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:
It was only a matter of time until Vladimir Tarasenko picked up his play. Tarasenko had four goals over the weekend, including a hat trick on Sunday, in two games against the Predators. That gives him an eight game point streak to get to 22+19 on the season. Obviously that's still disappointing, but there's time for him to salvage the season. Hell, the Blues are even in a playoff spot now because of how bad the Western Conference is. Look for them to make some additions at the deadline because of all of the moves they made in the summer. Missing the playoffs would be a major disappointment, and creating depth for the lineup would help things out for Tarasenko. The buy low window is probably closed but there's a strong chance that he's a top 30 player the rest of the way. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
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:
Hey there! It’s Lackeydrinksonme! I missed last week’s streamer column as I was on a work trip, and this weekend I’ve been dealing with back spasms, which are some of the worst things ever. As you may know, putting more skaters on the ice usually results in a fantasy hockey victory. Rather than picking up and dropping a player for one game, I take time to map out days with fewer games, so you can grab someone for 2-3 additional starts a week from a single player. Let’s get going!
Good Evening! I’m Lackeydrinksonme! It’s the third issue of my weekly long-run streamer column. I’m here to offer some pickups for the short-slate games in the upcoming week, with a focus on putting more players on the ice than your opponent. ESPN has changed everything, so I don’t have “Games Started” data for the 18-19 season, but bear in mind that the odds of coming out with a win are strongly related to the number of players you put on the ice. It’s worth taking a moment to go day by day to add up starts to make sure you’re on top.
It's not exactly breaking news that John Tavares moves the needle for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He showed why he was worth the mammoth contract on Sunday, scoring a hat trick on seven shots with two PIM in the 7-6 win over the Blackhawks. The main thing that I want to talk about here is Toronto in general. This offense is incredible, but they also remain a sieve defensively. I have a hard time treating them among the truly elite teams in the league until that is tightened up, at least somewhat. That's why I picked them to finish third in the division again. But for us in fantasy, stream everyone you can for the Leafs, and against them for that matter. I'd have a hard time playing any goalie against them right now; it better be someone that's damn good. They're a fantasy gold mine on both sides. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Am I shocked at how well the Jets are doing? No. Reid and I talked about the Jets' ceiling on the Central Division podcast and we said that second place is certainly within the realm of possibility (I guess we sold them a little short, first is in play). Long term readers know how much I love Connor Hellebuyck. The only reason I was scared off a bit for redrafts is that Kevin Cheveldayoff said that Steve Mason would be their starter to open the season. Well, Mason was lit up in his first game as a Jet and the rest is history. Hellebuyck continued his outstanding breakout season over the weekend, saving 30 of 31 shots in the 2-1 SO win over the Flames on Saturday, then a 29 save shutout in the 1-0 win against the Canucks on Sunday. Hellebuyck is currently the #2 goalie on the season, and while there's a chance he falls off a little bit (I'm certain he'll finish as a #1G), I think he's solidified himself as the #2 goalie in dynasty leagues. The Jets are going to be really good for a long time and Hellebuyck will be a big reason and also a beneficiary of the talent around him. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
First off, I hope everyone had a Happy New Year's! As much as I personally don't care for New Year's Eve, this year was different because of the Buffalo Bills making the playoffs. I wish I had video of me celebrating with my dad or an audio recording of my friend, who is in Paris, who heard us yelling on speaker phone and him celebrating in the Paris streets. Couple that with an amazing USA win in the WJC outdoor game against Canada that I was at and things in the sports world couldn't be better. Even the Sabres looked competent today despite the loss! Anyways, let's get to what you're here for... I've talked about Josh Bailey being the waiver wire pickup of the year on multiple occasions over the last couple weeks because, well, the Isles top line is on fire. That said, William Karlsson is easily #2 in this department. Wild Bill, a Razzball favorite from the past (aka favorite of mine), scored the first hat trick in Vegas history on Sunday, scoring three goals and an assist in the 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs. That brings Karlsson's totals to 20+13 in 33 games with a +15 rating. Sure, it will regress some because he's not going to shoot 26.3% all season, but let's give Karlsson his due. In the first 183 games of his career, Karlsson scored 18 goals. He has that beat for the Golden Knights in 37 games. His emergence is a huge part of Vegas shocking the world as they sit atop the Western Conference. Karlsson will drop off some in the second half, at least in the goals department, but make no mistake about it, it's not a complete fluke. Karlsson should be a hold for the rest of the season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last three days of the old year:
Add another goalie to the list of guys who struggled in the opening month only to turn it around. Braden Holtby, the consensus #1 goaltender going into the season, showed us why this weekend with two big performances. Holtby saved 27 shots in Friday's 4-1 win over the Penguins and followed it up with 29 saves in the 2-1 SO win over the Oilers. Just like that, his save percentage is back to its normal level. Sure, the goals against average is still a little high, but goals are up around the league and it's not out of the realm of possibility it goes back down. With the massive win total as well, expect Holtby to get back to the #1 goalie by season's end. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
As talked about repeatedly for the last couple weeks in this internet space, this week is the dream for Blues players. Getting three games against Arizona and Colorado is what you hope for. The top line for St. Louis ravished the Coyotes on Monday with all three of them getting at least three points. My focus is going to be on Jaden Schwartz. Schwartz scored two goals and an assist with three shots finishing +4 in the 4-1 win. That gives him 50 points (18+32) in 71 games. Two seasons ago, Schwartz finished with 28+35 in 75 games before last season was ruined with injuries. So which player is he going forward, the one on the verge of 30+40 or this season's 20+35? I would bet on him being closer to 2014-15 than 2016-17. He's still only 24 years old and should continue to play with one of the best players in the game. The shot rate is average and the penalty minutes aren't there but on the assumption he's back in the 60-65 point range, I'll have Schwartz right around the 100 overall mark. My guess it's just outside that number but he's a great target in the middle rounds because we've already seen the upside. Here's what else happened around the league on Monday night: