Preview: Oilers at Sharks

Edmonton Oilers superstar captain Connor McDavid thought his team had turned the corner following a sizzling 11-game run only to find itself on the seat of its pants with losses in six of the last seven contests. The Oilers look to pick themselves up once again on Tuesday when they visit the San Jose Sharks to begin a three-game trek through California.

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“Obviously it is frustrating, there is no other way to say it,” McDavid told reporters. “Especially because we have shown we can be a good team. We had that (8-2-1) stretch where we looked really good and now we have wavered and find ourselves dipping a bit. We just have to get back to that brand of hockey that we know we can play.” The 21-year-old McDavid opened the scoring 52 seconds into Sunday’s 6-3 setback versus Vegas to move one goal shy of 100 for his career. While Edmonton is spiraling down a mediocre Pacific Division, San Jose entered Monday’s action in first place with wins in three of its last four contests. Captain Joe Pavelski was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week on Monday, two days removed from recording his fourth straight multi-point performance in a 4-0 win over St. Louis.

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, Sportsnet West (Edmonton), NBCS California (San Jose)

ABOUT THE OILERS (9-10-1): Leon Draisaitl is doing all he can to alter Edmonton’s struggling ways, as the 23-year-old has pulled even with McDavid in goals (12) after scoring five in his last seven outings in addition to setting up four others. Goaltender Cam Talbot has been waiting on his 100th win with the Oilers for five long games, as he has posted a gaudy 4.63 goals-against average and .845 save percentage during that stretch. The 31-year-old split a pair of encounters with San Jose last season and owns a 5-3-2 mark with a 2.68 GAA and .907 save percentage in 10 career meetings.

ABOUT THE SHARKS (11-7-3): Two-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson scored his first goal since March 27 – then a member of the Ottawa Senators – with a power-play tally at 3:34 of the second period on Saturday. “I’ve been feeling good all year; it just hasn’t worked out on the scoresheet,” the 28-year-old Swede told reporters. “But sometimes that’s the way it is. I don’t think I’m doing anything different now.” Karlsson set up Evander Kane just over four minutes later to notch consecutive multi-point performances and extend his assist streak to three games.

OVERTIME

1. San Jose C Logan Couture leads the team’s forwards in assists (14) after setting up three goals for the seventh time in his career on Saturday.

2. Edmonton RW Alex Chiasson has scored in back-to-back contests to push his point streak to three games.

3. The Sharks have not allowed a power-play goal in their last six games and are 44-for-46 on the penalty kill in their last 17 overall.

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Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

Preview: Oilers at Panthers

The Edmonton Oilers look to finish their four-game road trip with a .500 record and extend their winning streak at the Florida Panthers to 10 when the teams meet Thursday night. The Oilers won the opener of their trek at Detroit before dropping back-to-back contests at Washington (4-2 on Monday) and Tampa Bay (5-2 on Tuesday), but have not lost against the Panthers on the road since March 8, 2002.

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Two-time reigning NHL scoring champion Connor McDavid was held off the scoresheet for the second time in 13 games this season in Tuesday’s loss and Edmonton could not finish several prime opportunities. “We need to bear down a little bit, especially me more than anyone,” Oilers center Leon Draisaitl told reporters. “I didn’t think we played terrible or bad by any means, but it’s something we can look at and try to get better from.” The Panthers have not played since Friday, when they finished off a split with Winnipeg with a 4-2 victory in the two-game NHL Global Series at Helsinki, Finland. Forward Evgenii Dadonov leads Florida with 13 points and has at least one in eight straight games while teammate Mike Hoffman boasts a nine-game point streak that includes six goals.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet West (Edmonton), FS Florida

ABOUT THE OILERS (8-6-1): Ryan Nugent-Hopkins notched his third assist in two games Tuesday to push his team-leading total to 14 and Draisaitl scored his ninth goal – one behind McDavid – against the Lightning for his eighth point in the past seven contests. Right wing Ty Rattie returned to the lineup after missing nine games with an upper-body injury, skating with McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins, while center Ryan Strome finally netted his first goal of the season Tuesday. Forward Alex Chiasson, who had scored in three of his previous four games, sat out the game in Tampa Bay with an undisclosed injury.

ABOUT THE PANTHERS (3-5-3): Goalie Roberto Luongo returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a knee injury on opening night and made 32 saves for his 472nd career victory Friday in Helsinki. “That was huge for us,” Florida coach Bob Boughner told reporters. “Watching (Luongo) play so composed after being off for a month, he is a big reason why we won (the last game).” Defenseman Keith Yandle has five points in the last four games and 12 overall to place second on the team while captain Aleksander Barkov has gone seven games without a goal, but recorded six assists in that stretch.

