the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, respectively. If Vegas isn’t already getting its due credit, it should after taking out a two-time Cup champion. Netminder Marc-Andre Fleury played like a virtual wall, while Sharks goalie Martin Jones was no slouch either. San Jose could also get a boost in the second round should Joe Thornton return from injury.

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Posted in NHL

2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs

First-round previews

Tampa Bay Lightning vs New Jersey Devils

From first overall pick to first playoff berth in six seasons, the surprising New Jersey Devils are set to take on the top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning. The series features a pair of Hart Trophy candidates in Nikita Kucherov and Taylor Hall, but the X-factor should be Devils netminder Keith Kinkaid, who emerged as the starter down the stretch and played phenomenally, but will now be tasked with shutting down one of the league’s most potent attacks.

Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs

The cruelty of the playoff format pitted two of the top teams in the conference against each other in Round 1, but this one should be a doozy. The Maple Leafs won three of four contests versus Boston this season, and Mitch Marner led the way with nine points. However, the red-hot Bruins were merely one point away from capturing the East’s top seed. Don’t be shocked if this one goes the distance.

Washington Capitals vs Columbus Blue Jackets

Metropolitan Division adversaries are poised to do battle in what should be an evenly contested matchup. The biggest questions for this series lie between the pipes, as Washington has elected to lean on backup Philipp Grubauer as its starter, while Sergei Bobrovsky’s career postseason save percentage is a dreadful .887. Whoever wins out in goal is likely moving on.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Philadelphia Flyers

The defending champs begin their quest for a three-peat against their most bitter rivals, a spectacle that was can’t-miss television last time they met in the playoffs in 2012. Pittsburgh holds a notable depth advantage, emphasized by the acquisition of Derick Brassard before the trade deadline. That said, five of the NHL’s top 15 scorers are in this series, so buckle up.

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Nashville Predators vs Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche were dreadful a season ago, but, to the surprise of just about everybody, have qualified for the playoffs in a year when nobody gave them a chance. Their reward? A matchup with the NHL’s most complete team, which is looking to avenge last season’s Stanley Cup disappointment. If the task wasn’t already tall enough, the Avs will have to get by without starter Semyon Varlamov, who was ruled out for the season.

Winnipeg Jets vs Minnesota Wild

The Jets concluded the season with the second-most points in the NHL (114), and have plans far beyond earning their first series win in franchise history. To do so, though, they’ll need to take down a Wild squad that went 14-6-5 down the stretch. While they’re missing their top blue-liner in Ryan Suter, the animosity between these Northern rivals should make for quite an entertaining series.

Vegas Golden Knights vs Los Angeles Kings

Even though it’s been decided for weeks, the Golden Knights making the playoffs in their inaugural season is nothing short of astonishing. The atmosphere in Vegas should be rocking to get things started, but the NHL’s 31st franchise has a tall order on its hands. Shutting down MVP candidate Anze Kopitar will be tough, but it could make the difference in what promises to be a fast-paced, intense series.

Anaheim Ducks vs San Jose Sharks

The start times are late, but this West Coast battle should be fought tooth and nail. Both the Ducks and Sharks match up quite evenly and know each other quite well, but health will be a big factor. San Jose is doubtful to have Joe Thornton in the lineup, while Anaheim starter John Gibson is banged up as well. Regardless of who’s in and who’s out, expect this one to be neck-and-neck.

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Posted in NHL

Daily Fantasy Hockey Picks

Once again we would like to stress this isn’t necessarily our suggested daily fantasy hockey optimal lineup, but Value Players to target to help make your team successful! In order to win your daily fantasy hockey contest you need to maximize your spending and get the right formula for victory, where as these players are selected with individual value in mind (as you can see I always have money left over). Let’s take a look at my strategy today.

  • My Roster

NHLlineup0220

In today’s lineup I started off superstar heavy. Tyler Seguin versus the Bruins, Evgeni Kuznetsov (did you see that pass), and goaltender Roberto Luongo.

Seguin is playing his former team so I expect a passionate performance, while I am stacking Justin Williams with Kuznetsov. The RW pool is thin, and some playing time with Alex Ovechkin is never a bad thing.

Max Domi has been on fire, but linemate Anthony Duclair is actually the more consistent performer. At $4800 I have to hope for the best from the speedy rookie.

Jaden Schwartz has more points than superstar linemate Vlad Tarasenko since his return, so even though I think Tarasenko could pot a pair tonight Schwartz offers the better value.

Ales Hemsky also plays for Dallas, but I don’t consider it a stack since rarely do the two play together (if ever). Hemsky is a skilled veteran who has been producing better-than-usual lately, and with my back against the cap wall I had to roll the dice.

I went with two youngers on the blueline. Arizona’s Michael Stone has quietly put up very nice numbers over the past 20 games, while Jacob Trouba is finding his game again in Winnipeg. The last two games have been fantastic, but I’m hoping that Trouba can put up his best fantasy game of the season with at least 1 point, multiple shots for and multiple blocked shots.

 

 

Posted in NHL

NHL Daily Fantasy Picks

With a trio of games left on this crisp Sunday afternoon, we’ll dive right into the competition with a trio of our own. A hat-trick of rookies if you rather. A youth All-Star team using the standard daily fantasy 50k salary cap. Let’s take a look at my winning strategy today.

  • My Roster

NHL14TH

We’re going to Stack a pair of Red Wings up the middle. The 19-year-old Dylan  Larkin and 35-year-old Henrik Zetterberg. The 3:30pm EST puck drop vs the Bruins has all eyes on them, and the top line for Detroit needs to come through. Larkin’s speed will cause trouble for the aging giant Zdeno Chara and Boston defense, while Zetterberg knows exactly how to get it done in games like this.

23-year-old Jaden Schwartz returned from a season-long injury this week and collected a goal and assist in his return. He plays on a terrific line (one of the NHL’s best last season) with Jori Lehtera and Vlad Tarasenko,so it was no surprise the chemistry was instant. At such a moderate price tag for a potential superstar, I’m sticking with the slick Schwartz.

I was lucky enough to watch David Pastrnak play live shortly after being drafted in the first round by the Bruins in 2014, and he blew my socks off. His performance at his Team Czech Republic World Junior Championship camp surprised a lot of people, and raised a lot of questions. Such as, how does a kid this skilled make it all the way until the 25th selection? Pastrnak took no time to adjust to the NHL game, despite his smaller stature and hasn’t looked back. With Patrice Bergeron fighting an injury, the 19-year-old Pastrnak will take advantage of the extra opportunities he is given and rack up some points (2 points in last 2 games). Even if he struggles at even strength, his play making abilities will get him points on the powerplay.

Mats Zuccarello has six points in his last five games. The New York Rangers winger is on pace to break his career high of 59 points and has a nice matchup with a big rival, the Philadelphia Flyers.

Defensively, Stacking the Rangers Keith Yandle and (G) Henrik Lundqvist wasn’t my intention. Rather, the fact that they are both worthy individual DFS plays and play on the same team makes it look like a Stack strategy. Yandle has been the subject of many trade rumours recently, and I always say that rumored players turn it up a notch. Lundqvist is as big-ticket as you can get, but the matchup vs Philly and his talent level puts him at the top of our goaltender rankings today.

Rounding out the roster is a pair of rookies (surprise, surprise). A pair of 22-year-old rookie defenseman to be exact. Colton Parayko has performed admirably filling in for the injured Alex Pietraneglo (3 points in last 2 games). He has a cannon of a shot, and is lethal from the point on the powerplay if given enough time and space.

Rarely do you use a defenseman (let alone a rookie) as your Utility skater (as a forward is just more likely to produce points), but Flyers D-man Shayne Gostisbehere is breaking rookie records by the day. This week, he broke an all-time NHL record for consecutive games with a point by a rookie defenseman (11 games, 16 points), and has 30 points in 36 games.

