There were plenty of positives and negatives for the Buffalo Sabres last season.  Injuries were a big reason why they stayed at the bottom of the Atlantic Division.  Their defense was as bad as anyone’s in the league.  Sam Reinhart failed to take a step forward.  On the other hand, they had the best power play in the league, Jack Eichel was outstanding and their goaltending, notably Robin Lehner, was excellent.  Out went Dan Bylsma and Tim Murray, in comes Phil Housley and Jason Botterill.  It’s time for a return to the playoffs for the Sabres and they have the talent to make it back.  How the team improves tactically under Housley and how much the defense improves will be the major factors.  Let’s see what my hometown team are working with:

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And then there were eight. After Reid and I talk about the absurdity of Joe Thornton playing on a torn ACL, we break down all four of the playoff matchups. Can Ottawa do enough when Erik Karlsson is off the ice? Can Edmonton do enough when Connor McDavid is off the ice? Will the goalies in the Blues-Predators series play as well as the first round? How will Crosby vs. Ovechkin round 3 go? All of these talking points and more are discussed before we make Three Point Challenge picks for Wednesday’s games. Be sure to make your pick in the comments section below. All of that and more in the latest edition of the Razzball Hockey Podcast brought to you by Seatgeek and Draft!

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After spending Part One highlighting the mistakes I made, it’s time to give myself some credit! Today, I’m going to look at the players who I was highest on among experts on Fantasy Pros that outperformed their ranking and then the players I was lowest on that failed to meet expectations. Like Part One, I will break down each of the players discussing why my ranking was successful and what we can learn from it going forward. Let’s get to it!

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The playoffs are almost upon us! Reid joins me to preview all of the first round playoff matchups. Can Connor McDavid carry the Oilers past the Sharks? Can the Predators blue line neutralize the Blackhawks top six? Will the Maple Leafs put up any fight against the Capitals? What will the Blue Jackets do in an attempt to slow down Sidney Crosby? There are so many questions in each series that we look at before we make our selections for each series. We’re also going to have a Playoff Three Point Challenge where you can take any player so be sure to make your pick for Wednesday’s games below! You can also join the Razzball Bracket Challenge here. All of that and more on the latest edition of the Razzball Hockey Podcast brought to you by Seatgeek and Draft!

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Sadly, the fantasy hockey season has come to an end. I’ll have an RCL summary post up later this week along with a preview of The Stanley Cup Playoffs with Reid on Tuesday’s podcast. For now, I’d like to invite everyone to join the Razzball Bracket Challenge again through the link here and to present my super early top 50 for next season. I’m not going to go into much detail at this point because so many things can change between now and six months from now when the 2017-18 regular season actually begins. This will go longer than our mock draft podcast but if you want more details about my thought process, I’d be sure to check that out. I’ll be separating these guys into tiers with tier explanations but that will be the extent of the analysis. Obviously you’re welcome to ask me in the comments section about anything you like / disagree with. Let’s get to it!

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Jake Guentzel was on an absolute tear before he suffered a concussion after a hit from Rasmus Ristolainen. He was owned by most of Razzball Nation as we got on top of it before Guentzel broke out. Thankfully, Guentzel recovered quickly and returned on Friday night. He scored a goal on three shots in his return and then repeated that performance on Sunday. The Penguins have a decent schedule this week with four games, including a back to back on Saturday and Sunday to close the regular season. You can wait a day since the Pens don’t play tonight but I’d look to grab Guentzel again if you cut him when he went down. The minutes and role are right back to where they were pre-concussion so I’m looking for Guentzel to finish the season strong before he contributes to a potential playoff run for Pittsburgh. Here’s what else happened on the penultimate weekend of the season:

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The Philadelphia Flyers have nothing to play for besides being a spoiler. Their season is effectively over but they basically ended their division rivals on Thursday. The Flyers blitzed the Islanders on Thursday going up 5-0 in the first period and winning 6-3. With the Bruins, Maple Leafs, Lightning and Hurricanes all winning, the Islanders are toast. There were many players who stood out for the Flyers in this game but the one with the biggest fantasy impact is Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds had a Gordie Howe hat trick and then some totaling a goal, two assists, five penalty minutes and four shots. The goal was Simmonds’ 30th of the season allowing him to reach the 30 goal plateau for the second straight season. With four straight seasons of 28+ goals and massive penalty minutes, we know who Simmonds is in those departments. The shots are solid and the PPP are elite but there are some concerns. One, he’s been a minus player every season in Philly with this year being his worst ever, a -20. The other issue is that he’s never topped 31 assists. I thought this season he would set a new career high but he’s not coming close. So where does that leave us? I had Simmonds in my top 25 last season which turned out to be too high. I love Simmonds for what he is but it’s not worth taking him in the top of the third round when he’s only getting 55-60 points. He’ll certainly be in my top 50 but since he’s on the verge of turning 29, my hopes of Simmonds taking another step seem incredibly unlikely. Here’s what else happened around the league the last two nights:

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In the marquee match of the night in Washington, both goalies played extremely well. At the end of the game, Braden Holtby came out on top saving 29 of 30 shots in the 2-1 win over the Blue Jackets. He’s managed to find a way to improve his goals against and save percentage the season after winning the Vezina Trophy. His counterpart in this game may be the favorite to win the Vezina this year but Holtby has solidified himself as the #1 goalie in hockey, both in real life and fantasy. I highly doubt that I will draft him next season solely because I’m anti-goalie in the first round but there’s no doubt that Holtby will be the first goalie on my board. It looks like this will be the second season in a row that he finishes as the #2 overall goalie and that consistency is exactly what you’re looking for in your top goalie. If you can find an issue with Holtby, let me know because he’s seemingly perfect. Here’s what else happened around the league the last two nights:

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In these parts, we’re a big supporter of the Jets for fantasy hockey. Going back to when I started writing here, the Jets love started with Blake Wheeler. An unheralded superstar, Wheeler has never received the credit he deserves for his consistent level of play. Another year goes by and it’s another year where Wheeler is pushing the top ten overall forwards. Wheeler continued his recent hot streak with a goal and two assists with two shots in the 3-2 win over the Flyers. That brings his totals to 22+41 in 73 games with 43 PIM and 230 SOG. The safety he provides is the main reason why I ranked him 21st overall in the preseason and it looks like Wheeler is going to reach that value. So where will he be next season? He’s going to turn 31 before next season starts which means he’s likely to start marginally declining as he exits his prime. However, his quality of teammate is going to continue to improve as the rest of the Jets core moves towards their prime. Is he going to be worth a second pick again? It’s going to be pretty close but at the least, Wheeler will be a high third round pick. I don’t see him falling outside of my top 30. Let’s take a look at the action around the league the last two nights:

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