OVERTIME

1. Edmonton LW Milan Lucic was fined $10,000 after his misconduct penalty Tuesday.

2. Florida C Derek MacKenzie, who has not played since opening night, underwent shoulder surgery recently and is out indefinitely.

3. The Oilers have won four of the last five meetings overall and the road team has taken seven of the last eight encounters.

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Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

DFS NHL PICKS

Sadly, the NHL season is coming to a close so we’re here to present to you our last regular season edition of our DFS NHL picks.

Not to worry, we will still be providing fantasy picks throughout the playoffs. But as every team is in action, this is a big night.

Important note: Word came out of Pittsburgh earlier today that superstars Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang would not be dressing for their season finale, so be weary of any last minute scratches around the league.

As we’re all aware of professional sports contracts are laced with incentives. In other words, statistical plateaus that athletes must attain to cash in on big money bonuses.

To break it down, as major league sports season’s come to a close these plateaus often become the focus of individual players as they step into action. Wouldn’t you try your luck if a million dollars was the difference between you taking the shot (and scoring) or passing it off to a teammate? 30 goals on the season puts you into the upper-echelon of performers, whereas 29 goals gets you in the milder “20-goal scorer” category.

So as time is of the essence for these contracts, I’m aiming for players who will be extra motivated to reach these milestones.

If you doubt this theory and need proof, just look up how Jamie Benn won the NHL scoring title last season. Spoiler: He scored four points (a hat-trick), including the last one with 8.5 seconds left in the game (and season) to surpass John Tavares and Sidney Crosby to win the Art Ross trophy. Not to mention he did it without the other half of Dallas’ dynamic duo as Tyler Seguin sat out with an in-house suspension.

Finally, let’s take a look at my DFS NHL picks.

NHLDFSapeil9

If you can’t tell just by looking at it, this is pretty much a young stars team balanced out by the ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr, and Chicago’s 2015-16 dynamic duo of rookie Artemi Panarin and current NHL leading scorer Patrick Kane.

The strategy is to have hungry young guns with a lot to prove, plus a few guys on hot streaks to bring some stability.

Panarin sits at 28 goals on the season, needing two to hit the 30-goal plateau. One single point would be nice as well, as the 75-point mark would be awfully impressive for a rookie (albeit a 24-year-old rookie)

Winnipeg rookie Nik Ehlers is a nice value at $4800, and has 1 goal and 5 assists in his last 10 games while skating on the Jets’ top line with Blake Wheeler and breakout star Mark Scheifele.

The heavily scrutinized Alex Galchenyuk managed to turn a nearly lost season around just in time to be named the Montreal Canadiens player of the year. The electric American also sits at 28 goals, and you can bet his teammates (namely Max Pacioretty) will be doing everything they can to get him to 30 goals. A nice team dinner and a couple of bottles of wine is in the best interest for everyone, especially since the Habs have nothing else to play for.

19-year-old phenom Connor McDavid is arguably the best player in the NHL already. He leads the league (ahead of Jagr and Kane) with 2.71 points-per-60-minutes during 5-on-5 play. The former two come in at 2.61. While the Oilers were a disaster this year (again), the Canucks have been down right awful for the past month and are ripe for the picking. McDavid has at least one point in all but two of his previous 10 games (2 goals + 11 assists), including 3 against these very same Canucks just 48 hours ago. Did I mention he sits at 48 points (44 games) on the season? Two points in the season finale seems fitting for the young icon.

 

Posted in NHL

NHL Cash Draft Vancouver Canucks vs Edmonton Oilers

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The Edmonton Oilers will say goodbye to Rexall Place on tonight against the Vancouver Canucks. The team will miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 10th consecutive season, are playing their final contest at the arena before ending the 2015-16 season in Vancouver on Saturday. The Oilers competed at Rexall Place, originally known as Northlands Coliseum, since 1974 when they were in the World Hockey Association. They will be moving into a new arena situated in downtown Edmonton called Rogers Place, beginning next season. More than 150 franchise alums will be in attendance during the game. A list that includes Hockey Hall of Fame members Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Glenn Anderson and Grant Fuhr.

Edmonton his on a slump. They are on a three-game losing streak (0-3-0) and have lost five of their past six games (1-5-0). Edmonton’s Connor McDavid put up two goals and nine assists in his last 11 games.

The Canucks, who also won’t be part of the post-season tourney, are on a three-game winning stretch.

Goaltender Cam Talbot will get the nod for the Oilers. While on the other side it will be Ryan Miller for the Canucks. Vancouver’s Jannik Hansen has two goals and three assists in his past three match-ups, while teammate Bo Horvat collected two goals and two assists during the same span.

