Ranking Tonight’s NHL Top Fantasy Picks from 1 to 9 – Forwards and D-Men only

1 – Victor Hedman (D) – Tampa Bay Lightning

2 – Nikita Kucherov (W) – Tampa Bay Lightning

3 – Steven Stamkos (C) – Tampa Bay Lightning

4 – Alexander Radulov (W) – Dallas Stars

5 – John Klingberg (D) – Dallas Stars

6 – Yanni Gourde (W) – Tampa Bay Lightning

7 – Brayden Point (C) – Tampa Bay Lightning

8 – Denis Gurianov (W) – Dallas Stars

9 – Tyler Johnson (C) – Tampa Bay Lightning

Winning Goalie Pick

G – Andrei Vasilevskiy – Tampa Bay Lightning

Happy drafting!

Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

Top NHL Fantasy Picks from 1 to 6

1 – Victor Hedman (D) – Tampa Bay Lightning

2 – Nikita Kucherov (W) – Tampa Bay Lightning

3 – Brayden Point (W) – Tampa Bay Lightning

4 – Alexander Radulov (W) – Dallas Stars

5 – John Klingberg (D) – Dallas Stars

6 – Yanni Gourde (W) – Tampa Bay Lightning

Happy drafting!

Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

Capitals at Golden Knights Game 5 Preview

The Washington Capitals are venturing to Vegas with more than just breaking the bank on their minds – they are looking to capture their first Stanley Cup title in franchise history. The Capitals can do precisely that on Thursday as they look to secure Washington’s first professional sports championship since 1992 with a win over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 at T-Mobile Arena.

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While teams that hold a 3-1 series lead on the NHL’s grandest stage own a 32-1 record, the Capitals have failed to close the deal with that same advantage on a league-most five occasions in their star-crossed history – and as recently as 2015 against the New York Rangers. “There’s been heartbreak here, we know that. But I think that’s kind of scarred over and has made us a little stronger for it,” said Washington forward T.J. Oshie, who scored a goal and set up two others in Monday’s 6-2 romp to give him 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in his past 15 contests. While the Capitals are looking to exorcise some demons, Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said his expansion team essentially is playing with the house’s money. “The pressure is off us now,” Gallant told reporters in a conference call. “We’re going to go out and play and work hard and go have some fun. So we’ll see what happens.”

TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA

ABOUT THE CAPITALS: The recipient of the Conn Smythe Trophy has been a heated debate in Washington, with some tabbing Braden Holtby (15-7, 2.13 goals-against average) as the front-runner since his paddle save on the doorstep in the waning moments of Game 2 arguably turned this series around. The former Vezina Trophy winner recorded consecutive shutouts to eliminate Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference finals and has won five of six overall, with a .965 save percentage in those victories. Three-time Hart Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin (NHL high-tying 14 goals, 12 assists) and fellow Russian countryman Evgeny Kuznetsov (12 goals, 19 assists) are also in the mix, with the latter netting four assists on Monday to become the fifth player since 1997 to reach the 30-point plateau in a single postseason – moving within five points of the 36 recorded by Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin in the 2009 playoffs.

ABOUT THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS: James Neal has reached the 20-goal plateau in all of his 10 NHL seasons, but the 30-year-old felt a bit snake-bitten during the first period of Game 4 when his bid into an open net caromed off the far post. “Man, you want those chances,” Neal told reporters. “Nine times out of 10, you probably put that in the back of the net.” Three-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t been receiving as many fortunate bounces of late, as he has answered a 12-3 mark with a .947 save percentage in the first three rounds with a 1-3 record and .845 save percentage in the Final.


1. Washington C Nicklas Backstrom notched three assists in Game 4, boosting his total to nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his past six contests.

2. Vegas, which has dropped three in a row, did not lose four straight games during its inaugural season.

3. The 1942 Detroit Red Wings are the lone team to lose the Stanley Cup Final after holding a 3-1 series lead.

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Posted in NHL

Golden Knights at Capitals Game 4 Preview

The Washington Capitals hope the momentum of their first-ever home win in the Stanley Cup Finals will go a long way toward recording another versus the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 4 on Monday, thereby bringing them one victory away from grabbing the chalice for the first time in franchise history. Three-time Hart Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin scored the signature diving goal in Saturday’s 3-1 triumph, helping the Capitals claim a 2-1 edge in the series.

