The first home game for the Vegas Golden Knights couldn’t have started any better.  After an amazing pre-game ceremony, Vegas stormed out to four goals in the first period en route to winning 5-2 against the Coyotes.  Here we are with Vegas sitting at 3-0.  So do we have to change our expectations for the team?  I’ll talk about it extensively with Reid tomorrow but I still believe they’ll be at the bottom of the league come April.  That said, what an amazing start for a team in the wake of tragedy.  For fantasy, I think there’s three guys I would own right now in standard 12’ers: Marc-Andre Fleury, James Neal and Nate Schmidt.  There is still some downside for all of them but in the moment, just enjoy the ride.  I can’t wait to be there next week to see a game in Vegas.  Let’s take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:

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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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It’s opening night!  After looking at some recent injuries, signings, and demotions, Reid and I finish our season preview by looking at the Western Conference over/unders and prop bets.  Lines also came out for the Art Ross, Rocket Richard, Norris and Vezina Trophies so we look at all of the available options and pick some bets where we see fit.  We close by previewing opening night along with a couple games from Thursday and Friday night.  All of that and more in the latest edition of the Razzball Hockey Podcast!

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The greatest goal scorer in the history of the NHL has made a massive push down the stretch to push many teams towards a fantasy championship. While his shot rate and goal rate have dropped this year, Alex Ovechkin is still a monster. He had his best game of the season scoring a hat trick and an assist with six shots in the 5-4 OT win over the Wild. That brings his totals to 33+33 on the season with a solid plus-minus and penalty minute contribution. Obviously it’s disappointing his shot rate went from five per game to four per game but it’s still outstanding. We discussed on the podcast where Ovechkin will rank for next season and while I don’t think he’s worthy of the top selection anymore, he’s still a top five pick without hesitation. Here’s to hoping he finally gets over the playoff hump and Ovechkin gets the accolades he deserves. Let’s take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:

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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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In the first half of Tuesday’s game, Jack Eichel couldn’t get anything going. The puck was constantly jumping over his stick and was turning the puck over constantly. Things certainly changed in the second half of the game as he willed the Sabres to a third straight overtime victory. Eichel scored twice, including an absurd overtime winner, on four shots.
https://twitter.com/BradyTrett/status/824106676894638080
Eichel’s shot rate is currently the best in the league over his 26 games along with 12 goals and 9 assists. Now, it’s not a huge sample, but that’s a 40 goal, 30 assist pace with over 320 shots. That’s why I had him ranked in the top 20 before his preseason injury and while he’ll probably be there at the start of next season. We’ll be sure to include some dynasty talk on Thursday’s podcast; in Eichel’s case, we haven’t seen his best yet, far from it. Here’s what else happened around the league on Tuesday night:

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There have been a lot of bad trades over the last five years in the NHL. It’s no surprise that Nino Niederreiter has turned into an excellent player in Minnesota after being traded by the Islanders, the team who drafted him fifth overall. Who knew trading a player who just went in the top five in the draft at 20 years old was a bad idea? Anyways, Nino has been solid for a few years now but he’s starting to peak in his age 24 season. Niederreiter scored two goals and an assist with four shots in the 4-3 win over the Coyotes on Thursday. This brought Nino to 30 points (14+16) on the season while being +18. The PIM are below average and the shots are barely above two per game but with his developing power play prowess to supplement his even strength play, Niederreiter is looking like a clear hold at the moment. Hopefully everyone in dynasties held onto him because the best is yet to come. Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

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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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Reid joins me once again to discuss the last few nights of hockey. We open things up with a big Razzball announcement; a meeting at spring training of the writers and readers! I give the current details to that; I’ll be sure to update when I have then. Then we thoroughly recap all of the games on Monday and Tuesday. Highlights include the Penguins massacre of the Coyotes, the amazing story of Derek Ryan and the wild 8-6 affair in Carolina. From there, we preview all of the games on Thursday including some bargain basement plays for DFS and our Three Point Challenge Picks. All of that and more on the latest edition of the Razzball Hockey Podcast brought to you by Seatgeek, No Halftime and FanPicks!

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