We're back for part two of the Playoff Manifesto. For those that didn't read Part One, you can read that here. Today, we will cover the Western Conference. To see the template of which I'm working with, check out the details in the Eastern Conference post. For this one, let's get right to it! ST. LOUIS BLUES: 4, 3, 3, 3 This is pretty much the worst streaming schedule possible. There are only three teams that don't have a back-to-back over the last four weeks. We'll get to them later in this post, but at least their games are more bunched together with a 4,3,4 in the first three weeks for both. They're every other night the first two weeks, then have two days off in the middle of the third week, before finishing every other day. Honestly, there's not much to say here. Thirteen games is average so hold the usuals, and don't stream Blues.
The first week after the All-Star Break is always an interesting one to navigate for fantasy hockey, especially in head to head leagues. We have a bunch of teams that are on a bye week making some short schedules. This makes streaming a necessity, so for today's post, I'm going to go break down every day's schedule and highlight some players I'd like to stream. Let's get to it!
Loyal Razzballers know that I've been a big fan of Juuse Saros for a while. He's had a tough start to this season, but I still believe in the player long term. Saros was less than two minutes from a shutout on Tuesday, making 24 saves on 25 shots in the 2-1 win over the Sharks. His overall numbers are still poor, but the Predators have started to tighten up defensively. Saros is still only 24 years old and is one of the best long term goaltending prospects. Saros is starting to see even more action starting five of the last eight games. There's real upside here so if you need goaltending help, I'd grab him now. Additionally, I would try to get him in a dynasty league before he boosts his value back up. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Life without Couturier hasn't been as good without Claude Giroux. He started the turnaround on Thursday night. Giroux scored two goals and two assists with three shots and two PIM in the 5-3 win over Carolina. That brings Giroux up to 17 points in 22 games, not exactly lighting the world on fire, but the shot rate is the best of his career. 75 shots in 22 games is a huge step forward, and if that continues, we could be looking at a new career high in goals. Yes, he only has 7 to this point, but we could be on the verge of a heater. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The best line in hockey remains in Boston, but the second best at the moment resides in Vancouver. On Wednesday, they were led by Brock Boeser, who had a hat trick and an assist with seven shots and two PIM in the 5-3 win over the Kings. Boeser is now up to 7+7 in 12 games with over three shots per game, +6, and six penalty minutes. He's doing a little bit of everything, and with how well the Canucks are playing, there's no reason he can't finish with 35+40 or better. I'd bet on Boeser being a top 50 player at this point and it should only get better in the years to come. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Brayden Point made his season debut on Thursday for a big showdown with the Maple Leafs. Unsurprisingly, he started right where he left off, scoring two goals and adding an assist with five shots in the 7-3 win. The Bucs beat the Argonauts! Anyways, we know how good Point is and that he's an elite options in all formats. A couple other takeaways from this game. One, Point went on the first line with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, who had four points each. If that line sticks together, watch out. Two, the new fifth person on the top power play unit was Anthony Cirelli, who ended up with three assists, two on the power play. I'm a big fan of Cirelli's game but he didn't get the opportunity. Now, he is centering the second line and on the top power play unit. He's a must own in all formats. Three, Tampa Bay really is the better version of Toronto. The defensemen on Toronto just can't keep up. I mean, Cody Ceci? Even Rielly and Barrie aren't good defensively. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Patrice Bergeron has had an excellent career to this point, one that gives him a chance at making the Hall of Fame one day if he ages well. To this point, we've seen no signs of him slowing down. That continued on Tuesday as Bergeron scored two goals in his 1000th career NHL game. He became the fifth Bruin to reach that mark, and he'll be 3rd all-time early next season behind Bourque and Bucyk. On a per-game basis, this has been the best season of his career. He has 18+28 in 37 games with an elite shot rate. This is his eighth straight season with a Corsi over 56%. Bergeron is arguably the best defensive center in the game who is good enough to dominate the other team's top players on a nightly basis. His prowess is what gives the Bruins a chance to upset someone, presumably Toronto, in the first round of the playoffs. I wouldn't be selling high if I owned him; the first line is so damn good that very few teams have a chance against them. Let Bergeron continue to provide great value to your team. Here's what else happened on a busy Tuesday night:
In my Monday post, I called Frank Vatrano the best streamer of the night. As simple as my rationale was, getting to play with Barkov does wonders for anyone. Vatrano has been playing well lately, but the jump to the first line helps tremendously, and he showed how on Monday. Vatrano scored a goal and dished three assists in the 6-2 win over the Sharks, putting five shots on goal in the process. Normally, I'd say go get Vatrano right now to see what happens. There's definitely upside going forward. The problem is that the Panthers don't play again until next Friday. For those in roto leagues, I would grab Vatrano now and stash him on your bench. In head to head leagues, I would wait until the middle of next week unless a spot opens up on your roster due to someone going on injured reserve. However, I definitely want Vatrano for the back-to-back next weekend, so don't wait until last minute so you avoid somebody else sniping you on him. There's a real chance Vatrano, who was a prolific AHL goal scorer and showed upside before in Boston, could become a hold for the rest of the season. Let's take a look at what else happened this week:
Jonathan Quick was already out. Now Jack Campbell is out 4-6 weeks with a knee injury. That makes Cal Petersen the starter in Los Angeles for the time being. Petersen was a 5th round pick for the Sabres that blossomed at Notre Dame and signed with the Kings after he became a free agent due to waiting out his time at Notre Dame. He is a very good prospect, and now he's jumped into the show. In his two starts over the weekend, Petersen made 34 saves on 35 shots against the Blackhawks before stopping 38 of 42 shots against the Predators. Obviously the Kings are a bad team, but their schedule is decent for the next two weeks, so I don't mind taking a gamble on Petersen if you need goaltending help. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Being the stand alone game on Thursday afternoon, I was watching the Jets-Panthers game in Finland closely. For the first half of the game, Patrik Laine looked awful. He was so bad that he didn't even get 4 minutes of ice time in the first period. Well, Laine ended up making the natives who came to watch him happy, as he ended up scoring a hat trick on seven shots. That matched his total from the first 12 games of the season. Obviously I wasn't panicking about Laine, but my hopes that his ice time would take a nice jump this season isn't looking promising. There's still plenty of time, and I wouldn't be surprised if Laine goes on a run where he scored 9 goals in 10 games. His floor is just a bit lower than I hoped because the Jets are so good that Maurice doesn't have to give him big minutes. I said he would score 50 in the preseason, and the shot rate has jumped to the point where it's possible if he can get his time on ice back up. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights: