Pictured: Jack Eichel
Source: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images North America

Preview: Sabres at Flyers

Two teams hoping to remain in the playoff race in the Eastern Conference face off Tuesday when the Buffalo Sabres visit the Philadelphia Flyers. Buffalo is six points behind Carolina for the second wild-card spot while Philadelphia trails the Hurricanes by seven and Columbus by eight for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

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The Sabres were unable to close the cap Monday as they allowed four consecutive goals in the second period en route to their fifth straight road loss – a 5-3 setback at Toronto. Captain Jack Eichel scored twice to extend his point streak to five games (three goals, four assists) and increase his career high – and team-leading – total to 68 points. Captain Claude Giroux celebrated his 800th NHL game Saturday by scoring 1:59 into overtime as the Flyers posted a 4-3 comeback victory over Pittsburgh at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field in their 2019 Stadium Series matchup. The outdoor contest marked the end of Wayne Simmonds’ 7 2/3-season tenure with the Flyers as the rugged right wing was dealt to Nashville at Monday’s trade deadline.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, NBCS Philadelphia

ABOUT THE SABRES (29-25-8): Sam Reinhart followed a hat trick against Washington on Saturday with a goal and an assist versus the Maple Leafs while Kyle Okposo registered two hits and blocked a pair of shots in 11 minutes, 40 seconds of ice time after missing four games with a concussion. Defenseman Brandon Montour, who recorded five goals and 20 assists in 62 games with Anaheim this season, is expected to make his debut with the Sabres on Tuesday after being acquired two days earlier. Buffalo made one deal on deadline day Monday, sending blue-liner Nathan Beaulieu to Winnipeg for a sixth-round pick in the June draft.

ABOUT THE FLYERS (29-26-7): In return for Simmonds, Philadelphia received right wing Ryan Hartman and a conditional 2020 fourth-round draft pick from the Predators. The 24-year-old Hartman, who scored a career-high 19 goals with Chicago in 2016-17, recorded 10 tallies and as many assists in 64 games with Nashville this season. Defenseman Radko Gudas will return to the lineup Tuesday after serving a two-game suspension for a high-sticking infraction against Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov.

OVERTIME

1. Flyers G Brian Elliott, who made his first start – and third appearance – since Nov. 15 because of a lower-body injury Saturday, is expected to get the call again versus Buffalo.

2. Buffalo will be playing on the road for the fifth time in six games after beginning the month with seven straight home contests.

3. Philadelphia D Samuel Morin (knee) was recalled from his conditioning assignment with Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League and practiced Monday but has yet to be activated from injured reserve.

Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

Pictured: Auston Matthews
Source: Claus Andersen / Getty Images North America

Preview: Sabres at Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs snapped a season-high three-game winless skid in style, overcoming an early three-goal deficit with six unanswered tallies to best an Original Six rival. The Maple Leafs bid to ride that momentum against another Atlantic Division adversary on Monday when they host the Buffalo Sabres in the third contest of their four-game homestand.

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“I think that first period intermission we just wanted to come in and just take a deep breath, get our composure back and just go to work,” said Auston Matthews, who scored and set up a goal in Toronto’s 6-3 triumph over Montreal on Saturday to boost his point total to 15 (nine goals, six assists) in his last 13 games. The 21-year-old capped a two-goal performance with three seconds remaining in overtime in the Maple Leafs’ 4-3 win over the Sabres on Dec. 4. Sam Reinhart scored and set up a goal in that contest and registered his third career hat trick in Saturday’s 5-2 victory against Washington to lift his point total to six (four goals, two assists) in his last five games. “I just like the urgency and the desperation in our game right now,” said Buffalo coach Phil Housley, whose team snapped a four-game skid (0-3-1) on Saturday and resides six points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, MSG Buffalo, TVA, TSN4 (Toronto)

ABOUT THE SABRES (29-24-8): Captain Jack Eichel tallied twice in the first encounter with Toronto and had two of his club-best 47 assists against the Capitals to boost his team-leading point total 66 – two more than his previous career high set last season. “I thought we’ve done a good job the last two games for sure,” the 22-year-old Eichel told reporters. “I thought we’ve defended when we need to, we’ve worked hard, we played pretty desperate.” Jeff Skinner, who leads the team with 36 goals, survived a scare after injuring his ankle and reportedly was making jokes during the second intermission before returning to Saturday’s game to start the third period.

ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (37-20-4): Mitch Marner recorded his 15th multi-assist and 22nd multi-point performance on Saturday by setting up both of Zach Hyman’s third-period goals to boost his team-leading totals in assists (50) and points (71). The 21-year-old’s point total surpassed his previous high of 69, set in 2017-18. Hyman, who boasts three goals in his last three games, has posted 17 of his 27 points on home ice this season.

OVERTIME

1. Buffalo D Rasmus Ristolainen snapped a six-game point drought with an assist on Saturday and heads into the tilt with Toronto, against which he set up two goals in the first meeting.

2. Maple Leafs F Patrick Marleau, who scored in the first matchup with the Sabres, has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in February.

3. Buffalo G Carter Hutton has turned aside 116 of his last 124 shots, but only has a 1-2-1 record to show for it.

Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

Preview: Maple Leafs at Sabres

Auston Matthews has returned with a vengeance, recording three goals and an assist in two contests after missing 14 with a shoulder injury. The 21-year-old star looks to help the Toronto Maple Leafs extend their winning streak to five games when they visit the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.

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Matthews began the season with a seven-game multi-point streak but was kept off the scoresheet in four straight contests before being sidelined. The 2017 Calder Trophy winner appears to have regained his old form following his recovery, scoring two goals and setting up another in Toronto’s victory over San Jose on Wednesday while also tallying in Saturday’s 5-3 triumph at Minnesota. Buffalo returns to the comforts of home after completing an 0-2-1 road trip – which followed a 10-game winning streak – with a 2-1 setback in Nashville on Monday. Sam Reinhart scored the lone goal for the Sabres, who won all six of their contests at KeyBank Center in November and have gone 7-0-1 over their last eight in their own arena as they begin a four-game homestand.

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, TSN4 (Toronto)

ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (19-8-0): The rich will be getting richer, as William Nylander – who was a restricted free agent – is expected to be in the lineup soon after signing a six-year, $45 million contract just before Saturday’s deadline for eligibility to play in the NHL this season. The 22-year-old right wing, who has reached the 20-goal plateau each of the last two campaigns, figures to make his season debut either Thursday against Detroit or in Boston on Saturday as Toronto kicks off a five-game road trip. Mitch Marner, who leads the team with 38 points, is riding a four-game assist streak during which he has set up 10 goals.

ABOUT THE SABRES (17-8-3): Reinhart has been heating up for Buffalo as he enters Tuesday with a three-game goal-scoring streak during which he has netted four of his seven tallies on the season. The 23-year-old forward scored just once in his previous eight contests. Jeff Skinner was kept off the scoresheet Monday after registering points (six goals, one assist) in six of his previous seven games.

OVERTIME

1. Toronto LW Zach Hyman has recorded three goals in his last three games after scoring the same amount over his first 24 contests this season.

2. Buffalo D Rasmus Dahlin, who was named the NHL Rookie of the Month for November, has gone three contests without a point following a four-game assist streak.

3. The Maple Leafs acquired Michael Carcone from Vancouver for fellow LW Josh Leivo and recalled D Travis Dermott from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League.

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Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

NHL Fantasy Hockey Preview

Columbus Blue Jackets vs Buffalo Sabres

The Columbus Blue Jackets will travel Friday night to face Sabres in Buffalo. The Sabres will get a chance continue their longest winning streak of their campaign in what will be their final game at home home game. This NHL Fantasy Hockey preview is brought you by FanPicks.com. Come PLAY in our NHL Magic Million daily fantasy contests at FanPicks and get a free chance to win $1 Million dollars!

NHL Fantasy Hockey PreviewFor Columbus, they will definitely need more input from their forward Brandon Dubinsky. Dubinsky, a 2 time 20-goal scorer for the Rangers, scored twice on Wednesday to boost his season total to 17 goals. Their coach John Tortorella knows that Dubinsky’s input is very important for the team to keep progressing. In 4 seasons, he hasn’t gotten passed 17 and it could be promising. His teammate Brandon Saad netted 5 times in the past 4 games and is only 1 shy of a 30 goal season. Columbus’s offense is on point lately, especially snatching a pair of 5-1 wins around a 4-2 setback against the Rangers over the last 3 games. Look for the Blue Jackets to come out flying this game as favorites.

