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.
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:
For two periods, the Red Wings were locking the Canucks down defensively. They went into the third period up 2-0 but that lead didn't last long. In fact, the Canucks ended up scoring five goals in the third to win with ease. They were lead by their captain, Bo Horvat, who had his first career hat trick in the victory. Loyal Razzballers know how much I like Dr. Bo as a player. It's been a slow start, but here's why I'm buying Horvat (and another Canuck I'll talk about later). One, Horvat is shooting the puck at an excellent rate. He's over three shots per game on the season. Two, and the main reason, is that Horvat is back on the first power play unit. In fact, two of his goals came on that unit. There's a ton of potential in that group and Horvat should be a beneficiary. He's an easy hold and should push the top 100 going forward. Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
Brayden Point made his season debut on Thursday for a big showdown with the Maple Leafs. Unsurprisingly, he started right where he left off, scoring two goals and adding an assist with five shots in the 7-3 win. The Bucs beat the Argonauts! Anyways, we know how good Point is and that he's an elite options in all formats. A couple other takeaways from this game. One, Point went on the first line with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, who had four points each. If that line sticks together, watch out. Two, the new fifth person on the top power play unit was Anthony Cirelli, who ended up with three assists, two on the power play. I'm a big fan of Cirelli's game but he didn't get the opportunity. Now, he is centering the second line and on the top power play unit. He's a must own in all formats. Three, Tampa Bay really is the better version of Toronto. The defensemen on Toronto just can't keep up. I mean, Cody Ceci? Even Rielly and Barrie aren't good defensively. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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! 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. Last year my previews went alphabetically, but this year we’re going to go division-by-division, starting with the top team. On our ninth stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we start up our Central Division breakdown in Music City with the Nashville Predators. The Preds are still on the cusp of something great, but their results have only regressed since their 2017 Finals appearance. To land one of the free-agent big fish, they had to salary dump a big fish of their own. In a Central that looks as competitive as ever, here’s who the Preds will rely on to finish back on top.
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:
It's no secret that the Ducks are a mess right now. I said in a post last week that they're the worst team in the league at the moment, but last night's game took the cake. Getting shutout by the Senators is as low as it gets. Sure, Anders Nilsson played great stopping 45 shots, but a lot of them were low quality like the team taking them. This isn't a post about Nilsson, he's barely usable. This is a reminder that you should stream against the Ducks every time you get. Anaheim plays against plenty of bad teams this month (Vancouver 2x, Edmonton, Chicago) yet I still wouldn't hesitate to use any of their goaltenders. Take advantage of the Ducks every opportunity that you get. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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:
Cory Schneider has been atrocious all season and Keith Kinkaid has had a brutal December. Enter Mackenzie Blackwood into the crease for the Devils, and the former second round pick has immediately caught fire. Please, blog, may I have some more?