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.
There wasn't a lot of action the last two days after the All-Star Break, but sadly we saw what certainly appeared to be a severe injury. Linus Ullmark has established himself as the clear #1 goalie for the Sabres this season playing at a league average level. He collapsed to the ice on Tuesday against the Senators with what appeared to be a bad leg injury. There hasn't been an update yet, but I would be surprised to see if he ends up out for the season. So what does that mean for the Sabres and for us fantasy hockey players? Well, the Sabres are far from the best situation, but Ullmark has been serviceable. Carter Hutton has been one of the worst goalies in the league, so unless he has a bunch of good starts in a row, I have no interest in using him. I suspect that Jonas Johansson is called up from Rochester. Johansson is a former third round pick who was an AHL All-Star this season. He's taken a huge jump forward as he was serviceable in the ECHL last season but that's about it. However, goalies are strange and perhaps he catches lightning in a bottle. I wouldn't rush to add him, but he's a name worth monitoring. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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:
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:
The gap between Brad Marchand and the rest of the league right now for fantasy hockey is incredible. Marchand scored five points on Monday, tallying two goals and three assists and a +4 rating. It's nothing new, but the first line in Boston has managed to find a way to get even better. Marchand is crushing every category with 10+18 in 15 games with a +13 rating, 28 PIM and 41 SOG. He's as good of a bet as any to finish as the #1 player in fantasy this season. Honestly, he'd be my pick as long as he avoids a lengthy suspension. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The best line in hockey remains in Boston, but the second best at the moment resides in Vancouver. On Wednesday, they were led by Brock Boeser, who had a hat trick and an assist with seven shots and two PIM in the 5-3 win over the Kings. Boeser is now up to 7+7 in 12 games with over three shots per game, +6, and six penalty minutes. He's doing a little bit of everything, and with how well the Canucks are playing, there's no reason he can't finish with 35+40 or better. I'd bet on Boeser being a top 50 player at this point and it should only get better in the years to come. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Hat tricks aren't that uncommon in the NHL. First period hat tricks are. Evander Kane became the first player in Sharks history to do so, scoring three goals and adding an assist with five shots in the 5-2 win over the Hurricanes on Wednesday. Kane has long been a player that I rate higher than consensus because of his shot rate and penalty minutes. Kane has four goals and two assists in four games since returning from suspension to go along with four PIM and 13 shots. Pretty, pretty good. I don't think it's a coincidence that the Sharks went 0-3 without Kane and are 3-1 since. With their current depth issues, Kane should be leaned on heavily giving him a great chance at a top 50 fantasy season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The first draft pick in Vegas history, Cody Glass, scored the first goal of his career in his first game, a 4-1 win over the Sharks. First, the good news. He played with Mark Stone (G+A) and Max Pacioretty (A, 5 SOG) which puts Glass in a great position to succeed going forward. He also played with these guys on the power play. The bad news: his minutes were down because Gallant doesn't trust him defensively yet. Whenever they had a defensive zone start, Stastny started on the ice and would go off for Glass if they exited the zone. Yes, it's only a defensive zone start, but on a team that transitions as well as Vegas does, the more minutes the better, and Glass didn't cross the 15 minute mark. I'm good with picking him up if you want the upside, but let's not go crazy spending a lot of FAAB on Glass. I like him plenty long term, and perhaps Stone drags him into be a hold all season, but it's far from a guarantee. Let's take a look at what else happened over the first two nights of the season:
We're pushing through the halfway point today in terms of forwards as I get through the top 60. To see my posts for the top 40 forwards, you can check that out here. Let's get to it! 41) Jake Guentzel - Guentzel had his big regular season breakout with 40 goals and 36 assists last season. At first, I was a little hesitant to rank Guentzel this high, but now I feel really good about. One, he was stapled onto Crosby's wing all season. I don't expect that to change. Two, the shot rate took a huge jump forward in year three. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets to 3+ per game this year. Three, and the biggest thing, is that there's a spot for him on the first power play unit with Kessel's departure. Guentzel had only 6 PPG and 5 PPA last season. He could easily get to 20 PPP if he earns that spot in the preseason (his competition is Galchenyuk I guess?). Sure, we can't expect 17.6% shooting again, but I don't expect much regression getting to play with Crosby. I think Guentzel is a solid bet to get back to 40 goals again and boosts his assists to get up to a point per game. He should be a solid value at this point, especially if he falls between last season's 26 PIM and his 42 in 2017-18.
Hey guys! Sven back for another fantasy hockey season writing for Razzball. With one under my belt already I’m looking forward to interacting with you faithful commenters once again, and of course always making improvements to these articles! I am going to start the 2019-20 season with another 31 in 31 team preview. Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2019-20 fantasy hockey season. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to streamers, deeper league holds, even to rookie-eligible 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.