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:
Hey guys! My top 50 rankings have taken a little longer than expected, it's getting pretty lengthy, so I will finish them up today and post them first thing on Tuesday morning. For now, I'll do the next team in my season preview series, the New York Rangers. This works out well because they won the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes over the weekend. More on what that entails later. The Rangers are in a tough position after years of being a viable contender. They were absolutely demolished by the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs. Jeff Gorton made one trade to switch the core and with the addition of Vesey, they have a plethora of forwards with fantasy value. Defensemen, not so much, but the King stay the King. Here's a look at the Rangers roster and top 5 prospects:
February was already the best month of the season to date for Filip Forsberg. He was behind last season's pace by a decent margin through January but now, Forsberg is going to easily set a career high in goals and come close in points. The 21 year old Swedish stud scored his second career hat trick, first in the regular season, on Tuesday night against the hopeless Leafs. This puts him up to 23 goals and with the 7 shots on goal, he's back over 3 shots per game. With 9 goals in February already, Forsberg has salvaged his season and can reach his preseason draft value. He's obviously an elite option in dynasties and with his current form, Forsberg should be a difference maker for the rest of the season. Here's what else I saw around the league on Tuesday night:
It’s Thursday in the final week of the regular season and that means you not only have to keep an eye on how many games each team has left over the next 72 hours, but you also have to track who is riding the pine and the opportunities that may create for streaming success. Oh yes, the brutal reality of those of us in leagues that use the final week of the season as the championship round comes back to bite us once again as many star players will be getting rested as the playoff picture is nearly complete. Frankly, I’m against this policy in Head-to-Head leagues for this very reason. Do you really decide who is the better team when half your guys are benched? I suppose in H2H it’s more about being attentive and making sure your lineup is always fresh and stacked as opposed to the roto mentality that rewards the manager who puts the best team on the ice over the full course of the season rather than last week. At any rate, lets get into the games remaining business and I’ll et into who is sitting and who is starting after the jump because baby, there’s almost no hockey left and you don’t want to lose your league because you started Rick Nash and found out too late that he’s a healthy scratch. By the bye, he’s a healthy scratch tonight. Anyway, here’s the list o’ games remaining by team:
Games Remaining for Week 25 Apr 6-Apr 11:
2 Games – Phoenix Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets
1 Game – Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals
That’s a lot of teams with two games left, but bear in mind that there are only four teams playing two games after today; the Sabres, Jackets, Isles and Pens. The other twenty-some teams play a game today and one more for the rest of the week. If you’re trying to stack your lineup for this weekend those are the teams to target for streamers. Every team plays on the final day, so it won’t be hard to stack for Sunday. Good luck, y’all! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey recently:
At this point in the season the waiver wire has been picked clean like the bones of so many thanksgiving turkeys and the lack of depth couldn’t come at a worse time. It’s the time of the year when the injuries begin to mount and the trades start coming and with the shake ups they create come new opportunities for fantasy managers to seize upon. The difference between winning and losing at this stage of the game is a matter of minutes; did you pick up the hot hand that will get you into the playoffs, or the next round, or did some other jerkbag beat you to it? Don’t be the guy who loses out, be the jerkbag and consider picking up Kevin Klein or Michael Del Zotto before someone else does.
Ryane Clowe (1 A, 0 SOG, -2) had some pretty solid seasons as a member of the San Jose Sharks from 2008 to 2012 and after getting dealt to the Rangers last year because there was just no room for him on the Sharks, he signed a $24 million deal with the Devils. His first five or six games this season were just awful, and then rookie defenseman Jacob Trouba elbowed him in the head and he fell like a sack o' potatoes. After missing the last two-and-a-half months with a concussion he's returned with a vengeance quickly establishing himself as an important cog in a seemingly rejuvenated Devils offense for the second half of the season. He's everywhere out there right now; clearing space, getting shots on goal, creating offensive chances where earlier in the season the Devils couldn't buy an opportunity and what's more, he's scoring consistently since returning from injury with 10 points in his last 10 games. While I don't expect he can keep that pace up, the Devils brought him in to win battles and help generate offense and it appears that's exactly what he's doing while healthy. Even on nights where the Devils have struggled (like last night) he still manages to look good out there with line-mates Adam Henrique and Michael Ryder. While most owners probably hoped he'd see more time on the top line with Jaromir Jagr, he seems to be doing just fine on what appears to be New Jersey's new second line so don't hope to fix what isn't broken. By this point in the season the wire is pretty thin getting thinner making finding fresh legs almost impossible so that gives Clowe a bit more value than he might otherwise have had at this point in the season. That being said, 10 points in his last 10 games, are you going to ignore that? Well, you go right ahead, but the rest of us are paying attention. While everyone else is going to be digging deep after the Olympic break Clowe is going to be churning on fresh legs and that could help him score more and you win more. He's not sexy, he's not fast, he's not going to wow you, but when other guys are slowing and getting hurt when you need them the most, Clowe is likely to be happy, healthy and fairly productive. Would you buy that for a dollar? Doesn't matter! Clowe's probably out there for free, so cash in now y'all! Anyway, here's what else I saw last night in the world o' fantasy hockey:
Steven Stamkos (broken effin’ leg) is actually skating already. Yes, you read that right, just one month and three days after he broke his tibia Stamkos was back on the ice. He wasn’t practicing, nor did he wear any gear, but he’s on his feet and looks like he’ll actually make it back before the Olympic break.
Jimmy Howard (knee) has a grain-1 MCL sprain and will be out for 2-4 weeks. I’ve been telling everyone to pick up Jonas Gustavsson for weeks now, so I hope y’all listened! If not, he’s still owned in less than 50% of Yahoo! Leagues. Yar.
Shawn Thornton (assault and battery) was suspended for 15 games for his vicious attack on the Pens’ Brooks Orpik a week ago. That sounds about right.
Alexander Ovechkin scored twice as the Washington Capitals erased a 3-0 first-period deficit and downed the Calgary Flames 5-4 in the shootout. Ovehckin now has three goals in two games and is not suffering from a slow start that plagued him last season. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Sidney Crosby had a goal and two assists to pace Pittsburgh in a 5-2 win over Washington. Pittsburgh scored all five goals in the second period en route to its fifth straight win. Please, blog, may I have some more?