When it comes to the fantasy playoffs, you’re looking for two things. One, you want to get as many starts from your players as possible. Getting one or two extra starts from your bottom end guys / streamers goes a long way. The other thing you want is your superstars to carry you. Because I was in California for the last four days, my time for writing was non-existent. The good news is two fold. One, I got to meet Grey! He is the man, plain and simple. Secondly, I’m here to catch up on everything that’s happened since last Thursday and it starts with Sidney Crosby. On Friday, Crosby scored two goals and an assist with four shots to push the Penguins past the Devils. He followed that up on Sunday with a hat trick on six shots against the Panthers. Both are huge wins for the Penguins given their current injury situation and it was massive for people in the fantasy playoffs. Here’s to hoping you have Crosby because you’re ahead of the field right off the bat. He’s the number 1 skater at the moment and as of now, I’d rank him first overall going into next season. That can be debated at a later time but there’s no denying that Crosby is having one of the best seasons of his illustrious career. Here’s what else happened over the last four days:

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Antti Raanta has been very good when called upon this season for the Rangers. After recent developments, he’s going to have a massive impact in the fantasy playoffs. Henrik Lundqvist is out for the next 2-3 weeks due to a hip injury allowing Raanta to be the guy for the Rangers. His strong play continued on Sunday stopping 23 of 24 shots in the 4-1 win over the Red Wings. Even after the recent rush of people going to grab Raanta, he’s still available in two-thirds of leagues. If you’re fortunate enough to be in your fantasy playoffs, stop reading right now, add Raanta and then come back and see what else happened over the weekend:

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For the majority of his professional career, Connor Hellebuyck has gone up and down more than an elevator. He’s bounced around the NHL and AHL along with starting and being the backup in Winnipeg despite the fact that he’s clearly their best option between the pipes. That’s not to say Hellboy has been a great goalie throughout. In fact, he’s had plenty of times where he looks rough. That’s simply the nature of the beast in the NHL being a young goalie. Hellboy was at the bottom last week allowing five goals in consecutive starts. Naturally, he turns things around this weekend with a 29 save shutout against the Blues and saving 22 of 23 shots in the 6-1 win over the Avalanche. The numbers are poor on the whole but he has won half of his games. Should he be owned right now? I think you have to gamble on the upside in 12’ers. The main point is that this season has done nothing to dissuade me from loving Hellebuyck in dynasties. We all know that the Jets are loaded with offensive talent that is only going to get better and Hellebuyck will be a beneficiary. The prospect cupboard remains full despite all of their recent graduates and most importantly, there are a bunch on the blue line. What do I expect him next season? Probably a #2 goalie with upside to be a #1 who should be owned in all leagues. Long term? He should eventually develop into a guy who is a middling to bottom end #1 year in and year out. Bottom line, I’m still driving the Hellboy bandwagon! Here’s what else happened around the league last weekend:

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I call Joe Pavelski “Mr. Consistency” because every season you can make him down for 30 goals, 40 assists and solid contributions elsewhere. It’s generally not flashy, just a consistent point with three shots, but at the end of the year it’s good enough to justify a first round pick on him. Pavelski showed on Wednesday night that he’s capable of dominating a game. Pavelski had a monster outing, scoring two goals and two assists with four shots in the 6-5 OT loss to Florida. The Sharks looked like they were dead before Pavelski scored 2 goals in the last 3:21 to force overtime. He’s on pace for right around 30 goals, a small stepback, but he’s compensating by playing at a career high assist rate. The shots are also over three per game, he’s +9 and the PPP are coming in per usual. Expect Pavelski to provide the value you hoped for drafting him in the back end of the first round and for him to be ranked in that same ball park going into next season. Here’s what else I saw around the league the last two nights:

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We talked about Mikael Granlund on last Friday’s podcast for a few minutes. Granlund was on an 11 game point streak, the longest of any player during this season, going into Saturday’s game. You can say that he extended it in style. Against the Canucks, Granlund scored his first career hat trick on six shots while also having an assist and finishing +4. That brings his totals to a ridiculous 15+33 in 51 games while being +30. He’s now a top 10 forward on the season based on RCL categories finally delivering on the hype surrounding him entering the league. As for where he’ll be ranked going into next season, check out the podcast. Here’s what else happened around the league this weekend:

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Brad Marchand was one of the biggest breakout players in 2015-16 scoring 37 goals drastically increasing his shot rate to 3.5 per game while adding 90 PIM. While all of those numbers are taking a slight step back this season, he’s improving the weaknesses in his game to become a well rounded player. Marchand returned to his old ways this weekend with three goals on six shots over two games to give him 12+22 on the season. He’s only six assists from a career high and we’ve just reached the halfway point. Marchand also has nine power play points which is already a career high. Instead of being a three or four category stud (depending on plus-minus), he’s become a big plus in five categories with the potential for all six if the plus-minus improves. These totals have him 15th in the player rater among forwards and that shouldn’t come as a shock coming off a top ten season. It might not be exactly what you wanted but it’s been excellent across the board. Here’s what else I saw around the league this weekend:

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In NHL history, two teams with a 12+ game winning streak have never played each other. That will change on Saturday as the Blue Jackets, winners of 14 straight, go to Minnesota to take on the Wild and their 12 game win streak. Both teams extended their streaks on Thursday in a different manner than usual. Their goalies have been the top 2 goalies to this point and it’s not even close but last night, they scored 5 and 6 goals respectively. Their captains led the way with Nick Foligno scoring a goal and two assists with five shots while Mikko Koivu had two assists with a shot finishing +3. Foligno has been a top 10 forward this season bouncing back from a dreadful 2015-16 while Koivu has a solid 23 points and is +18. They’re in different tiers at the moment but regardless they both need to be in your lineups night in and night out. I can’t wait to watch these teams battle it out on Saturday. Here’s what else happened around the league the last two nights:

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Hopefully everyone’s holidays went extremely well. The only thing my weekend was missing was hockey so I’m glad that things will be back tonight. I haven’t updated how things went on Friday’s games so here goes nothing. In my preseason rankings, I wrote the following about Charlie Coyle: “Coyle had a big second half to get over 20 goals and 20 assists for the season. Now, he’s going to be on the first line which should dominate the possession game. The shots need a slight boost but he’s a good bet for 25+25 or possibly slightly better.” First line, check. Possession game, not quite dominant but still above average so still a check. Slight boost in shots, check. Good bet for 25+25 or slightly better, check. Coyle had a monster game on Friday scoring a goal and three assists with four shots in the 7-4 win over the Rangers. That puts Coyle at 12+15 in 33 games with just over 2 shots per game, 22 PIM and +13. Instead of 25+25, we’re potentially looking at 30+35. Coyle is currently the 30th ranked forward and while I had him in my top 150, his consensus ranking ended up over 40 spots later. Hopefully he ended up being one of your last couple picks like he was for me in a bunch of leagues because he’s been terrific and I don’t see it slowing down. Here’s what else happened on Friday night before the break:

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I certainly didn’t think I’d be writing about Peter Budaj at any point this year. After all, he played in a whopping one game over the past two seasons combined. Alas, we’re here in December with Budaj being a major talking point of the NHL season. After Jonathan Quick went down, the expectation was that offseason signing Jeff Zatkoff would get the majority of the starts but when he went down as well, Budaj stepped in and has kept the job. He had arguably his best two performances over the weekend. Budaj posted a 39 save shutout in the 1-0 OT win over the Penguins before making 29 saves on 30 shots in the 1-0 loss in Boston. Budaj is currently #12 in the ESPN player rater among goalies making him a bottom end #1 or elite #2. With the news that Quick is going to be out until at least March, it’s Budaj’s job going forward. Despite that, Budaj is still available in over 40% of leagues. Can I explain it? No, not one bit. If you don’t already own him and he’s available in your league, grab Budaj. Let’s take a look at everything that happened around the league the last three nights:

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There have been plenty of defensemen this season who have frustrated their owners due to lack of performance. A player who looked on the verge of a breakout after last season was Rasmus Ristolainen. The Sabres agreed with that take giving him a 5 year deal and early dividends were not there. Risto was accumulating assists but not much else. However, things are starting to change and it’s no coincidence that it has occurred when Jack Eichel returned to the lineup. On Tuesday night, Ristolainen scored his first goal of the season, an amazing slapshot in overtime, and added two assists and three shots in the 4-3 OT win against the Oilers. That gives Ristolainen 1 goal and 6 assists in the 5 games with Eichel in the lineup. He played almost 30 minutes in each of the last two games showing how important he is to the Sabres depleted blue line and with how the top power play unit moves the puck, I expect Ristolainen to be a #2 defenseman the rest of the way with the upside to be a #1. Let’s take a look at what else developed over the last two nights.

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