 

The Buffalo Sabres have grown a lot since the start of the season. They started their 2016 campaign on a 3-7-0 record and despite a 6 game losing streak during the year, record, they’re beating at times some of the best teams in the NHL. Their learning curve as a group with a new coach and new players was tough but it showed they’re a great team. A good news for the Sabres though, their forward Tyler Ennis, sidelined since suffering a concussion on December 30th was able to practice this Thursday for the 1st time in 4 months. The Sabres also brought up from the AHL, Cole Schneider and Evan Rodrigues from Rochester with both expected to make their NHL debuts tonight.

Posted in NHL

Fantasy Hockey Targets

Early Games

With four early games on the schedule this afternoon, Fanpicks is here to supply you with the fantasy hockey targets you’ll need to win your DFS contest.

As always, we supply you with at least a couple of DFS value picks (usually more) and fill out the roster with big-ticket players.  There’s nearly always cash leftover in order to give you the flexibility to make it your own. (Lineup Below)

  • Starting the day at 1 pm (est) off is Minnesota versus Buffalo. The Wild are the heavy favorite, but they have an array of scorers so it’s hard to say who’s going to have their day. The safer way to go when dealing with teams like that is to ride the hot-hand of course. Those hands belong to Jason Pominville today. The former Sabre has 12 points in his last 9 game, and a return to your former stomping grounds is always inspiring. Jack Eichel was tempting, as he played over 23 minutes last game but we were dedicated to our other options up the middle. That’s not to say don’t play the kid, he is a very nice option today.

Rather, Rasmus Ristolainen ($3700 – Value Pick) will represent the Sabres for my squad. He is their number one defenseman who played nearly 25 minutes a night, and has 36 points. Sure he can be a defensive liability, but other players with similar qualities (I’m looking at you Tyson Barrie), cost A LOT more.

  • Next up at 3 pm, the Flames are in Pittsburgh to face Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.

Crosby has 5 points in his last 3 games and will be relied on to lead the charge against Calgary. When he’s at the top of his game, there is none better.

I selected Carl Hagelin as an insurance policy to Crosby. He’s that extra lining to protect your big investment. Simply, if it’s Evgeni Malkin‘s line that goes off, you can still get in on those precious Penguin points.

Newly acquired Justin Schultz should make his debut in black and yellow this afternoon. At $3000 he could be a huge value pick, especially if he gets any powerplay time with the big guns. But that’s by no means a gaurantee, so I went with the slightly more costly option in Derrick Pouliot ($3300 – Value Pick). The 22-year-old quietly has 6 assists in 17 games since being recalled from the AHL. and usually plays around 15 minutes a game. He is a very talented puck mover and does get some time on the man-advantage, so if he can get at least one assist I will be satisfied.

Marc-Andre Fleury will be between the pipes and has only allowed 2 goals in his last 3 starts. The Pens need to win this game if they want to carry momentum into the playoffs, so I’m going with arguably (Dubnyk) the safest bet in the pool.

  • Also at 3 pm, the Avalanche play host to the Predators. Filip Forsberg is the man to own in these days, but as I went with cheaper options at LW I tagged his setup man Mike Ribeiro at center instead. All of those cross-ice one timers Forsberg scores on the PP come off the stick of Ribeiro, so if he can piggyback the mighty Swede it’ll be a good day.

Since I wasn’t taking the number one sniper in this game, Jarome Iginla instantly became a target. He’s already scored once this season against Nashville, and playing in Colorado gives the veteran a chance at the matchups he needs to thrive.

  • Finally, at 4 pm the LA Kings and Anaheim Ducks do battle for Pacific division supremacy. Tied at 80 points a piece, the Kings have 2 more wins than their SoCal bredren, but two points today and none of that matters.

