NBC & NBCSN recently released their NHL broadcasting schedule for the upcoming season and honestly, it’s a schedule filled with errors and incompetence.
Washington Capitals (1st Metro) vs Toronto Maple Leafs (2nd Wild Card)
LAST 10: Washington (8-2-0) Toronto (6-4-0)
Tyler Yaremchuk: I don’t see a scenario the Maple Leafs outscore the Capitals, simply based on depth. I don’t see a scenario where Braden Holtby is outplayed by Frederik Andersen. I don’t see a scenario where a blue line that features Matt Hunwick and Roman Polak can outplay a team with Shattenkirk, Niskanen, Carlson (if healthy) and Orlov. This should be a sweep, so I’m not even going to complicate things.
Capitals in five.
Liam Horrobin: It’s fair to say that this is the most one-sided series out of all of them this post-season. The Maples Leafs have plenty of scoring on their side but the Caps can pretty much double that. We still don’t know what’s happening with Andersen too which will be a big fact. Overall, the Caps will just simply overpower the young leafs.
Capitals in four
Taylor Paniccia: While it’s exciting times in the 6ix for the Maple Leafs and the hype around the kid phenom Auston
Matthews, this is the worst matchup for the Leafs to get involved in. While I believe the Leafs will be an offensive powerhouse in the near future I don’t see them keeping up to the big guns of the Capitals. From goaltending in Brayden Holtby to their sound defense core, to the deep forward roster, topped off with offensive horses such as Ovechkin and Backstrom, I believe that the Caps are the most well-rounded team in the NHL. The Capitals ceiling for cup potential is higher than ever in recent years and look for the President Trophy winners to blow away the Leafs quickly.
Capitals in five.
Brayden Engel: This is absolutely the best case scenario for the Leafs. They came into the regular season with no expectations and now enter the postseason with similar optimism. Getting to watch the best team in the league skate circles around them will really help keep their egos in check and show them just how far away they are from where they need to be. I think they’re incredibly outmatched but have the ability to outscore even the best team and give the Caps a bit of a scare before they wake up and pull away.
Caps in 6.
Josh Goodings: Poor Leafs fans. So close to having an easy ride to the second round against Ottawa, but fall one point short and have to cross over to the big bad Metro division and face the best team in the NHL. The Leafs are probably going to lose to Washington, who very well could win the Stanley Cup this year, but they should have no shame in that. What the Leafs did this year was amazing, going from 30th in the NHL in 15/16 to a playoff berth in 16/17, lead by three-star rookies in Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner. The future is very bright for the Leafs, but I think they’re gonna have to wait another year to win their first playoff series since 2004.
Capitals in five
Devin Horne: This Caps team is insanely good, like really, really good. Third overall for goals scored and first in goals against, by quite a gap too. The next closest team, Columbus let in 193 pucks this year while Washington only 177. That’s 2.15 goals against the Caps a game. Add to that Braden Holtby, Alex Ovechkin, and a deadline pickup in Kevin Shattenkirk, dude has 14 points in 19 games with Washington. I think this may be the year we see Ovie hoist, Lord Stanley. Leafs are pretty exciting, but they’re too young and too inexperienced. They’ll be a pretty exciting team this decade. Again, because of this awful playoff format, we’ll see the Caps and Pens in the second round, instead of the Eastern Conference Final. NHL fix this!
Capitals in five
THE VERDICT: Our resident Leafs expert even knows the Leafs are in tough this round. The Caps are too deep, expect this one to be over quick according to most of our writers.
Pittsburgh Penguins (2nd Metro) vs Columbus Blue Jackets (3rd Metro)
LAST 10: Pittsburgh (4-4-2) Columbus (3-5-2)
Tyler Yaremchuk: I’ve toss and turned on this series for a long time. The Blue Jackets are an incredibly difficult team to beat. They never stop checking and will out work all game if nothing else. If their offense can wake up, I have no problem taking them in six or seven. On the other hands, could I really bet against a team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin? Even with a depleted defense, they’re so solid. This could really go either way, and these two teams hate each other, which will only add to the excitement of this first round matchup. One of the hardest predict, but I’m going with my heart on this one.
Blue Jackets in 7
Liam Horrobin: It’s disappointing to see these two heavyweights going at it in the first-round but it is what it is. The Penguins have just lost Kris Letang which will be a huge loss for them and I believe could be a series decider. The Blue Jackets, with Bobrovsky between the pipes, have got all they need to take down the Pens. Rookie star Zach Werenski will also have to lead by example at the back end for the Jackets.
Blue Jackets in 6
Taylor Paniccia: A season series won by the Blue Jackets this matchup is possibly the most tightly matched round one series. The Blue Jackets key to winning this series is their Vezina favoured goalie in Bobrovsky shutting the door and the all important shut-down matchup between Dubinsky and Crosby. Home-ice to me will be big in this one as well as special teams as both teams are good at home and on the special teams. Based purely on gut feeling and Stanley Cup defenders look for the Penguins to take down Lumbo in a long back and forth series.
By a coin toss, Penguins in seven.
Brayden Engel: After a white-hot streak in December, Torts’ Jackets have cooled off of late which is not something you want to hear about the team who’s about to take on Sidney Crosby and the defending Cup champs. While it’s hard to repeat these days, I don’t see the Pens having much difficulty with Columbus. Too much skill up and down the lineup, even with Letang out.
Pens in 5.
Josh Goodings: This is a very tight matchup between the 2nd and 3rd ranked teams in the East. Pittsburgh vs Columbus has become a heated rivalry ever since the two teams met in the playoffs in 2014. Columbus is now a very well rounded team with a great young defense core in front Sergei Bobrovsky, a soon to be two-time Vezina trophy winner, who I believe could be the key to Columbus winning this series. Pittsburgh also has a very good goaltender in Matt Murray, who was a big reason the Penguins won the cup last year, and I think he’ll hold his own in this goalie battle. The biggest difference in this series is that CBJ doesn’t have a Sidney Crosby, or an Evgeni Malkin. With those two healthy Pittsburgh is capable of beating anyone. The one red flag in Pittsburgh’s title defense is the injury of Kris Letang, that’s a massive blow to the Pens and could be their downfall if they meet Washington in the second round. Despite that, I still think they can get past Columbus without Letang.
Pittsburgh in seven
Devin Horne: You can’t bet against Sidney Crosby and the Pens, last year’s Cup champs. Crosby and Malkin are just deadly, and who hasn’t loved this renaissance of Phil Kessel? Losing Kris Letang is a huge loss, but those three forwards alone have 70 plus points this year. Columbus will give them some trouble, especially with Bobrovsky between the pipes. Again, playoff experience is huge especially in the first round when teams haven’t had that first round victory to boost them. Cam Atkinson, Brandon Saad, and Alexander Wennberg just can’t match the Pens firepower.
Pittsburgh in six
THE VERDICT: Our first real disagreement. Four of us had the Pens, while one picked an upset with the Jackets. Most agree it will be entertaining and go deep, but in the end, BTI says it’s the Penguins series to lose!
Montreal Canadiens (1st Atlantic) vs New York Rangers (1st Wild Card)
LAST 10: Montreal (6-3-1) New York (3-4-3)
Tyler Yaremchuk: Price vs Lundqvist? I take Price every day of the week. The only way this series goes to the Rangers is if Lundqvist steals it himself. The Rangers defense is awful, their offense lacks a scoring superstar, they simply aren’t built for a long run in my mind. The Habs have been up and down all season, but they at least have all the ingredients for a team ready to take a plunge into round two in my mind.
Habs in 5.
Liam Horrobin: Carey Price will be challenged in this series against a Rangers team who finished fourth in the NHL in goals. Despite that, the Rangers finished the season freezing cold losing seven of their last 10 games. With the Rangers recent form and Carey Price being the best goaltender in the world, I can see the Canadiens taking this one.
Habs in 5
Taylor Paniccia: A matchup that can easily go both ways. As far as I’m concerned this can be a sweep by the Canadiens as Price purely dominates the declining New York Rangers or the Habs can pull out their inconsistent ways and get beaten in a long and fast series. The Habs swept the Rangers in the season series three straight. All eyes will be on the goaltending matchup that should most likely be won by Carey Price. Price has shutout the Rangers seven times in his career the most against any team and poses a 15-5-1 record against them lifetime. Both these teams have a very loud home-ice advantage but look for the Bell Centre to be a little bit louder with a Canadiens series win.
