Preview: Blues at Jets

The St. Louis Blues look to match the effort from their best performance of the season last time out when they complete a three-game trip through Canada with a matchup against the Winnipeg Jets on Monday night. The Blues snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory at Toronto on Saturday, limiting the high-flying Maple Leafs to 23 shots and getting goals from four different players.

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“It was pretty textbook hockey. Everyone bought in,” St. Louis goalie Jake Allen told reporters. “That was nice to see. Everyone came to play and. … if we do that every night, the majority of the times we’ll be in games and have a good chance of success.” The Blues hope to avoid a repeat of the 5-1 loss to the Jets on opening night and Winnipeg takes a four-game point streak (3-0-1, all at home) into the contest after outlasting Arizona 5-3 on Saturday night. Jets captain Blake Wheeler told reporters his team is still trying to find its A-game while averaging three goals, but Winnipeg has allowed just one in four of its five victories. “If we thought we were going to come in and thought it would be easy, that’s not the way this works,” Wheeler told reporters of his team, which reached the Western Conference finals a season ago. “I think we’re sticking with it through the frustration, through the grind right now. I think that’s a real positive. We’re trying to figure out what we are, what we do well. We’ll get there. We’re just not there yet.”

TV: 8 p.m. ET, NHL Network, FS Midwest (St. Louis), TSN3 (Winnipeg)

ABOUT THE BLUES (2-3-2): David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly each had two points against Toronto and lead the team with seven while fellow forwards Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko have contributed six each. Veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (one assist, minus-4 rating) was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career Saturday as he remained one point shy of 400 for his career. “I’m not gonna talk a lot about it because nobody likes being in this position,” Bouwmeester told the St. Louis Dispatch. “But it’s the nature of the business. … You deal with it, that’s all you can do.”

ABOUT THE JETS (5-2-1): Defenseman Josh Morrissey registered his second two-point game of the season Saturday and shares the team lead at seven with forward Kyle Connor. “I think I’ve been happy with the work I’ve put in the offseason,” the 23-year-old Morrissey, who had a career-best 26 points in 2017-18, told the Winnipeg Free Press. “I think some of those things are starting to feel pretty good, but it’s a long season.” Patrik Laine owns three goals on a team-best 31 shots while fellow forward Nikolaj Ehlers is still looking for his first tally since April 3 – a drought of 25 games, including playoffs.

OVERTIME

1. The Jets are 7-for-20 on the power play and the Blues had the second-most goals with the man advantage (nine) through Saturday.

2. Winnipeg F Adam Lowry, who posted eight goals in 45 games last season, has four in the first eight contests of 2018-19.

3. St. Louis D Alex Pietrangelo had six points in the first five games of 2017-18 and managed just one in the first seven this season.

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Posted in NHL, Top Fantasy Picks

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.

OVERTIME

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

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.

Play our NHL Playoffs Contest 

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

2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs

First-round previews

Tampa Bay Lightning vs New Jersey Devils

From first overall pick to first playoff berth in six seasons, the surprising New Jersey Devils are set to take on the top-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning. The series features a pair of Hart Trophy candidates in Nikita Kucherov and Taylor Hall, but the X-factor should be Devils netminder Keith Kinkaid, who emerged as the starter down the stretch and played phenomenally, but will now be tasked with shutting down one of the league’s most potent attacks.

Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs

The cruelty of the playoff format pitted two of the top teams in the conference against each other in Round 1, but this one should be a doozy. The Maple Leafs won three of four contests versus Boston this season, and Mitch Marner led the way with nine points. However, the red-hot Bruins were merely one point away from capturing the East’s top seed. Don’t be shocked if this one goes the distance.

Washington Capitals vs Columbus Blue Jackets

Metropolitan Division adversaries are poised to do battle in what should be an evenly contested matchup. The biggest questions for this series lie between the pipes, as Washington has elected to lean on backup Philipp Grubauer as its starter, while Sergei Bobrovsky’s career postseason save percentage is a dreadful .887. Whoever wins out in goal is likely moving on.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs Philadelphia Flyers

The defending champs begin their quest for a three-peat against their most bitter rivals, a spectacle that was can’t-miss television last time they met in the playoffs in 2012. Pittsburgh holds a notable depth advantage, emphasized by the acquisition of Derick Brassard before the trade deadline. That said, five of the NHL’s top 15 scorers are in this series, so buckle up.

Play our NHL Playoffs Contest 

Nashville Predators vs Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche were dreadful a season ago, but, to the surprise of just about everybody, have qualified for the playoffs in a year when nobody gave them a chance. Their reward? A matchup with the NHL’s most complete team, which is looking to avenge last season’s Stanley Cup disappointment. If the task wasn’t already tall enough, the Avs will have to get by without starter Semyon Varlamov, who was ruled out for the season.

Winnipeg Jets vs Minnesota Wild

The Jets concluded the season with the second-most points in the NHL (114), and have plans far beyond earning their first series win in franchise history. To do so, though, they’ll need to take down a Wild squad that went 14-6-5 down the stretch. While they’re missing their top blue-liner in Ryan Suter, the animosity between these Northern rivals should make for quite an entertaining series.

Vegas Golden Knights vs Los Angeles Kings

Even though it’s been decided for weeks, the Golden Knights making the playoffs in their inaugural season is nothing short of astonishing. The atmosphere in Vegas should be rocking to get things started, but the NHL’s 31st franchise has a tall order on its hands. Shutting down MVP candidate Anze Kopitar will be tough, but it could make the difference in what promises to be a fast-paced, intense series.

Anaheim Ducks vs San Jose Sharks

The start times are late, but this West Coast battle should be fought tooth and nail. Both the Ducks and Sharks match up quite evenly and know each other quite well, but health will be a big factor. San Jose is doubtful to have Joe Thornton in the lineup, while Anaheim starter John Gibson is banged up as well. Regardless of who’s in and who’s out, expect this one to be neck-and-neck.

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Posted in NHL

DFS NHL 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

Fantasy Hockey: 30 NHL teams in 30 Minutes

With the 2015-2016 National Hockey League (NHL) season set to get underway on Wednesday, October 7th 2015.  It is high time we offer our daily fantasy sports (DFS) managers a brief look into what we are anticipating to see on the ice this year.

Will the New York Rangers repeat as President’s Trophy winners?  Will the Edmonton Oilers end their post season drought?  Will the Detroit Red Wings see their incredible 24 straight year playoff participation end?  Will the Calgary Flames prove to be more than last season’s flash in the pan?

These are but a few of the riveting story-lines and sub-plots that fantasy hockey managers will have to weave through during this year’s cash draft contests.  There are more storylines than there are teams this year, and as such the laymen will have a wondrous time watching it all play out.  But the fantasy hockey manager has to look at it another way, the fantasy hockey manager has to be proactive, not knowing the fantasy sports landscape is the difference between winning, placing or being out of the money.

With that being said, here are 30 thoughts for the 30 hockey clubs in NHL:

Western Conference

Central Division:

St-Louis Blues:

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

Nashville Predators:

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

Chicago Blackhawks:

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

Minnesota Wild:

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

Winnipeg Jets:

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

Dallas Stars:

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

Colorado Avalanche:

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

Pacific Division:

Anaheim Ducks: COMING SOON

Vancouver Canucks: COMING SOON

Calgary Flames: COMING SOON

Los Angeles Kings: COMING SOON

San Jose Sharks: COMING SOON

Edmonton Oilers: COMING SOON

Arizona Coyotes: COMING SOON

Eastern Conference:

Metropolitan Division:

New York Rangers:

Read the Metropolitain Division preview

Washington Capitals:

Read the Metropolitain Division preview

New York Islanders:

Read the Metropolitain Division preview

Pittsburgh Penguins:

Read the Metropolitain Division preview

Columbus Blue Jackets:

Read the Metropolitain Division preview

Philadelphia Flyers:

Read the Metropolitain Division preview

New Jersey Devils:

Read the Metropolitain Division preview

Carolina Hurricanes:

Read the Metropolitain Division preview

Atlantic Division:

Montreal Canadiens:

Read the Atlantic Division preview

Tampa Bay Lightning:

Read the Atlantic Division preview

Detroit Red Wings:

Read the Atlantic Division preview

Ottawa Senators:

Read the Atlantic Division preview

Boston Bruins:

Read the Atlantic Division preview

Florida Panthers:

Read the Atlantic Division preview

Toronto Maple Leafs:

Read the Atlantic Division preview

Buffalo Sabres:

Read the Atlantic Division preview

Posted in NHL

Winnipeg Jets vs Anaheim Ducks – 4/20/15 NHL Playoff Fantasy Sports, Hockey Picks, Odds & Predictions

NHL Cash Draft Picks

The NHL Playoffs are set to continue on Monday April 20th and the Winnipeg Jets are in a must win situation down 0-2 in their series against the Anaheim Ducks. The Jets will be at home for Game 3 at 9PM Eastern Time with TV over NHL Network.

The Winnipeg Jets have been unable to hold one goal leads in both of the games held in Anaheim. They were outscored 3-0 in the third period in Game 1 and 2-0 in the third period in Game 2. The loss in Game 2 was extremely painful as Anaheim scored with just 21 seconds remaining on the clock. The Ducks have been good on the power play converting 3 out of seven tries. Two of the third period goals in Game 1 came on the man advantage. This is a team that has struggled all season as they rank 28th on the power play scoring just 15.7% of the time. Winnipeg has come up empty on seven tries on the power play. Anaheim has been good of late on the road as they are winners of four straight on the highway. The Ducks have had Winnipeg’s number as they have won the past six meetings including two regular season meetings held in Winnipeg.

Anaheim Ducks Center: Ryan Getzlaf co-leads the team in scoring in the playoffs with a goal and three assists for a total of four points. Getlaf has multiple point games in two of his past three games. He leads he Ducks in points during the regular season with 70 and carries a plus minus of +15.

Anaheim Ducks Right Wing: Corey Perry leads the Ducks in goals during the postseason with two. His two assists during the playoffs gives him four total and ties him with Getzlaf. Perry was second on the team in points with 55 on the year and is 33 goals during the regular season was tops for Anaheim. It’s a good sign that the Ducks top scorers during the regular season as the top scorers during the postseason. This means what Winnipeg has strategized against Getzlaf and Perry has not worked.

Anaheim Ducks Left Wing: Patrick Maroons is four in the postseason for Anaheim with two points total as he has produced a goal and assists.

Anaheim Ducks Defensemen: Sami Vatanen is third in scoring for Anaheim during the postseason as his goal and assists equates to three points. All three points came in Game 1 and it was his only points in his previous five games. Vatanen was the top scoring defenseman for the team on the regular season campaign. Hampus Lindhold and Cam Fowler were tied for the second top scoring defensemen on the Ducks with 34 points. Each player has an assist in the playoffs.

Anaheim Ducks Goaltender: Frederik Anderson has started both games for Anaheim in the playoffs and has a record of 2-0 with a goal against average of 1.50 plus a save percentage of .946%. From an NHL fantasy perspective Anderson’s has been productive player for hockey mock draft managers.

Winnipeg Jets Left Wing: Adam Lowry leads the Jets with two points total with a goal and assists and has a plus minus of +2 in the postseason. Top scorer Andrew Ladd has no points in the two playoff games is -2 on the plus minus sheets.

Winnipeg Jets Right Wing: Blake Wheeler was second on the team with 61 points with 26 goals and 35 assists season to date. In the playoffs Wheeler has been held scoreless and has no points over his past four games.

Winnipeg Jets Center: Bryan Little lead the centers on the Jets with 52 points during the regular season. In the playoffs Little has no points and carries a plus minus of -1. While the Ducks top producers are producing in the playoffs the Jets top guns are not.

Winnipeg Jets Defensmen: Jacob Trouba had 22 points for Winnipeg during the regular season and has an assist during the postseason. Mark Stuart has a lone assist in the first two games of this series. It has been his only points over his past five games.

Winnipeg Jets Goaltender: Ondrej Pavelec has started both games for Winnipeg and hi 0-2 with a goal against average and 91.7% save percentage. Pavelec is 12-8-3 in his home games this year with a goal against of 2.57. Prior to the start of the playoffs he had three straight regulation shutouts.

One Day Cash League NHL Playoff Fantasy Picks

C: Ryan Getzlaf (Ducks)
RW: Corey Perry (Ducks)
LW: Adam Lowry (Jets)
D: Sami Vatanen (Ducks) Jacob Trouba (Jets)
G: Ondreg Pavelec (Jets)

Cash Draft Contest

Posted in NHL