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Countdown to Kickoff 2020: Portland Timbers

Countdown to Kickoff 2020: Portland Timbers

Basic Info:

Club Name: Portland Timbers
Location: Portland, Oregon
Stadium: Providence Park. Beautiful timelapse of the recent renovations.
Head Coach: Giovanni Savarese (3rd year)
Captain: Diego Valeri
CEO/Majority Owner: Merritt Paulson
USL Affiliate: Timbers 2
Kits:

2019 in Review

Final Standings: 14-13-7 (W-L-D), 49 pts, +3 GD, 6th in the West
In one word, the 2019 Portland Timbers season was draining. It was an endurance test for the players. It was an endurance test for even the most ardent supporters. And it was certainly an endurance test for a Front Office that invested serious capital into organizational infrastructure. Bookended by snowy affairs in the Rocky Mountains, a year filled with tantalizing potential melted away, leaving a passionate (some might say capricious) fanbase searching for explanations. So, what went wrong?
Well, it was always going to be an uphill battle from the opening kick. Starting with the coldest game in MLS history in Colorado, the Timbers faced a daunting 12-match road trip to accommodate the impressive renovations to Providence Park’s East stand. After accumulating 1 pt from the first six matches, including blow out losses to both FC Cincinnati (!) and then-winless San Jose, the fanbase collectively smashed the panic button entering a match against ex-coach Caleb Porter and his Columbus Crew. However, for the next few months, we witnessed a different team and a different mentality. Three consecutive quality victories against Columbus, Toronto, and RSL brought the team back from the abyss. And a subsequent win against upstart Philadelphia saw Portland finish its road marathon at a respectable 14 points.
Suddenly, the narrative flipped. Pundits consistently listed the Timbers at the top of their power rankings, and with 17 of the final 22 matches at one of the best home-field advantages in MLS, it seemed the positive momentum would prevail indefinitely. More importantly though, the Timbers had found their final piece to the puzzle: an elite, ruthless, and fiery DP striker in Brian Fernandez. Fresh off an impressive campaign with Necaxa in Liga MX, the Argentine became the first player in history to score in five consecutive regular-season games to open an MLS career. His clinicality and intensity raised the level of the squad, leading Steve Clark to don the classic Michael Myers mask from Halloween, declaring Providence Park as a “House of Horrors” for the opponent.
But as it turned out, the team never truly reacclimated to the friendly confines of its home pitch. After four months (incl. preseason) away from home, the squad’s lethal counter-attacking style was far more suited for road matches which provided no impetus to play attractive soccer. Away victories at elite opponents including NYCFC, Seattle, and LAFC provided a stark contrast to disheartening home performances against the likes of Colorado, Orlando, and 10-man Chicago. And soon, the atmosphere off-the-field began to match the team’s sudden struggles on the pitch.
Political viewpoints aside, the Iron Front protests and Diego Valeri’s contract impasse ignited an already contentious relationship between the Timbers Army and FO. Meanwhile, as the squad racked up disappointing home results due to uninspired offensive play, home attendance began to waver more so than years past. While the home sell-out streak remains to this day, the increased number of empty seats in Providence Park was a pretty blunt indication of increased apathy towards the organization.
And then, there was the cherry on top. After missing consecutive matches due to a reported “stomach bug,” it became pretty clear Brian Fernandez was not the same player he was in the early summer. With a complicated and somber family history, Fernandez had struggled with substance abuse issues in the past but seemed to be on the path to full recovery during recent years. However, in October, Fernandez entered the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, and just as his story arc in green-and-gold faded to black, the Timbers season finished with a whimper. Jefferson Savarino’s 87th-minute goal in snowy Utah knocked the Timbers out of Cup contention. Eleven months following an exciting run to MLS Cup, Portland entered the 2020 offseason weary, drained, and searching for a new beginning.

The Coach

Giovanni Savarese
I expected 2019 to provide more clarity on Giovanni Savarese’s coaching aptitude, but as I sit here one year later, I’m still left with more questions than answers. Gio’s passion and fervor was a refreshing juxtaposition to Caleb Porter’s often smug demeanor, but his far more conservative style still ruffles the feathers of fans who yearn for the days of “Porterball.” While Savarese implemented a high-pressing, dynamic, and open style during his time at the Cosmos, he has yet to find similar success doing so in the Rose City. The past two seasons have exhibited nearly the same progression: start the season trying to play pressing-style soccer, get beat badly, and then resort to a conservative, counter-attacking approach.
The truth of the matter is the conservative style fits the Portland Timbers. When the defense is solid, Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco are talented enough to win the game on the counter by themselves. However, this tactical inflexibility is essentially the sole on-field contributor for why the team struggled so mightily down the stretch. When teams packed it in and eliminated the possibility of counter-attacks, Portland could not break down the opposition, resorted to launching an MLS record number of crosses, and got scorched on counters going the other way. A taste of their own medicine if you will.
In 2020, Savarese has no excuse. There’s no road trip to start the season, he has a loaded arsenal of complimentary attacking weapons, and now it’s abundantly clear the Timbers must learn how to control games from the front foot. An identity is useful, but flexibility is a requirement to be great. The club wants to (has to) win now, and they’ve invested significantly into personnel and infrastructure to do so. Now, it’s up to Savarese to lead the team to silverware.

