We've finally reached the final four weeks of the regular season. That means fantasy hockey playoffs! This post is meant to help you plan for this specific week on a micro-sense. For the macro picture, check the the Eastern Conference Playoff Manifesto here and the Western Conference here. We'll take a look at every day this week and point out the best streamers to use or what games to target. Let's get to it!
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.
Poor Ottawa. The Penguins were coming off six straight losses before Tuesday night and it wasn't hard to imagine them destroying the Senators. They did just that scoring seven goals. So what can we take away from this game? Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are good! Oh, you meant besides the obvious. Well, Bryan Rust had a hat trick after only two goals in the previous thirteen games. This eliminates any doubt about Rust being a hold. Jason Zucker had a goal and two assists with three shots. He has ten points in the last ten games so yeah, he's an easy hold too as expected after his trade to the Steel City. Conor Sheary also had a goal and an assist with two shots and two PIM. I wrote during the Trade Deadline post that I don't believe in Sheary despite the move. Honestly, I still don't, but getting to play with Crosby and Zucker right now just has to put him into the streaming realm. The power play time will be minimal so it's mostly for deep leagues, but Sheary does have some relevance once again. Let's see what else happened over the last two nights:
James Neal opened the season on an absolute tear, a stretch that included a four goal game. He fell off dramatically over the last two months, but he had another massive game on Tuesday. Neal had a hat trick and an assist in the 7-5 win over the Rangers. So should we care? I mean, the Rangers are a disaster defensively. And the answer is... yes and no. What great advice! It all comes down to your team needs. Neal has been excellent on the power play and should continue to do so on Edmonton's first unit. The goals are going to keep coming in. On the other hand, he's -23 and has only eight assists on the season. If you're desperate for goals and power play points, or are in a league with extra categories that include PPG, then there's a case to hold Neal. Otherwise, I would prefer to stream him so he doesn't tank my plus-minus while also giving less assists than any other fantasy relevant player. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last three nights:
I hope that all Razzballers had a great festive period! It's time for an updated hold/stream list, so I'm going to get right to it! ANAHEIM DUCKS Hold: Getzlaf, Gibson, Fowler Stream: Rakell, Silfverberg, Lindholm, Kase Rickard Rakell is right on the fringe, but he has missed the last three games. He's not good enough that he's a must hold, so I cut him on one of my teams. I will probably look to stream him when he returns, but if someone else picks him up, it's not the end of the world. Cam Fowler is super boring but he's doing just enough to be a bottom end hold.
There weren't that many notable performances over the last two nights, but the big win came from the Wild going into Tampa Bay and emerging victorious. The ultra-rare line with two players with Z last names led the charge as Mats Zuccarello had a goal and two assists with two shots while Jason Zucker had a goal and an assist with two shots. Zuccarello is on a nice tear lately with 9 points in the last 9 games. He's had moments of being a hold in the past, but that time is not now. He's just under 1.5 shots per game which eliminates Zucc as a hold. However, he's moving to the second tier of streamers. Zucker is a tier above Zuccarello, but he's still only a top end streamer. You simply can't shoot over 20% forever. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
One of my main focuses as far as team projections go is coaching, especially when it deals with goaltending. I always love the Isles goalies because of Trotz, or Arizona because of Tocchet. Well, I made the mistake of not giving enough credit to Dave Tippett going to Edmonton. Tippett has always had great defensive teams in Arizona, and that's continued in Edmonton. The biggest beneficiaries have been the goalies, and over the weekend, that was Mikko Koskinen. Koskinen had a 29 save shutout on Friday against the Devils before saving 31 of 33 shots in the 6-2 win over the Ducks on Sunday. His numbers are spectacular as are Mike Smith's. Do I love these guys going forward? No, I still prefer the Isles guys, for example. That said, I probably undersold both of these guys. I think both Koskinen and Smith need to be held and could be decent #2's for the rest of the season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
I wrote in this space two seasons ago that Nathan MacKinnon deserved the Hart Trophy. While he didn't ultimately win, he's been one of the best players in the league for a few years now. Right now, he's making a legitimate case again in the early going. With both of his star linemates injured, MacKinnon has continued to dominate. His best game yet came on Thursday, where he scored a goal on ten shots and added three assists. In his last four games, he has 34 SOG! MacKinnon now has 9+13 in 16 games with over five shots per game. We haven't seen a shot rate like this since prime Ovechkin. Obviously there's a long way to go, but MacKinnon has a great chance to finally get to 100 points this season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's time for the first hold/stream post of the year. For those unfamiliar, I will go through every team and list every player who is a hold or streamer, and comment on individuals where necessary. This will certainly be a long post, so let's get right to it!
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: