Eastern Conference Final:  Bruins vs Hurricanes

The Eastern Conference Final pits what can be considered this years “Cinderella story” the Hurricanes, against a team most love to hate in the Bruins.  The Bruins are in their first conference final since 2013 while the Hurricanes are hoping to ride the wave to their first Stanley Cup Final since 2006 when Justin Williams tapped the puck into the empty net, sealing the Stanley Cup for the Hurricanes.

In a playoffs defined by unpredictability, the Bruins have solidified their standing as one of the NHL’s elite teams in defeating the Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets, both quite handily at the end of the day. The Hurricanes can and will challenge the Bruins with their style of aggressive play and speed, but on most nights they are going to be outmatched by a better team. Rask is playing extremely well while the Hurricanes reply on a less seasoned goaltender in Mrazek.  The Bruins main line can’t be silenced forever, Boston has renewed passion and will ultimately serve as too much for the Hurricanes.

FANPICKS PREDICTION:  Boston in five

Western Conference Final:  Blues vs Sharks

This is a rematch of the 2016 Western Conference Final, which was won by the Sharks in six games. For both the Sharks and Blues it represented their best playoff runs of the 21st century, and ever since they just haven’t been able to live up to expectations.

Since 2000, the Sharks and Blues have the second- and sixth-most cumulative regular season points in the league, however neither have a Stanley Cup to show for it.  This year may be as good a chance as any to put those demons to bed.

Injuries remain the concern for the Sharks top D-man Erik Karlsson.  He hasn’t scored a goal yet these playoffs, and while Karlsson brings that offensive dynamism, when he’s on the ice the Sharks are allowing more goals than they are scoring.

The Blues have been excellent on the forecheck and cycle throughout the playoffs, carrying the play and applying immense pressure in key moments.  This pressure will eventually be overwhelming for an already worn down Sharks defence and aging players such as Joe Thorton, Joe Pavelski, Brent Burns, Justin Braun, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

FANPICKS PREDICTION:  Blues in six

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Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

Pictured: Brad Marchand and Artemi Panarin
Source: Getty Images North America

NHL EZ Pick Preview 04/02/19

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Artemi Panarin (vs BOS) or Brad Marchand (vs CLB)

Artemi Panarin leads the team in assists with 56 helpers and in points with 83.

Brad Marchand was selected as the NHL’s third star of the month for March. Marchand recorded nine goals and 14 assists in 15 games. He accounted for points in 12 of his 15 outings, while posting four three-point performances. Marchand has amassed 98 points in 78 matches.

Patrik Laine (vs MIN) or Alexander Radulov (vs PHI)

Patrik Laine had 21 goals in his first 24 games but has only nine goals in his last 55 contests.

Alexander Radulov scored his 27th goal of the season in Saturday’s 3-2 shootout loss against the Vancouver Canucks. Radulov finished with five shots on goal, a blocked shot and a hit across 24:50 of ice time across 31 shifts. He has lit the lamp in three consecutive outings, and he has 10 goals and 15 points with a plus-10 rating across 14 contests in the month of March. He’ll look to score in a fourth straight game when the Stars return to action Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Brock Boeser (vs SJS) or Dustin Brown (vs ARI)

Brock Boeser registered an assist and three shots in Saturday’s 3-2 shootout win over the Stars. Boeser has 12 points in 14 March games, only failing to put his name on the scoresheet three times in the month. The consistent production gives him 55 points in 66 games, matching his output from last season. With up to three more chances to set a new personal best, it’s likely Boeser will do so in the final week of the season.

Dustin Brown scored his 22nd goal of the season, but finished the game with a minus-three rating in a 7-2 loss against the Flames on Monday night. Brown finished off a nice passing play in the first period to tie the game at 2-2. The wheels then fell off for the Kings in the third period, resulting in a minus-three rating for the 34-year old. Brown has now amassed 22 goals and 49 points in 69 games this season.

Auston Matthews (vs CAR) or Sidney Crosby (vs DET)

This will be the third straight year that the Leafs qualify for the playoffs – for those counting, that’s every single year since the club drafted Auston Matthews first overall Matthew has 209 game played, 111 goals and 204 points in his NHL career.

Sidney Crosby came in March like a lion but went out like a lamb: He had six goals and nine assists in last month’s first eight games, but only two assists in the final eight.

Nathan MacKinnon (vs EDM) or Connor McDavid (vs COL)

Two of the NHL’s best scorers, Nathan MacKinnon and Connor McDavid, meet when Colorado and Edmonton hit the ice at Pepsi Center. MacKinnon is seventh in the NHL with 96 points and McDavid currently ranks second in the league with 115 points. 

Nathan MacKinnon needs one goal to reach 40 for the first time in his career and two points to reach 400 in the NHL.

Connor McDavid has been named the NHL’s first star of the month for March. McDavid racked up seven goals and 20 assists in 14 games. He picked up at least one point in 12 of his 14 outings, while recording 11 multi-point efforts. McDavid has a career-high 115 points in 75 games this season

Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

Pictured: Jamie Benn and Artemi Panarin
Source: Getty Images North America

NHL EZ Pick Preview 03/28/19

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Alex Ovechkin (vs CAR) or Patrick Kane (vs SJS)

Alex Ovechkin posted his NHL-high 49th goal of the season and he added an assist and plus-3 rating in Tuesday’s 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes. Ovechkin’s league lead in goals shrunk to four after John Tavares buried four goals in Monday’s game against the Panthers. He answered back with one of his patented Ovie goals on an absolute bomb from between the faceoff circles. Ovie has equaled his total from a season ago, and he needs just one more tally to post his eighth 50-goal campaign. It was also his 656th NHL goal, tying Brendan Shanahan for 13th place on the all-time list.

Patrick Kane has been held off the scoresheet in six of his last 12 games. Kane hasn’t picked up a point in the past two contests and he has one goal during that 12-game stretch. He carried the offense for so long, but his slump at the end could prove costly. Chicago is falling behind the pack in the playoff race.

Jamie Benn (vs EDM) or Artemi Panarin (vs MTL)

Forward Jamie Benn has 52 points (27 goals, 25 assists). He’s one of three offensive catalysts in Dallas along with Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov.

Artemi Panarin found the back of the net during Tuesday’s 4-0 win over the New York Islanders. Panarin put an end to his 12-game goal drought when he scored a breakaway goal early in the third period to make it 2-0 for his team. That was the Russian forward’s only shot on goal in the game. The 27-year-old now has 26 goals and 78 points in 73 games this season. Even though he’s struggled lately, Panarin has still put up great numbers all year.

Blake Wheeler (vs NYI) or Evgenii Dadonov (vs OTT)

The Jets are 25-10-4 at home. Winnipeg is the top team in the Western Conference with 5.7 assists per game, led by Blake Wheeler averaging 0.9.

Evgenii Dadonov has registered 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) over his last 11 games. The 30-year-old winger ranks third on the team in goals (25), while also sitting fourth in assists (38) and points (63). Since 2017-18, he has recorded a team-leading 39 even-strength goals.

Mark Scheifele (vs NYI) or Jack Eichel (vs DET)

Mark Scheifele leads the Jets with 35 goals and has recorded 80 points.

Jack Eichel enters Thursday night’s game with 99 career goals. Eichel is second on the team with 26 goals in 71 games but sits on the doorstep of his first real big career milestone. Once Eichel tallies his 100th goal, he will become only the 31st Sabres player in franchise history to crack the century mark with the team.

Joe Pavelski (vs CHI) or Aleksander Barkov (vs OTT)

Joe Pavelski (lower body) will miss Thursday’s game. Pavelski is close enough that the Sharks considered putting him back in the lineup, but ultimately they’re erring on the side of caution. With the playoffs just around the corner, the Sharks’ top priority has to be making sure he’ll be healthy for the first round.

Aleksander Barkov leads the Panthers with 88 points (34 goals, 54 assists), needing just six more to match Pavel Bure’s franchise record for points in a single season (94). The 23-year-old centers paces the NHL in scoring since Feb. 17, posting 15 goals and 20 assists in 21 games.

Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

Pictured: Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane
Source: Getty Images North America

NHL EZ Pick Preview 03/26/19

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Alexander Ovechkin (vs CAR) or Patrick Kane (vs ARI)

Alex Ovechkin leads the Capitals with 48 goals and has totaled 84 points.

Patrick Kane leads the Blackhawks with 102 total points, scoring 41 goals and adding 61 assists.

Artemi Panarin (vs NYI) or Evgenii Dadonov (vs MTL)

Artemi Panarin collected a helper in Sunday’s 5-0 win over the Canucks. He added a plus-2 rating with two shots and two PIM in the contest. Panarin has been excellent once again with 77 points (25 goals, 52 assists) in 72 games this year, and he has a good chance of reaching 80 points for the second time as he tries to help guide the Blue Jackets into the playoffs.

Evgenii Dadonov earned two helpers in a 7-5 loss against Toronto on Monday. Dadonov has three goals and 14 points in the last 10 games. He finished the 2017-18 season with 25 goals and 65 points in 74 contests. Dadonov has 25 markers and 63 points through 76 contests this year.

Aleksander Barkov (vs MTL) or Jonathan Toews (vs ARI)

The last time the Panthers played the Canadiens, Aleksander Barkov had a hat-trick, added an assist, and scored a goal-of-the-year candidate on Carey Price. Barkov (15-20-35) rank first in NHL scoring over the last 20-game span for the Panthers. The Finnish forward leads the Panthers in scoring with 34-54-88 totals.

Blackhawk coach Jeremy Colliton juggled his line combinations, putting a slumping Alex DeBrincat with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on the top line. They combined for 15 shots but no points on Sunday.

Evgeny Kuznetsov (vs CAR) or Jonathan Huberdeau (vs MTL)

Last April, the Capitals defeated the Blue Jackets in the first round of the playoffs en route to winning the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. Evgeny Kuznetsov led all players in points.

Jonathan Huberdeaus netted two goals in a 7-5 loss to Toronto on Monday night. Huberdeau scored both markers during the third period to bring his total to 25 on the year. He produced a career-high 27 goals last season. Huberdeau already has personal bests in 2018-19 with 59 assists and 84 points in 76 games. He has piled up seven goals and 19 points in the last 10 contests.

Max Domi (vs FLA) or Matt Duchene (vs NYI)

Max Domi, who leads Montreal with 67 points (26 goals, 41 assists), has three goals and an assist in against the Panthers this Season.

Matt Duchene acquired 6 points in 16 games since being acquired from the Ottawa Senators.

Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

Pictured: Mike Hoffman and Claude Giroux
Source: Getty Images North America

NHL EZ Pick Preview 03/19/19

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Evgenii Dadonov vs Vladimir Tarasenko

Evgenii Dadonov tallied his 25th goal of the year in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Dadonov got the Panthers on the board 11 seconds into the second period. He has generated three goals and nine points in the last six contests. Dadonov has been red hot alongside Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau on Florida’s top line.

Vladimir Tarasenko (upper body) is ready to return on Tuesday. Tarasenko was injured on March 7 and was held out of the lineup for five straight games as a result. He has 28 goals and 58 points in 66 contests this season.

Mike Hoffman vs Claude Giroux

Mike Hoffman leads the Panthers with a career-high 33 goals. Of those scores, a team-leading and career-best 16 have come on the power play, which ranks tied fourth in the NHL. The 29-year-old winger has notched 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) over his last 17 games.

Sunday night was one of countless examples of Claude Giroux’s quiet leadership. Giroux could not partake in morning skate because he was under the weather and deemed a game-time decision. He ended up gutting it out, playing 23:33 against the Penguins and finishing as a plus-2.

Nathan MacKinnon vs Tyler Seguin

Nathan MacKinnon notched one goal and one assist in a 3-0 win over New Jersey on Sunday. MacKinnon assisted on the first of Tyson Barrie’s two goals in the contest before adding his 37th goal into an empty net to seal the win. MacKinnon became just the second player in club history to produce consecutive 90-point seasons after Peter Forsberg accomplished the feat in 1997-98 and 1998-99.

Dallas is also a team that appears fairly top-heavy up front, ranking 29th in the NHL in goals per game (2.51) despite possessing three high-end offensive talents in Tyler Seguin (27 goals, 65 points), Jamie Benn (26 goals, 48 points) and Alexander Radulov (22 goals, 57 points).

Sidney Crosby vs Evgeni Malkin

Sidney Crosby leads Pittsburgh into a matchup against Carolina. He ranks fourth in the NHL with 92 points, scoring 33 goals and recording 59 assists.

Evgeni Malkin (injured) is tagged as week-to-week. The injury is believed to have occurred when Malkin took a hard cross-check by Robert Bortuzzo to the ribs on Saturday. 

Aleksander Barkov vs Vincent Trochek

Aleksander Barkov had two helpers in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Anaheim. Barkov recorded the secondary assist on goals by Evgenii Dadonov and Aaron Ekblad in the contest. He has dished out 13 helpers and has two goals during a six-game point streak. Barkov has career-highs this season in goals (30), assists (53) and points (83) through 72 games.

He was injured for about two months, but even in a shortened season we’ve seen the levels of production that Vincent Trocheck can bring. He’s averaging over two hits per game, about 2.7 shots per game, would fly past 50 blocked shots had he played 75 games, and sits with roughly a penalty minute per contest. Perhaps the point production is a bit lacking but it’s worth noting his current shooting percentage (5.8 percent) is about half his three-year average from 2015-18 (11.4 percent). If you double his current goal total to account for the shooting percentage drop, he’s up to 0.31 goals per game coming off three seasons of 0.33, 0.28, and 0.38 goals per game. In other words, things are pretty much normal here.

Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

Pictured: Steven Stamkos and Patrice Bergeron
Source: Getty Images North America

NHL EZ Pick Preview 03/14/19

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Alex Ovechkin vs Nikita Kucherov

Alex Ovechkin earned his 1,200th career point in a 5-3 loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Ovechkin’s milestone came on John Carlson’s third period power-play goal. He reached 1,200 points in his 1,072 career game. He’s the 49th player to ever reach 1,200 points.

Nikita Kucherov collected an assist on Monday against the Maple Leafs, inching his league-leading point total to 111. He had two goals against the Red Wings on Saturday.

Jamie Benn vs Blake Wheeler

Captain Jamie Benn has 33 points in 38 career games vs. the Wild.

Blake Wheeler is expected to be available to play on Thursday night. Wheeler skipped Wednesday’s practice after he took a couple of shots to the head on Tuesday against San Jose. He has seven goals and 16 points in the last 10 games.

Evgenii Dadonov vs Brad Marchand

Evgenii Dadonov picked up an assists and added a plus-1 rating in Sunday’s 6-1 win over the Red Wings. He has 5 assists in his last 3 games.

Brad Marchand’s two goals and an assist weren’t enough in Boston’s 7-4 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Marchand started off his night by feeding Patrice Bergeron on a two-on-one to open the scoring shorthanded. However, things fell off the rails from there for Boston, allowing five straight goals in a span of 21 minutes. The Bruins then scored three straight to close out the second frame to make this one interesting, with Marchand getting on in tight off a rebound and getting his second off a Bergeron faceoff win. Marchand is now just the sixth player in franchise history to record at least four consecutive seasons of 30+ goals. The 30-year-old winger has 30 goals and 85 points in 69 games this season.

Phil Kessel vs Alexander Radulov

Phil Kessel scored a goal and an assist, both on the power play, in Tuesday’s 5-3 win over the Capitals.

Alexander Radulov has totaled 9 points over the last 10 games for Dallas with six goals and three assists.

Yanni Gourde vs Mike Hoffman

Yanni Gourde had two assists on Monday against the Maple Leafs.

Mike Hoffman collected his 30th assists (61 points) of the season in Sunday’s 6-1 win over the Red Wings.

Claude Giroux vs Evander Kane

Claude Giroux saw his season-high eight-game point streak end in Monday’s 3-2 win over the Senators despite playing 24:40.It was the ninth time this season Giroux has topped the 24-minute mark in a game, all under interim head coach Scott Gordon. However, the Flyers are just 3-4-2 when Giroux logs 24-plus TOI.

Evander Kane joined the Sharks for Thursday’s morning skate. Kane won’t return on Thursday against the Panthers, but he’s getting very close. He missed a little over two weeks.

Viktor Arvidsson vs Patrik Laine

Viktor Arvidsson leads the Predators with 28 goals, adding 11 assists and recording 39 points.

Patrik Laine needs to step up his game, and soon. After scoring 21 goals in the first two months of the season, Laine has scored just eight times in his last 45 games. That’s a pedestrian rate for someone who tore up the league in his first two years.

Tyler Seguin vs Sidney Crosby

Tyler Seguin earned an assist in Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Buffalo. Seguin has contributed a helper in each of the last three games. He has 27 goals on 271 shots this season as well as 63 points in 69 contests.

Sidney Crosby scored two goals in Tuesday’s 5-3 win over the Washington Capitals. The Penguins fell behind two goals midway through the contest but Jake Guentzel got them back in the game at the 12:37 mark of the second period. Crosby then tied the game less than a minute later when Justin Schultz sent him on a breakaway with a great lob pass. Crosby then needed just 61 seconds to finish off a great tic-tac-toe sequence with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel for his second of the night. Pittsburgh’s captain is up to 33 goals and 90 points in 67 games, becoming the only active NHLer with at least six seasons of 90+ points.

Patrice Bergeron Steven Stamkos

Patrice Bergeron notched one goal and one assist in a 7-4 loss to Columbus on Tuesday night. Bergeron opened the scoring four minutes into the contest with a shorthanded goal. He set up a goal by Brad Marchand near the end of the second stanza. Bergeron has 26 goals and 65 points in 54 games this season.

Steven Stamkos has 34 goal this season and 382 in his career. He is one shy of tying Lecavalier’s career franchise record.

Mark Scheifele vs Jack Eichel

Winnipeg has scored 235 goals and is third in the Western Conference averaging 3.4 goals per game. Mark Scheifele leads the team with 32.

Jack Eichel has been suspended for two games for an illegal check to the head on Colorado’s Carl Soderberg. Eichel got a two-minute penalty on Saturday for the hit. He won’t get to play in Buffalo’s upcoming two-game homestand, but he will be eligible to return on March 16 versus Carolina.

Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

Pictured: Tyler Seguin and Sidney Crosby
Source: Getty Images North America

NHL EZ Pick Preview 03/12/19

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Jamie Benn vs Artemi Panarin

Dallas Stars winger Jamie Benn has 25 goals among 46 points in 65 games this season.

Artemi Panarin failed to register a shot on goal during Monday’s 2-0 loss to the New York Islanders. The Blue Jackets managed to fire 31 shots on Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss, but none of them came off Panarin’s stick and none of them found the back of the net. The Russian forward finished the night with a minus-1 rating in 20:04 of ice time. The 27-year-old has failed to pick up a point in four straight games. He’s also gone six games without a goal. Panarin has 25 goals and 73 points in 66 games this season.

Brad Marchand vs Blake Wheeler

Brad Marchand earned an assist in Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Penguins to keep his point streak alive at seven games.

Captain Blake Wheeler, who leads the Jets in assists (64) and points (83), scored versus the Sharks on Feb. 5 and notched three assists in the Jets’ 5-3 win at San Jose on Dec. 20. However, the 32-year-old Minnesota native saw his goal and point streaks end at four and eight, respectively, in the Sunday setback to the Capitals.

Vladimir Tarasenko vs Johnny Gaudreau

Vladimir Tarasenko (upper body) will be re-evaluated in 10 days. Tarasenko suffered an upper-body injury on Thursday night and he missed Saturday’s game versus San Jose. He will sit out at least the next four games. Tarasenko leads the Blues with 28 goals and sits second on the team with 58 points through 66 games.

Johnny Gaudreau was pointless on Sunday and has scored only once in 19 games. It wasn’t for a lack of effort as Gaudreau had nine shots on goal in the 6-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. Gaudreau has 30 goals and 84 points this season in 69 games but has only the one goal and 10 assists in his last 19 contests.

Phil Kessel vs Cam Atkinson

Veteran Phil Kessel is in scoring slumps. Kessel and Evgeni Malkin will have new linemates tonight both at even strength and on the power play. Teddy Blueger will skate as the left winger on the second line in replacement of the injured Zach Aston-Reese while Nick Bjugstad will skate with Malkin and Kessel on the second power play unit for tonight’s big rivalry game against the Capitals at PPG Paints Arena. Those, of course, are the same configurations that ended Sunday night’s win over the Bruins.

Right wing Cam Atkinson has led Columbus of late, recording three of his career-high 38 goals in the past four games while sitting second on the team with career-best 63 points.

Alexander Radulov vs Viktor Arvidsson

Alexander Radulov scored a goal in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Radulov picked up a rebound and showed off both his hands and patience to beat Corey Crawford in the opening period. It’s Radulov’s ninth point in his last seven games, bringing the 32-year-old forward to 21 goals and 55 points in 56 games this season.

Viktor Arvidsson’s status for Tuesday night is uncertain. Arvidsson was on the ice for the morning skate, but he took rushes with Miikka Salomaki, who is still on injured reserve, and Frederick Gaudreau, who could be a healthy scratch. He didn’t participate in Monday’s practice. Arvidsson has a team-high 28 goals.

Brendan Gallagher vs Patrik Laine

Brendan Gallagher has totaled 8 points while scoring seven goals and collecting one assists over the last 10 games for Montreal.

After scoring 18 goals in November, Patrik Laine has gone cold. Laine has 21 points (8 goals, 13 assists) since December. The Jets are stuck trying to figure out what to do to get the second overall pick of the 2016 draft going.

Evander Kane vs Matthew Tkatchuk

San Jose forward Evander Kane is on personal leave and has been ruled out for the Tuesday contest against his former team.

Matthew Tkachuk scored three goals and assisted on another in Sunday’s 6-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. Tkachuk started off his nice by converting on a two-on-one, taking a feed from Michael Frolik, giving the Flames a 3-1 lead. The Golden Knights were able to tie the game before Mikael Backlund restored the lead for Calgary before the end of the second period and Tkachuk ended the game with two goals in the final frame for the hat trick. Tkachuk also picked up an assist on Backlund’s goal in the opening period, bringing him to 29 goals and 67 points in 69 games this season.

Tyler Seguin vs Sidney Crosby

The Stars’ playoff hopes are diminishing, but to his credit, Tyler Seguin continues to be the Stars’ best offensive weapon every night. He’s been playing at a point-per-game pace in 2019 with 28 points in 28 games, and against the Sabres he has a chance to run the table with no shutdown center to keep him in check. Seguin has feasted on Buffalo with 23 points in 26 career games against them. 

Leading scorer Sidney Crosby has 15 points over his last eight games. Crosby has been filling it up against the Capitals this season, dropping five points on them in three games so far. He also registered eight points against them in a six-game playoff series last season and has 68 points against them in 48 games now throughout his career against Washington in the regular season. With the Penguins hoping to climb back into the division race, a big night from Crosby is exactly what they need, and the NHL’s best player typically delivers in those situations.

Mark Scheifele vs Jack Eichel

Mark Scheifele has a Jets-best 32 goals, and his 75 points are second only to Wheeler’s total, yet he has been held off the scoresheet in three straight games. He mustered just one shot on goal in each of his past two outings.

Jack Eichel has been suspended for two games for an illegal check to the head on Colorado’s Carl Soderberg. Eichel got a two-minute penalty on Saturday for the hit. He won’t get to play in Buffalo’s upcoming two-game homestand, but he will be eligible to return on March 16 versus Carolina.

Evgeni Malkin vs Filip Forsberg

Evgeni Malkin is two points away from 1000 for his career. He stands to become one of five active players to reach that plateau, and one on three to have done so while playing his entire career with a single team — joining Alex Ovechkin and teammate Sidney Crosby.

Filip Forsberg (upper body) is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday night. Coach Peter Laviolette said that Wayne Simmonds will get a chance to play with Forsberg and Ryan Johansen against Anaheim. Forsberg missed Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury when he figured he would be OK to play.

Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

Pictured: Steven Stamkos and Evgeni Malkin
Source: Getty Images North America

NHL EZ Pick Preview 03/07/19

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Nikita Kucherov vs Patrick Kane

Nikita Kucherov has a chance to pass Vincent Lecavalier in the franchise record book on Thursday night. Kucherov owns a league-high 108 points to match the former Tampa Bay captain, who set his record in 2006-07. “It’s amazing,” Lightning teammate Adam Erne told reporters of Kucherov after Tuesday’s 5-2 victory over Winnipeg. “It just happens for him. He’s a real hard worker. You can tell how hard he works in practice on his particular skills, how well he knows his game and what he needs to do.”

Buffalo native Patrick Kane has been held off the scoresheet in each of the last two losses, the first time the league’s second-leading scorer has not recorded a point in back-to-back games since Nov. 21-23. Kane scored two goals in Chicago’s rout of Buffalo last month.

Evgeni Dadonov vs Vladimir Tarasenko

Florida RW Evgenii Dadonov is mired in a five-game point drought as he sits one shy of his second straight season with at least 50.

Vladimir Tarasenko (team-high 27 goals, 56 points), who notched two assists against Anaheim on Wednesday, collected 10 goals and 20 points in the 11 games prior to Schenn’s injury but only three points with his linemate out of action (6 games).

Phil Kessel vs Alexander Radulov

Pittsburgh RW Phil Kessel, who has four assists in his last five games overall, has set up a goal in both encounters with Columbus this season.

Alexander Radulov was left off of the lineup last game against the Rangers because of disciplinary reasons. He showed up late before Tuesday game. Radulov has recorded four points against the Avalanche this season.

Jamie Benn vs Artemi Panarin

Jamie Benn recorded a hat trick on Saturday, but was then blanked from the scoresheet on Tuesday.

Blue Jackets LW Artemi Panarin has recorded 15 points (nine goals, six assists) in 10 career contests versus the Penguins.

Brad Marchand vs Johnny Gaudreau

Brad Marchand continues to pile up points with six in the last four games to increase his team-leading total to 77.

Johnny Gaudreau was kept off the scoresheet Wednesday, ending his four-game assist streak. The 25-year-old left wing, who tops the team with 84 points and shares the lead in goals (30) with Sean Monahan, needs one of each to set career highs.

Mike Hoffman vs Yanni Gourde

Left wing Mike Hoffman leads Florida with 30 goals and is two points from matching his career high of 61 with Ottawa in 2016-17.

Yanni Gourde scored a goal in Tuesday’s win over the Jets.

Tyler Seguin vs Nathan MacKinnon

Stars C Tyler Seguin has recorded two goals and two assists against the Avalanche this season.

Nathan MacKinnon scored his club-best 34th goal in a 4-3 win over Detroit on Tuesday. The 23-year-old scored and set up a goal in the Avalanche’s 3-2 victory over Dallas on Nov. 24 before erupting for a season high-tying four points (one goal, three assists) in a 6-4 triumph against the Stars on Dec. 15.

Sidney Crosby vs Patrice Bergeron

Superstar captain Sidney Crosby powered his team to the pair of wins by recording multi-point performances in each outing this season against Columbus. The two-time Hart Trophy recipient posted his fifth straight multi-point effort by scoring a goal and setting up two others in Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime win versus Florida to boost his total to five goals and eight assists in that stretch.

Center Patrice Bergeron reached 60 points for the seventh time in his career Tuesday with his 23rd goal.

Steven Stamkos vs Evgeni Malkin

Along with teammate Nikita Kucherov, captain Steven Stamkos could also pass Vincent Lecavalier in the franchise record book. Stamkos boasts 382 career goals, one behind Lecavalier for the most in Lightning history.

Evgeni Malkin saw his four-game point streak snap on Tuesday. He’s up to 21 goals and 66 points in 60 games this season. He’s also just four points away from the 1,000th of his career.

Jack Eichel vs Jonathan Toews

Captain Jack Eichel scored twice in the marquee matchup against Connor McDavid and Edmonton on Monday to give him six goals in his last five games and 25 on the season — matching his season high from 2017-18. “I probably haven’t been the most consistent scorer this year,” Eichel said of his recent binge. “I think I’ve probably passed up too many opportunities to shoot the puck at times. Eichel, who has scored at least 24 goals in each of his first four seasons, had a goal in a 7-3 loss to Chicago on Feb. 1.

Jonathan Toews will play on a line Brandon Saad and John Hayden. Head coach Jeremy Colliton is trying to get his team back on track now that their playoff hopes are hanging by a thread. Toews has been really good this year, but he has one goal in his last six games. They need him to take his game to another level if they’re going to make it back to the postseason. The 30-year-old has 29 goals and 67 points in 66 games this season.

Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

Pictured: Blake Wheeler
Source: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images North America

NHL FanLotto Preview 03/05/19

See who had the hottest scoring streak from the past week per the FanLotto groups.

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Group 1

Blake Wheeler – 8 pts

Artemi Panarin – 5 pts

Brad Marchand – 5 pts

Jamie Benn – 3 pts

David Pastrnak – Injured

Group 2

Sebastian Aho – 4 pts

Mike Hoffman – 3 pts

Alexander Radulov – 2 pts

Cam Atkinson – 2 pts

Yanni Gourde – 0 pts

Groupe 3

Teuvo Teravainen – 6 pts

Patrik Laine – 3 pts

Brendan Gallagher – 3 pts

Phil Kessel – 2 pts

Viktor Arvidsson – 1 pts

Group 4

Gabriel Landeskog – 4 pts

Kyle Connor – 2 pts

Tomas Tatar – 2 pts

Nikolaj Ehlers – 1 pts

Anders Lee – 1 pts

Group 5

Jason Zucker – 3 pts

Dustin Brown – 3 pts

Patric Hornqvist – 2 pts

Zach Parise – 1 pts

Justin Williams – 1 pts

Group 6

Mikko Rantanen – 2 pts

Ilya Kovalchuk – 2 pts

Chris Kreider – 1 pts

Josh Anderson – 1 pts

Valeri Nichushkin – 0 pts

Group 7

Sidney Crosby – 8 pts

Patrice Bergeron – 3 pts

Nathan MacKinnon – 2 pts

Tyler Seguin – 2 pts

Steven Stamkos – 2 pts

Group 8

Mark Scheifele – 7 pts

Evgeni Malkin – 3 pts

Aleksander Barkov – 3 pts

Filip Forsberg – 2 pts

Mika Zibanejad – 1 pts

Group 10

Jake Guentzel – 5 pts

Eric Staal – 4 pts

Matt Duchene – 1 pts

J.T. Miller – 1 pts

Tyler Johnson – 1 pts

Group 9

Jonathan Huberdeau – 5 pts

Max Domi – 5 pts

Vincent Trocheck – 2pts

Dylan Larkin – 1 pts

Matthew Barzal – 1 pts

Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

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

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

Pictured: Alex Ovechkin
Source: Getty Images North America

Preview: Washington at Toronto

The Toronto Maple Leafs have refused to let two straight setbacks extend to a three-game losing skid on eight separate occasions this season. The Maple Leafs look to nip their latest two-game streak in the bud on Thursday when they bid for a season sweep of the visiting Washington Capitals.

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Although Toronto dropped the final two contests of its season-high six-game road trip (3-2-1), coach Mike Babcock generally was pleased with the team’s overall body of work. “I liked our road trip a lot,” Babcock said after the Maple Leafs settled for a 3-2 overtime setback to white-hot St. Louis. “I didn’t like our game in Phoenix (a 2-0 loss to Arizona). Other than that, I liked our game every night.” Washington has alternated losses and wins in the first four contests of its six-game trek, although superstar captain Alex Ovechkin pushed his NHL-leading goal total to 42 with four in the last three outings — including two in a 3-2 victory at Los Angeles on Monday. The three-time Hart Trophy recipient joined Russian countryman Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom in recording a goal and two assists this season against Toronto, although former Vezina Trophy winner Braden Holtby permitted nine goals on 64 shots to lose both encounters.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBCS Washington, TVAS, TSN4 (Toronto)

ABOUT THE CAPITALS (33-20-7): Washington waived pending unrestricted free agent Devante Smith-Pelly on Wednesday after initially planning to part ways with fellow forward Dmitrij Jaskin. “Right now, there is a lot of movement going on, especially for teams that are salary-capped strapped like we are,” coach Todd Reirden said. “Earlier in the day, we had made the decision to put Jaskin on waivers and we changed our mind and were notified during practice. We made that adjustment and now Devante has been put on waivers.” The 26-year-old Smith-Pelly has eight points (four goals, four assists) in 54 games this season after scoring seven goals and setting up one other during the Capitals’ run to their first Stanley Cup title in 2017-18.

ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (36-19-4): William Nylander, who has struggled mightily since signing a six-year contract extension, publicly welcomed the added responsibilities that come with playing the center position with Nazem Kadri sidelined with a concussion. “I thought we were able to create some chances, so it was fun,” the 22-year-old Nylander told the Toronto Sun of his line of Andreas Johnsson and Connor Brown. “I’m feeling pretty good, skating well and the chances are there. They’re coming, that’s all you can say.” The 25-year-old Brown had a pair of assists in Toronto’s 4-2 win over Washington on Oct. 13 and two more in a 6-3 victory versus the Capitals on Jan. 23.

OVERTIME

1. Toronto C Auston Matthews has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his last four games overall and three (two goals, one assist) against Washington this season.

2. Capitals D John Carlson has four of his club-best 45 assists in his last three contests.

3. Maple Leafs RW Kasperi Kapanen has six points (three goals, three assists) in his last five games.

Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks