The Montreal Canadiens stormed out of the gates last season and never looked back en route to winning the Atlantic Division.  They have a roster that seems like a random collection of players with no clear plan.  They’ve gutted their blue line losing a good top 4 in the last year (Subban, Beaulieu, Sergachev, Markov) leaving themselves depending on Shea Weber far too much.  Like last offseason, they made a massive trade in the summer, this time involving two young talents.   This is a team who is getting the small things right but the big things wrong and that gives me significant concern going forward.  Per usual, it’s all on Carey Price’s shoulders.  Their fantasy assets for this season look to be limited but there are a few guys with elite potential and some intriguing guys for deeper leagues.  Let’s take a look at what Les Habitants are working with:

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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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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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Elias Lindholm has had a disappointing start to his NHL career. After being a top 5 pick in 2013, Lindholm has failed to reach 40 points in the first three seasons of his career. It’s certainly not the end of the world given that he just turned 22 years old; not everybody is a McJesus or MacKinnon and dominates right out of the gate. Lindholm is currently in the midst of the best streak of his young career. On Friday night against the Sabres, Lindholm dished an assist and added four shots extending his point streak to five games. He followed up it with a massive game scoring a goal and two assists with five shots in the 7-4 win over the Islanders. That brings his point streak to six games and gives him 18 points in 33 games to this point. Obviously this isn’t going to last but Lindholm is an elite streamer at the moment and like a few other young forwards on his team, there’s some real sleeper potential here for 2017-18. Let’s take a look at what else happened around the league over the weekend:

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In my preseason rankings, I wrote the following about Chris Kreider: “He’s good for 20+20 with strong penalty minutes but I’m not expecting much more even though he has a ton of potential.” What I meant to include was 20+20 at the halfway point! For years, Kreider has been talked about as an elite talent but somebody who hasn’t been able to put it together. Like a few other players on the Rangers, Kreider has seemingly put it all together at this point and the results are outstanding. In the 6-2 win over the Avalanche on Saturday, Kreider scored a hat trick on six shots extending his point streak to 4 games (8 total points). In 33 games, Kreider now has 15+14 with 19 PIM and 91 shots. Add in Kreider being +6 and you’re looking at a contributor in all categories. At this point, we’re looking at a guy who should push towards the top 50 at the end of the season and going forward; he’s still only 25 years old. Let’s take a look at what happened to close 2016 and the opening day of 2017:

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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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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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I think most fantasy hockey players would agree that Antti Raanta is worth streaming every time he gets the start. The problem has been that Raanta rarely plays because he’s behind one of the best goalies in the world, Henrik Lundqvist. A healthy Lundqvist never sat three games in a row while healthy. Until this weekend. After a game on Thursday, Vigneault turned to Raanta again and he posted a 26 save shutout in the 1-0 win over his former team in Chicago. To the surprise of everyone, Raanta started again on Sunday and posted another shutout, this time an easy 5-0 win over the Devils in which Raanta posted 19 saves. If you streamed Raanta on Sunday, hold him until Tuesday to see if he gets another game. This certainly isn’t going to last, this is Lundqvist’s team, but ride the hot wave while you can. At the least, Raanta is a must-stream every time he gets the nod. Let’s take a look at everything else that happened over the weekend:

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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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