Ryan Getzlaf sat out Anaheim‘s last contest, but should be back today. In any case, David Perron is a solid value pick. He’s been a mainstay in my lineup for the past month and always performs. He isn’t just riding the coat-tails of the bigger named Ducks either, he is setting them up for success too. Jamie McGinn (LW) is also a nice option today, he’s scored in both games for Anaheim since being acquired at the deadline.

  • Lineup

nhlearlyfanpicks

Posted in NHL

DFS Hockey Picks

Another edition of DFS hockey picks is upon us. With only four games on the NHL schedule tonight we won’t have as much quantity as last night (thank you Tuesdays) but there is quality. The Bruins play the Penguins in the Nationally televised Rivalry Night on NBC and the lowly Habs visit Alex Ovechkin and the mighty Capitals in the early games. The Sharks face off versus the Avalanche at 10pm, while the Sabres will have their hands full with the home-town Ducks in the night cap (10:30pm).

As always, I try to target value picks who can help you win your daily fantasy contest. Players who should out-perform their expected output (regardless of salary sometimes).

  • My roster ($600 remaining)

nhllineup0224

David Perron and Sami Vatanen have been fixtures in my lineup over the past couple of weeks, and deservedly so. Perron has 6 points in his last 6 games and at $5900 you have to take advantage of that kind of production.

My cheapest spot belongs to Montreal’s Sven Andrighetto. He is the Canadiens top scorer per 60 minutes played this season and a high-paced affair against the Capitals should work in the youngsters favour.

David Pastrnak is a slightly more expensive option coming off a two assist game and plays with the red-hot Louis Eriksson. Eriksson has 7 goals in his last 7 games but is far too expensive for this roster, so teammate Matt Beleskey gets the call. He has 4 points in his last 2 games and could produce in a physical matchup.

Jarome Iginla has an impressive 11 points in his last 9 games. He’s a safe bet to continue his dominance against the Sharks.

The real star power is at center with Jumbo Joe Thornton and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Thornton has 21 points in his last 16 games while Kuznetsov has 21 in 14 of his own games and is now playing with Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin is obviously the top dog to own in fantasy hockey but at 10 grand is far too pricey for this squad.

PK Subban always raises his game against the NHL’s premier talents, and while I was targeting Andrei Markov against his Russian counterpart (Ovechkin) all my value picks allowed me to spend up for Subban.

Freddy Andersen gets the call in net tonight for the Ducks against the bottom-feeding Sabres . The Ducks have won 5 straight. Can anyone remember the last time you could say the same about the Sabres? Nuff said.

Posted in NHL

Buffalo Sabres vs Colorado Avalanche – 1/20/16 Preview and Predictions
The Buffalo Sabres (19-23-4) will take on the Colorado Avalanche (23-21-3) Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center. Fanpicks.com is proud to announce Rotopicker. A free to use tool which allows you to create winning lineups and dominate your fantasy hockey competition. Play the most exciting contests, including the newest Point Spread and $10K Grand Action contests only at Fanpicks. The premiere Daily Fantasy Sports site.

NHL BUFvsCOL 1-20-16

It will be a homecoming of sorts for two members of the Sabres on Wednesday night. NHL All-Star Ryan O’Reilly, who leads the Sabres with 17 goals and 39 points and winger Jamie McGinn will return to play in Colorado tonight for the first time since being traded this summer. Sure to be emotional after a bumpy last couple of years in the Rockies, O’Reilly should have himself a nice game tonight at the Pepsi Center.  If the Sabres wish to have a chance, Robin Lehner, only making his third start of the season has to come up big. He may be worth the daily fantasy play risk as Buffalo has heated up of late, winning four of their last five games.

 

Mikhail Grigorenko, the star prospect and former first-round pick who was part of the O’Reilly blockbuster, will be inserted back into the lineup after sitting out the previous two. He could produce some offense for the Avalanche offense. Hot-shot goalie Semyon Varlamov will get another start tonight after making 36 saves in a 2-1 victory last night vs the Jets. This could go either way for the Avalanche. Another strong effort from the goaltender will result in a win, or the fatigue sets in and they hand Buffalo another victory.

The Avalanche should be weary of American rookie superstar Jack Eichel who has found his scoring touch of late.

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

Posted in NHL