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 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:
Jeff Skinner was off to a slow start with the Sabres going pointless in his first four games. That said, having watched all of the games, he was generating plenty of chances and it was only a matter of time. That time was on Saturday, as Skinner did all of the work on Rasmus Dahlin's first career goal getting his first point as a Sabre, and he followed that up with a smooth backhander in the third period for his first goal. Yes, Skinner played only 13 minutes in this game, but I expect him to settle in the 17-18 minute range as the season progresses. Other players had bigger games on Saturday, but I wanted to highlight Skinner for two reasons. One, if you own him, do not panic and hold onto him. Two, if you don't, you might be able to buy low, and I think it's a great opportunity to get a 3 time 30 goal scorer on the relative cheap. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Hey guys! It's Sven taking a look at the Pittsburgh Penguins today for 31 in 31. Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2018-19 fantasy hockey season: The 31 in 31 daily segment. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to prospects that may make an appearance at some point this season. Please let me know if you guys enjoy this type of material! Reminder that the stat totals are from last season.
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:
What looked like an amazing weekend for Mark Stone turned for the worst at the last minute. Stone had one of the biggest games of the year on Saturday scoring a goal and four assists with five shots in the 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs. Stone followed that up by scoring a goal and taking a penalty against the Jets on Sunday before a hit to the head from Jacob Trouba knocked him out of the game. As if a hit to the head wasn't concerning enough, Stone has already had a concussion in the preseason, an injury that caused him to become a value in drafts. Stone has been terrific this season with 22 goals and 25 assists through 56 games but now, his fantasy owners are in a tough spot as are the Senators who were decimated by injuries over the weekend. Look for some news to come out later today on Stone's status but here's to hoping it's nothing serious like another concussion. Let's take a look at what else happened around the league this weekend:
To start the season, the Pittsburgh Penguins were a mess. They were sitting in the middle of their division, their studs were extremely struggling and the defense was lost without Kris Letang. The Penguins fired their coach, Letang sparked the entire team and the rest is history. Maybe the Penguins need to fire their coach every season, it's worked twice now! Sorry, Mike Sullivan. Anyways, the Penguins have a handful of superstars worry of a top pick in drafts, a few middling players and the unknown between the pipes. Let's take a look at the defending champion's roster:
Say the title five times fast, you won't! Alliteration aside, Ben Bishop brought an end to the Blackhawks 12 game winning streak on Thursday, stopping 17 of 18 shots to extend the Lightning's winning streak to 7. Despite all of their struggles, the Lightning are only one point out of first place in the Atlantic and they have Bishop to thank. He's top 10 in the league in goals against, save percentage and wins, including 2nd in the leagues in goals against average. He hasn't been mentioned as a Vezina candidate but he has earned the right to be in the conversation. Here's what else I saw the last two nights around the league:
If you're a frequent reader of my articles, then you know the player I streamed the most this year has been Vladislav Namestnikov. Well, I'm not streaming him anymore because he's terrible. Kidding! That's because he's a clear hold now. He's centering the first line in Tampa (Steven Stamkos is playing RW) and he's coming off a hat trick on five shots in the 5-4 win over the Penguins Friday night. He only had one shot in Sunday's game but still, the role we look to stream him in looks secured now. Names (I'm sticking with that nickname, thanks commenters!) now has 23 points in 44 games and that's with being shuffled throughout the lineup and with little PP time (he has 4 PPP). There's no guarantee that he lasts in this role all season but now, he's must own in 12'ers. Here's what else I saw around the league this weekend:
Welcome back to the Defenseman portion of Assume the Position. We’ll be taking a look at D-men that can help you, primarily in deeper leagues. Sneaky free agent pickups and buy low candidates that you should be targeting in trades.