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“I thought it was just sort of the right thing in our first victory in the Final at home that Alex would score the goal,” coach Barry Trotz told reporters. “I thought that was a little bit of poetic justice, if you will, for all the tough times.” Ovechkin matched a franchise high (John Druce) with his NHL high-tying 14th tally (Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele) to push his point total to 25 to reside two shy of fellow Russian Evgeny Kutznetsov, who rebounded from an upper-body injury in Wednesday’s 3-2 win to score and set up a goal in Game 3. Tomas Nosek netted his fourth goal in five games on Saturday when he took advantage of Braden Holtby’s misplay for the Golden Knights, who have dropped two in a row for the first time since the final two games of the regular season (April 5-7). “We had twice as much time off as they have in the playoffs. We should have a lot in the tank,” Vegas defenseman Deryk Engelland told TSN. “I just think we’re not playing our identity. We’re trying to make too many plays.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA

ABOUT THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS: Shea Theodore has parlayed a solid season into a strong playoffs for Vegas, however his play in both Games 2 and 3 left a bit to be desired – and he knows it. “I just have to be much better than I was,” said the 22-year-old defenseman, who saw his broken stick lead to Kuznetsov’s goal at 12:50 of the second period while his botched clearing attempt resulted in fourth-liner Jay Beagle setting up Devante Smith-Pelly with 6:07 remaining in the third. Theodore also didn’t do himself any favors by allowing Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen to skate past him, resulting in Marc-Andre Fleury to be whistled for tripping to negate a Vegas power play in the latter stages of the second period.

ABOUT THE CAPITALS: Beagle answered one assist in his previous eight games by setting up a pair of goals, including tapping the puck to Kuznetsov on a 2-on-1 rush. “(The assist isn’t) as good as a goal, but I want it out of my hands when it’s me and him, that’s for sure,” the 32-year-old Beagle said of Kutznetsov, who curiously referenced an NBA Hall of Famer in a nod to playing while at less than 100 percent. “It’s emotional stuff. Like Michael Jordan, when he play(ed) his best game, he got hurt, got 53 points,” the 26-year-old Kuznetsov told reporters, although it’s not known which game he’s referencing. “I mean like when you’re hurt, you play a little better always.”


1. Vegas C William Karlsson, who led the team with 43 goals in the regular season, did not register a single shot attempt in Game 3.

2. His Game 3 gaffe notwithstanding, Holtby has permitted just three goals since being pierced for five in the series opener.

3. The Golden Knights’ third line of Erik Haula, David Perron and James Neal were a combined minus-9, with Haula collecting the lone two shots by the contingent.

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Posted in NHL

Capitals at Golden Knights Game 2 Preview

Those looking to break the bank in Sin City have often tried to disprove the theory that “The House always wins,” often times leaving with a bruised ego and a lighter wallet. The Vegas Golden Knights, who have posted better odds at home than most tables in the casino, aim to continue their good fortune at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Washington Capitals.

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Tomas Nosek scored the go-ahead goal midway into the third period and added insurance into the empty net in Monday’s 6-4 triumph for Vegas, which has outscored the opposition 31-16 en route to posting a 7-1 mark at home in the playoffs. The 25-year-old Nosek, who has eight regular-season goals in 84 career contests, owns four points (three goals, one assist) in his last three games while fellow fourth-liner Ryan Reaves has tallied in back-to-back contests for the first time since April 6 and 8, 2017. “We didn’t play our best game,” Capitals superstar captain Alex Ovechkin told reporters after his club’s first contest since a Game 7 win over Tampa Bay on Wednesday. “I think next game is going to be different and all the nervousness, all the bad things (go) away (from) this game. We just have to forget about it and bounce back.” Countryman Evgeny Kuznetsov notched an assist in the topsy-turvy series opener to extend his franchise-record postseason point streak to 11 games, during which the 26-year-old Russian has scored six goals and set up 10 others.


TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA

ABOUT THE CAPITALS: Habitual line-stepper Tom Wilson’s blindsided hit on Jonathan Marchessault did not result in a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Tuesday, with the league citing that it was shoulder to shoulder rather than to the head and that it was in the flow of the game. The 24-year-old Wilson, who received a three-game suspension in the Eastern Conference semifinal series against Pittsburgh, said he has no plans to change his playing style. “You always have your reputation,” Wilson told reporters. “When you play my physical style, you’re going to have that reputation. I trust myself. I play the game hard. It’s my job to bring that energy, that physicality. Right after he got up, he said ‘good hit.'”

ABOUT THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS: Reilly Smith continued his stellar postseason by scorin


g a goal and setting up another in the series opener, giving him 18 points (three goals, 15 assists) in 16 outings. Fellow forward Marchessault has done him one better with 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists), snapping a tie with New York Islanders’ Jude Drouin (1975) and San Jose Sharks’ Igor Larionov (1994) for the most with a franchise in its first-ever postseason. Marchessault, who set up Smith’s second-period goal, has flustered the Capitals with four assists in three encounters this season.


1. Washington’s John Carlson scored his 17th career playoff goal in the opener to move past Kevin Hatcher for the most by a defenseman in franchise history.

2. Vegas’ lone postseason home loss came in double overtime on April 28, a 4-3 decision against the Sharks in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals.

3. Capitals RW T.J. Oshie set up a pair of goals in the series opener to push his point total to 13 (four goals, nine assists) in the past 12 games.

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Posted in NHL

Capitals at Golden Knights Game 1 Preview

The Vegas Golden Knights started their inaugural season looking to be competitive and could end it with a championship as they host the Washington Capitals on Monday night for Game 1 of the best-of-seven Stanley Cup finals. The Golden Knights needed only 15 games to dispatch Los Angeles, San Jose and Winnipeg in the Western Conference playoffs to give themselves seven days off before facing the Alex Ovechkin-led Capitals.

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Veteran goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who has a .947 save percentage in the playoffs, leads the way for Vegas while Jonathan Marchessault boasts eight goals to along with 18 points in the postseason and told NHL.com: “We’re on a mission. Nobody is going to stand in front of us.” Washington, which dropped both meetings with the Golden Knights in the regular season, is the last obstacle as the Capitals make their first appearance in the finals since 1998 while seeking their first Cup after losing in the second round of the playoffs as the Presidents’ Trophy winners in 2016 and 2017. Washington lost the first two games of the playoffs at home before beating Columbus in six contests, eliminated its nemesis Pittsburgh and won at Tampa Bay in Game 7 on Wednesday to reach the finals in the 13th season for seven-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner Ovechkin (607 goals). “I think our group here really understands what it means to be a team and how to win,” Capitals goalie Braden Holtby told reporters. “Maybe in the past we’ve had more skill or been better on paper or whatever. But this team, everyone knows their role and everyone wants to pitch in and everyone is comfortable with each other. I haven’t been on a team like this where, in any situation, we’re confident.”

TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA

ABOUT THE CAPITALS: Ovechkin boasts career highs of 12 goals and 22 points in the playoffs after scoring the winner in Game 7 on Wednesday and Washington general manager Brian MacLellan told reporters: “This is the most systematic he’s played throughout his career.” The 32-year-old gets plenty of help from fellow Russian Evgeny Kuznetsov, who has a franchise-record 24 playoff points this season and owns at least one in 10 straight contests (six goals). Defenseman Brooks Orpik is the only Washington player with Stanley Cup finals experience and the 37-year-old is having his best career postseason with three assists and an NHL-best, plus-15 rating.

ABOUT THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS: Fleury won three Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh, including the last two seasons, and veteran forward James Neal reached the finals with Nashville in 2017 to give Vegas two players with plenty of knowledge on this big stage. “I think they’re just, with their experience and presence, they stay calm,” Golden Knights center William Karlsson, who has 13 points in the playoffs after scoring 43 goals in the regular season, told reporters. “I don’t really ask them too much. Just having them around has a calming feeling. That’s enough for me.” Forward Reilly Smith is tied for second in the league during the playoffs with 14 assists.


1. The Capitals have converted 28.8 percent of their power-play chances in the playoffs and Vegas has killed off 82.5 percent – both best among the final four teams.

2. Holtby is 12-6-0 in the playoffs with a 2.04 goals-against average and .924 save percentage after posting shutouts in the last two games.

3. This is the first finals in 11 years and the sixth in NHL history to match two teams both going after their first Stanley Cup.

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Posted in NHL

Lightning at Capitals Game 4 Preview

The Tampa Bay Lightning fought their way back in the series with a vastly improved performance and the reward is a chance to even the Eastern Conference finals Thursday night when they visit the Washington Capitals for Game 4. All-Stars Victor Hedman, Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov combined for seven points as the Lightning recorded a 4-2 victory Tuesday in Washington after dropping the first two games of the series at home.

“We believed all along,” Stamkos, who has scored a goal in five of the last six games, told reporters. “We knew we weren’t good enough, and credit to them, they played really good hockey the first two games. We needed to make adjustments. We did that. We worked on it. The players went out there and did what we needed to do.” Tampa Bay was much tighter defensively despite allowing 38 shots overall, and scored twice on the power play to improve to 5-for-12 with the man advantage in the series and extend their streak to eight games with at least one. Evgeny Kuznetsov finished with 12 shots on net and a goal for the Capitals in Game 3 while linemate Alex Ovechkin did not have a point despite accumulating nine shots, but coach Barry Trotz told the media his team was “off a little bit” and will be better Thursday. “We believe in each other,” Ovechkin told reporters. “We know exactly what we have to do. Nobody said it was going to be easy. They’re not going to give us two wins in a row in our house. We just have to play more desperate and play smarter.”

TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA

ABOUT THE LIGHTNING: Coach Jon Cooper shuffled his top three forward lines for Game 3, putting Ondrej Palat with Kucherov and Stamkos, flipping J.T. Miller to a unit with Anthony Cirelli and Alex KIllorn while moving Yanni Gourde in with Brayden Point and Tyler Johnson. “We needed to put guys in positions to succeed,” Cooper told reporters. “We probably needed to spring a little life into our group.” Point has four goals in his last five games and four of his 14 playoff points in the past two contests while Hedman owns a franchise-record eight-game point streak after scoring once and assisting on two Tuesday.

ABOUT THE CAPITALS: Center Nicklas Backstrom (13 points, 11 playoff games) skated again Wednesday and could possibly return to the lineup Thursday after missing the last four contests with a hand injury. Kuznetsov boasts four goals and seven assists during a six-game point streak and owns 20 points overall – six in the series – while Ovechkin scored twice and set up two others in the first two contests against Tampa Bay. Goalie Braden Holtby owns an .899 save percentage in the series, but has stopped 57 of the 60 shots he has faced at even strength (.950) and leads the league with 10 playoffs wins entering Wednesday.


1. Washington C Lars Eller has posted two goals and three assists in the series, taking Backstrom’s spot on the second line.

2. Stamkos needs one power-play goal to pass Martin St. Louis (10) for first on the franchise’s all-time playoff list.

3. Capitals RW Brett Connolly, who was drafted sixth overall by the Lightning in 2010, boasts a point in each of the first three games of the series.

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Posted in NHL

Jets at Golden Knights Game 3 Preview

Playing on the road has not fazed the Winnipeg Jets in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and they need to continue that strong play away from home as the Western Conference finals shift to Las Vegas for Game 3 Wednesday against the Golden Knights. Vegas snatched home ice with a gritty 3-1 victory Monday in Game 2 at Winnipeg, and now the Jets – who have lost in regulation just once in six road games during the postseason – look to respond as the Golden Knights did Monday.

But nobody in the Jets locker room is panicking after losing one home contest, and as defenseman Jacob Trouba offered to reporters after Monday’s game: “We like our road game. We like where it was in the Nashville series, and we’re going to try and bring the same effort.” The Golden Knights, who did not face the type of firepower Winnipeg possesses in the opening two rounds, nonetheless shook off a Game 1 loss by surviving an early onslaught against goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, building a 2-0 lead and making life uncomfortable in the neutral zone for the Jets. Forward Jonathan Marchessault, who labeled Game 2 a “must win,” backed it up with two goals to lead a spirited effort that has the expansion Golden Knights poised to take the series lead on home ice. “Every time we need a big game out of our group, we show up,” Marchessault told the media after the game. “I think we showed the hockey world that we earned the right to be here, and we are able to play against a great team.”

TV: 9 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA

ABOUT THE JETS: Winnipeg did not play poorly in Game 2, but were nowhere near as sharp as they were in the series opener and were victimized several times by turnovers and sloppy puck handling. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck made 25 saves, but gave up Marchessault’s second goal 88 seconds after forward Kyle Connor’s power-play marker pulled the Jets within one in the third period. Connor’s linemates – forward Blake Wheeler and center Mark Scheifele – have combined for 15 goals and 36 points in the postseason but were held off the scoresheet in Game 2.

ABOUT THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS: Marchessault leads Vegas in playoff goals (six) and points (15), and the 5-9 forward finished plus-2 Monday while sparking his line of center William Karlsson and forward Reilly Smith to a combined plus-6 finish. Fleury, who gave up three goals in the opening 7:35 of Game 1, fended off several good scoring chances in the opening minutes Monday en route to a 30-save performance. Vegas was much better in several areas in Game 2, blocking 21 shots and winning 51 percent of faceoff attempts.


1. Vegas F Tomas Tatar, who drew into the lineup for just the fifth time in 12 playoff games, scored the game’s opening goal and finished plus-1 in 10:14.

2. Winnipeg D Dustin Byfuglien had maybe his quietest night of the playoffs Monday, finishing minus-2 while recording only one hit and one shot on goal.

3. Smith assisted on both of Marchessault’s goals to give him 13 assists for the postseason, two behind Wheeler for tops in the NHL.

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Posted in NHL

Lightning at Capitals Game 3 Preview

The suddenly struggling Tampa Bay Lightning look to begin digging out of a deep hole in the Eastern Conference final series when they visit the red-hot Washington Capitals for Game 3 on Tuesday night. The Lightning dropped the first two games of the series at home by a combined score of 10-4 and a team has not rebounded from down 2-0 to win a conference final since Pittsburgh beat Boston in 1991.

“I’m confident in our group,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper told reporters Monday. “They’ve got 113 points (in the regular season) for a reason. … They’ve got a ton of experience, and when their backs have been against the wall, they’ve shown the propensity to fight back. This is a tough one. We lost two at home and it’s definitely not an ideal situation. But we’re not done. It’s not over.” Washington lost the first two games at home in the first-round series against Columbus, but won four in a row to move on and are 10-2 in the last 12 games after scoring the final five goals of Sunday’s 6-2 triumph. The Capitals have scored seven of their 10 goals at even strength and Tampa Bay, which dominated Boston while playing 5-on-5 in the semifinal series, has scored three of its four on the power play in the opening two contests. “It’s huge, but it’s not over yet,” Washington captain Alex Ovechkin, who scored in each of the first two games, told reporters. “We’re going to (have to) come back home and do our thing and take another one. It’s going to be hard. They have tremendous players over there and we just have to play the same way and don’t give them anything.”

TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA

ABOUT THE LIGHTNING: The team has plenty of confidence in Vezina finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has allowed 10 goals in five periods of hockey during this series with little help from his defense after posting a .927 save percentage in the first two rounds. “We all have tremendous belief in him, and he’s a rock for our team,” Tampa Bay defenseman Anton Stralman told reporters. “He’s going to be back and be his best. We’re not making his job easier by executing our game plan defensively and offensively. The scoring chances are way up compared to the previous series and that’s on us, not him.” Captain Steven Stamkos has scored in four of his last five games while compiling seven points in that stretch.

ABOUT THE CAPITALS: Lars Eller is prospering after moving up to the second-line center role with Nicklas Backstrom (hand) missing the last three games, recording two goals and two assists in the first two contests of this series. “He’s got all the qualities of a playoff-type player,” Washington coach Barry Trotz told reporters of Eller. “He’s big. He’s strong. He’s got some experience. He’s very competitive. He’s got a good skill level. He’s playing to his ability right now. … He’s one of the guys that’s stepped up in a major way for us.” Ovechkin, who shares the team lead with Kuznetsov at 19 points in the playoffs, is the second Washington player to reach 10 goals in a postseason run by joining John Druce (14 in 1990).


1. Washington D John Carlson has three assists in the series and 13 points in the playoffs, most by a Capitals blue liner in team history.

2. Tampa Bay D Victor Hedman boasts a seven-game point streak, passing Martin St. Louis (2004) for the franchise playoff record.

3. The Capitals are 0-2 in their playoff history when winning the first two games of a series on the road, including a loss to Tampa Bay in 2003.

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Posted in NHL

2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Second-round previews

Tampa Bay Lightning vs Boston Bruins

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

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

Washington Capitals vs Pittsburgh Penguins

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

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

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Nashville Predators vs Winnipeg Jets

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

Vegas Golden Knights vs San Jose Sharks

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

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Posted in NHL

NHL 2017 Stanley Cup Finals Preview

Nashville Predators vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Get the full NHL experience. Play our Stanley Cup finals fantasy hockey contests at FanPicks.com, as the Predators and Penguins are set to square of tonight at 8PM Eastern Time. No team has won back-to-back Stanley Cup titles since 1998, a drought the Pittsburgh Penguins can end. They are the prohibitive favorites to hoist Lord Stanley’s trophy at the expense of the upstart Predators, who are appearing in their first Stanley Cup Final.

Pittsburgh features the top three scorers in the postseason in Evgeni Malkin, captain Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel. They are the first team to reach the Cup Final in back-to-back seasons since the Penguins in 2008 and 2009. Nashville was the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference and posted the fewest points of any of the 16th playoff participants, but swept Chicago in the opening round before dispatching St. Louis and Anaheim in a pair of six-game series. Predators bench boss Peter Laviolette becomes the fourth coach to lead three different teams to Stanley Cups finals. Along with Penguins counterpart Mike Sullivan, this will mark the first time that American coaches square off for hockey’s top prize.

Pittsburgh Penguins Outlook

Malkin (24 points) and Crosby (20) are running 1-2 in the playoff scoring race. They seemingly shine when the lights are brightest, with each one winning a Conn Smythe Trophy. Kessel notched six points in the seven-game series against Ottawa. Fellow 23-goal scorer Conor Sheary has not fared as well. He has yet to tally in the playoffs. Jake Guentzel is mired in an eight-game goal drought after scoring nine times in the first 11 games of the postseason.

Matt Murray, who backstopped Pittsburgh to a championship a year ago following a late-season injury to Marc-Andre Fleury, reclaimed the starting job from Fleury in the Ottawa series. He went 3-1 with six goals allowed in his four starts. Forward Patric Hornqvist, acquired from Nashville in exchange for forward James Neal in June 2014, is a game-time decision after sitting out the final six contests against the Senators.

Nashville Predators Outlook

The daunting challenge of trying to match up against Crosby and Malkin is exacerbated by the absence of top-line center Ryan Johansen (thigh), lost for the rest of the playoffs after Game 4 against Anaheim. Colton Sissons stepped in for Johansen. He supplied a hat trick in the series clincher against the Ducks, but the Predators will continue to rely heavily on Filip Forsberg, a 31-goal scorer during the regular season who scored five times against Anaheim and is riding a seven-game point streak.

While No. 2 center Mike Fisher appears poised to return from injury, Nashville’s strength is at the other end of the ice, with its top four defensemen — Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm — combining for a staggering 39 points in 16 playoff games. Still, the Predators’ hopes likely hinge on 34-year-old Pekka Rinne, who is 12-4 with a 1.70 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage in the postseason.

Posted in NHL

2017 Stanley Cup Playoff

Conference Finals Preview

As we near the end of the hockey season, we move on to the next chapter in the NHL playoffs with the conference finals. Some would say that this outcome is extremely surprising, but nonetheless the Nashville Predators, Anaheim Ducks, Ottawa Senators and defending champions Pittsburgh Penguins are 8 games away from lifting Lord Stanley over their heads. It all starts Friday May 12th with the Western Final between the Preds and Ducks.

Join the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs fantasy draft starting this Wednesday (Enter Now). Here are insights into each series, and we break them down one by one.

 NASHVILLE PREDATORS (41-29-12) vs. ANAHEIM DUCKS (46-23-13) 

Season series (2-1 ANA)

The Anaheim Ducks return to their second conference final in three seasons and will meet the Nashville Predators, an exciting and fast team that has reached the third round for the first time in franchise history.

These two teams have met in the post-season twice before, with their previous series coming in 2015-16 and ending in a seven-game win for the Predators.

Anaheim, a 105-point team, are the veteran-laden squad with a long track record playing the role of Stanley Cup contender, but not actually being able to cross the finish line since 2007. At that point, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, two key cogs of the current lineup, were young support players on an older roster. Now, they have unfinished business of winning a Cup as the leaders of a team with another young core on its way up that includes Rickard Rakell, Hampus Lindholm, Cam Folwer and Nick Ritchie.