Important: I’m not saying you should play three defenseman, but these are three guys you should consider playing. Cutting Yandle to slide up Gostisbehere to the D spot, and adding another star forward in exchange for the salary saved is what will probably get you more points in your contest. I’m just offering you the candidates to mold your roster as you wish.

Posted in NHL

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Boston Bruins Fantasy Hockey News – 02-02-16

The Toronto Maple Leafs (17-22-9) will play the host Boston Bruins (26-18-5) at TD Garden Arena on Tuesday. FanPicks has this game on tap for tonight’s DFS action. Come play Fantasy Hockey at fanpicks.com.

Projected Lineup

Fantasy hockey

Toronto hopes that the All-Star break will rejuvenate its offense. They’ve been on a dry spell lately, scoring three goals in their last four games. The Leafs won once in their past 10 games; it was a 3-2 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on January 19. Their leading scorer, Leo Komarov, looked eager to get back to reality after participating in the crazy all-star game. He returned to action immediately, taking part on Monday’s team practice. He has 31 points in 48 games, this season. Toronto has had some solid goaltending, as well, from James Reimer this year. He possesses a .932 save percentage, which is tied for the 2nd best in the NHL. Reimer, will get the start for Toronto tonight. The Maple Leafs haven’t won against Boston since December 31th, 2014.

 

The Bruins suffered an awful 6 to 2 loss at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks before the All-Star break. They’ve also had to deal with backup goaltender, Jonas Gustavsson’s, medical issue. The Finn left Friday’s game because of an irregular heart rate and was later placed on injured reserve. Malcolm Subban was recalled from Providence and joined the Bruins for practice on Monday. He’ll be backing up Tuukka Rask tonight, if Gustavsson is not cleared to play. Second-year forward, David Pastrnak, will make his return to the lineup, after spending the All-Star break with Providence from the American Hockey League. With nine points in eighteen NHL games, Pastrnak should add some punch to a struggling Bruins offense.

Posted in NHL

Fantasy Hockey: 30 NHL teams in 30 Minutes

With the 2015-2016 National Hockey League (NHL) season set to get underway on Wednesday, October 7th 2015.  It is high time we offer our daily fantasy sports (DFS) managers a brief look into what we are anticipating to see on the ice this year.

Will the New York Rangers repeat as President’s Trophy winners?  Will the Edmonton Oilers end their post season drought?  Will the Detroit Red Wings see their incredible 24 straight year playoff participation end?  Will the Calgary Flames prove to be more than last season’s flash in the pan?

These are but a few of the riveting story-lines and sub-plots that fantasy hockey managers will have to weave through during this year’s cash draft contests.  There are more storylines than there are teams this year, and as such the laymen will have a wondrous time watching it all play out.  But the fantasy hockey manager has to look at it another way, the fantasy hockey manager has to be proactive, not knowing the fantasy sports landscape is the difference between winning, placing or being out of the money.

With that being said, here are 30 thoughts for the 30 hockey clubs in NHL:

Eastern Conference:

Atlantic Division:

Montreal Canadiens:

The Montreal Canadiens finished the season with 110 regular season points; that total gave them the Atlantic division crown (2 points ahead of Tampa Bay) and 3 points back of the Rangers for the best regular season record and the President’s trophy.  We expect Carey Price to have a similar record setting year, so riding the net minder in fantasy hockey contest is not a bad idea and we also expect to see Alex Galchenyuk up his previous point totals substantially with his move to center.

Tampa Bay Lightning:

The Bolts were arguably the best eastern conference team down the stretch.  Being able to lean on Steven Stamkos (the best, if not top 2, goal scorer in the NHL) certainly helps!  Their goalie. Ben Bishop emerged as a bonafide star.  Those two factors along with the emergence of young talent solidified the Lightning’s future.  We expect Stamkos to lay claim to the Maurice Richard trophy (top NHL goal scorer) and as such will be an expensive fantasy hockey darling.  Unforunately we do not bee Bishop repeating his exploits again and we expect to see the Bolts youth struggle a little bit.

