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Saturday, January 19, 2013

AFC Conference Finals Preview

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#4 Baltimore Ravens @ #2 New England Patriots
6:30pm CBS

In a rematch of last year's AFC title game, we once again get treated to what will surely be a hard fought battle. There are a number of excellent story lines at play here with the rematch of last season's AFC title game, Ray Lewis' impending retirement, a potential for a Harbaugh-bowl and a story of a team who is where everyone expected them to be while the other is riding destiny.

# 4 Baltimore Ravens:
How they got there: Wild Card Round - Defeated #5 Indianapolis Colts 24-9, Divisional Round - Defeated #1 Denver Broncos 38-35
Key Injuries:  The Ravens were plagued with injuries to key players during the regular season particularly on the defensive side of the ball where All-Pro's Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis missing the majority of the regular season. Both are back now and healthy. The only sticking injury seems to be to DL Haloti Ngata who is playing through the pain but does not seem to be himself out there.
Keys to Victory:  The best way to beat the Patriots is to keep the high powered offense off the field. Controlling the clock on the ground with the rushing attack led by Ray Rice. While the Pats defense has been pretty good against the run (2nd in NFL reg. season at 91.0 YDs/GM) is anyone is going to be able find a hole or two it will be the sneaky Ray Rice who at just 5'8" can hid behind his large offensive line. Perhaps the Patriots biggest defensive vulnerability is in the secondary (passing yds 4th worst in the NFL 271.4 YDs/GM). Joe Flacco has tremendous arm strength and showed last last week with a pair of bombs to Torry Smith. With that said, it may not be wise to get into a shootout against the #1 rated offense (Patriots) in the NFL.
Potential Ravens Storylines: A win would would extend the career of Ray Lewis for a final game and chance to go out with Superbowl glory. It would also set up the possibility of a Hargaugh Brothers match-up in the Super Bowl should San Francisco also win. The Ravens are having a bit of a Cinderella season as very few expected them to be here. Lewis himself has hinted to them being a "team of destiny" - a title that could prove evident with a victory on Sunday over a highly favored Patriots team.

#2 New England Patriots:
How the got there:  Wild Card Round - BYE, Divisional Round -  Defeated #3 Houston Texans 41-28
Key Injuries:  The Patriots suffered a huge loss last weekend when TE Rob Gonkowski re-broke his arm on a first quarter catch. Gronk arguably the best TE in the NFL and Tom Brady's favorite red-zone target. Also injured last week was RB Danny Woodhead who broke his hand on the first play of the game. Ridley and Vereen filled in admirably in his absence. Woodhead is listed as questionable for Sunday's game. The Patriots are also without WR Julian Edleman who has missed the second half of season with a foot injury.
Keys to Victory:  The easiest way for the Patriots to win will be to score early and often. New England has the top rated scoring offense in the NFL. Getting into a shootout with the Ravens will force Joe Flacco and company to air it out where they are vulnerable to turnovers. The Ravens offensive line (notably Ngata) is banged up which could allow Ridley and Vereen to be effective.
Potential Patriots Storylines: A trip to the Super Bowl would give QB Tom Brady a chance to mark his place in history by doing what only Joe Montana has done before him: win a 4th Superbowl. The Patriots are also looking to make amends for an early season loss on a last second Ravens field goal that may or may not have actually split the uprights.

Click Here for NFC Conference Championship Preview 

Puckmania Weekly Watch: Opening Weekend Edition

Puckmania Weekly Watch
Opening Weekend Edition
By Wild On Sports NHL Insider Erin Gilman
January 19, 2013
After 113 days, the day us hockey fans have been waiting for is back! Today officially marks the beginning of Hockey season.  It will be interesting to see how the players handle being back on the ice after such a long break, to see the rivalries renewed and the players plagued by injury last season return to the ice. There are some great match ups this weekend including the Stanley cup champion LA Kings taking on the Chicago Blackhawks, the Vancouver Cancuks play the Anaheim ducks and the Montreal Canadians will take on the Toronto Maple leafs. Should be a very interesting and exciting weekend for many reason, but number one of course being that we finally have hockey back.

Two Key Match Ups:

Boston Bruins VS New York Rangers
The Boston Bruins this year are ranked number  1 amongst the NHL’s power rankings for cup contenders. No doubt this team is strong but with such un certainty in the net as young goaltender Tukka Rask takes on the starting position in place of Vezna trophy winning Tim Thomas this game should be exciting from puck drop to the final whistle sound. Two key players to watch in this game will be Rick Nash for the New York Rangers and Tyler Seguin of the Boston Bruins. Nash had a PPG average of 6 last season with the Columbus Blue Jackets, it will be impelling to see how he does with a strong offense and even stronger defense behind him. On the Boston Bruins I would keep an eye on Tyler Seguin. Seguin had a phenomenal season his rookie year, with outstanding stats in the Stanley cup playoffs where he assisted his team in winning the cup. Last season his stats though less amazing were still very strong for what was really still his rookie season. After the long break of the lockout it will be intriguing to see if he was simply a player who landed “beginners luck” or if he really is the strong forward this Bruins team needs.
Philadelphia Flyers VS Pittsburgh Penguins
One of the most intense rivalries in the NHL gets renewed today as Claude Giroux and his Philadelphia Flyers take on Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Some key players to watch in this particular match up are Brayden Schenn of the Philadelphia flyers and Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Schenn is being given a chance to skate with the best, He will be moved from his position at center to right wing, he says he is comfortable playing there but has played only center in both the AHL and the NHL for the length of his career. The pressure to play beside Giroux will be intense for this young player, It will be fascinating to see if the Phillies made the right decision putting him in this particularly strong starting line. In 2012 Sidney Crosby went down with a season ending concussion,  there has been a lot of speculation on Crosby and his “ability” after such a traumatic event. Will he be the same player he was pre-injury? If so then the Flyers are in trouble, but he is definitely a player to keep your eye on.

Key players to watch:
The Goaltending Battle heats up this year with two goaltenders I personally cant wait to watch. The two arguably best award winning goalies in the NHL will take a back seat for two fresh faced younger netminders. This year we will watch as Tukka Rask takes over for Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, and Cory Schneider takes over for Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo. Luongo will still see some ice time, but I believe they are leaning towards Schneider being the one to lead this strong team in to the Playoffs. Both goaltenders have put up incredible stats (Rask has a .929 save percentage and 2.05 GAA in the regular season and Schneider has a .937 save percentage and a 1.96 GAA) but remember these stats were when they were sharing the ice. It will be incredibly compelling and exciting to see how they handle the pressure this year with being starting goaltenders for the first time in both of their careers.
Rookie Watch:
Justin Schultz of the Edmonton Oilers has had a lot of hype about him this off season. Putting up amazing stats with both the BCHL team the Westside Warriors and the WCHA University of Wisconsin, He is predicted to put up record breaking stats this year, but the NHL is a lot different than the minor teams and the University teams the pressure on a young rookie is sometimes nerve racking especially when people and reporters alike are calling for such amazing stats. I think Schultz is definitely a rookie to watch. 
Dougie Hamilton of the Boston Bruins is another rookie I am excited to see this year.  The Boston Bruins got two first round draft picks in the Phill Kessel trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs, with their first they picked up Tyler Seguin and with their second, Dougie Hamilton a defensive player who is said to be more advanced then  Zdeno Chara was at the young age of 19.
Mikael Granlund of the Minnesota Wild, Granland produced 20 goals and 31 assists for a combined total of 51 points last year playing for the HIFK in the Finish League. Granlund is said to be the saving grace this 30th ranked team in terms of offense has been looking for, only time will tell but he is defiantly worth watching.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

2013 Fantasy Hockey Rankings By Position

Wild on Sports
A look at Fantasy Hockey Rankings by Position
A list of the top 20 at each position as ranked by the four major Fantasy Hockey sites.

Centres    NHL.com             TSN          ESPN         Yahoo      Average
Evgeni Malkin (PIT)11111
Steven Stamkos (TB23222.25
Sidney Crosby (PIT)32332.75
Claude Giroux (PHI)45554.75
Henrik Sedin (VAN)68867
John Tavares (NYI)518447.75
Jonathan Toews (CHI)86998
Eric Staal (CAR)1171289.5
Jason Spezza (OTT)91910711.25
Pavel Datsyuk (DET)1013141011.75
David Backes (STL)124181412
Brad Richards (NYR)131271612
Nicklas Backstrom (WAS)26961113
Joe Thornton (SJ)1410171213.25
Anze Kopitar (LA)720112014.5
Jamie Benn (DAL)1511201816
Ryan Getzlaf (ANA)1614191716.5
Logan Couture (SJ)1815211517.25
Jordan Staal (CAR)2022162420.5
Patrice Bergeron (BOS)1916222721

Left Wingers NHL.com TSN ESPN Yahoo Average
Alex Ovechkin (WAS) 2 1 2 1 1.5
Daniel Sedin (VAN) 1 2 1 2 1.5
Zach Parise (MIN) 6 4 3 3 4
Rick Nash (NYR) 4 5 4 6 4.75
Scott Hartnell (PHI) 5 9 5 5 6
Ilya Kovalchuk (NJ) 3 11 8 4 6.5
Henrik Zetterberg (DET) 7 10 6 7 7.5
Gabriel Landeskog (COL) 11 3 11 8 8.25
Patrick Marleau (SJ) 8 7 7 11 8.25
Milan Lucic (BOS) 12 13 13 9 11.75
Taylor Hall (EDM) 9 24 10 9 13
Bobby Ryan (ANA) 10 12 25 10 14.25
Thomas Vanek (BUF) 14 18 17 13 15.5
Max Pacioretty (MTL) 15 16 19 17 16.75
Loui Eriksson (DAL) 13 17 26 12 17
Dustin Brown (LA) 16 6 24 23 17.25
Matt Moulson (NYI) 21 20 14 16 17.75
Alexander Semin (CAR) 23 21 12 15 17.75
Joffrey Lupul (TOR) 17 31 9 14 17.75
Evander Kane (WPG) 19 14 22 28 20.75
Brad Marchand (BOS) 18 19 31 20 22

Right Wingers NHL.com TSN ESPN Yahoo Average
Corey Perry (ANA) 1 3 1 1 1.5
James Neal (PIT) 2 2 2 2 2
Tyler Seguin (BOS) 6 4 6 4 5
Patrick Sharp (CHI) 3 8 3 6 5
Marian Gaborik (NYR) 4 1 7 12 6
Phil Kessel (TOR) 7 13 4 3 6.75
Marian Hossa (CHI) 5 11 8 13 9.25
Jarome Iginla (CGY) 12 5 12 9 9.5
Joe Pavelski (SJ) 10 6 14 10 10
Patrick Kane (CHI) 9 10 13 8 10
Jordan Eberle (EDM) 8 24 5 5 10.5
Martin St. Louis (TB) 11 15 9 7 10.5
Dany Heatley (MIN) 15 9 15 11 12.5
Teemu Selanne (ANA) 14 16 10 14 13.5
Alex Burrows (VAN) 17 12 19 26 18.5
Ryan Callahan (NYR) 19 7 26 23 18.75
Jason Pominville (BUF) 16 21 22 16 18.75
Jeff Skinner (CAR) 22 23 23 15 20.75
Blake Wheeler (WPG) 29 28 18 18 23.25
Justin Williams (LA) 23 26 25 22 24

Defenseman NHL.com TSN ESPN Yahoo Average
Erik Karlsson (OTT) 1 3 1 1 1.5
Zdeno Chara (BOS) 2 1 3 2 2
Kris Letang (PIT) 3 6 2 3 3.5
Shea Weber (NAS) 4 2 9 4 4.75
Dustin Byfuglien (WPG) 5 5 4 5 4.75
Alex Pietrangelo (STL) 6 4 8 6 6
Dan Boyle (SJ) 7 7 6 7 6.75
Alexander Edler (VAN) 8 8 16 10 10.5
P.K. Subban (MTL) 11 11 11 11 11
Keith Yandle (PHX) 10 13 15 8 11.5
Drew Doughty (LA) 8 9 21 9 11.75
Dion Phaneuf (TOR) 15 10 10 14 12.25
Ryan Suter (MIN) 9 20 7 16 13
Mark Streit (NYI) 14 16 17 12 14.75
Kevin Shattenkirk (STL) 13 15 24 15 16.75
Duncan Keith (CHI) 17 17 20 13 16.75
Brian Campbell (FLA) 12 32 5 19 17
Justin Schultz (EDM) 16 12 30 20 19.5
Kimmo Timonen (PHI) 23 23 18 22 21.5
Cristian Ehrhoff (BUF) 27 18 22 21 22

Goalies NHL.com TSN ESPN Yahoo Average
Henrik Lundqvist (NYR) 1 1 2 1 1.25
Jonathan Quick (LA) 2 3 1 3 2.25
Pekka Rinne (NAS) 3 4 3 2 3
Mike Smith (PHX) 6 6 5 5 5.5
Tuukka Rask (BOS) 13 2 7 4 6.5
Jimmy Howard (DET) 4 10 4 10 7
Cory Schneider (VAN) 9 5 8 6 7
Jaroslav Halak (STL) 8 8 6 12 8.5
Ryan Miller (BUF) 7 13 9 7 9
Kari Lehtonen (DAL) 14 7 14 8 10.75
Carey Price (MTL) 10 12 15 9 11.5
Cam Ward (CAR) 12 17 12 14 13.75
Marc Andre-Fleury (PIT) 5 26 11 16 14.5
Antti Niemi (SJ) 17 11 22 11 15.25
Roberto Luongo (VAN) 15 23 10 17 16.25
Braden Holtby (WAS) 23 18 13 15 17.25
Ilya Bryzgalov (PHI) 20 14 24 13 17.75
Miikka Kiprusoff (CGY) 11 9 32 21 18.25
Semyon Varlamov (COL) 22 15 17 19 18.25
Martin Brodeur (NJ) 19 21 19 18 19.25
Niklas Backstrom (MIN) 18 25 16 20 19.75

NFL Fanduel Conference Playoff Players to Start

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NFL Fanduel:  Conference Finals
We are down to just four teams still standing in the NFL. This may be the last hurrah for NFL Fanduel for the 2012/13 season. With such a small field we will take a look at one player at each position who we feel is a must play this week. Good luck everyone!
QB - Colin Kaepernick  vs.  Atlanta Falcons  $8,800
Over a thousand cheaper than Tom Brady - the only other QB you should be considering this week. Kaepernick is coming off a monster game against Green Bay last weekend that saw him throw for two and run for two touchdowns. The Atlanta defense, while a bit better than the Packers, is still going to be vulnerable to big plays from the pistol/option offense. Expect another strong game from Kaepernick here as he leads him team to the Super Bowl. Projection: 250/2/0 passing , 80/1 rushing
WR - Jacoby Jones  vs. New England Patriots  $5,400
Torry Smith had a monster game last weekend catching three deep balls for two scores. We noticed, you noticed and we're betting the Patriots noticed. With all the attention on Smith and the reliable Anquan Boldin that could open things up to a couple deep bombs to Jones. The Patriots secondary, while improved since the additions of Aquib Talib, is still the achilles heal of the defense and can be exploited down field. Flacco has a big arm and is playing for a contract. Expect him to take a few chances deep and the speedy Jones to find his way under a couple of them.  Projection:  3/85/1
RB - Stevan Ridley  vs.  Baltimore Ravens  $7,200
How do you beat the Baltimore defense? They are stingy in the red-zone but the weakness appears to be attaching the defensive line up the middle as the "playing hurt" Haloti Ngata seems to be a shell of his usual self since coming back. The Patriots go with a two and sometimes even three headed attack so this is a little bit of a risk-reward type play. With Danny Woodhead battling a broken hand and Shane Vereen showing value in the passing game with TE Rob Gronkowski out, Ridley should be the featured back in this one and will get plenty of opportunities to bust a couple into the end-zone.  Projection: 85/2 rushing, 30 receiving.
TE - Tony Gonzalez  vs.  San Francisco 49ers  $5,900
Love him this week for the same reasons as last week. He has never been in this position before and is in what is believed to be the final season of his Hall-of-Fame caliber career. Expect him to come to play and be a great option as the 49ers defense swallows up star receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White on the outside.  Projection:  5/85/1
K - Stephen Gostkowski  vs. Baltimore Ravens  $5,500
The Patriots are going to score; there is no question about. What Baltimore does have going for them is one of the stingiest red-zone defenses in the league. With that in mind, Gostkowski becomes a logical choice.  Projection:  12 points
DEF - New England Patriots  vs.  Baltimore Ravens  $5,600
It is a tough call when you get to this stage as all four teams can both score and defend. With that in mind, you have to ask yourself who is the most turnover prone? Our answer is Joe Flacco. For that reason we are going with the Patriots. If your answer is different, go with that you feel. Just don't blame us if you pass on the Pats and they put up 20.  Projection:  16 points