Habs in six.
Brayden Engel: I see most of us feel the same way about this series and it’s tough to disagree. Price is the best in the world and has an insane record in elimination games which means he can turn it on when it counts. He’s carried this team before and this won’t be any different.
Habs in 5.
Josh Goodings: This is a pretty close matchup between two similar teams. Both the Rangers and Habs are pretty average teams that are held up by world-class goaltenders, and it will likely come down to the goalie matchup. That matchup isn’t nearly as close as it was the last time these teams met in the playoffs in 2014. Despite having a few rough months this season, Carey Price is still one of, if not the best goalie(s) in the world, and is capable of winning this series largely by himself. Lundqvist, on the other hand, seems to be falling off at the age of 35, posting a .910 SV% this season, the lowest of his career. This might be because the Rangers defense is not nearly as good as it was when they won the President’s trophy in 14/15. Although they’re pretty close, I’d say the Habs are the better team and have the better goalie. They also swept the season series 3-0. So as long as Chris Kreider doesn’t take out Price again, the Habs should be fine.
Montreal in six
Devin Horne: The Rangers looked pretty great earlier this season, but the holes in their defensive core are pretty glaring now. I don’t think Hank alone can bring them a victory here, his GAA and save percentage both slipped a bit this season. Habs have been pretty good this year, Carey Price is back to his usual self and the addition of Alexander Radulov has been a great pick up.
Montreal in six
THE VERDICT: Another clean decision. Rangers simply won’t be able to hold onto the Habs for more than 5 or 6 games.
Ottawa Senators (2nd Atlantic) vs Boston Bruins (3rd Atlantic)
LAST 10: Ottawa (4-4-2) Boston (6-3-1)
Tyler Yaremchuk: Two teams being thrown around by injuries to end the season. Two teams who have struggled with inconsistency all season. This is as much of a toss up as any other series. In the end, I like the Senators to take it. It’s incredibly close and will likely come down to one goal in game six or seven. Boston drives possession and creates chances better than Ottawa, and if they can keep things at 5v5 they should have the edge.
Bruins in 7.
Liam Horrobin: I can’t wait to watch this series, said nobody ever. Both sides are rigged with injuries to important players and don’t have too many superstars. This series will not be one to remember in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, however, we’ve still got to give a prediction. In my eyes, Brad Marchand will help the Bruins come out on top over the Ottawa Senators.
Bruins in 6
Taylor Paniccia: The Ottawa Senators are the only team in the post-season with a negative goal differential. Weird. But this is a good first round matchup for them as they swept the season series four games straight as this could be a big mental boost for them. Just based on season series I have the Senators taking down the Bruins but making a quick second round exit.
Senators in six.
Brayden Engel: This is must miss TV. These are the two worst teams in the playoffs as far as I’m concerned with the Sens being riddled with injuries and the Bruins being old and dirty. That said, it will likely be a tightly contested series with a lot of variables. Karlsson has to play every game for the Sens to have a chance but that will be for naught if Anderson can’t find his game. In the end, I’m going to err on the side of experience in Rask, Bergeron, and Marchand.
Bruins in seven.
Josh Goodings: The Senators are the worst team in the playoffs this year. They’re the only team in the playoffs with a negative goal differential, and if they didn’t have Erik Karlsson they’d have a pretty good shot at drafting Nolan Patrick this summer. Despite being swept in the season series by Ottawa, Boston is the better team and should be moving on to the second round.
Boston in six
Devin Horne: Both teams suffered from injuries and inconsistency this year, and both nearly limped into the postseason. Ottawa does not generate enough offence, they’re the worst offensive team to make the postseason. The Bruins power play was seventh best this year, and they finished the season with the league’s best penalty kill. Also, I love Brad Marchand, a pest who also finished sixth in league scoring. That most recent incidents was pretty disgusting though.
Boston in six
THE VERDICT: More of a split vote on this one. Everyone agrees it’ll go six, but the Bruins firepower and goaltending might push them through. In the end, it might come down to healthy in a seven game series. BTI says Boston, but it will be close.
Thomas Vanek is one NHLer who is getting used to being traded. The 13-year veteran was dealt at the trade deadline back in 2014 to the Canadians and became an essential part of their playoff run that season. During his brief time in Montreal, Vanek put together 15 points in 18 regular seasons games. Along with that, he also scored 10 points in 17 playoff games which will make him extremely appealing to playoff bound teams.
Since joining the Red Wings this off-season, Vanek has become an important part of Detroit’s offence. Despite only playing 36 games, the Austrian is currently second on the Red Wings roster with 31 points and is second on the team in power-play points with seven.
Vanek has openly come out and said that he has no desire to leave Detroit at the deadline, but for a player of his ability, he will be a much-wanted asset. He will also become a free agent this coming off-season.
These next three teams would really benefit from the offensive threat that Thomas Vanek brings to the ice.
The Senators are sitting second in the Atlantic division and have played for games less than Boston who are in third place. A pretty crazy stat for the Sens right now is that they have only scored two more goals than they have conceded. It may seem like Ottawa have terrible goaltending but that is not the case, they actually rank sixth in goals-against. Vanek could be the missing piece that Ottawa need to make a run since they have only scored 123 goals this season. If Ottawa were to make a move for Vanek, as of right now he would have their best points per game numbers with 0.84. The Red Wings forward would slide nicely right into the Sens roster and would be a welcome addition to their average power-play.
Boston is in the same situation as the Ottawa Senators, excellent goaltending but a below average offence. For a team that has the worst offence amongst teams in playoff spots, an inform winger like Thomas Vanek will bolster their playoffs chances. The Bruins are clearly suffering from the loss of Loui Eriksson but Vanek is in significantly better form than Eriksson this season so maybe Boston could see the move as an upgrade. The Austrian would fit in perfectly on the Bruins second line alongside David Krejci and David Backes; he could even help Backes get back to his normal self. It may be tough for the Bruins to acquire Vanek due to them being in the eastern conference.
The Predators have a roster with plenty of talent, yet only four players have more than 10 goals this year. Luckily for them, they do have enough depth scoring to keep them going with eight skaters with 20 points or more. As the Preds would love to add a natural goalscorer to their roster, Vanek would be a great answer. If Vanek was to join this team right now he would only trail Ryan Johansen (36) and Flip Forsberg (32) in points whilst playing 12 games less than both of them. Bringing in Vanek would give Nashville a legitimate scoring threat on their top three lines.
The NHL world was hit with three major injuries last night. Superstars Taylor Hall, Johnny Gaudreau, and Steven Stamkos all will be spending significant time on the sideline
Not only is this a huge blow in the real world but also in the fantasy world. If you don’t find the right solution for these injuries, your fantasy season could be over.
I’m going to be taking at look at players to add from the injured players NHL team, basic waiver wire pickups, and deep wire pickups.
Sam Bennett – Calgary Flames
ESPN Owned Percentage: 36%
Bennett seems to be the guy stepping up as the replacement for Gaudreau. Coach Gulutzan has slotted the young forward onto the first line alongside Monahan and Brouwer, Bennett is going to be playing on the first powerplay unit too. The Flames forward has put together a half decent season so far, scoring seven points at almost the quarter way mark. Bennett definitely has the ability to put up good numbers in Gaudreau’s absent.
P.A. Parenteau – New Jersey Devils
ESPN Owned Percentage: 48%
Parenteau is not technically filling the missing hole that Taylor Hall has left but could be relied on more often. Like Sam Bennett, the Devils forward has seven points whilst playing on the first line with Taylor Hall. Now that Taylor is out, the Devils are going to need Parenteau to produce more for them which is not unreasonable. Whilst with the Maple Leafs last season, Parenteau racked up 20 goals along with 21 assists. These obviously aren’t mind-blowing numbers but he can be good enough for a short period of time in fantasy.
Jonathan Drouin – Tampa Bay Lightning
ESPN Owned Percentage: 69%
There two questions you might be asking yourself about Drouin.
- Isn’t Drouin injured?
- Isn’t his ownership a little high?
The answer to both of those questions is yes. However, Drouin is expected to return before the end of Tampa Bay’s five-game road trip, so not too far away. The majority of Drouin’s success in his young career has come without Stamkos anyways, shouldn’t expect to see a drop in his numbers. His ownership seems to be dropping week by week if you see that he is available in your league pick him up.
