We've reached the finals in almost all formats making this the best time of the year in fantasy hockey.  That's if you're still in, of course.  I will continue the weekly previews that I've been doing over the last few weeks to provide some strategy and planning ahead in regards to streaming.  Again, this is meant to be a compliment to the Playoff Manifesto, not a replacement, so be sure to check that out as well here.  Let's get to it!
After their situation looked murky earlier in the season causing public turmoil between the front office and their superstars, the Dallas Stars are close to becoming a lock for the postseason.  Their super Stars (corny, I know) won the game for them on Tuesday against the Panthers.  In the 4-2 win, Tyler Seguin dished four assists while putting six shots on goal and providing two PIM.  Alexander Radulov scored two goals and an assist with five shots, while Jamie Benn scored a goal and two assists with two shots.  The Stars have a great playoff schedule and these three guys should be massive difference makers in the fantasy playoffs.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
For those of you doing well in your head to head leagues, this is the most important post of the year.  This is my annual playoff manifesto where I break down every team's schedule for the last four weeks of the season.  I tell you who are the best teams and players to stream from, who you should look to trade for or away if your deadline hasn't passed, and it allows you to plan ahead with ease.  For those who haven't read it in the past, the numbers in the parentheses are how many games the team plays in each of those weeks, with the last number being the last week in the season and preceding accordingly.  This is going to be a massive post so let's get right to the 2019 Playoff Manifesto!
We have a new candidate for craziest game of the year.  Chicago and Ottawa was a 5-4 game... with 2 minutes left in the first!  The game finished with a ridiculous 8-7 score with Alex DeBrincat leading the way on the score sheet.  The 21 year old scored a hat trick and added two assists, bringing him up to 32+28 on the season.  Not bad for anyone, let alone a 21 year old.  In the preseason, I wrote this: "Everything is in place for DeBrincat to score 35+ goals… if Quenneville plays him the minutes he deserves.  DeBrincat scored 28 goals and 24 assists as a rookie despite playing only 14:48 per game.  It was infuriating that DeBrincat’s minutes down the stretch didn’t drastically increase with the Blackhawks out of the playoff race.  He’s a natural goal scorer who needs to get more playing time for the Blackhawks to have any chance at a bounce back.  The penalty minutes won’t be there, but 30+30 is well within reason, and there’s still upside from there."  Well, Quenneville was fired, but everything else came to fruition.  I love DeBrincat now and going forward.  Sure, he'll never give PIM, but he should be an annual 30 goal scorer who has some years pushing 40 like this one.  Let's take a look at what else happened on Monday night:
ALL STATS ARE AS OF THE MORNING OF JANUARY 17 BUY: Bryan Little – 46GP 10-18-28. I wasn’t big on Little (haha, get it) going into this season, but he has put together a nice little stretch with eight points in his last six games. He needs to be more consistent to be considered a stream option, but I would try to ride the end of this little hot streak out.
It feels like forever ago that Tomas Hertl took the league by storm as a rookie.  He's shown signs of promise since, but never really put it together.  Until.  Hertl had a hat trick on Tuesday to lead the Sharks over the Penguins.  That brings him up to 19+22 in 43 games, both numbers rapidly approaching career highs in mid-January.  He is providing no penalty minutes and a below average shot rate which caps his long term ceiling, but he looks to be a guy who is a fringe top 100 player for the next few seasons.  I would say if I had to say where I rank him next year, my guess is just outside the top 100 just because the downside is much higher for a guy whose sole value is coming from points and not the side categories.  Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
The Penguins have been on quite a tear lately, and it's not just their All-Stars.  Over the weekend, Jake Guentzel destroyed the Ducks and Kings.  In the Penguins comeback against the Ducks, Guentzel had a hat trick on seven shots with two penalty minutes, before scoring two more goals on six shots against the Kings.  That brings Guentzel to 23 goals, which is already a career high.  The shot rate has taken a big jump as well, although we can't expect him to shoot 19% all season.  Regardless, Guentzel has settled into being a top 100 player who is a clear hold in all formats.  As long as he continues to play with Crosby, things will be just fine.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
We found another goalie out of nowhere!  Jordan Binnington was great in his second start on Thursday, allowing one goal on 29 shots in the 4-1 win over over Canadiens.  He's been strong in the AHL the last two seasons, and with how bad their other goalies have been, Binnington deserves a chance.  Obviously it could collapse at any time, and the Blues' schedule in January is very road heavy.  On the other side, there a lot of good matchups over the next two weeks for Binnington.  I wouldn't go out of my way in shallow leagues to own him, but Binnington could be a solid streamer with upside for more, especially before the All-Star Break with the Sens, Kings, and Ducks in a row.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
What's the worst spot for a goaltender to start right now?  Probably against Toronto on the road.  Well, Matt Murray had that exact spot on Thursday, and did the exact opposite of what most expected.  In a game where Toronto's expected goal total was pushing 4, Murray stopped all 38 shots he faced, shutting out the powerhouse Maple Leafs 3-0.  Murray's upside is undeniable; it's just a matter of keeping him on the ice and the defense in front of him not being a total mess.  For now, expect the Pens to give him the vast majority of the starts, meaning you can safely cut Casey DeSmith.  The Penguins schedule is fairly soft over the next couple of weeks, so feel safe rolling Murray.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Hello everyone!  After spending most of the last two months in Vegas (including during the Stanley Cup Finals), I'm back home and ready to start writing again.  I'll be picking up things in August when I'll be writing multiple posts a week, including my rankings early on in the month.  I have a few questions I would like the readers to answer in terms of what they'd like me to write besides my rankings, but I'll leave that for the end of this post.  For now, I'm going to write a quick blurb on the five biggest moves of the offseason and what their impact is for both real life and fantasy.  Let's get to it!