See last week's picks here:  NFL Fanduel Divisional Playoff Picks

Monday, January 14, 2013

2013 NHL Season Preview: Western Conference

Wild on Sports

It's back! The puck drops Friday night officially starting the 2013 NHL season. After missing nearly half the season due to lockout the short season will be about as exciting as it gets with each having playoff implications. Time to take a look at the players and teams to watch and our picks for Each Division and Stanley Cup Finals. Lets take a look at the Western Conference and what you can expect from each team for 2013.

 Western Conference

Central Division:
The Central Division from the West is the competition for the Atlantic Division of the East for the deepest division in the NHL. After firing their coach in mid November, Ken Hitchcock took over the reins for St. Louis completely turning the team around and leading St. Louis to the division title. The Blue boast the NHL's best statistical goaltending tandem in Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot. If they can continue their second half form right from the get go, they will once again be in contention for the Central crown. One player who will certainly be missed this season in the Central is Detroit defensemen Nicklas Lindstrom who hung up the skates after 20 NHL seasons. His leadership and seemingly ageless skill set will be missed on the Red Wings blue line but with the depth upfront and all-star caliber goaltender Jimmy Howard holding down the fort, Detroit will once again be in position to contend. The Chicago Blackhawks are an interesting team to watch in 2013. They still have a strong young core in Jonnathan Towes and Patrick Kane and a very strong defense led by Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. That type of youth and defensive prowess should serve them well in a short season. If they can develop some secondary scoring behind Kane and Towes they will contend for the division title again this season. Lost in the shuffle are the Nashville Predators. Every year we wonder if this will be he season they kick the playoff bug-a-boo and make a run at the cup. This year is no different. They ponied up to retain defensemen Shea Weber but lost his counterpart Ryan Suter. They will need another strong season from goaltender Pekka Rinne to help cover up some of the holes with Suter's departure. They are still a team to keep an eye one. The ugly duckling in this group is the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus shipped superstar Rick Nash to New York in the off-season and actually did fairly well for themselves in return adding 3 NHL caliber players and a 1st round pick. The added depth along with developing young players like Cam Atkinson will keep them in some games and surprise a few teams. That said, they are so far behind the other four teams in this division that they will inevitably be picking at the top of the draft again in June.
Projected Finish:
1. Chicago Blackhawks
2. Nashville Predators
3. Detroit Red Wings
4. St. Louis Blues
5. Columbus Blue Jackets

Players to Watch:
Cam Atkinson, F CLB
Sergi Bobrovski, G CLB
Jonnathan Towes, F CHI
Gustav Nyquist, F DET
Brendan Smith, D DET
Ryan Ellis, D NSH

Pacific Division:
The Pacific Division is home of the defending Stanley Cup Champion LA Kings. "If it aight broke, don't fix it!" That seems to be the moto in LA as the team returns the same roster full of promising young talent and strong goaltending. That combo makes the Kings a favorite to make a strong run at the cup once again. Chasing the Kings will be 2012 surprise breakout team the Phoenix Coyotes. Phoenix returns a strong core led by goaltender Mike Smith. Smith, who is entering the final year of his contract, is poised for another strong campaign. While the Kings and Coyotes return a good mix of young legs the San Jose Sharks return in tact but with a team largely comprised of greybeards. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Martin Havlat, and Dan Boyle are all good veteran players but will they have the legs for 3 and 4 game weeks? The Dallas Stars made some nice off-season additions in Derick Roy, Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney. They join a solid core of Brenden Morrow, Loui Erickson and Jamie Benn to form a very strong offensive attack. If they can get consistent performances on the back end, particularly in net, they could be a darkhorse candidate to keep an eye on. The Anaheim Ducks have one of the best lines in the NHL with Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry but beyond that have very little to be excited about.

Projected Finish:
1. LA Kings
2. Phoenix Coyotes
3. Dallas Stars
4. San Jose Sharks
5. Anaheim Ducks

Players to Watch:
Jonas Hiller, G ANH
Jaromir Jagr, F DAL
Slava Voynov, D LA
Tanner Pearson, F LA
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D PHO
Mikkel Boedker, F PHO

Northwest Division:
The Minnesota Wild were the talk of the summer signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to huge contracts that will be under review with the new CBA. Those additions along with holdovers Danny Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, Mikko Koivu and others make for a team that is bound to be much improved. The Vancouver Canucks have been in the headlines since the lockout with a good problem to have: two #1 goaltenders. They both want to start. Cory Schneider will be the starter. Roberto Luongo thinks he should be, and will be somewhere this season, just not in Vancouver baring an injury or a slump. Outside of the goaltending, Vancouver has terrific depth up front and should be considered one of the favorites again this season. Edmonton is the "sexy pick" of the Western Conference. They are loaded with young talent that got a chance to build some chemistry during the lockout in the AHL. If they get out fast out of the gates they could really turn some heads this season. If not, they will likely be right there in 2013/14. The Calgary Flames will be without the services of captian Jerome Iginla to start the season as he rest a nagging leg injury. They have some nice new pieces in Juri Hudler, Dennis Wideman and Mike Cammalleri. They won't be enough to be a Stanley Cup contender but they could sneak into the playoffs with strong goaltending. Colorado is another team with a strong young core. Gabriel Landeskog had a huge breakout season in 2012 and will be back with young studs Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly. They have a chance to be dangerous if they can get some consistency in their defensive zone. The Northwest is one of the few Divisions without a team that is significantly below the rest.
Projected Finish:
1. Vancouver Canucks
2. Colorado Avalanche
3. Edmonton Oilers
4. Minnesota Wild
5. Calgary Flames

Players to Watch:
Sven Baertschi, F CAL
Gabriel Landeskog, F COL
Hall/Eberle/Nugent-Hopkins, F EDM
Mikael Granlund, F MIN
Cory Schneider, G VAN
David Booth, F VAN

Click for Eastern Conference Preview

2013 NHL Season Preview: Eastern Conference

Wild on Sports

It's back! The puck drops Friday night officially starting the 2013 NHL season. After missing nearly half the season due to lockout the short season will be about as exciting as it gets with each having playoff implications. Time to take a look at the players and teams to watch and our picks for Each Division and Stanley Cup Finals. Lets take a look at the Eastern Conference and what you can expect from each team for 2013.