Top Fantasy Picks

C Connor McDavid (EDM)

C Bo Horvat (VAN)

RW Jannik Hansen (VAN)

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

Pacific Division:

Anaheim Ducks:    

The Ducks were not happy with their 2014-2015 end.  Losing to the eventual Stanley Cup winners does not make the pill easier to swallow, not when you are often picked by experts to go all the way.  That is the case again for the Ducks, pundits have chosen them as early cup favorites, what does that mean for fantasy hockey cash draft contest managers?  Simply put, selecting an Anaheim goaltender will be a value pick for the course of the season, they will win more than they lose.  If you are looking for skaters to fill up the score sheet, Corey Perry is a surefire goal scorer, for the right price he should be looked at hard.  Sleeper forward on the Ducks could be Jiri Sekac.  He coul offer big points for a low cost.

Vancouver Canucks:     

The Vancouver Canucks were surprise participants in last season’s spring dance.  Unfortunately we don’t see them repeating the exploit in 2015-2016, not with the aging cast they currently boast.  Ryan Miller, Henrik and Daniel Sedin along with Chris Higgins and Radim Vrbata have been great warriors on the ice for many years, but the sun is setting on their careers and we do not believe that they will have enough gas in the tank to make the post season.  That being said, there are some value picks here should a fantasy hockey manager look at the roster.  Miller will face and stop a lot of shots, Jannick Hansen will likely have a breakout season and Radim Vrbata, we believe, will reward managers well for the price.

Calgary Flames:  

If the Canucks are trending downward, the Flames are trending upward.  Young, hungry and well coached, the Flames will look to show that they are more than just last year’s flash in the pan.  While we do expect to see the Flames make the playoffs, we are weary to stock out fantasy hockey lineups with players who proudly wear the flame.  Can Hudler repeat last season’s point performance?

Los Angeles Kings: 

The Kings were onetime NHL favorites, due in large part to their size and style of play, but that did not stop them from missing the post season last year.  Nor does it stop us from predicting another long and tumultuous season for the LA club.  While we won’t’ pronounce ourselves on their fate, we will say that we expect a BIG year from Anze Kopitar and Tyler Toffoli, 2 players that will reward your hockey rosters with a great deal of points.

San Jose Sharks: 

Jumbo Joe was stripped of his captaincy last season and the Sharks were, essentially rudderless and ended up out of the post season.  This year saw Jumbo Joe maintain his non captain status but little Joe (Joe Pavelski) was named captain, in fact ushering in the “future” for the embattled Sharks.  We don’t expect to see this move pay off with a playoff participation, but we will say that Joe Thornton will likely have an axe to grind, making him a great fantasy hockey pick up!  For the price, he will reward managers with fantasy points.

Edmonton Oilers:

In 2014-2015 the Oilers were… well the Oilers.  Bottom feeders yet again, luckily for the Oil, their ineptitude got them Connor McDavid, the most sure fire prospect since Sidney Crosby.  We will go out on a limb and say that YES the Oilers will indeed make the playoffs on the back f super rookie McDavid.  With that being said we will say this for all fantasy hockey managers to note, Connor McDavid will reward his inclusion into a fantasy roster with top value!  We also expect former #1 Taylor Hall to give manager a big bang for their buck.

Arizona Coyotes:  

The desert dogs have fallen from grace in recent memory, though many will argue that last season this was due in large part to being “all-in” in the McEichel sweepstakes.   As it stands, the Coyotes fell just shy of the vaunted 1-2 draft picks.  Arizona drafter D-man Noah Hanifin with 3rd overall pick.  We expect the Coyotes to endure serious growing pains this season, but we do foresee OEL (Oliver Ekman Larsson) to continue his Norris trophy play and rack up points for fantasy hockey GMs.  On the front end we will say that youngster Anthony Duclair will be a great value pick for the cost.

Central Division:

ST-Louis Blues:

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Nashville Predators:

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Chicago Blackhawks:

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Minnesota Wild:

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Winnipeg Jets:

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Dallas Stars:

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Colorado Avalanche:

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Eastern Conference:

Metropolitan Division:

New York Rangers:

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Washington Capitals:

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New York Islanders:

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Pittsburgh Penguins:

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Columbus Blue Jackets:

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Philadelphia Flyers:

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New Jersey Devils:

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Carolina Hurricanes:

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Atlantic Division:

Montreal Canadiens:

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Tampa Bay Lightning:

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Detroit Red Wings:

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Ottawa Senators:

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Boston Bruins:

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Florida Panthers:

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Toronto Maple Leafs:

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Buffalo Sabres:

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Posted in NHL