Detroit Red Wings:

For 24 straight years the Detroit Red Wings have been a staple in the fantasy hockey post season landscape.  We are sorry to say that we don’t see this MoTown franchise extending it to 25.  Pavel Datsyuk, Herik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall are, and have been, remarkable talents, but the sun is setting on their careers.  We expect young guns like Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco and Riley Sheahan to take substantial steps forward and we expect the younger Wings to payoff in cash draft contests, but the Red Wings will not be playing for the Stanley Cup this spring.

Ottawa Senators: 

The Ottawa Senators took everyone by surprise when they went on an unheard of run to secure a post season spot.  Thanks to “rookie” goaltender Andrew Hammond, the Senators earned the right to face the Canadiens during the playoffs, eventually losing.  We expect to see the “Hamburgler” Andrew Hammond,  come back to earth so to speak.  Cash draft contest mangers should be wary of selecting Hammond, in our opinion, the talented net minder will not get a starters full slate of starts due to Anderson’s presence.  On the positive side for fantasy managers, we do see Bobby Ryan returning to his goal scoring form and as such could prove to be a bargain pick.

Boston Bruins:  

The Bruins were on the outside looking in come springtime last season and we don’t expect that to change this year.  With Milan Lucic moving on the Los Angeles, Douglas Hamilton being traded away and Zdeno Chara showing his age, the Bruins do not have a promising 2015-16 ahead of them.  We expect to see Tuukka Rask face a lot of rubber and steal a game or two.  As such he could provide some fantasy hockey value.  But goal scoring will continue to be at a premium in Beantown,

Florida Panthers:  

The Panthers almost clawed their way into the post season last year, the south Florida club certainly appear to have the perfect mix of youth and veterans, however that was not enough to secure a ticket to the spring dance last season.  While we do see the Panthers improving on their 2014-15 season, we do not see them making the playoffs again this year.  What we do see is  great deals for bargain fantasy hockey picks on this roster.  Names like Barkov, Jagr and Huberdeau are names that we see providing managers a good return on their investments.

Toronto Maple Leafs: 

The fabled Toronto Maple Leafs were a comedy of errors last season.  So much so that the off-season saw a complete overhaul of both the on ice product and the front office.  2015-16 will mark the first year of the Babcock error in Toronto.  We do see the Leafs getting better, but we also see all the other clubs around them getting better, as such we do see a very high draft pick in the Lefs’ future.  With no clear cut #1 goalie having distinguished himself, we would shy away from the Maple Leaf tenders, while they are certain to face a lot of pucks, they are anything but certain to win.  We advise shying away from this club in your fantasy contests.

Buffalo Sabres:   

It is hard to say just how bad the Sabres were last season, were they terrible or were they just bad?  Buffalo went all in for Connor McDavid but they had to “settle” for Jack Eichel.  We see the Sabres making some serious inroads this season, partly because we do not believe they were as bad as they let on last season and partly due to new, young and hungry blood.  We see Eichel giving fantasy mangers some serious return on their investments, at least early on, we will caution against leaning heavily on Evander Kane and we will say that Brian Gionta (for the money) will be a sure fire winner.

 

Metropolitan Division:

New York Rangers: COMING SOON

Washington Capitals: COMING SOON

New York Islanders: COMING SOON

Pittsburgh Penguins: COMING SOON

Columbus Blue Jackets: COMING SOON

Philadelphia Flyers: COMING SOON

New Jersey Devils: COMING SOON

Carolina Hurricanes: COMING SOON

 

Western Conference

Central Division:

ST-Louis Blues: COMING SOON

Nashville Predators: COMING SOON

Chicago Blackhawks: COMING SOON

Minnesota Wild: COMING SOON

Winnipeg Jets: COMING SOON

Dallas Stars: COMING SOON

Colorado Avalanche: COMING SOON

 

Pacific Division:

Anaheim Ducks: COMING SOON

Vancouver Canucks: COMING SOON

Calgary Flames: COMING SOON

Los Angeles Kings: COMING SOON

San Jose Sharks: COMING SOON

Edmonton Oilers: COMING SOON

Arizona Coyotes: COMING SOON

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