Eastern Conference

Northeast Division:
The Boston Bruins return pretty much 100% in tack from 2012 with a terrific blend of youth and experience. Their lone question mark is in goal as Tuukka Rask takes over for the "retired" Tim Thomas. If Rask can prove that he can handle a full season work load, the Bruins are the clear favorites to come out of Northeast Division. On the Bruins heals are the Buffalo Sabers. A nice little rivalry between the two teams has flared up over the past year, fueled largely by the Milan Lucic/Ryan Miller incident from last season that cost Miller a chunk of the season. During the off-season they traded offensive stalwart Derick Roy to Dallas for some added toughness in Steve Ott, a guy who can go toe to toe with Boston's bruisers and add another element to the rivalry. Ottawa could be a surprise team this season. They made the playoffs with a quiet 92 points last year and have a good young group led by Erik Karlsson. The goaltending tandem of Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner (who is having a phenomenal season in the AHL) could steal them a few games and make a difference in a short season. Toronto and Montreal are both a mess at this point. The Maple Leafs just dismissed GM Brian Burke after appearing to fail in his efforts to land Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo. Montreal made big news this week telling former leading scoring Scott Gomez to stay home as they plan to buy out his contract during the off-season. Both teams are on the outside looking in at this point.

Projected Finish:
1. Boston Bruins
2. Buffalo Sabers
3. Ottawa Senators
4. Toronto Maple Leafs
5. Montreal Canadiens

Players to Watch:
Tyler Seguin, C BOS
Tuukka Rask, G BOS
Dougie Hamilton, D BOS
Tyler Ennis, F BUF
Marcus Foligno, F BUF
Robin Lehner, G OTT
James Reimer, G TOR

Atlantic Division:
Clearly the division with the most depth in the Eastern Conference is the Atlantic. The New Jersey Devils are the defending Eastern Division Champions and have been under the spotlight since the lockout ended with the uncertain status of superstar Russian forward Ilya Kovalchuck. Despite winning the East last season the Devils finished in 4th place in the division in the regular season. That alone goes to show the tremendous depth. The Pittsburgh Penguins seem to be sexy pick for 2013 among experts. With a healthy Sidney Crosby teaming up with stars in Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Kris Letang and goalenter Marc-Andre Fleury it is hard to pick against the Penguins. One area of concern that is not gettig lot of play for the Penguins is the loss of hard nose player and penalty killing extraordinaire Jordan Staal to Carolina. With Staal gone, a lesser know player such as Pascal Dupuis or Tyler Kennedy will be looked upon to produce secondary scoring. The New York Rangers made the biggest off-season move acquiring all-star winger Rick Nash from Columbus. The line of Nash-Brad Richards-Marian Gaborik could go down as one of the best in a decade. Combine that scoring capability with arguably the best goaltender in the world in Henrik Lundquist and you have a team that should be in the Stanley Cup discussion. The Philadelphia Flyers will once again be very competitive, but they will go as far as their goaltending can take them. If Bryzgalov can get his game together in the playoffs or they land Roberto Luongo they are certainly in the mix. The New York Islanders will be improved, but still are several steps behind the rest of the division at this point.
 Devils center Adam Henrique celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal to beat the Rangers in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals. New Jersey will face Los Angeles tonight in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
HACKEL: Devils, Kings keys to winning Stanley CupMUIR: Key matchups, X-factor, predictions and moreFARBER: Salvadore key to Devils postseason success
Projected Finish:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins
2. New York Rangers
3. Philadelphia Flyers
4. New Jersey Devils
5. New York Islanders

Players to Watch:
Adam Larsson, D NJ
John Tavares, F NYI
Rick Nash, F NYR
Chris Kreider, F NYR
Sidney Crosby, F PIT
Marc-Andre Fleury, F PIT

