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For the Record - 2014 Playoff Predictions

by chewy 16. April 2014 05:26

Just a few hours before the puck drops on the most compelling contest in all of sports.  This year, at long last, we have a fixed bracket, making things much easier on those of us obsessed with fantasy contests.  Be sure to get in on the action at with your bracket selections.  Here are mine:




Cup Finals:  St. Louis Blues over Boston Bruins.

Despite entering the playoffs on a 6-game losing streak, my faith in St. Louis has not wavered from the start of the season when I projected them to hoist their first ever Cup.  If they can get healthy, no other team can roll 4 lines up front and 3 pair on defense like the Blues.  I was torn over the Boston/Pittsburgh selection, but goaltending has to favor the Bruins.


MVP: Alex Steen.  Steen finally emerged as an NHL star this season, leading his squad in goals and assists, despite missing several weeks of action.  He will be clutch.




Pittsburgh / Columbus

Fleury will be fine in this one.  Which is all anyone needs to hear.  A Pittsburgh loss would rival the '93 Islander upset.

Penguins in 5.


Boston / Detroit

Just keeping the playoff streak alive should satisfy Wings fans.  They certainly won't like what they get in Round 1, as they will be completely outclassed by the Bruins.

Bruins in a clean sweep


Tampa Bay / Montreal

Coin flip on this one.  Let the goaltending decide it.  With Bishop uncertain and Price in top form…

Canadiens in 6.


NY Rangers / Philadelphia

Another coin toss.  The Rangers just seem pieced together wrong, while the Flyers have the 2nd best player in the league on their side.

Flyers in 7.





Colorado / Minnesota

If you're looking for an upset in Round 1, it has to be here.  The Wild are better built for the playoffs than Roy's surprising Avs squad.  If only the Wild had healthy goaltending, they could have challenged St. Louis to come out of the West.

Wild in 6.


St. Louis / Chicago

Tough road for the Hawks to repeat in the West.  Toughest fight comes first, which they will lose.

Blues in 5.


Anaheim / Dallas

Biggest no-brainer on this side of the bracket.  Ducks should roll here.

Ducks in 5.


San Jose / LA

Wish I didn't have to stay past midnight for the next two weeks, but I can't miss what should be the best series of round 1.  When the teams are even, look to the net.  It doesn't get better than Jonathan Quick.

Kings in 6.



Who Will Win the Conn Smythe Now?

by chewy 19. June 2013 07:45

With just a few games left to be played in this year's playoffs, the field for the MVP honors has narrowed itself down a bit; however, this may be one of the toughest seasons in recent memory to pick a clear-cut winner.  The choice obviously depends most upon who wins the Cup.  After that, there are a number of candidates on both side worthy of consideration.  Here are the front-runners at this point, heading into Game 4:


1. Tuukka Rask (BOS)

If there is such thing as a front-runner in this MVP race, it would have to be Rask.  He has been unbelievable in net, largely making up for the paltry goal-scoring of the Bruins over the past 2 series.  His GAA of 1.64 and save percentage of .946 are best in the league by a long shot.  Without his brilliance in round 3, the Bruins couldn't have so easily dispatched of the Pens.


2. David Krejci (BOS)

Krejci leads the league in playoff scoring with 23 points.  He's tied with Patrick Sharp for tops in goal scoring with 9.  The production has slowed down in the finals.  He has just 2 assists and no goals in the Finals through 3 games.  Even without his scoring, his puck control and overall play have been outstanding.  The Bruins are a well balanced team, but Krejci has emerged as the go to guy in the playoffs.



3. Marian Hossa (CHI)

Sometimes the best way to gauge the value of a player is in their absence.  With Hossa out in Game 3 of the Finals, the Hawks struggled to generate opportunities.  His 2-way play has surpassed that of captain Toews, who has been somewhat absent during this postseason.  If Chicago is to come back and claim the Cup, they will need a healthy Hossa to do that.


4. Corey Crawford (CHI)

Despite being perceived as a potential weak link, Crawford has been outstanding throughout the playoffs.  Were it not for the overshadowing brilliance in the opposite net, Crawford may be the front runner in this column.  His numbers speak for themselves: GAA of 1.73, Save Percentage of .936.  If he can add 3 wins to that total, Crawford may have a Trophy on his shelf.


5. Zdeno Chara (BOS)

His offensive production has been very good (12 points in 19 games), but it is his hulking defensive presence that has him in the running for the MVP honors.  He has owned the region in and around Rask's crease, helping the Bruins keep some of the best offensive talents in the league in check.


Other possibilities, should they do something special in the last few games:

  • Nathan Horton (BOS) - like Hossa, he was missed greatly when absent from his lineup.  His +22 is tops.
  • Patrick Sharp (CHI) - leads the Hawks in points and goals
  • Milan Lucic (BOS) - 85 hits are best in the league.  He came up clutch early in the playoffs.


And in the category of unsung hero, as much as it pains me to say this… Jaromir Jagr (BOS) has been everything and more the Bruins had hoped for.  Had just one or two of his 55 shots on goals gone in the net, he may have made the conversation above.  He has been dominate on both ends of the rink, despite his advanced age.


Which Penguin Will Win the Conn Smythe?

by chewy 31. May 2013 14:07

So, two rounds in the books and despite some interesting twists, it should come as no surprise at who the final four contestants will be.  All four teams have been there and won it and are looking for their 2nd go at the Cup in 5 years. 

Despite the presence of four worthy teams, I'd have to go out of my way not to recognize that the Penguins are still heavy favorites here.  And from those Penguins come at least 7 worthy candidates for the title of Playoff MVP.  Normally, at this time of year, I present the top 10 contenders for the Conn Smythe, drawing a few from each squad; however, given my belief that Pittsburgh will likely wrap this thing up with relative ease, it's pointless to go through that exercise.  Instead, I will focus on the most likely scenario:  Who should get the trophy when the Penguins win the Cup. 



1. Thomas Vokoun

It's hard to fathom now, but the Penguins truly were in trouble in that opening round series with Fleury between the pipes.  Thanks to off-season Shero brilliance, Coach Bylsma had an obvious answer.  And it worked.  With so much fire power up front, what this team needed more than anything was for someone to just stop the bleeding.  Vokoun did that and more.  He has arguably been the best goalie in the playoffs, and the one indispensable piece in this Penguin lineup.  He's going to have to be good versus the Bruins, and potentially great against the Hawks (should that happen), but that just means he'll have to keep doing what he's been doing his whole career.


2. Kris Letang

Letang is currently one point away from leading the league in points this post-season.  Should that hold true through the end of June, it may be an easy choice.  To have a team this loaded with talent be led in scoring by a defensemen speaks volumes of Letang's presence, yet it just scratches the surface of what he brings to this team.  It didn't always show in Round 1, but nobody was better in Round 2 than Letang.


3. Sidney Crosby

Had he suited up to start the playoffs, he would likely be at the top of the scoring.  Having only played 10 games, he trails by a few points.  But that will change, should he stay healthy.  Crosby is the heart of this team and undisputed best player in the world.  It's almost too easy to give him this trophy.


4. Evgeni Malkin

The last time the Pens won the Cup it was Malkin, not Crosby, that held this honor.  Through 2 rounds, he's certainly making a good case for a repeat.  Provided you don't consider the blind passes to no-one, dumb penalties, and other mental lapses at all areas of the rink, his every-other-shift offensive brilliance may be enough to make up for his shortcomings.


5. Jarome Iginla

It feels like Iginla is just building momentum with each round, to the point where he may single-handedly dominate the Finals.  Should they face any serious adversity in the final two rounds, it just may be the new guy that bails them out.


6. James Neal

Before the playoffs, I picked the Real Deal to hold this trophy.  He made me look silly for a while there, as the goals just wouldn't come.  But alas, the sniper has awoken.  5 goals in the last 2 games.  If the pace continues, he'll climb this list quickly.


7. Pascal Dupuis

For most of the post-season thus far, it's been the underrated winger Dupuis that led the team, and the league in goals.  He now stands tied with Crosby and Patrick Sharp with 7 for tops.  Aside from Crosby, Dupuis has been the best all-around player for the Pens this spring.  Seems a long-shot, but he deserves consideration.


8. Kris Kunitz

A sane argument could be made that Kunitz is the one piece to the offense that this team cannot afford to lose.  Simply put, he makes things happen for the stars.  He's the enabler.  That's why both Malkin and Crosby have been vocal in stating they prefer to play with Kunitz.  He opens space.   He lets them do their magic.  And he has shown plenty of magic of his own.  He would have to go on a pretty good goal scoring tear to leapfrog the big guns, but it could be done.


9/10. Jonathan Quick or Corey Crawford

Splitting the vote.  Truth is, with the top 6 forwards on this team going at equal pace, they just may split the vote.  That leaves open the odd scenario where the losing team gets the trophy.  Should that happen, it typically only goes to a goalie.


2013 Playoff Preview

by chewy 30. April 2013 08:35

In the Spring of 1992, after saving my paper route money for weeks, I skipped school one day, woke up at 3AM and camped outside of Greengate Mall to be first in line for playoff tickets.  Roughly one week later, I sat with mixed emotions, front-row tickets in hand to Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, as I watched my favorite player, Ronnie Francis, dismantle the Blackhawks in Game 4.  I was left holding a meaningless ticket to a game that would never be played.


Now, 21 years later, if all goes to plan, the Penguins and Blackhawks seem all but certain to meet once again in those Stanley Cup Finals.  If all goes to plan.  Which it obviously never does in the NHL playoffs.  Which is why predicting what will transpire over the next 2 months is perhaps the most challenging task a hockey writer can undertake.  Of the 8 opening round series, only the Pens and Hawks can be thought of as heavy favorites to advance.  Each of the other 6 series could be decided on a coin flip.  And as I witnessed up close in 1993, even an unbeatable Penguins squad could in fact lose to an eight-seeded Islanders…




Pittsburgh Penguins (1) vs New York Islanders (8)

Speaking of which… could it  happen again?  Could the most talented team in hockey stumble in the opening round against an Islanders team that is seemingly just happy to be there?  Despite the fact that history is on the Islanders side, it's just not going to happen this time around.  The '93 Pens were built on raw talent alone and had below average  goaltending in Tom Barrasso, particularly in 1993.  While Fleury's performance last year was strikingly similar, he seems to have righted the ship.  And even if he is distracted by becoming a new daddy this week, Pittsburgh can safely turn to veteran Thomas Vokoun and barely miss a step.  Make no mistake.  With all the talent and grit added to an already talented and gritty team, the one thing that can mess up the parade plans in Pittsburgh is goaltending.


On the other side of the rink, the Islanders are in fact a fun team to watch.  With John Tavares officially arriving as a legit superstar this season, and with the team boasting a variety of speedy forwards that can turn a game around in seconds, it should be an entertaining series to watch.  Against any other opponent in the East, New York would have a fighting chance.  But against this all-star team, they should just be happy to be there.


Prediction: Penguins in 5.



Montreal Canadiens (2) vs Ottawa Senators (7)

The Habs defaulted into the Division Champ slot, despite a late-season collapse.  The hockey world was drooling over a certain Montreal-Toronto first round matchup, but will have to "settle" for the first Senator-Canadiens playoff meeting since the 1920's.  This one has all the makings of an epic storyline and could easily go either way.  On one hand, Montreal took an impressive storybook rebound season and scarred it with some downright awful play as the final weeks played out.  They had just enough to hang on to the #2 seed, but left plenty of questions, starting with the mindset of Carey Price.  If he falters, as he clearly did in the final weeks, the Habs have no one to lean on.  This is where a guy like Jaroslav Halak would be a nice card to play. 


The Senators are the team that won't give up or go away no matter how many people believe they will or should.  Despite losing their most significant pieces, the Sens persisted and played a team game to keep themselves from sliding.  Kudos to the coaching squad and the leadership of Alfredsson to get them here.  Now what are they going to do with it?  In a series like this, it will likely be decided by goaltending.  In which case, with recent history in mind, the edge clearly has to go to Ottawa.


Prediction: Senators in 5.



Washington Capitals (3) vs New York Rangers (6)

As the Kings demonstrated last season, getting hot at the right time can be all it takes to roll your way through the NHL playoffs.  A month ago it seemed impossible that the Capitals would even qualify for the post-season.  Today, it's not uncommon to hear predictions of their first Stanley Cup party.  The turn around has been awesome to behold.  Mike Green, Niklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin have turned the calendar back a few years and are once again a trifecta of skill that no team seems capable of answering.  So can Lundqvist be the one to end this run?  Of all the series, this one may be the most difficult to predict.


The Rangers are a very different squad than the one that started the season with high expectations, only to fall upon hard times very quickly.  The team clearly missed the elements that left in the off season, such as Prust and Callahan.  Callahan is back now, which helped New York compile 10 wins in April to salvage the season.  However, without Staal in the lineup, the Rangers may not have enough to shut down the top unit of the Capitals.  Then again… there is Lundqvist. 


Prediction: Rangers in 7.



Boston Bruins (4) vs Toronto Maple Leafs (5)

It's hard to fathom how the Bruins fell to the fourth seed.  Despite playing in a division that sent 4 of 5 teams to the playoffs, Boston clearly  was the team to beat in this group.  They faltered greatly in April, and struggled to score goals.  With just a week left in the season, Milan Lucic was watching games from the press box.  These are not good signs for a team preparing for battle.  They will face a team with whom they share much recent history.  Kessel, Seguin, Rask, Hamilton… the storylines surrounding trades will be told, but the bottom line here is that the Leafs look good right now and the Bruins do not.


Toronto brings an imposing lineup of forwards, including the unstoppable-when-healthy Lupul/Kessel combo.  Youngster Nazim Kadri was one of the biggest surprises of the season, blossoming in the wake of the coaching/GM changes to find his way into the top 25 for points in the NHL this season.  James Reimer has also surprised many, giving the Leafs no reason to sell the farm for a shot at Luongo at the deadline.  That may change this summer if he falters, but for now, the Leafs look like a good bet to advance to Round 2 for the first time in many, many moons.


Prediction: Leafs in 6.





Chicago Blackhawks (1) vs Minnesota Wild (8)

Congrats to the Wild for making the playoffs.


Prediction: Hawks in 5.



Anaheim Ducks (2) vs Detroit Redwings (7)

Congrats to the Redwings for… no.  I can't bring myself to complete that sentence.  Though, truly, just to be there for the 22nd straight season is something to behold.  But will it be enough to get them past the most underappreciated good team in the NHL right now?  The Ducks have put together an amazing rebound season, but have received very little attention in the wake of Chicago's epic winning streak in the West.  Nevertheless, this is a very good team having a very good season.  The Ducks are rolling three quality lines and getting scoring from each.  Selanne and Koivu, while playing on the third line, have combined for 20 goals alone.  Francois Beauchemin has re-emerged as a top-end and potential Norris Trophy nominee defenseman.  Anaheim also has 2 top-notch goalies on their hands should they need to choose.  And I haven't mentioned the resurgence of captain Ryan Getzlaf. 


The Wings have pulled off the unthinkable by clawing their way into the 7th seed, despite the decimation of their defense.  And they did it with impressive defense.  Jimmy Howard put up perhaps the best season of his career, at the most needed time.  But make no mistake.  This team belongs to Zetterberg and Datsyuk.  It's on them to determine how far the story can continue.


Prediction: Anaheim in 5.



Vancouver Canucks (3) vs San Jose Sharks (6)

There are a hundred ways to break down this series, but no matter how you approach it, it comes out a tie.  On offense, the edge has to go to San Jose.  Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Havlat, etc. hold a slight edge over the likes of the Sedins, Kesler, Burrows and newcomer Roy.  The difference maker here may end up being defenseman turned winger Brent Burns.  On defense, Vancouver can boast of the advantage.  San Jose parted ways with Douglas Murray to make room for more speed and agility, but leaves them in envy of the like of Edler, Bieksa, and Hamhuis.  In net, it's a tie.  Niemi put up a quietly outstanding season, while Vancouver can turn to either Luongo or Schneider as the mood fits.  Either way, it's looking like a good series and a tough one to call.


While the Canucks have more or less rolled towards another division title, the Sharks have been on a roller coaster ride.  They started the season on fire, fell flat on their faces in March, and dominated in April.  At least they're hot at the right time.


Prediction: Sharks in 6.




St. Louis Blues (4) vs Los Angeles Kings (5)

If these teams played 100 more games this season, they would probably still finish within a point or two of each other in the standings.  Both teams boast of significant depth, great goaltending, and a bit of grit, which should make this the most interesting series to watch in the West. 


The Blues enter the playoffs in complete control on defense.  Elliot is stopping everything, thanks in large part to the stacked defense and stifling system that Coach Hitchcock brings wherever he goes.  No team can match the 3 pairings on the blue line that St. Louis can serve up.  Up front, the Blues can roll their lines with ease, with scoring threats on the ice at all times.


The Kings will have a tough go at defending their crown, but come with basically the same set of weapons that dominated last spring.  Their top two lines can match up evenly with anyone in the West, but they do get a little thin in terms of scoring beyond that.  On defense, Drew Doughty could ultimate be the factor that gets them past the first round. 


Predictions: Blues in 7.






I'm typically uncomfortable going with the crowd with my picks.  After all, I did name the Sabres as my pre-season selection to hoist the Cup.  However, in this case, I can find no plausible piece of evidence to suggest that anyone can defeat the Penguins in a 7-game series.  All that's left to be decided is the name on the other end of that history.  To me, it will come down to the Central Division.  Hawks or Blues.  Ultimately, I see St. Louis getting to the finals.


Penguins over Blues in 5 games.  MVP honors this season will go to the Real Deal James Neal.  With Iginla, Malkin, Crosby, and Letang finishing 2nd through 5th in voting.





If you're still reading, most likely, it's because you're about to fill out your selections for a playoff pool.  So while you've gained nothing by reading one more article picking Pittsburgh to win it all, I will offer up my rankings from 1-16 of the teams in terms off their likelihood to hoist the Cup in 2003:


1. Pittsburgh - could sit their top power play unit for the game and still be the most talented team in the league

2. St. Louis - depth wins in the playoffs and this team has no weak line.  Deep at offense.  Deep at defense.  Deep in goal.

3. Chicago - that winning streak happened for a reason.  This team is the most talented in the West.  If Crawford can stay hot, they have a shot.

4. Toronto - time for crazy.  The Leafs just feel like a team ready to make a run.  I see them reaching the Conference Finals and becoming the only team to give the Pens a slight scare.

5. Anaheim - this is a different team since Boudreau took over last year. 

6. Boston - if they survive the opening round with the Leafs, it will be by rediscovering the scoring.  If that happens, they will make a run.

7. LA - they are the defending champs.  All comes down to Quick.

8. San Jose - Their biggest test may come in the opening round.  This team has to feel like the window is nearly closed.

9. Vancouver - see above.  If they can overcome San Jose, they have a shot at advancing.

10. New York Rangers - if they do go a few rounds, Lundqvist will be the hands-down MVP

11. Washington - if they can keep the magic rolling, this is a talented group of players

12. Ottawa - go ahead, keep doubting them.  If they go far enough, they may just add Spezza at some point.

13. Montreal - all about Price.

14. Detroit - the streak is a alive.  Just be happy with that.

15. Minnesota - back in the playoffs for one week.

16. New York Islanders - sorry about that first round draw.



Playoff Preview for Daily Fantasy action

by chewy 10. April 2012 09:00

The regular season has come to an end, but the fantasy hockey action continues, at least for a little while, on Draftstreet.  Draftstreet moves into 2-day game mode with the playoff schedule down to 3 or 4 games a night.  Your first chance to get in on the action is Wednesday/Thursday, with 7 of the 8 series in play.    Today's playoff preview will briefly spotlight each matchup and offer the Top Target and Best Value for each of the 16 playoff squads.






This one features the top defensive team in the East (New York) versus the third best offense in the East (Ottawa).  Despite winning the conference, the Rangers haven't been as impressive lately as they were earlier in the season.  The same can be said for the Sens.  All told, this will be a fairly even matchup with a few stars worth targeting. 

Prediction: Senators with the upset in 6.


Top Targets:

OTT - Erik Karlsson (D) - obvious Norris pick, Karlsson was the leading defensive scorer by 25 points.  That's the most dominating performance we've seen at this position in a generation.

NYR - Henrik Lundqvist (G) - if anyone can stop Karlsson and the Sens, it's Lundqvist.  He will be solid.


Best Value:

OTT - Sergei Gonchar (D) - $7.3k - with all that Karlsson has done, the veteran has flown under the radar in a respectable comeback season.  He finished with 37 points, along with a healthy 115 blocked shots.

NYR - Brad Richards (C ) - $11.6k - Richards was so far down through the first 3/4 of the season, that his tremendous fourth quarter didn't provide enough time for his salary to over inflate.  Only Malkin had more points in the final 2 months of the season.




It came down to the very end, but the Caps snuck into the playoffs, so can we forget about the regular season and assume all is well?  Probably not, as they've drawn a round with the defending Champs who still boast an impressively deep roster of offensive talent.  This should be a short series with the B's coming out looking stronger than they do going in.

Prediction: Bruins walk in 5


Top Targets:

BOS: Tyler Seguin (C ) - Last spring, Seguin emerged as the playoffs drew on by scoring some highlight reel goals, despite very limited ice time.  This time around, he'll be counted on to lead the offense in the Cup defense.

WAS: Nicklas Backstrom (C ) - if Backstrom hadn't returned in time, we'd probably be discussing the Sabres in the spot.  He'll top a point a game easily.


Best Value:

BOS: David Krejci (C ) - $11.4k - Similar to last season, Krejci has been up and down all season long.  He was an absolute beast come playoff time last year.  Expect another fine run.

WAS: Brooks Laich (C ) - $8.2k - Laich has historically stepped up his game in the post-season, averaging more points in playoff games than regular season throughout his career.




It's been over a decade, but Florida is finally playing spring hockey.  It won't last long, so enjoy the next week.  Don't expect much scoring in the one, so from a fantasy perspective, this isn't a series to target.  The top two stars in New Jersey should provide some thrills.

Prediction: Devils in 6 uneventful games.


Top Targets:

FLA: Jason Garrison (D) - Garrison was a bit of a surprise this season with his 2.46 FPPG average on the back of 16 goals (3rd best at this position in the NHL).

NJ: Ilya Kovalchuk (LW) - Kovalchuk had a season of redemption, piling up 37 goals and 83 points in total.  He finished strong with 8 points in 5 games.


Best Value:

FLA: Radek Dvorak (RW) - $2.7k - he's practically free

NJ: Zach Parise (LW) - $10.5k - the other superstar on left wing in New Jersey is priced well to start the series.




This is the series that will get all the attention in round 1, and rightfully so.  It's a stinkin' shame that one of these teams will not be playing in Round 2.  The winner will likely be lifting the Cup in June.  It's tough to pick just one player to target from both of these squads.  Put the names in a hat. 

Prediction: Pens in 6.  There's no stopping Crosby-Malkin-Staal down the middle.


Top Targets:

PIT: Sidney Crosby (C ) - Flip a coin (a three-sided one).  Crosby, Malkin, Neal.  Can't go wrong.

PHI: Claude Giroux (C ) - In any other matchup, Giroux would be the center getting all the press.  As it stands, he'll settle for a bronze in this discussion.


Best Value:

PIT: Pascal Dupuis (LW) - $11.6k - Despite heading into the playoffs on a league-best 17 game scoring streak, he remains a fair value.  Continue to play him until he proves us wrong.

PHI: Jaromir Jagr (RW) - $10.6k - he's slowed down significantly over the course of the year, but should have little trouble getting up for this challenge.







Prior to the start of the season, I picked the Kings to represent the West in the finals.  It could still happen, but it's looking less likely.  The Canucks aren't the offensive dynamo that they once were, but were still a complete enough team to take another Presidents trophy.  Is Daniel Sedin healthy enough to lead the top line?  That may decide this one.

Prediction: Call me nuts, but LA in 7.


Top Targets:

VAN: Roberto Luongo (G) - When the offense shut down in the final month, Luongo stepped it up and dominated.

LA: Jonathan Quick (G) - it's a goalie competition in this series.  Quick has a great chance at the Vezina and no reason to doubt him now when the Canucks have struggled to score.


Best Value:

VAN: Ryan Kesler (C ) - $9.3k - His production dried up considerably in the 2nd half of this season, but it's playoff time.  Kesler will show.

LA: Jeff Carter (C ) - $7.6k - Assuming he's back to health in time, you won't find a better value than Carter in this price range.




The Blues are one of the most complete teams from top to bottom and are a defensive titan.  They allowed just 165 goals this season.  No other team was close.  Halak and Elliot combined for 15 shutouts, now the question is who will get the chance in the post-season?  Meanwhile, the Sharks have the same story as the Caps back East.  High expectations have been replaced with relief over post-season qualification.  Like the Caps, it will be short-lived.

Prediction: The Blues will squeeze the Sharks in 5 defensive battles.


Top Targets:

STL: Jaroslav Halak (G) - When the dust settles, expect Hitchcock to go with Halak between the pipes.  He won't disappoint.

SJ: Joe Pavelski (C ) - Last season, Pavelski was a beast in the playoffs.  He'll need to be that again if the Sharks are to have any hope of moving past the Blues.  He set a career high with 31 goals this season and will be good for a few more in round 1.


Best Value:

STL: Andy McDonald (C ) - $10.3k - He's produced at nearly a point a game over the last two season, but few have noticed due to the injuries. 

SJ: Dominic Moore (C ) - $4.5k - in order to make cap, you'll need a bargain bin pick or two.  Moore could not care less about the regular season.  This is his time.




The biggest question in this series will be the health and effectiveness of Jonathan Toews.  If he's able to shake off the concussion and return to form quickly, the Hawks are a serious power.  Otherwise, the Coyotes could certainly match up well and win this one. 

Prediction: The Hawks in 7, with Toews gaining speed as it wears on.


Top Targets:

PHO: Mike Smith (G) - The hottest goalie to end the season was Smith.  He'll struggle to shut down the Hawks, but should give some solid games.

CHI: Jonathan Toews (C ) - If he's healthy, he may be the best player in the West.


Best Value:

PHO: Keith Yandle (D) - $7.6k - Yandle is one of the best options on defense in the league at any price.  This value is too good to pass up.

CHI: Marian Hossa (RW) - $11.2k - He led the Hawks in scoring, yet he's cheaper than 4 other forwards on Chicago.




Much like the East, the 4-5 matchup in the West is the series to watch in Round 1.  And like the Philly-Pittsburgh showdown, there's a good chance the winner of this epic showdown will represent the West in the finals.  The Preds are extremely deep at all positions, though they lack a superstar on offense.  The Wings will lean on Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and Lidstrom, as they have for years.

Prediction: Nashville in 5.


Top Targets:

NAS: Shea Weber (D) - 19 goals from a defenseman is worth taking notice of.  His canon on the point will cause problems for Howard.

DET: Pavel Datsyuk (LW) - all hopes for success in Detroit start with their top gun.


Best Value:

NAS: Mike Fisher (C ) - $9.5k - Fisher has a history of elevating his game in the post-season. 

DET: Valtteri Filppula (C ) - $7.9k - Filppula has quietly put together a solid season, yet remains a value under 8k.



And for the record, my Cup prediction:  Pittsburgh over Nashville.




For more insight into daily fantasy sports, check out more of my posts on

Also, if you want to try daily fantasy hockey on Draftstreet, use the promo code "LANDSHARK" for a bonus on your deposit.


Tip o' the hat to BlogEngine.NET ---

What fans are saying about Landshark Hockey...

Keep up the good work. You make my elbow tingle.

- Lou Cronner


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