Nashville came in as the eighth seed in the West, but has rolled through the dynastic Blackhawks and a transitioning Blues team that rode a hot goalie into Round 2. The Preds can give Anaheim a run for its money with an equally deep blue-line unit, and they play an up-tempo style similar to Edmonton, who came within a whisker of knocking off the Ducks. Not to mention, the Preds also have an incredibly hot goaltender of their own.


Season Series (2-1 OTT)

The Pittsburgh Penguins will clash with the Ottawa Senators in the 2017 Eastern Conference Final, a 111-point team defending its title against a 98-point team that has shocked most by getting this far.

This will be the fifth series between these two teams, with the Penguins winning the past four. Their last series came in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, which the Pens won 4-1 before getting eliminated in the conference final.

On display will be two of the sport’s best talents. Erik Karlsson has seemingly forced himself into the “best player in the world” debate from the last portion of the regular season through his incredible playoff run so far. And we all know about Sidney Crosby and his reputation for shining in the big moment. Beyond those two, the Penguins have an unusual depth of superstar talent capable of decisively swinging a series, while the Sens have got here with a lot of support from some unlikely places.

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2017 Stanley Cup Playoff

Second Round Preview

It’s on to the second round with 8 remaining teams in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. Join the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs fantasy draft starting this Wednesday (Enter Now). Here are some insight into each series, we break them down one by one.


Season series (2-0-2 WAS)

A rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinal will take place between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals. The Penguins enter as the defending Cup champs, and will be a rested team, having dispatched Columbus in five games in their first-round matchup. The Capitals knocked off the underdog Maple Leafs in six games, and are hoping that this is the year Washington finally wins its first Stanley Cup.

 EDMONTON OILERS (47-26-9) vs. ANAHEIM DUCKS (46-23-13) 

Season Series (3-2 EDM)

With there first playoff series win in more than ten years, the Edmonton Oilers are done talking about team inexperience. They’ll now be facing off against the Anaheim Ducks starting Wednesday in California. Goalie Cam Talbot led the Oilers past last year’s Western champion San Jose Sharks in six game during the first round. He frustrated the Sharks offense all series long, recording two shutouts along the way.

The Ducks will be counting on veterans like Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler to win. They’ve ended the regular season with an 11-0-3 record in their last fourteen games and finished ahead of Edmonton in the Pacific division by two points. Anaheim pummeled the other NHL team from the province of Alberta (Calgary Flames) in four game during Round 1 of the playoffs.  They’ll now be looking to ride that hot streak toward the Western Finals.

  OTTAWA SENATORS (44-28-10) vs. NEW YORK RANGERS (48-28-6) 

Season series (2-1 OTT)

The wild-card New York Rangers are fresh off bouncing the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens in six games, and the Ottawa Senators just got through a series against Boston that couldn’t really have been closer — four of the six games went to overtime, and a single goal decided each. At the top of the Rangers leaderboard is a familiar face for Senators fans: Mika Zibanejad’s goal and three assists has him leading New York this post-season after an up-and-down, injury-filled first year in The Big Apple. The comparisons will be plentiful in this series, as Derick Brassard, whom the Rangers dealt to Ottawa in exchange for Zibanejad, also leads his team after Round 1.

This series should be close, low-scoring and plenty physical, featuring two hungry teams. One hasn’t had a ton of playoff success (Ottawa), and the other recently come oh so close to winning it all (New York, the runner-up in 2014).

  NASHVILLE PREDATORS (41-29-12) vs.  ST. LOUIS BLUES (46-29-7)  

Season series (3-2 NAS)

The third- and fourth-best teams in the tough Central Division knocked off the two 100-plus-point Central teams in Round 1. Both opening round series were upsets, but for different reasons. Although the Blackhawks were the popular pick to come out of the Chicago-Nashville series, even those picking the favourite were expecting it to be close — most thought of it as a coin flip. So while it’s not a shocker that the Predators knocked off the Hawks, it was surprising to see them blow through the Windy City with such ease.

 The Blues, a seller at the trade deadline when they moved pending UFA Kevin Shattenkirk to the Capitals, got through the Wild in another short five-game series because Jake Allen was a brick wall standing against Minnesota’s onslaught. The Blues, clearly, were the inferior team in Round 1 and got through solely because of the play from their 26-year-old netminder.
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