The emergence of the Florida Panthers last season finally gave come credibility to the division that for several years was the Washington Capitals and those other guys. A lot of that credit is due to now 2nd year coach Kevin Dineen who brought a tough yet disciplined approach that made the Panthers very difficult to play against. The biggest question for Florida still remains in goal. There are whispers that the Panthers have kicked the tires on Roberto Luongo, but in the meantime will head to camp with the inconsistent Jose Theodore between the pipes. The afore mentioned Capitals are coming off a pretty good playoff run having knocked off then defending camp Boston before bowing out to the New York Rangers. It will be interesting to see the role of Alexander Ovechkin in new coach Adam Oates' system. His minutes dropped significantly in the playoffs under former coach Dale Hunter; a system that appeared to work. He is one of the most dynamic players in the league but can at times be penalty prone and a defensive liability. Without question the most improved team in the Southeast, possibly in the NHL is the Carolina Hurricanes. The additions of Alexander Semin and Jordan Staal will give the Hurricanes terrific offensive depth and scoring. They have one of the most underrated goaltenders in the league in Cam Ward who has a Stanley Cup ring to his credit and is one of the most durable and reliable players in the NHL. Winnipeg and Tampa Bay both pose threats to be dangerous in short seasons. In the end, depth and defense will doom both teams in their playoff quests.
Projected Finish:
1. Washington Capitals
2. Carolina Hurricanes
3. Florida Panthers
4. Tampa Bay Lightning
5. Winnipeg Jets

Players to Watch:
Jordan Staal, F CAR
Alexander Semin, F CAR
Peter Mueller, F FLA
Jason Garrison, D FLA
Anders Lindback, G TB
Branden Holtby, G WAS
Alexander Ovechkin, F WAS
Mark Scheifele, F WPG

Click for Western Conference Preview

NFL Divisional Playoffs Fanduel Recap

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A look back at the week that was Divisional Playoff Weekend in NFL Fanduel

Click here to see the picks:  NFL Divisional Playoffs Fanduel

QB - Tom Brady  vs. Houston Texans  $9,700                     25.66
344/3/0 - Only our other pick, Kaepernick, had a better week than Brady. He suffered a couple of tough drops and loss of star TE Rob Grinkowski but still was about to accomplish what that we thought he would (300+, 3TD's). If you played him you probably had a decent week.
QB - Colin Kaepernick  vs. Green Bay Packers  $7,900     47.62
444 Total Yds, 4 TD's - Ah, the top player in Fanduel this week! Kaepernick did it all. Throwing for TD's, rushing for TD's. He single handedly beat down the Packer's defense. If you started Kaepernick this weekend you were probably in the running for the big bucks.
RB - Marshawn Lynch  vs. Atlanta Falcons  $8,400            13.8
87 Total Yds, 1 TD - Not a great game from Lynch. Found the end-zone to salvage the play but there were better options out there for the money.
RB - DuJaun Harris  vs.  San Francisco Giants  $5,500      13.4
64 Total Yds, 1TD - For the low cost, Harris was a pretty good option, finding the end-zone and nearly matching the point total of Lynch, the highest priced RB this week. Solid pick, bargain play.
WR - Wes Welker  vs. Houston Texans  $7,800                  17.1
8/131 - A very good game that could have been great had he found the end-zone. A couple of 1st half drops could have put in in the 150 range but its hard to be picky at this point. Welker certainly benefited from the early injury to Gronkowski. Pretty good play here.
WR - Tory Smith  vs.  Denver Broncos  $5,200                    23.3
3/98/2 - A stud bargain pick this week. Smith was limited to just 3 catches but all three were spectacular going for big yards. Smith, as always is a rick-reward play. This week those who rolled the dice on him were rewarded.
TE - Tony Gonzalez  vs.  Seattle Seahawks  $5,600              14.1
6/51/1 - Pretty much what you would expect from Gonzalez. Found the end-zone early and make the clutch catch late to put the Falcons in field goal range for the game winning kick.
TE - Dennis Pita  vs.  Denver Broncos  $5,400                       7.0
3/55 - Pita was one of the few who didn't put up monster numbers on the receiving end from QB Joe Flacco. Suprising, considering the Broncos defensive woes against TE's this season. There were better plays out there this week.
K - Stephen Gostkowski  vs. Houston Texans  $5,100          11.0
Lowest price, one of the highest totals. Great pick, great play.
DEF - Atlanta Falcons vs. Seattle Seahawks  $5,100              5.0
It was a tough call on defenses this week as every game was, as predicted, fairly high scoring.

Overall, a very good week for those of you who took our advice on Fanduel this week. We made a couple bucks, hope you did as well.

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