In a Pacific Division battle on Thursday, Stuart Skinner stole the show. Against the Kings, Skinner saved all 43 shots he faced in the 2-0 win. We all know about the firepower the Oilers possess, but they made the conference finals last season in large part because of Mike Smith getting hot as he was known to do. The Oilers replaced him with Campbell, but that has been an epic disaster. Skinner has established himself as the clear #1 and will be going into the playoffs. His numbers are that of a #2 in fantasy, and while I do like the 24 year old long term, I don't really see upside past that unless the Oilers completely revamp their defense. That said, for the Oilers to get on a run, they'll need solid goaltending, and Skinner has shown that he's capable of that. He's the goalie of the future and more importantly, the present. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Even with Columbus up 4-0 halfway through the game, it never felt remotely close to over. In the span of the first four minutes of the third period, the Penguins turned a 4-1 deficit into a 4-4 battle. A careless overtime penalty set the stage for Sidney Crosby to score the overtime game winner to complete the comeback. Crosby had a goal and two assists with four shots in the win, setting up a game on Thursday with the Islanders for the first wild card spot. While he's not at his peak anymore, Crosby still has a chance for 100 points again. You don't need me to tell you how good Crosby is, but where he'll rank going into next season is an interesting debate. My guess is that it's somewhere around 20th overall, a clear second rounder in drafts, but perhaps it's a few spots above that. Even at 36, he's given us no reason to expect him to slow down. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We had a game of the year performance on Monday night by Connor Hellebuyck. Hellebuyck saved 50 of 51 shots in the 4-1 win over the Rangers, ending their winning streak. One of my best rankings this season over ADP was banking on Hellebuyck to bounce back after last season's disaster. I even said in my bold prediction that he'd win the Vezina, which Ullmark will probably ruin, but his season has certainly been Vezina worthy. But enough of patting myself on the back. Hellebuyck is sitting with a 2.39/.926, putting him in a battle with Oettinger for the #2 overall goalie to this point (the gap to #4 is massive). He's as good of a bet as any to finish the best goalie for the rest of the season considering the top end volume. Bottom line, Hellebuyck is entering his prime now and since he gets to play in a Bowness system, he should stay in tier one for the indefinite future. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
While the NFL steals the spotlight during Championship Week, the Rangers started the weekend blowing out two top teams in Seattle and Carolina. They scored six goals in both games to bring their winning streak up to five. While it was a group effort on Friday, Artemi Panarin stole the show on Saturday. The Breadman scored four goals and an assist with five shots and two PIM against Carolina, after dishing an assist against the Kraken. Gallant shuffled the lines after Tarasenko's arrival, with Vincent Trocheck and Jimmy Vesey playing with Panarin again, setting up two of his goals. It was Panarin's third three-point game in his last eight, as he starts to heat up. While he hasn't approached his point production of his first three seasons in New York, Panarin is still on pace for 90+ points. That shows what kind of floor he has and why he's worthy of an early draft pick every year. Despite lower shots and PIM/hits, even his below average year (by his standards) is a top 50 player. Who knows, Panarin could finish the season on a massive heater and finally get to 100 points. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Another big domino fell in the trade market on Thursday with Vladimir Tarasenko joining the Russian contingent in Manhattan. The Rangers also received Niko Mikkola, while giving up Sammy Blais, Hunter Skinner, a first round pick in 2023, and a conditional fourth round pick in 2024 that will almost certainly turn into a third (the Rangers need to make the playoffs for that to happen). The first round pick that the Blues get will be the lesser of the New York and Dallas first round picks. I'm a big fan of this move for the Rangers. A late round first for a quality rental is a solid price, they get to dump Blais in the deal, Skinner isn't much of a prospect, and they get some blueline depth with Mikkola. Tarasenko gets a boost in this trade, and potentially a big one. He'll almost certainly go on the opposite wing of Panarin, and if Zibanejad stays at center with Panarin, that's a great spot to be in. The big question is whether Tarasenko goes on the vaunted first power play unit in Trocheck's place. It's a different position than he's used to playing on the power play, but Trocheck isn't exactly lighting the world on fire. Trocheck would be a big loser if Tarasenko does take that spot. We should get an answer on that tonight. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
There used to be a time where players received a massive fantasy boost playing with Tyler Seguin. That time has now passed, but right now, he's getting the boost playing with Robertson. With Hintz injured, Seguin has moved onto the first line centering Robertson and Pavelski, and he's blown up. On Thursday against the Kings, Seguin had two goals and an assist with five shots and two PIM. In the six games since Hintz was out of the lineup, Seguin has five goals and three assists with 22 shots on goal. It's unclear when Hintz will be back, but until he does, Seguin is an automatic hold in all fantasy formats. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's remarkable that Boston started off the season 19-0-3 at home, securing a point in all 22 games. That streak ended on Thursday with the red hot Kraken in town. Earning their 7th straight win, Seattle won 3-0, with Martin Jones posting a 27 save shutout. The numbers for Jones aren't great, a 2.68 GAA that is decent and a .898 sv% which is quite the negative. However, in spite of those numbers, Jones has won 20 games, having started 27. When only Ullmark and Hellebuyck have more wins than you, that's quite the value boost. That is an incredible win rate, and why he has to be held everywhere. It's probably only #3 worthy, although you can make a case he's a #2 and certainly has #2 upside. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Remember when the Devils fans were chanting "Fire Lindy" two games into the season? My, how the tides have turned. The Devils have won 13 of 14 since, including 10 in a row. The most recent win was 5-1 against the Canadiens on Tuesday with their star players leading the way. Jack Hughes scored twice on seven shots and added an assist in the victory. Hughes now has multiple points in six of his last ten games, and is pushing 4.5 shots on goal per game. Even with a lack of penalty minutes, that's enough to be the top 20 player that I ranked him as before the season. The future is incredibly bright in New Jersey with two elite defensemen prospects coming to support the excellent foundation in place. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Mikhail Sergachev had the game of the weekend, scoring two goals and two assists on three shots in the 6-3 win over the Capitals. However, I was starting this post with Sergachev after watching the first ten minutes of the game. Sergachev moved to the first power play unit and immediately delivered, with one goal and one primary assist coming there. That is a massive boon to his value. Whether it lasts, who is to say? I would bet against it staying that way for the whole season, which is why I wouldn't panic if I owned Victor Hedman. However, in the short term, this is enough to make Sergachev a #2 defenseman in a 12 man league, with upside to be a #1. Getting to feed Stamkos and Kucherov for shots over and over again is a godsend to fantasy value. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
In terms of expected goals and puck possession, the Devils have been the best team in October, bar none. They've been absolutely dominant and earned every single bit of their 6-3 record. Their most impressive win came on Friday beating the Avalanche 1-0, and they followed that up with a complete demolition of Columbus, 7-1. The common denominator? Vitek Vanecek started both of these games. Vanecek saved all 24 shots from Colorado before saving 20 of 21 shots from the Blue Jackets. We're looking at a time share in New Jersey, but Vanecek appears to have grabbed the upper hand for now. Before the season, I had little interest in either of their goalies. Now, with how well they're playing, both could be owned in 12'ers, but Vanecek definitely has to be. Ride the hot hand while you can. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It wasn't that long ago that Vladimir Tarasenko requested a trade from the Blues. It wasn't that long ago that Tarasenko could have went to Seattle in the expansion draft. Now, St. Louis has to be thanking their lucky stars that he's still on the roster. Tarasenko had his biggest game of the season on Thursday, scoring a hat trick on four shots and adding two more assists in the 6-2 win over the Sabres. Tarasenko now has 31+41 in 67 games, with a great chance of setting a career high in points. It's a remarkable turnaround for the Russian who is certainly a top 100 player for drafts next season. I don't see him cracking the top 50, but it's great to see Tarasenko playing great hockey again. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
I'm going to do the second half of the Playoff Manifesto today. If you missed Part One, you can check it out here. Let's get right to it!
NASHVILLE PREDATORS (4,4,3,3)
This schedule is right up there for best in the league. Fourteen games is as good as it gets. They close each week with a back-to-back. The only nitpick is that there are no games on light days, but few things are perfect. Josi and Forsberg can both push for best player in the fantasy playoffs if things break right. Ryan Johansen and Tanner Jeannot are both elite streamers in the stretches where Nashville has three games in four nights.