ESPN Owned Percentage: 51%
Much like my waiver wire article I wrote earlier this week, Wennberg makes the list. The talented Swedish forward is having a phenomenal season yet still only owned in just over half of leagues. In my opinion, he is the best player on the waivers, Wennberg is scoring at a top 20 pace right now and is somebody you’ll want to keep on your team even after the injured player’s return.
ESPN Owned Percentage: 45%
“I’ve never coached a kid that good this young” is how Mike Babcock described Mitch Marner. Marner has been exceptional this year, surprisingly, averaging just under a point per game player. He’s playing on the second line with JVR and Tyler Bozak, two veterans who have really helped Marner exceed expectations. I fully expect Marner to continue his good form for the near future if he does you should even consider trading him away to pick up a more experienced NHLer.
ESPN Owned Percentage: 5%
Another player from waiver wire pickups makes the list. Beleskey has not exactly had the hottest start to the season but it does seem like that he’s picking up form, scoring three points in his last six games. Since the recent improvement in form, Beleskey has seen an increase in playing time now playing 15 minutes a night. The Bruins forward is inconsistent but could a few more points to your team every week.
ESPN Owned Percentage: 7%
Byron has started out the season excellently! Currently ranked 24th among forwards on ESPN, he has scored 11 points and is playing top-six minutes beside Galchenyuk and Gallagher. Byron only had 18 points last season, we shouldn’t expect him to maintain this form for the whole season but if you want a short term solution then Byron is your answer.
With all these solutions, let’s keep in mind that the deep pickups are for 12 or more team leagues.
Hopefully one of these players can help you fill the void left on your team.
Another week, another waiver wire pickups.
We’ll call last week’s waiver wire pickups mixed.
Tkachuk didn’t play a game however I’d still recommend a pickup,
Kronwall grabbed himself an assist but unfortunately got hurt,
but now for the highlights!
We had Condon who picked up his second win for the Sens, Kevin Hayes is still in good form scoring two more points and my personal favourite, Patrick Maroon, was over a point per game player.
So, not all bad.
This week’s players all have fairly solid starts to the season, but yet they still remain unowned in the majority of fantasy leagues. These players are what’s going to help you win that championship.
Let’s see what we’ve got for you.
ESPN owned percentage: 5%
The pointless streak is over for this Bruins forward after he assisted on a Riley Nash goal in Monday’s 4-0 win over Buffalo. The former 20 goal scorer, managed to get himself on the scoresheet once again against Columbus where he got his first goal of the season, along with another assist. You can also find Beleskey playing on the second powerplay unit alongside both Brad Marchand and David Pasktrnak, two of the best scorers in the NHL. Beleskey is no doubt a deep pickup, however, he is definitely somebody I would advise you to stash on your bench. He’s only owned in 5% of leagues, on ESPN.com, so he is more than likely available for you. Pick him up and wait patiently to see if this form continues.
ESPN owned percentage: 46%
I will never understand how Wennberg is not owned in 100% of the leagues considering he is over a point per game player. The Columbus forward has been playing phenomenally so far this season tallying up 15 points, including four against the league’s best, The Montreal Canadians. I am a strong believer in Wennberg, he’s playing on the top line for Columbus along with that, the Swede is apart of the number one ranked power play in the NHL. Wennberg is a top 20 scorer and is only owned in 44% of leagues, there is no better player on the market.
ESPN owned percentage: 17%
Mason may not have started the season off strongly but now that Neuvirth is out his fantasy value has risen. Mason stepped into Saturday’s game against Minnesota and was fairly solid, saving 19 out of 20 shots. With Neuvirth expected to miss over a month, along with Quick and Smith both still out, Steve Mason is a must add in. All three of Mason’s wins this season have come at home, luckily for him next week all their games are at home. The Flyers goaltender is going to be playing more often than not, you’re going to want to add him to your roster.
ESPN owned percentage: 65%
Currently ranked ninth and yet still not owned in 100% of leagues, bizarre. Ehlers is a part of one of the strongest offense in the NHL, he is not just there to fill a roster spot but actually contributing almost a point per game. Despite putting the puck in his own net, Ehlers had a productive week adding five more points to his total. Almost all of Ehlers points come from 5 on 5, he has only scored two points on the power play but with him playing alongside Scheifele and Laine those points are bound to come.
ESPN owned percentage: 17%
Back to back weeks, Maroon has made the list and deservedly so. Ever since joining Connor McDavid on the top line, Patrick Maroon has been over a point per game player since the move scoring six points in five games. There isn’t much to say about Maroon besides the fact that he clearly has clicked with McDavid. Right now, the Oilers forward is a must add in all leagues.
ESPN owned percentage: 55%
The lone defensemen to make the list this week, Severson is currently ranked ninth on espn.com and has racked up 11 points in 14 games. As of right now, the Devils d-man is on pace for 64 points, obviously, he will eventually drop off but don’t be surprised to see him in the 50 point range once the season is over. He is the main offensive defensemen the Devils have and has been put in the role of quarterbacking the powerplay. Severson will find himself on the ice a lot with Taylor Hall, with a talent like that playing beside him it shouldn’t be too difficult for him to pick up points.
photo via buffalonews.com
For the fantasy owners of Jack Eichel you probably got a little more upset last night.
After getting injured during practice on Wednesday it was originally thought Eichel would be out for four to six weeks. However, now reports are out telling us he will not be sidelined for six to eight weeks. Just keeps getting worse for you Eichel owners.
It’s going to be important for you to find a replacement for a player who you expected to put up a minimum of sixty points.
Here are a few forwards you can find on your fantasy waiver wire:
Stastny has opened up the 2017 season with a bang! Scoring three points against a top quality Chicago Blackhawks team and then another the next night against the Minnesota Wild. What’s nice to see about his stat line is that he has a big involvement on the power play, putting up two out of his three points with the odd man advantage on night one. Playing alongside both Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen, neither of whom are afraid to put the puck in the net, will help Stastny’s point total increase as the season continues. The players surrounding him are what make Paul Statsny a top replacement for Jack Eichel owners. He’s only owned in 60% of leagues so if you’re one of the lucky 40% and own Eichel he’s well worth the pickup.
Versteeg moved to the Flames this off-season so that he could play a top-six role, therefore actually making him fantasy relevant. He’s only owned in 3% of leagues which might have him seen as a pretty deep pickup but hear me out. Let’s not forget, Versteeg is playing alongside two of the best young talents in the league in Gaudreau and Monahan. All Versteeg has to do is pass the puck to either of those guys and let them do the rest, easy assists. However, one downside of him is the fact he doesn’t play on the power play which does bring down his value. I believe Versteeg should be played based on his matchup. If your lineups are set weekly in your league then maybe Versteeg isn’t the player for you, the same should not be said about daily leagues where he is a player you should be rostering.
Let’s just get this out of the way, Pastrnak had a four-point game to start the NHL season, not bad. I am a strong believer that this trend will continue, maybe not four-point games every night but the fact that he will be scoring at a consistent rate. Pastrnak has been given a top role in Boston, playing on the top line alongside one of the NHL’s best scorers in Brad Marchand. He’s also going to be finding himself on the power play this year. Another great stat to see from his first game was the number of shots he generated, managing to get eight of them which is excellent if your league gets points for shots. Somehow this guy this still only owned in 44% of leagues even after a four-point game. Pastrnak is more than likely the best forward available for Eichel owners to pick up. He is a player that you’ll be able to keep once Eichel is back also.
Every year there seems to be a new crop of players that are overrated by the fantasy hockey community for various reasons. Whether it’s a shiny new contract, the team they play for or simply putting too much stock into past seasons numbers.
I’ve looked into a few names that you should avoid until later on in your the draft, or leave off your fantasy roster entirely.
(photo via calgaryherald.com)
Now 3 days from the NHL draft, rumours are flying around and it’s hard to tell which ones are real and which ones are started by an “NHL Rumours” twitter account with 300 followers.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the bigger rumours that have been tossed around in the last 48 hours:
photo via NHL.com
Goaltending plays such a vital role in the success of any NHL franchise. More often than not, goaltending is the foundation to winning. While your number one goalie gets all the credit and blame, a lot of responsibility lies with the backup.
(photo via forbes.com)
This time of year the obsession is always based around deadline pickups, but after taking a look at the last 6 Stanley Cup Champions, and comparing the rosters of those who repeated, it became even more evident than before that you can’t rely on free agents, deadline pickups and outside help if you want to get on top, and stay there.