Minnesota played an excellent game on Thursday booking an impressive 5-2 win over the Blackhawks.  Sadly for them, it came at a brutal cost.  Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter both left the game injured and were already ruled out for Saturday’s game.  Coyle was hit in the back of the leg with a shot while Nino looked to suffer an ankle injury that could cost him multiple weeks.  Hopefully you have an injured reserve spot for both of these guys but Nino definitely should be held through the injury.  With Mikael Granlund out as well, the Wild are getting extremely thin.  So who gets a boost?  Jason Zucker (1+1, 5 SOG) becomes must-own in 12’ers while Chris Stewart (2G, 5 SOG) moves back on to the streaming radar.  We’ll have a clearer picture tomorrow but this is a big blow to the Wild and fantasy teams in the short term.  Here’s what else happened the last two nights around the league:

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All everyone talked about in the preseason was wondering how bad Vegas was going to be in their expansion year.  Sure, it’s only two games, but boy did they have some excitement.  On Friday, Dallas was dominating Vegas in their franchise opener but was only up 1-0 in the third.  Down goes Ben Bishop which opened up the door for James Neal to give the people of Las Vegas some relief in an awful time.  Neal scored two goals in the third period to propel the Golden Knights to victory.  To top off the weekend, Neal scored another goal, this time the game winner in overtime, to give Vegas two wins to start the season.  Neal is still available in over 40% of leagues and if you are in one of them, grab him.  The shot rate is going to be elite along with solid penalty minutes and goals.  At least for now, I’m not overly concerned about the top guys on Vegas having bad plus-minuses either.  Let’s take a look at what else happened in the first (long) weekend of the NHL season:

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The Florida Panthers were the biggest surprise of 2015-16 as they went from near the bottom of the league to winning the Atlantic Division.  They entered last season with lofty expectations but an injury-riddled season saw them miss the playoffs.  Despite last season’s disappointment, the Panthers enter this season as a favorite to get back into the playoffs.  Their young core remains intact but there are plenty of new supplementary pieces around them instead of Jonathan Marchessault and Jaromir Jagr.  They have no superstar fantasy players but there are plenty of top end talents and intriguing pieces.  Let’s take a look at the Florida Panthers roster for the 2017-18 NHL Season:

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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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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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As far as players that I’ve enjoyed watching hockey over the years go, Jaromir Jagr is at or near the top of the list. The adjustments he’s made to his game over the years while the NHL has become a young man’s game is incredible. When you look in the record books under points, now there’s only one player ahead of him: Wayne Gretzky. Jagr led the way for the Panthers on Tuesday posting 3 assists and 3 shots placing him second all-time in points. It’s a shame he went to Russia for 4 years because he’d probably be #1 all-time in goals. While he’s nowhere near last season’s 66 point pace, Jagr’s shots and PIM are up quite a bit and now that the first line is picking it up over the last few weeks, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Jagr is a top 100 player the rest of the way. We salute you, Jaromir Jagr. Let’s take a look at everything that happened around the league the last two nights:

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A week ago, I said this about Steve Mason: “Michal Neuvirth is out for over a month so it’s going to be Mason’s show. Perhaps the extra starts will help him get into a flow but he’s certainly in the ‘desperate for starts’ category for now.” After Tuesday’s big game, it’s been three strong starts out of four. Mason made 38 saves in the 3-1 win against the Panthers and if not for a horrible Matt Read turnover with less than two minutes left, he would have been a good bet for a shutout. Since Neuvirth went down, Mason has saved 107 of 115 shots which is more than solid. I picked up Mason for this start in multiple leagues and for now, I’d definitely grab him in 12’ers. He’s less than 20% owned at the time of this writing so odds are he’s available in your league. It may not be all peaches and cream but the volume alone has its value and the Flyers have played much better in their last five games. Here’s what else I saw on the short Tuesday slate:

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It’s the final countdown! We’ve finally made it to the end of the top 250. We are to the point where you are taking guys with your last few picks so I’m going to limit the details here. Target categories that you need some reassurance in but be prepared to cut these guys if necessary. If you want to handcuff your goalie, this is also the time to do it. Let’s finish this bad boy up!

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The Florida Panthers were the biggest surprise of last regular season, riding breakouts from their elite young talent along with the resurgence of some veterans to win the Atlantic Division. Despite bowing out in the first round, last season’s success has the Panthers facing the most pressure they have in years. Many consider them as a sneaky Stanley Cup contender this year. They have plenty of fantasy options at all positions worthy of our attention so let’s take a look at their roster:

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Throughout the season, J.T. Miller was one of my favorite streamers. The former first round pick who will play on the North American team in the World Cup of Hockey had 22 goals and 21 assists in the regular season with a solid plus-minus and penalty minutes; it was only his lack of shots that kept him from being a hold all year. Miller had his first big playoff game on Saturday dishing three assists and adding a shot and two PIM in the 4-2 win over the Penguins. There’s upside for a better year next season (he just turned 23) so I’d look to take Miller with one of my last picks in drafts in the late summer / early fall. Here’s what else I saw around the league this weekend:

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