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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It’s the final countdown!  This will close out my rankings following my Top 50, Top 100 and Top 150 posts.  After the Top 200, there will be a revised list coming out later in the week updating for injuries and other moves and a separate post about some players I would target with my last pick or two.  Let’s get right to it!

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If I had to pick a team to break out this year like Columbus did last season, it would be the Carolina Hurricanes.  They have an excellent young core in place, especially on the blue line, and now they may finally an answer in net.  After being dragged down by a few different goalies (mostly Cam Ward), Scott Darling now gets his chance to be a #1 goalie.  If his performance in Chicago is a predictor for the future, Darling should be just what the Hurricanes need to make the jump.  Let’s take a look at what Carolina is working with:

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When talking about the Carolina Hurricanes schedule in my Playoff Breakdown piece, I said the following: “The Godfather of playoff schedules, the Hurricanes are going to be great on volume alone. They don’t have three games in three nights like Detroit but there’s a pile of back to backs here. There has to be with 17(!!!) games in 28 nights to close the season. That’s two more games than anyone else in the league. Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask should be monsters in the playoffs while Sebastian Aho and Elias Lindholm will be among the best streamers in the league.” And that’s me quoting me! All of this had held true except for Rask being mediocre. Not bad. Skinner has been the best of the bunch and that continued on Tuesday night. Skinner had two goals and an assist with five shots in the 5-3 loss to the Wild. He’s been hotter than a pistol bringing his totals to 35 goals and 26 assists on the season. With the elite shot rate, Skinner is pushing towards a top 50 player going forward. The team around him is getting much better and Skinner is nearing his prime as he turns 25 in May. I don’t think we’ve seen his best yet. Here’s what else happened around the league the last two nights:

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Hey everyone! I’m back following the All-Star break and with no games since last Thursday (recapped here), I need something else to talk about! Well, I thought something that would be very helpful is an in-depth look at the schedules for every team in the NHL the last four weeks of the season. I picked those weeks because at least the last three weeks (the last 4 if you’re in an RCL or any league with two week long playoff matchups) are your playoffs in head to head leagues. By giving you this information now, this gives everyone a few options. One, it helps everyone make decisions at the bottom of your roster. Don’t let the schedule be the final decision, but it’s a useful tiebreaker. Two, if you’re in top position, it allows you to make a trade that would greatly benefit you in the playoffs. Lastly, it shows you what teams will be the best to stream from at certain points in the playoffs. You’re going to want to bookmark this page for when you make it and use it as a guide. If a player finishes the week with three games in four nights, he’ll obviously make a great streamer for multiple days. Let’s look at every team and see what they’re working with:

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Don’t worry, it’s not as bad as the title makes it seem! Reid and I are back again starting off with our usual injury rundown, or in this case, the flu rundown. After that, we look at all of the games from Monday and Tuesday night. Among the highlights are Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask getting back in form, Anders Nilsson posting another massive game, John Gibson finally finding some consistency and a player from off the radar that has emerged over the last week. After that, we preview Thursday’s games before making our Three Point Challenge picks. Be sure to make your selection in the comments section below. All of that and more on the latest edition of the Razzball Hockey Podcast!

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Apparently January 10th is Sam Reinhart day. Last year, he scored his first career hat trick on January 10th and he followed it up with another three point night yesterday. Reinhart scored a goal and two assists with four shots in the 4-1 win over the Flyers. It almost feels a bit disappointing because he missed a wide open net that I’d expect a high school player to bury. Regardless, that’s 12 points in the last 10 games for Reinhart. I’ve been preaching for weeks that he’s a must own but he’s still available in over 2/3rds of leagues. He’s not available in RCL’s (well done guys!) but for your other leagues, grab him if you’ve been hesitant. How can you not like a Rein-o on a horse? Jack looks like he’s having too much fun. Anyways, let’s take a look at what else happened the last two nights around the league.

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Kyle Okposo is a player that tends to get overlooked despite becoming an elite scorer in the NHL. In his last 3 seasons with the Islanders, Okposo played well over a 60 point pace per 82 games including 2013-14 when he had 69 points in 71 games. Even now that he’s in Buffalo, Okposo is still looked at as a complimentary piece even though he’s a bonafide first liner. In Tuesday night’s 6-3 win over the Kings, Okposo moved onto Jack Eichel’s wing and immediately delivered with three assists and a shot. That gives Okposo 21 points in 27 games with elite power play points and strong shots. Yes, the penalty minutes have dried up for now, but with how well he possesses the puck plus his scoring prowess, Okposo is on his way to another 60+ point season. Even if the penalty minutes don’t come back, he’s looking at another top 100 overall fantasy season. Pretty, pretty good . Here’s what else 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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When Johnny Gaudreau underwent surgery for his finger injury, the expectation was that he was going to miss six weeks. Flames fans and fantasy owners had to be thrilled when he came back on Sunday in less than three weeks. The team did surprisingly well in the 10 games Gaudreau missed, mostly due to Chad Johnson between the pipes, but they didn’t score than 3 goals in any game during that stretch. That changed in a big way Sunday night against a strong Ducks team. The Flames scored a whopping 8 goals beating the Ducks 8-3 with Gaudreau scoring the opener and adding an assist later on. He was finally playing well before his injury so hopefully this is a sign of things to come. We know that he’s a top end player but the impact of his return will be felt throughout the lineup. More on those guys later in the Sunday section, let’s get to the games!

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