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.

Play our NHL Playoffs Contest 

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

DFS NHL Lineup

On this busy day in the sports world, we take a minute to bring to your our DFS NHL Lineup for tonight.

While there are six games on the schedule tonight, most of them are late night as this Wednesday night belongs to the Western Conference.

The New York Islanders will play the Toronto Maple Leafs at 7 pm in the lone Eastern Conference dual, while the other other Eastern team in action will be the league leading Washington Capitals who are in LA to face the Kings at 10:30 pm.

Let’s take a look at my lineup tonight.

fanduelnhl

 

It’s rare I choose a Maple Leaf, but the kid can play. Soshnikov has been terrific since being recalled by the Marlies with 3 points (2 goals) in his first 5 NHL games.  The task will be tall as Thomas Greiss will be between the pipes for the Islanders. Jaroslav Halak will be out for 6 weeks so the crease is Greiss’ to own. He has been spectacular this season in relief with an 18-6-3 record, .930 Sv% and 2.20 GAA.  He is definitely the goalie to own tonight versus the lowly Leafs, if you’re willing to pony up that kind of coin ($9000).

I’m riding the Ducks train again, and as Perron is cheaper than Perry and the rest of the gang I’m sticking with him. He has been nothing but consistent since arriving in Anaheim and I like him tonight against the weak Avalanche defense.

Colorado’s offense  is another story. Not exactly the Dallas Stars, but Nate MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Jarome Iginla know how to score. At first I had Landeskog in the lineup, and then some tinkering got me Iginla too. Stacking the Av’s isn’t the best idea, so I kept Iginla in against the mighty Ducks (cause they’re good, that’s not their name anymore) as his veteran presence will be key in this matchup.

In the vacant spot I slotted in Islanders winger Kyle Okposo. I was tempted to go with Anders Lee as he has been on a streak, but Okposo is just a load when he is on his game, and the Toronto defense cannot support his weight.

Kuznetsov and Kopitar are two of the NHL’s best centers who will face-off in a dynamite game tonight.

Matt Niskanen has filled in nicely for John Carlson while he has been hurt. The bump in ice-time has come with fantasy rewards.

Shea Weber‘s been on a roll of late, piling up fantasy points every night. His goaltender Pekka Rinne is hot and cheaper than Greiss. The Pred’s haven’t lost in 10 games in regulation.

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

Canadiens vs Avalanche Fantasy Hockey Preview

Montreal Canadiens (27-26-4) at  Colorado Avalanche (29-26-4) (8pm EST)

As I stated in my Daily Fantasy Hockey Picks article: “Even though the Avalanche have been in a scoring slump for the past month, I almost took the chance and stacked the high-priced Nate MacKinnon with his immensely talented but low-cost teammate Mikhail Grigorenko.”

They both played their junior hockey in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey league, spending their pre-NHL days as rivals for Halifax and Quebec (respectively). “Hometown” players always seem to play great against the Canadiens, and this pair is no different.  Grigorenko scored a goal and setup MacKinnon for 2 goals in 13 seconds the last time the Avalanche played the Canadiens (Nov.14 2015). Tonight, they aren’t on the same line, but Grigorenko will skate next to Matt Duchene who is back at Center, and Jarome Iginla on the RW. The Canadiens have awful defensive coverage, and often leave gaping holes around the net. If the Avalanche really want this one, they just have to play hard for 60 minutes and the chances will come.

Alex Tangauy, Carl Soderberg and Captain Gabriel Landeskog are also viable options.

The Canadiens have switched their lines up due to an injury to David Desharnais. I see it as a blessing in disguise, as Lars Eller, the two-way, skilled centerman will finally get his chance with Max Pacioretty. Over the years fans have been hollering to see the two smooth-skating, big men play together, but Head Coach Michel Therrien always stuck with the diminutive and often disappointing Desharnais.

Veteran Ben Scrivens is getting the start for the Canadiens, and the incumbent Semyon Varlamov for the Avalanche.

Use this preview to help build YOUR winning fantasy hockey roster!

Posted in NHL

NHL Saturday Night 1/23/16 Preview & Picks

With a trio of games being postponed due to the snow taking part of the country by storm, we will look at a trio of games that are still on the menu tonight. The Montreal Canadiens vs Toronto Maple Leafs, Anaheim Ducks vs Detroit Red Wings and finally, Colorado Avalanche vs the Dallas Stars.

Montreal Canadiens (23-20-4) at Toronto Maple Leafs  (17-20-8) (7 pm)

While the Canadiens have been the NHL’s worst team over the past two months, the Leafs have been at the bottom for the whole season (and many, many years). The Habs need to find their scoring touch badly, and can’t seem to score more than one goal in far too many games. But this age old rivalry has always brought the best out in the Canadiens, often lighting the lamp four or five times against Toronto. Even when they are playing this horribly.

Brendan Gallagher is the type of player who is always in front of the net, and you’d have to be insane to not think the Habs game plan is to fire as much rubber toward the net and hope for the best.

Advice: Brendan Gallagher and PK Subban, who has points in six straight, usually play well against Toronto. Tyler Bozak and Leafs All-Star representative Leo Komarov have been Habs killers in the past.

Anaheim Ducks (20-18-7) at Detroit Red Wings (24-15-8) (7 pm)

East coast teams heading out to the West coast to compete are always at a distinct disadvantage. The travel, the jet-lag, time-change and long haul all have a tremendous effect on the body and mind, which is why a team like the NFLs Seattle Seahawks are so dominate at home, yet very regular on the road. The Ducks though did skip one bullet, as their game last night against the Washington Capitals was postponed due to the aforementioned snowstorm.

They will be fresher than they should have been, and they should be thankful for that. Rather than pulling out the oxygen tanks in the first period, they might get to the third before the effects of the speedy Red Wings kick in. No two teams have such a contrasting style, as the Detroit pace of play may be too much for the bigger, slower Ducks to keep up with.

Advice: Dylan Larkin and Henrik Zetterberg hooked up for a beauty last game and look to keep that momentum going. Ducks defenseman Shea Theodore and Sami Vatanen are good values who can collect a couple of assists.

Colorado Avalanche (25-21-3) at Dallas Stars (30-13-5) (8 pm)

Carl Soderberg has been the Avalanche top scorer since late November, and number one defenseman Erik Johnson will return to the lineup tonight. The consistency of Soderberg and boost Johnson provides will make this matchup a lot closer than it would have been a few weeks ago. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov has been hot of late as well.

Antti Niemi, who is MUCH better at home this season is 12-3-0, with a .923 save percentage and three shutouts on the books will get the start for Dallas. His composure under pressure allow him to thrive in this run-and-gun offense the Stars run, as he never seems to panic, no matter the score or moment.

This wouldn’t be a Stars report without the mention of superstars Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. This duo is matchup-proof, but the sandpaper-like Avalanche will give them all the resistance they can deal with. Colorado is hard in front of the net, but Benn and Seguin won’t shy away. The pair could go off for 10 combined points on any given night but I don’t think it will be today.

Advice: Soderberg is consistent, while Nate MacKinnon may have something to prove to Dallas’ superstars and be worth the gamble for a huge game. The Stars are 10-2 in their last 12 home games, so while they may win, it may be a lower-scoring affair than we’re used to due to Varlamov. Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp could get the line matches they want and take advantage at a much lower price tag then Benn and Seguin.

 

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:

Western Conference

Central Division:

St-Louis Blues:

The Blues have been the pre-season darlings recently.  Darlings in that pundits have been picking them to go deep in the post season.  Alas that has not been the case when the pucks hit the ice.  The Blues have performed well, but not well enough to lay claim to the cup.  What we expect to see from a fantasy hockey perspective come the 2015-2016 season is the continued emergence of Vladimir Trarasenko.  This gifted forward is “money” in the bank and will surely reward cash draft managers with a flood of points.  We also expect to see center-man David Backes return to an elite form.  If the price is right, Backes should be on your team.

Nashville Predators:

The 2014-2015 season marked the emergence of Filip Forsberg, for the better part of the year, Forsberg seem a lock to earn the Calder trophy, and unfortunately a cold streak toward the end of the season saw that dream fade.  The return of Rinne brought some much needed stability to the Preds.  We see the Predators continuing to show their faces in the spring dance, however we do foresee Forsberg taking a step back with the marked attention he will receive.  We will say that Rinne will be a good money value pick during the daily fantasy sports season.

Chicago Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks, reigning Stanley Cup champions and winners of the ultimate prize 3 of the last 5 years were forced to jettison some keep pieces this offseason due to cap concerns.  This will surely affect the team, we do of course see the Hawks making the post season but we do not believe that it is a given.  As far as fantasy hockey managers are concerned, we will say that we expect Marian Hossa to pay-off during cash draft leagues as we do foresee Duncan Keith continuing to excel on the blue line.  We expect high point totals from newly resigned Brent Seabrook and we believe that he will be excellent value.

Minnesota Wild:

The Wild finished last season with a total of 100 points and made the playoffs on the back of giant tender Devan Dubnyk.  But the Cinderella story ended there.  With names like Pomminville, Koivu, Vanek, Parise and Suter on the club expectations are high for the Wild.  However we will refrain from anointing them playoff contenders until we will Dubnyk excel for a full season.  That being said, in the world of Fantasy Hockey, we do see big offensive years from Koivu and Pomminville, 2 players who will likely come cheap early on in daily fantasy sports action and thus are 2 picks that should appear on your cash draft contests.

Winnipeg Jets:

The Jets made the post season last year much to the delight of its fans, however they drew the unfortunate straw that had them facing the Anaheim Ducks.  They lost thje series, but iun no way looked out-classed, they looked right at home in the playoffs, a tad wet behind the ears, but they looked good.  We expect to see the same from the Jets, and yes that means another post season participation.  In the fantasy hockey daily fantasy sports world, we do expect young center Mark Scheifele to have a break out season.  He will come cheap and will be a great value pick.

Dallas Stars:

The Dallas Stars were on the outside looking in on the playoffs last season despite boasting the Art Ross trophy (leader in regular season points) winner, Jamie Benn and a scorching (until he was injured) Tyler Seguin.  While we will stop short of anointing them a playoff position, we will say that both Seguin and Benn, along with Jason Spezza will be offering fantasy hockey managers fantastic returns on their investments.  On the Blue line we also expect a very big year (points wise) from Alex Gologoski.  The Stars can make or break your cash draft contests if the player costs are right.

Colorado Avalanche:

Coach Patrick Roy’s Colorado Avalanche did not make the Stanley Cup post season in 2014-2015.  While neither Roy (as a coach) nor Nathan Mackinnon are rookies any longer, we cannot, with good conscience pencil the Avs in the post season.  Until there goaltending is set for the long term future, we will not be seeing Roy’s boys in the playoffs.  What we will say is that we do expect to see Mackinnon bounce back from his sophomore slump and take the Avs offense by the jugular.  We do expect the young center-man to lead his club in points and be a huge reurn on fantasy hockey managers investments.  We also expect young Dman Nikita Zadorov to have a worthwhile daily fantasy sports cash draft contest season.

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

Eastern Conference:

Metropolitan Division:

New York Rangers:

Read the Metropolitain Division preview

Washington Capitals:

Read the Metropolitain Division preview

New York Islanders:

Read the Metropolitain Division preview

Pittsburgh Penguins:

Read the Metropolitain Division preview

Columbus Blue Jackets:

Read the Metropolitain Division preview

Philadelphia Flyers:

Read the Metropolitain Division preview

New Jersey Devils:

Read the Metropolitain Division preview

Carolina Hurricanes:

Read the Metropolitain Division preview

Atlantic Division:

Montreal Canadiens:

Read the Atlantic Division preview

Tampa Bay Lightning:

Read the Atlantic Division preview

Detroit Red Wings:

Read the Atlantic Division preview

Ottawa Senators:

Read the Atlantic Division preview

Boston Bruins:

Read the Atlantic Division preview

Florida Panthers:

Read the Atlantic Division preview

Toronto Maple Leafs:

Read the Atlantic Division preview

Buffalo Sabres:

Read the Atlantic Division preview

Posted in NHL