Departures

Brian Fernandez (ST): This one hurts. There are no two ways about it. Fernandez truly convinced GM Gavin Wilkinson and TD Ned Grabavoy that he was past his struggles, but unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be the case. As Wilkinson stated in The Athletic, “if we could go back and do it again, we wouldn’t have done it,” adding “what I will say is the word fraud exists for a reason.” Rumors suggest Necaxa covered up a failed drug test, and MLS is currently launching a lawsuit to help the club recoup the transfer fee. While Wilkinson suggests Fernandez was a bust, the truth is he scored 15 goals in ~25 games in all comps, showing a ruthlessness in front of goal that rivaled the Martinez’s and Ruidiaz’s of the league. As people who have met him can attest, he’s a vibrant and kind individual regardless of the fact he continues to face difficult obstacles off the field. It's just such a disappointment that it didn’t all come together, and I pray for his health and safety.
Zarek Valentin (RB): This one hurts too. Zarek was a staple of the community, someone who embraced Portland as his home, and was as approachable as any professional athlete. With initiatives like wearing a rainbow ribbon in his hair to fundraise for homeless LGBT+ youth, Zarek was an ideal steward for the club and community. With our lack of fullback depth, leaving him unprotected in the expansion draft was far from a popular decision - one that strained an already frayed relationship between the Front Office and some fans. That said, as amazing as Zarek is, his lack of athleticism was starting to catch up to him. He even admitted some struggles down the stretch, and as more talented/athletic wingers enter the league, his minutes might soon reflect it. Zarek’s versatility, eccentricity, and civic involvement will certainly be missed though. Houston, you’ve got a great dude.
Claude Dielna (CB): The most puzzling move of 2019, it didn’t take an acute observer to recognize that Dielna struggled in MLS. Wilkinson and Grabavoy took a one-year flier on Dielna to be the 4th-stringer, and the outcome was fairly predictable. He possesses a silky left foot which allows him to pick sharp passes out of the back, but he can’t run, can’t jump, and can’t defend 1v1. All of those attributes are pretty essential requirements for playing CB in any league, so it’s no surprise to see the organization not renew his contract. In the end, I wouldn’t suggest Dielna self-immolated like many horrific Timbers CBs of yesteryear (see McKenzie, Raushawn), but I highly doubt anyone will be pining for his return.
Foster Langsdorf (ST): Langsdorf may be used as an example of a Homegrown the Timbers failed to move through the ranks, but letting him go makes sense (unfortunately.) In a 2019 season essential for his development, he failed to make any significant impact at the USL level, and at 24, he would’ve entered the 2020 campaign in the exact spot he did the previous two seasons. Despite some clever finishes in the 2018 USL season, he’s not a legitimate option for the first team in this day in age - especially when similarly-aged strikers Felipe Mora, Jaroslaw Niezgoda, and Jeremy Ebobisse boast far more developed skillsets.
Modou Jadama (CB/RB): Jadama made two total appearances for the first team over two seasons, including one start at RB at Montreal in 2019. To be frank, he didn’t particularly shine as an MLS-caliber player during that time, so his opportunity to cement himself in the organization’s plans came and went. Now at Atlanta United 2, I think he’ll be a good fit for a full-time USL position, although we probably could have used CB depth with Bill Tuiloma’s injury.
Kendall McIntosh (GK): McIntosh was an undersized goalkeeper whose frame and athleticism is reminiscent of the likes of Nick Rimando. For the most part, he was a career T2 netminder that was far too raw in some areas to mount a challenge against experienced keepers like Jeff Attinella and Steve Clark. Now a member of the Red Bulls via the Re-Entry Draft, I doubt McIntosh finds many more minutes outside of the USL, but he seemed like a good dude and we all wish him the best.

2020 Outlook:

So, where does that leave us for the 2020 season? Well, pretty close to the same spot we found ourselves last year. In the preceding two seasons, it was clear the Timbers possessed enough talent to capture silverware, yet surpassing the final hurdle proved to be too much. As a result, continuity in terms of roster management remains among the league’s most stable. Ultimately, Portland took the field March 3 in Colorado with 10 of the 11 starters from MLS Cup the previous December, and this season, the only departure considered a surefire starter was Brian Fernandez.
However, the main difference in 2020 comes down to the acquisitions. The Timbers FO utilized the abnormally long break to load up with an arsenal of talent, providing a stark divergence from the quiet transfer window in 2019. As much as I want to compliment the FO for its hard work this offseason, acquiring fresh blood was essential. Key pieces of the core including Larrys Mabiala, Diego Chara, Sebastian Blanco, and Diego Valeri are all exiting their prime window, and the Timbers must capitalize before that window slams shut. Consequently, four of the five names you’ll see listed in the acquisitions section below were brought in to have an immediate impact and elevate an already talented squad.
As a result, in terms of pure on-paper talent, this is a Top 5 caliber MLS team. Whether Savarese can coalesce that talent into a functioning, dynamic, and successful unit is an entirely different story however. It honestly feels like a boom-or-bust type season, and I’m worried about how they’ll navigate the natural roller-coaster swings that MLS’s parity generates. So, I’ll leave you with this: if the Timbers figure out how to maintain defensive structure without resorting to a conservative shell, they’ll be one of the best teams in the league. If not, all bets are off.

Acquisitions:

Jarosław Niezgoda (ST): The Polish DP doesn’t have to single-handedly replace Brian Fernandez’s goal contributions, but make no mistake about it, the Timbers brought Niezgoda in to make an immediate and profound impact on the scoresheet. At only 24, Jarek arrives with a high pedigree having notched double-digit goals in multiple seasons for one of Poland’s powerhouses in Legia Warsaw. Ultimately, it makes sense European clubs like Bordeaux and Torino were sniffing around the striker, as he’s quite mobile for his size, can finish well with both feet, and is clever with his movements inside the box. And say what you will about the Ekstraklasa, it has a strange knack for producing efficient goalscorers, including Niezgoda’s Legia predecessor Nemanja Nikolic.
However, there is a massive catch: Niezgoda has struggled with injuries throughout his career. In a league famous for physical play, and on a team that has experienced its fair share of injury-riddled seasons, Jarek’s fitness is a legitimate concern. While his congenital heart issues seem to be held in check, Legia fans are quick to mention “he's made of glass, and it's hard to keep him in shape for the whole season.” The Timbers’ physio staff will have their work cut out for them to keep Niezgoda on the pitch and scoring goals.
Note: Niezgoda has yet to feature in preseason due to the recovery timeline from a heart ablation procedure during his medical. We likely won’t see him in the XI for the first few weeks of 2020.
Felipe Mora (ST): Niezgoda’s injury-checkered past is an important factor for why Mora’s arrival is such a critical addition. The 26-year-old Chilean seemingly fell into the Timbers lap in a series of fortuitous circumstances, as they acquired him on a TAM loan deal from Pumas in Liga MX. Normally, Mora would be a DP caliber acquisition, and in fact, he was considered a serious target for the final DP slot last year before the club opted for Fernandez. However, after falling out of favor, Pumas were willing to let him go in a manner that accommodated Portland’s limited remaining budget space. Mora provides a divergent style from Niezgoda’s channel-running and Ebobisse’s hold-up ability. He operates on a true poacher’s instinct, and his industrious approach will provide a complementary presence to any of the other strikers.
Dario Župarić (CB): If there’s one offseason acquisition that is more critical to the team's success than the others, Dario Župarić is that guy. Throughout the Timbers MLS history, CB has easily been their most troublesome spot, and they’ve yet to replace Liam Ridgewell’s contributions since his departure last year. Say what you will about Liam’s off-the-field persona: his magnetism, leadership, organizational skills, and distribution were undoubtedly influential to the club’s performance.
Župarić, for lack of a better statement, is essentially the true Ridgewell replacement. At 27-years-old, the Croatian arrives with 90+ matches under his belt at Pescara in Italy and Rijeka in Croatia, a club that has already produced productive MLS players like Héber and Damir Kreilach. Early reports in training regard him as “smooth and confident,” and even if that confidence has gotten the better of him occasionally, those characteristics exemplify why Gio had never received “more messages from friends saying you’ve brought in a very good player.” In the end though, the pressure is on Dario to perform on the pitch. MLS athleticism poses a unique challenge, and there’s little flexibility to compensate for any struggles. His adjustment to MLS must be quick.
Yimmi Chara (RM): Recognize the last name? In a courtship that has lasted as long as the Timbers MLS era itself, Wilkinson finally brought the youngest Chara brother to the Rose City. Acquired as a DP from Atletico Mineiro, there is concern about whether Yimmi’s G+A output will justify the reported $6 million transfer fee. Throughout his career, he’s never been the type of player to light up the scoresheet, but it’s difficult to dispossess him and he provides lightning-quick pace that this roster lacks. With multiple attacking options, I honestly don’t anticipate much pressure to fill the stat sheet, and his familial connection to the organization should facilitate a more seamless transition. Plus, it’s difficult enough for the opposition to face one Chara - it’ll certainly be a pain in the ass to confront two.
Blake Bodily (LM): The HG left-footer is a fairly highly-regarded prospect coming out of the Pac-12, and he showed flashes of quality during his time at T2 a few years ago. With the depth on the wings, I can’t imagine he’ll see much of any first-team minutes. I could be wrong, especially if things go south for any reason, but let’s revisit this signing a year or two from now.

A word on everyone else:

Goalkeepers:
Steve Clark (GK): Without a doubt, Clark was the surprise player of 2019. Boasting the highest save percentage and second-lowest GAA in the league, Clark made numerous highlight-reel saves after taking over for Jeff Attinella in late April. While the occasional mental lapse defined much of his career up to this point, the 33-year-old was nearly flawless in all phases of play last season. However, there’s legitimate concern that this outstanding form is not replicable throughout the next campaign. After Attinella’s regression to the mean following a career year, one can understand why the Front Office might have been apprehensive to give him a sizable pay raise - even if his performances warranted it. That said, Clark’s got the new deal in his pocket and will certainly be the starter opening day vs Minnesota.
Jeff Attinella (GK): As highlighted above, few Timbers had a more ill-fated 2019 campaign than Jeff Attinella. After a torrid 2018 season, Attinella’s performances were marred by poor decision after poor decision until his year concluded with season-ending shoulder surgery. You have to feel for the guy too, as for the first time in his career, he entered an MLS regular season as the unquestioned starter. We’ll see how he recovers from the shoulder injury, but if Clark’s consistency remains and Aljaž Ivačič shows promise, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Timbers move him while he still has some value.
Aljaž Ivačič (GK): If there’s a Timber who had a more disastrous 2019 than Jeff Attinella though, it’s probably Aljaž Ivačič. The 26-year-old Slovenian was acquired last offseason to be the goalkeeper of the future, but a significant leg surgery last February took him out of team activities for most of the year. When he did return with T2 in late summer, things did not look great to say the least. It is undoubtedly difficult to adapt to a new country, but Ivačič’s struggles were worryingly apparent. Most of his goals conceded for T2 looked similar to this, where he was either in the wrong position, extremely hesitant to come off his line, or strikingly late to react to the opponent. These are fundamental issues that can hopefully be chalked up to rust and then addressed with a full preseason. If not, Aljaž might go down as one of the worst signings in club history.
Defenders:
Jorge Moreira (RB): Moreira possesses the talent to be the best RB in the league, but sporadically found himself a liability last season. After years spent with Argentine powerhouse River Plate, the 30-year-old Paraguayan was naturally inclined to push up the pitch since his teams had often dominated the game’s flow. As a result, the Timbers’ conservative style and league’s athleticism caught him off guard, as he had an unfortunate propensity to be out of position early in 2019. However, he mostly adjusted over the course of the year, and his power, crossing ability, and dynamism are crucial to the team.Even with the occasional poor clearance, Moreira is a lockdown starter and few RBs in MLS have his offensive weaponry and pedigree. His loan only lasts until June 30 however, though I’d fully expect the Front Office to lock him down on a permanent deal.
Update: the Timbers right-side defense has been tragic this preseason, and much of that has to do with Moreira’s play. He’ll have to re-adjust or else he’ll revert back to being a liability again
Larrys Mabiala (CB): With his pearly-white smile, cool demeanor, and commanding aerial ability, the big French-Congolese CB is one of the most respected players in the Timbers’ locker room. In a position that is a perennial revolving door of underperforming wreckage, Mabiala has been the one “written-in-ink” starter since mid-2017, and his veteran savvy is integral to the squad’s success. But at age 32, Larrys’ value is not embodied by his individual qualities but more so the partnership he forms with Župarić. His physical presence will always be vital to an otherwise undersized team, however, he lacks the turn of pace and distribution ability that would place him among the elite CBs in MLS. As a result, Larrys and Dario must discover how to paper over each other’s weaknesses by performing to their unique capabilities: Župarić covers ground well and can initiate attacking movements while Mabiala handles physical strikers and cleans up loose balls in the 18. In the end, his consistency will be as influential as any player on the roster. If for any reason he performs below the norm, there is simply not enough quality depth behind him to overcome it.
Bill Tuiloma (CB): Tuiloma is not spectacular by any means, but he’s an ideal player to provide sporadic minutes. The 24-year-old Kiwi is cheap, versatile, and possesses enough technical quality to score the odd banger. It’s a shame a calf injury will rule him out for the next few weeks, as the team could use his flexibility for spot duty at CB, RB, and even defensive midfield. If he recovers fully and Župarić struggles to adapt to the league’s athleticism, expect him to mount a challenge for starting minutes.
Julio Cascante (CB): The Costa Rican CB is best described as a high-ceiling, low-floor player whose ceiling continues to lower year after year. As far as backup CBs go, he’s probably adequate, but the guy went from a fringe national-teamer to virtually off-the-radar since his arrival in Portland. Though his height and build forge a formidable aerial presence, he’s yet to resolve occasional mental lapses and improve his subpar distribution. But Julio’s most maddening characteristic is his inconsistency. Perhaps the best thing you can say about a Cascante performance is that you didn’t notice him. Unfortunately, he tends to stick out for all the wrong reasons. Maybe a little more familiarity with the league will help the 26-year-old raise his level in 2020. I’m not exceedingly hopeful though.
Jorge Villafaña (LB): El Sueño hasn’t been the same player since his departure to Santos Laguna after MLS Cup 2015. Still an excellent crosser, Villafaña really struggled with pacey wingers towards the beginning of the season, although there are some whispers he was often gutting through minor knocks. Even with an uptick of form over the course of the campaign, there is legitimate concern he’s lost a step and will be a liability in the backline. I love the man as much as the next guy, but I’d say the uneasiness is valid. Let’s hope he proves us all wrong.
Marco Farfan (LB): The lack of confidence in Villafaña would be less of an issue if Zarek Valentin were still suiting up in the green-and-gold because Marco Farfan is as fragile as a potato chip. The HG LB is not the most athletic individual, but his technical quality is probably proficient enough to play at this level. Farfan still has to evolve as a 1v1 defender, though he’ll certainly get looks this year if he can manage to stay healthy.
Note: We still need a backup RB. It could be former NYRB, IMFC, and Dynamo player Chris Duvall. 20-year-old Venezuelan Pablo Bonilla is another option, but he’s at T2 for the meantime.
Midfielders:
Diego Valeri (CAM): When all is said and done, I hope MLS fans and media take a moment to appreciate just how good Diego Valeri was. Since 2015, we’ve witnessed impressive names take home the Landon Donovan MVP award including Giovinco, Villa, Josef, and Vela. Sandwiched in between those names you’ll find Diego Valeri. Only the ninth MLS player to reach the elusive 70G, 70A Club, Valeri took the Timbers from a hapless expansion side to a perennial playoff contender. And from my admittedly biased perspective, I don’t think he gets enough credit for doing so. But don’t take it from me, take it from Albert Rusnak, who accurately captures the true essence of the Maestro in this interview. For the miracles performed on the pitch, his importance and presence in the community are just as admirable.
However, times are changing for Valeri, and it’s best exemplified by the fact we almost lost him over a contract dispute this offseason. By taking a TAM deal, Diego not only affirmed his commitment to the organization but allowed them to make moves to best ensure he doesn’t retire with only a single major MLS title to his name. I’d expect the Timbers staff to exercise more load management with him this campaign, but by no means does that change his status as a pillar of the club and community. Build the statue.
Sebastian Blanco (LM/RM): Sebastian Blanco is one of those guys who never seems to score a bad goal. The fiery Argentine may not be the face of the franchise off the pitch, but the decision to extend his DP contract over Valeri is a hint towards Blanco’s importance on the field. After posting his second consecutive double-digit assist campaign, Blanco’s quality across all attacking midfield positions is unquestioned. That said, 2020 is a pivotal season for the Timbers’ oldest Designated Player. Soon to be 32, the clock is ticking on Blanco’s heyday, and he’ll certainly aspire to outperform 2019’s underwhelming tally of six goals from 106 shot attempts. Now surrounded by a wealth of complimentary attacking pieces though, I’d expect a rejuvenated Seba come March. Bet the over on six goals.
Diego Chara (CDM): If there’s anyone who can conquer the inevitability of fathertime, Diego Chara is the guy. Soon to be 34-years-old, Chara’s performance metrics — involving areas such as speed and distance covered — reached all-time highs last year. His importance to the club over the past decade cannot be overstated, and we were all ecstatic to see him finally partake in an MLS All Star Game last season. The Colombian possesses a pillowy first touch, an immense soccer IQ, and a fearless presence in the middle of the park, and there simply will be no replacing him when he finally does choose to retire. But to be honest with you, I think he’s still got a few more Best XI caliber seasons in him. He just ages like a fine wine.
Andrés Flores (CM): Hell, I’m just gonna copy and paste exactly what I wrote last year because it’s still just as applicable. Andres Flores is like a Toyota Camry - solid if unspectacular. He doesn't have the sexy style that will garner all the attention, but when push comes to shove and you need to get from point A to point B, he’ll do the job (at a very low price too!). Look for him to assist in spot-duty once he returns from injury, but his most important contributions will likely be found in the little things off the pitch.
Cristhian Paredes (CM): At only 21 years of age, the full Paraguayan international started over 30 matches the past two seasons and has also emerged as the surefire midfield partner to Diego Chara. After a 2018 campaign that saw a significant adjustment period, Paredes looked far more composed in 2019, adding late-runs into the box into his arsenal midway through last season. However, no longer on loan from Club America, Paredes will face more organizational pressure to be a day-in, day-out starter this campaign. His ranginess and ability to break up play are unquestioned, but he needs to become a bit cleaner on the ball and more confident playing out of tight spaces. That said, there’s a reason the club has invested more capital into the promising midfielder: he has the potential to be a significant contributor for years to come.
Marvin Loría (LM/RM): In the next few seasons, I’d wager Marvin Loría will become the poster child for the Timbers youth development structure. With a comparatively underdeveloped and shallow Homegrown talent pool, Portland picks up guys like Loría out of foreign youth programs to develop through the Timbers pipeline. The 22-year-old Costa Rican international showed significant promise last season, and he can play a true inverted winger role - a unique style in terms of this roster. While he may see time at LM and CAM, I love him cutting in from the right, as he can deliver bangers like this and allow Jorge Moreira to bulldoze forward. At a league minimum salary, Loría provides the cheap and talented depth which makes this attack’s outlook so promising. I can’t wait to see what strides he makes this season (once he returns from an underpublicized/undisclosed injury).
Andy Polo (RM): Not many people in the Timbers fanbase understand why Andy Polo is still on the roster, let alone competing for starting minutes. In 2,860 MLS minutes, the Peruvian winger has only managed a dismal one goal and three assists - a statline that is considerably worse than ineffective wingers of the past including Kalif Alhassan, Sal Zizzo, and Franck Songo’o. He’s not an outright liability, and occasionally puts in a shift defensively, but he essentially exists solely to occupy space. Now entering his third season, Polo’s best string of matches came as the third CM in a 4-3-2-1 just before the 2018 World Cup. He’s since gathered looks in preseason as a #8 in a 4-3-2-1 and showed flashes but is still incomplete. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Tomas Conechny (CF/LM/RM): The 21-year-old Argentine enters the 2020 campaign a relative unknown, and though the club thought enough of him to exercise his full-time purchase option from San Lorenzo, his fit on the squad has yet to be fully discerned. Rumored to be one of the better headers-of-the-ball on the team, he showed occasional creative sparks in late-game situational appearances but has yet to prove he deserves starting minutes. We hear quotes akin to “he doesn’t yet know how good he can be,” but it still isn’t obvious that a particular position suits him well or if he even possesses a skillset that allows him to be a difference-maker at this level. For all intents and purposes, he’s likely to end up Diego Valeri’s understudy even if Conechny has yet to show the same precision and danger at a playmaking second-forward role. As a result, it remains to be seen if the high-rated prospect grows into a significant piece of the puzzle or if his lack of positional clarity ultimately hampers his development.
Dairon Asprilla (RM): Dairon Asprilla plays at an all-star caliber level if one of two things are true: the Timbers are on the verge of postseason elimination or he’s playing on T2. If neither of those two things are true, he’s often more useless than a turn signal on a BMW. Some wonder if he possesses compromising pictures of Wilkinson or MP, otherwise there’s very little to explain why he’s one of the longest-tenured Timbers - especially considering he’s been in-and-out of the doghouse almost every year. Word out of training suggests he’s been one of the best players in camp, but we’ve been down this road before - if it’s not Oct. or Nov., Asprilla often looks lost on the pitch.
Sidenote: 99% of Dairon’s shot attempts get thwarted due to his foolishly long windup, but when he does get a hold of one, they stay hit.
Eryk Williamson (CM): The HG midfielder (by way of D.C.) found starting minutes in spot appearances last fall, and he looked competent if unremarkable. For T2, Williamson often occupied more advanced positions, but I think he projects best as a ball-shuttling #8 in this squad. In particular, I can see him fitting into Andy Polo’s old role as a CM next to Chara and/or Paredes in a 4-3-2-1, as his passing and combination play provide a diverse look from the other two. Overall, Williamson finds himself in a decent situation to get game action this year, and I’m interested to see how he develops and grows in confidence in 2020.
Renzo Zambrano (CDM): Another international brought through the T2 pipeline, Zambrano is essentially Diego Chara’s backup at the #6. Since George Fochive left following the 2015 season, the Timbers have struggled to find a suitable defensive backup in the central midfield. Renzo is now that guy. The 25-year-old Venezuelan appeared in 10 matches last season and struggled immensely in fixtures against Colorado and Atlanta, but showed flashes of positivity in thrashings of Houston and Vancouver. 2020 will require more consistency from Zambrano who doesn’t possess the same physicality or power as Chara - but then again, few do. As a result, if I were Savarese, I’d try to mold Zambrano into a fulcrum/anchor type midfielder in the form of a Uri Rosell or Scott Caldwell. He’s a capable passer, and if he simplifies his game to shield the backline, he’ll be an asset to the team. If not, he’ll likely over-extend himself, and his midfield partner will be forced to work more tirelessly to maintain solid defensive shape. Renzo is likely the first option off the bench whenever Chara or Paredes are unavailable, so his growth is critical to the team’s success this year.
Forwards:
Jeremy Ebobisse (ST): Since Niezgoda and Mora’s arrival, some fans and media have denounced the organization for burying the 23-year-old American on the depth chart and hindering his development. Here’s why I think that’s an overly-sensationalized viewpoint:
  1. As Wilkinson has correctly identified, Ebobisse will miss a good chunk of the early season for Olympic qualification, and with Niezgoda’s injury history, there needs to be other legitimate options to start upfront (i.e. not Dairon Asprilla).
  2. In 2018, Ebobisse entered the season ‘stuck’ behind two DP-type strikers in Fanendo Adi and Samuel Armenteros. Guess who emerged on top? Ebobisse. There will be multiple competitions, two-striker formations, and rotations that allow him to earn quality minutes.
  3. This idea that the organization is almost trying to sabotage his development is an outrageous claim. Ebobisse was the only player on the squad to play in every match last season and only finished behind Chara, Blanco, and Valeri in terms of total minutes played. Granted, he played a fair few matches at LW (not ideal, but he wasn’t outright terrible), but the team did have its best stretch of success with him and Fernandez on the pitch together.
But the one factor people must acknowledge is this: Ebobisse still hasn’t developed the it factor that other MLS strikers have - at least not yet. When Fernandez arrived, his ruthlessness was a stark contrast to Ebobisse’s often less-goal-hungry runs and occasional lack of clarity in the final third. Jeremy is a decent finisher, even with a few missed sitters, but he’s still not consistent enough with the direct runs off the shoulder that separate good from great. He’ll hopefully continue to develop a wider range of skills, but he’s not yet the guy to put this team over the top.
Predicted Starting XI:
Primarily: 4-2-3-1
Other likely options: 4-3-2-1 or 4-4-2
Best Case Scenario:
A top playoff seed and a challenge for either the Supporter’s Shield or MLS Cup. Savarese effectively implements tactical flexibility, Niezgoda and Mora combine for 20+ goals, and Cristhian Paredes takes the next step forward in his development. While Župarić locks down the defense, one of Valeri or Blanco mounts a Best XI campaign, and Diego Chara makes a second consecutive All-Star Game appearance. Sprinkle in a Cascadia Cup alongside a harmonious relationship between the Front Office and Timbers Army, and you have a damn successful year.
Worst Case Scenario:
Pretty much the opposite of what you see above. Niezgoda can’t stay healthy while the core pieces’ form collectively falls off a cliff. Those in the Army who hold a personal vendetta against Merritt Paulson blow a trivial issue out of proportion causing a full-on revolt from the supporter’s group. Savarese proves to be an average coach with exploitable flaws, and the team fails to qualify for the playoffs in a competitive Western Conference. Significant spending, no tangible results. A wasted year.
Realistic Scenario:
Well, either of those two scenarios could qualify as realistic. But like all Timbers seasons, it’s most realistic to be somewhere in between. There’ll be stretches of outright panic, and there’ll be other times where we all convince ourselves the Timbers will win MLS Cup. Some of the signings hit: let’s go with Župarić - while other signings underwhelm due to extenuating circumstances: probably Niezgoda (and his glass skeleton). The team finishes in the middle of the pack - a team that no one wants to face in October - but one that is equally liable to beat themselves.
Prediction:
Even for someone as pessimistic as I am, I won’t predict the worst-case scenario. Nevertheless, I can’t shake the discouraging feeling that the Timbers will squander its immense talent again. A disappointing 6th or 7th place finish is in store after another taxing roller-coaster season. However, I’ll go out on a limb to say Portland does win a Cascadia Cup or USOC - some sort of silverware that convinces everybody the obvious flaws can be overcome in 2021. Blanco has a great 2020 season. The other pieces show flashes brilliance, yet can’t quite string together enough consistency to let the attack fire on all cylinders. Savarese will keep his job but enters the 2021 campaign on the hotseat. It’ll be another case of “close, but not close enough.”

Online Resources

Official Links: Website | Twitter
Local Coverage: Oregon Live | Stumptown Footy
Best Twitter follow: Chris Rifer
Best Read: Jamie Goldberg’s article on Fernandez didn’t age well, but it’s extremely important to understand his tragic life story.
Subreddit: timbers

#RCTID

submitted by NewRCTID22 to MLS [link] [comments]

[GDT] 4.16.2019 - WCQF Game 4 - BLUES LEAD 2-1 - EVEN KEEL(tm) EDITION: Winnipeg Jets @ St. Louis Blues (8:30 p.m.)

St. Louis Blues (43-28-9) at Winnipeg Jets (47-30-5)

BLUES LEAD 2-1

FULL WCQF SCHEDDY:

DATE TIME (CDT) HOME TEAM FINAL SERIES
4.10 7:00 p.m. Jets Blues 2-Jets 1 BLUES LEAD 1-0
4.12 8:30 p.m. Jets Blues 4-Jets 3 BLUES LEAD 2-0
4.14 6:30 p.m. Blues Jets 6-Blues 3 BLUES LEAD 2-1
4.16 8:30 p.m. Blues - -
4.18 TBD Jets - -
4.20 TBD (if necessary) Blues - -
4.22 TBD (if necessary) Jets - -

Look and Listen:

Location: Enterprise Center

TV: FSMW, NBCSN, TVAS3, SN, NHLN

Radio: KMOX or the NHL App

Streams: /NHLStreams or /HockeyStreams

PSA: The entirety of the first round will be broadcast by both Fox Sports Midwest(+) and NBCSN. Hail Kelly and Panger!

Score:

Time Clock
FINAL
Teams 1st 2nd 3rd OT1 Total
0 0 1 1 2
0 0 1 0 1
Period Time Team Strength Description
OT 06:02 Even Kyle Connor (3) Wrist Shot, assists: Mark Scheifele (3), Blake Wheeler (4)
3rd 07:33 Even Mark Scheifele (2) Tip-In, assists: Kyle Connor (2), Blake Wheeler (3)
3rd 00:35 Power Play Vladimir Tarasenko (2) Wrist Shot, assists: Alex Pietrangelo (5), Ryan O'Reilly (1)
Period Time Team Type Min Description
3rd 16:19 Minor 2 Mathieu Perreault Tripping against Vince Dunn
2nd 19:28 Minor 2 Mathieu Perreault Cross checking against Alex Pietrangelo
1st 12:12 Minor 2 David Perron Tripping against Patrik Laine

Projected Lineups

*

Blues

LW C RW
Brayden Schenn Ryan O'Reilly Vladimir Tarasenko
Jaden Schwartz Oskar Sundqvist David Perron
Pat Maroon Tyler Bozak Robert Thomas
Alexander Steen Ivan Barbashev Robby Fabbri
LD RD
Vince Dunn Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester Colton Parayko
Joel Edmundson Robert Bortuzzo
G
Jordan Binnington
Jake Allen
Scratches/Injuries
Carl Gunnarsson, Michael Del Zotto, Sammy Blais, Zach Sanford, Mackenzie MacEachern, Chris Thorburn, Jared Coreau
none

Jets

LW C RW
Kyle Connor Mark Scheifele Blake Wheeler
Nikolaj Ehlers Bryan Little Patrik Laine
Andrew Copp Adam Lowry Brandon Tanev
Mathieu Perreault Kevin Hayes Jack Roslovic
LD RD
Josh Morrissey Jacob Trouba
Ben Chiarot Dustin Byfuglien
Dmitry Kulikov Tyler Myers
G
Connor Hellebuyck
Laurent Brossoit
Scratches/Injuries
Par Lindholm, Matt Hendricks, Nathan Beaulieu, Joe Morrow, Bogdan Kiselevich, Sami Niku, Eric Comrie
none

Game Notes:

  • Blues starter Jordan Binnington, a Calder Trophy contender for NHL rookie of the year, allowed a season-high six goals in Game 3. He's 2-1 in the series with a 3.36 goals-against average and .880 save percentage after going 24-5-1 with an NHL-best 1.89 GAA in the regular season.
  • If the Blues buck a certain trend in Game 4, they will take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Neither team has won on home ice yet. It is the only series in the first round where the home team has not won at least once. Home teams are 13-11 so far in the postseason.
  • The Blues will have forward Robby Fabbri in the lineup for Game 4 in place of Zach Sanford. During the 2016 playoffs with the Blues, Fabbri had 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) in 20 games.
  • Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck has allowed seven goals in his past two games and is 1-2 with a 3.06 GAA and .897 save percentage.
  • Jets forward Patrik Laine has found his touch in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after scoring one goal in the final 19 games of the regular season to complete a 30-goal season. Laine has four points (three goals, assist) and scored a goal in each game. He needs to stay hot to help the Jets even this series.
  • Including the regular season, Laine has 16 goals in 15 games in his NHL career against the Blues (including you-know-what last November).
  • Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien has been an impact player with his offense and physical play. He leads all skaters in scoring with five points (one goal, four assists) and in ice time, averaging 25:40. Byfuglien had a goal and an assist in Winnipeg's Game 3 victory.

Thread Notes:

  • Discuss whatever you wish. You can trash talk, but keep it civil.
  • This post will be updated throughout the day to reflect more recent information.
  • Default comment sort is set to 'new' to help you see the newest posts.
  • Feel free to message me with any errors or suggestions for future threads. Unlikely I will see replies directly to this thread.
  • Click here to learn about streaming games via LazyMan.

Update Log:

  • 8:32 p.m.: all updated

Original:

BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS POSSIBLE FOR A SANDWICH TO CATCH A COLD

IT TURNS OUT COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF ALCOHOL ARE NOT GOOD FOR THE IMMUNE SYSTEM, EVEN OF AN INANIMATE, DELICIOUS-LOOKING, GRADE-SCHOOL-STANDARD LUNCH

I’VE BEEN SLEEPING

IT IS DECIDEDLY NOT MIDNIGHT, MY BAD

SO IF YOU’RE LIKE ME, WAKE THE FUCK UP

IT’S GAMEDAY

LAINE’S A GOBLIN, DON’T FORGET

SCHEIFELE’S KINDA A PIECE OF SHIT TOO

OH AND CAN’T WAIT FOR LAINE’S OVERPRICED CONTRACT TO FORCE THE JETS TO DUMP CONNOR THIS SUMMER

LET’S GO BLUES

WE’RE TAKING THIS SHIT BACK TO ‘PEG 3-1

SHITPOSTING ENGAGE

submitted by iPBJ to stlouisblues [link] [comments]

Breadispain's NHL DFS Primer 2019-20

The first (preseason) DFS content is available tomorrow on Draftkings! It's time to get back into the swing of things.
Introduction
Many people commented or PMed me last season saying that my posts helped them win more money, more frequently. I know I personally missed out on some big paydays by ignoring my own advice. (Sigh.) I’ve been playing DFS hockey since 2014 and have become gradually more invested in it over the past few seasons. I started playing $1 single entry tournaments and I’ve been hooked since my first entry placed 47/3448. You’ll generally find me in single entry tournaments on Draftkings and whichever site has the better tournament payout on the larger Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday slates.
I have the same username on Draftkings, Fanduel and Rotogrinders if you’re looking for me elsewhere.
Disclaimer
I would recommend that you only play DFS as a form of entertainment. Hockey is a volatile sport where anything can happen any given night: the underdog could win, your starting goaltender could be injured, etc. While under no circumstances should you hold me liable should you lose, please take me into consideration if you do happen to come upon a big payday as a result of my advice ;)
I’d advise restraint during the preseason and month of October while lines and systems are settling and the sample size is small. The whole point of using data to build your lineups is to reduce randomness, so your bankroll should be saved for when the league is more predictable. However, if you’re a degenerate like me, you likely have enough data about your personal habits to know that is unlikely.
Slates
The NHL schedule dictates larger slates on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with fewer games on days between. Larger slates tend to come with higher prize pools funded by more entries. Since a larger slate means more players are on the ice, that generally decreases specific player ownership. Though that increases your chance of your players having lower ownership if they go off, it also makes it more difficult to pick players that score more than the rest of the field, since there’s a higher probability more goals are scored. (And that’s what makes it fun!)
While there are also all day, afternoon, evening and late night slates, as well as Showdown and whatever else have been introduced lately, the payout for these contests tends to be less overall for the same entry fees, while the difficulty of winning them is comparable, so I tend to avoid them with few exceptions.
Contest Type
Whether you’re playing cash games (50/50, multipliers, head-to-head), satellites, or GPP (Guaranteed Prize Pool) tournaments will greatly affect your strategy. In GPP’s you’re looking for highest upside to get the most overall points possible to win the tournament. In cash, you’re looking for the highest floor to ensure you’re above the fold. In general, play cash games for security and GPP’s for the thrill.
I’m sure there are a lot of pros that play cash games regularly because you can easily double your wager any given night, which at minimum helps pad your bankroll to cover any GPP losses. I personally don’t like the upside when weighing risk/reward and therefore prefer to play GPP’s almost exclusively. However, cash strategies can also translate to smaller tournaments because you don’t need as much variance to set yourself apart from other lineups.
Single-Entry vs Multi-Entry
Daily fantasy hockey is always pitching itself as a game of skill while trying to distance itself from gambling for legal reasons. I contend that single entry tournaments are the truest test of skill here because each entry holds the same weight. These are my preferred contests by far, though there are rarely more than two any given night with a payout worth the ticket price.
While you technically have a better chance of placing first by maxing your entries in GPP’s every night, it’s impractical for most players, especially the novice. You can see in the Draftkings Results Database that even seasoned veterans rarely employ this strategy as well. For what it’s worth, some of my biggest paydays have also been ones where I made the fewest amount of entries. Your mileage may vary.
Rake
Rake is simply the house cut taken by whichever site you’re gambling on. Along with entry fees it has increased in recent years and stabilized around 9-13% depending on the contest. If all things are considered equal, target contests with a lower rake, as more prizes are being paid out to the contestants. That also means GPP’s and satellites that are not filling up before the deadline can offer you a slight advantage.
Bankroll Management
You should care about how much money you’re gambling because no one else is going to. Bankroll management doesn’t factor much into my decision making simply due to the scale I operate at, so I’ll only offer this advice: winnings are not winnings until you withdraw them, and only if you haven’t deposited more than that originally. It boggles my mind when people praise themselves for winning a grand after dumping two the month before. Set an amount you’re comfortable losing and don’t deposit more than that when it’s gone. There are free bankroll trackers available online if you want an overview of how you’re doing, such as Daily Fantasy Nerd, as well as restrictions on each site if needed.
Point Systems
This whole post was based around the 2018-19 point system for both Fanduel and Draftkings. However, it was Recently Announced that adjustments would be made to the Draftkings point system this coming season. Here’s what you need to know:
Prior to this year, there used to be relative parity between the Fanduel and Draftkings scoring systems. Aside a few discrepancies, like Fanduel awarding minor powerplay point bonuses, Draftkings accounting for goaltender points and hat trick bonuses, and a slight variation between block and shot values, Fanduel scores were basically 4x Draftking ones and the only significant differences were salary discrepancies and lineup construction.
No longer. Not only have the Draftkings points been bumped up overall but their relative values have changed. A goaltender win is now worth less relative to a goal. While it used to take 15 saves to make up a goal, it will now take about 12. There will also be two points awarded for overtime losses.
There are other minor changes to the basic scoring system, like assists and shots on goal are worth slightly less relative to a goal, but the real change will be in the new bonus system. Here you will see an additional three points awarded for hat tricks, 35+ saves, 5+ shots, 3+ blocks and 3+ point games. That 3 point modifier also stacks with the hat trick bonus, which is, frankly, ridiculous. This will significantly change the worth of playmakers, with two assists (10 points) now being worth less than a player with five shots on goal (10.5 points) without hitting twine.
Draftkings claims this makes the game “more exciting” but right now it just seems like it’ll be more random. I fail to see how anyone that regularly plays DFS with any volume benefits from this change, outside of possibly drawing in more inexperienced entries and increasing the overall player and prize pool. The NHL players gaining these bonuses are, for the most part, already the top performers in those categories. Additional incentives are hardly necessary to have Burns or Ovechkin any given night. For others, certain punt plays could see a significant boost, though it makes little sense to me why two blocked shots would be worth 2.6 points but a third bumps that up to 6.9.
Regardless, I still see linestacking being advantageous with these changes.
Linestacking
Outside of choosing a winning goaltender, using players on the same line is the most basic DFS advice you can give a beginner. Since there are so few goals scored in a hockey game and most of those goals correlate with an assist, you typically want to pick players with good linemates. The odds of stacking two corresponding lines and getting multi-point games that win you money is far greater than selecting six players who have standout individual performances on any given night.
Depending on whether you play on Fanduel or Draftkings will determine what kind of strategies are available to you, as there are tighter salary constraints on Draftkings but looser restrictions. For example, on Fanduel you’re capped at 4 players from each team. On Draftkings, you only need 3 different teams represented, so you can technically play the entire top six from one team instead. Despite that, you cannot do the 4-4-1 stack available on Fanduel, where you pick two lines with their corresponding defensemen and a goaltender. Instead, you have to opt for a 4-3-1 stack, either using the utility position for a punt play (typically not ideal) or alternating one of the defensemen from a different team (preferable).
I don’t like to break up line stacks because I’ve been playing long enough to see it come back to haunt me, but there’s always an argument for dropping an underperforming third wheel or due to salary constraints.
Powerplay Correlation
Roughly 20% of NHL goals are scored with the man advantage. Though not strictly necessary, players who have top powerplay minutes are more likely to score goals. If an entire line has full powerplay correlation, even better. There are few teams worth targeting for a powerplay stack where the players are not also linemates. However, last season the Lightning, Panthers, Sharks, Pens, Flames, Leafs and Caps all had great powerplay success with players combined from two or more lines. This can make a decent contrarian play against a weak penalty kill team or simply to deviate from the standard chalk on a smaller slate.
Percentage of Ownership
Generally speaking, whichever team(s) has the highest Vegas odds to win, and especially a high oveunder, will also be the favored teams, or chalk, for DFS. Since only 20% of GPP entries will profit and the chalk lines are likely to garner 20%+ ownership, if that line goes off it could break the slate (you’ll need that line to win).
Just because a team is a favorite to win does not mean they’re your safest option. Primarily because there are no safe options, it’s also crucial to maximize your success by differentiating your lineups from others. Use Vegas odds and “expert” predictions as a guideline for what you think other people will be targeting, and keep this in mind when building your own lineups. Looking for the lines that could produce but be underlooked (and therefore under-owned) is necessary for a big payday.
The larger the slate, the more likely you can profit from chalk. Likewise, the smaller the slate, the higher upside for contrarian options. On a 12 game slate there are likely to be several favorites, decreasing the overall ownership percentage of any given line. On a three or four game slate, more people are likely to gravitate to one or two lines. Whether you can actually afford to stack these lines together is another matter entirely. Sometimes the chalk lines are so prohibitively expensive that you have to make great sacrifices elsewhere in your lineup.
Salary Constraints
I don’t fully understand how either Fanduel and Draftkings come up with their player salaries because they often feel arbitrary. Kase was priced at floor on Fanduel for weeks, despite putting up solid production on the first line for the Ducks. There were thousands of dollars difference in Chabot’s salary when he was on a tear as well. Some players, like Shattenkirk, appeared to have inflated salaries solely due to name recognition. Occasionally there are straight up errors, like Keith Yandle was priced at floor by mistake for almost a week on Draftkings last January. Suffice to say that it’s worth analyzing the value of each player on a line when stacking, as well as exploring individual salary trends, as players are often propped up by things that don’t translate to DFS production.
It’s rare that you’ll pick two lines that fit so comfortably you can afford top defensemen and a goaltender as well. If you have the salary left over to flesh out your lineup with Burns, Letang and Vasilevskiy, it’s hard to make an argument not to. More likely you’re going to be looking for pivots, a line that has a value player that brings down the total cost, or ultimately sacrificing somewhere in your lineup.
A solid pivot for me was likely an outlier getting top powerplay time (ex. Pirri), an individual performer on a depth line (Ex. Donato; Perreault), an unrecognized rookie (ex. Svechnikov, Chabot), someone stepping in for an injury in a lineup, or a cheap defenseman with offensive upside (ex. Ekholm).
It’s also not uncommon for a star to have less talented linemates. Sometimes that artificially inflates the cost of those linemates, but sometimes it makes the line a decent budget option. You’ll likely find these players alongside McDavid, Matthews, Crosby or Stamkos, for example, when their lines are not loaded with their corresponding Kucherovs or Draisaitls.
Some lines are so prohibitively expensive they’re virtually unstackable at all, though these lines are also typically matchup proof. Because of the sacrifice required, these lines are often worth targeting on a larger slate or against tougher opposition where they’ll fetch lower ownership but still have the potential for a hat trick or more. Refer to COL1, BOS1, TBL2, etc.
Contrarian Play
Contrarian here simply means rejecting the consensus favorite, but it’s often confused with simply picking a line from a bad team to go against the grain. Note there’s rarely a good argument to pick a contrarian goaltender, outside of high upside for their salary. Keep in mind that Vegas odds, really even the best teams in the NHL, are roughly 60-65% likely to accurate project as a winner, and that winning alone is not always enough to make a goaltender valuable because they might not see a lot of shots.
So when should you play contrarian? One of my favorite contrarian options on Fanduel specifically is when a line’s players have the “wrong” position. This happens when a player was previously playing out of position, and Fanduel is notorious for being slow to respond to these changes. Since it’s more difficult to stack a CCW or WWW line, these picks are naturally contrarian because they’re harder to fit into a lineup.
Another option might be targeting secondary scoring on depth lines. Not only is this an option for affordability that’s easier to stack, but it’s a decent pivot off the chalk for a team that’s a favorite to win. It’s worth noting that a team playing on home ice has the advantage of last change and therefore can choose their deployment. If you’re targeting against a team with a solid shutdown line on home ice, a secondary scoring line might end up getting better deployment and production. Likewise, if you know a line will be forced to play a shutdown role, you might want to consider alternatives. This is called line matching and may differ on a nightly basis.
One option that’s often overlooked is a game stack. That is, picking one line from either teams in one game. When two teams are porous defensively or have a historic rivalry, chances are if a goal is scored early in the first period the ice could rapidly open up and the game will become a shooting gallery.
Finally, though this option is restricted only to Draftkings, you can stack two lines from the same team with each other. This could be the entire top six or a full five man powerplay stack. I would reserve this option only for high powered offenses against the weakest of opposition though.
Defensemen
I often consider defensemen an extension of linestacking, but in reality that’s not always feasible. Though there are technically points awarded for blocked shots, even the top shot blockers aren’t very DFS relevant on shot blocking alone, unless they are positioned against a high shot volume team and come at a reasonable price tag. It is worth considering a high floor from reliable shooters and/or blockers when looking for value if you’re stacking two expensive lines, especially in cash games. While it’s not uncommon to see rosters where people have two depth defenders squeezed into their lineup due to salary constraints, know that you’ll typically need at least another goal from your forwards to compensate for the backend unless they happen to get a lucky bounce.
There are only around forty defensemen capable of regularly generating at a half point per game every season. With so few of these players available any given night, their salaries are typically higher than a forward with a similar point pace. The most prolific point producers are often unattainable for this reason. If an inexpensive defenseman finds his way onto the first powerplay unit, you can guarantee he will see high ownership. It’s almost always recommended to upgrade your defensemen if your salary allows.
Goaltenders
More important than any other statistic is whether or not your goalie is starting, so make sure to confirm that before puck drop. Daily Faceoff is the defacto place to verify the starting goaltender for each team. It’s not infallible, but it’s the best resource available without refreshing Twitter constantly for updates.
While it’s rare this will haunt you, it’s important to note that the win is only attributed to the goalie that’s on the ice when the deciding goal is scored, and that’s not necessarily who’s in the net at the end of the game. This is especially pertinent if you’re considering playing preseason games, where there’s often split duty between two prospects.
Even the worst goaltender is going to take up a sizeable chunk of your salary cap. However, unless they’re pulled from the game, even a losing goalie at least generally has some positive impact on your overall score. On the flipside, a winning goaltender can easily be your MVP every night. That’s a lot of pressure on picking the right player in this position, and therefore it’s often the hardest.
Without consideration for quality of opponent, even the best goaltender on the first seeded team has generally won less than 70% of their games that season. Picking a winning team is already a gamble, let alone the challenge of picking a winner that also faces a lot of shots without giving up goals. Because of this, I don’t really have a strong inclination to any particular strategy here. Some nights I’ll single out a small handful of goalies I think will perform well and either correlate them with my stacks or disperse them based on their salaries. If I’m only targeting a few lines that night, maybe I’ll run the same stacks with several goaltenders and hope to see them all dispersed in the top fifty. Other times I’ll ride the same goaltender for every lineup in a boom or bust scenario. In any case, I would seriously caution against being contrarian here without knowing there’s high upside (the goaltender is cheapest on the slate and at least has a chance of winning, say).
Recent/Historical Performance
I’m not going to lie, I use DailyFantasyNerd to compare shooting and scoring trends amongst players, and I’m always dialled in to the hot hands as much as anyone. However, I feel like people might put too much weight on recent performance and too little on historical data and sustainability.
There’s no question that sometimes players just go on hot or cold streaks, and betting on a player who’s in a slump to miraculously break it that night is equal parts realistic and gambler’s fallacy, as much as banking on the hot hand continuing his run would be. If you’re willing to do further digging, it’s worth taking into account whether a player is seeing a change in deployment or ice time. Consider whether they’re shooting more or less and what percentage of those shots are converting. Also note the quality of competition in the previous games. If you’re not doing any additional research whatsoever, just know these stats are usually shown as an average over the last five games and can be heavily skewed by one good or bad game, or even an injury.
If I only have time for minimal research any given night, without fail I am checking ShrpSports and CBC Sports for the team matchup history. Providing other factors align, I will often trust historical data and narrative games over a lot of other metrics. Now, I’m often criticised for putting weight on either of these things whatsoever, but I’ll still argue that it’s foolish to ignore it.
Obviously rosters change from season to season, and sometimes very dramatically. You should definitely take offseason changes into account. However, there are some teams or specific players that consistently (and often unexpectedly) have another team’s number, and rivalries are sure to bring out the best of both teams despite what fancy stats and standings indicate. Because of this, I tend to look at the outcome of the previous two season’s play and include any games played this season, with a greater weight put on teams that matchup more frequently. Especially if there is a team that shouldn’t be victorious that’s been on a relatively consistent win streak versus their opponent, I’m making a note of the upside from their upset potential, both to avoid picking the opposing goaltender and to consider linestacks that might otherwise be overlooked. I generally ignore playoff performances though because the stakes are higher and roles tend to be different.
It also might seem silly to place any weight on things like personal milestones, birthdays or playing against your former team, but hockey players are human, and more often than not people step up to prove something to themselves or others, or help their teammates achieve personal goals.
Advanced Stats
I’ll consider advanced stats for our purposes as anything that isn’t already tracked for DFS points that might actually affect them. So, standard stats would be shots, goals, assists and blocks, and advanced stats would be metrics that affect that. Not all good hockey players are fantasy relevant, and therefore many advanced stats aren’t a good predictor of DFS production. I will say that advanced stats strongly suggested that Tampa Bay were not nearly as good as their record suggested headed into the playoffs. Either way, it’s worth understanding these terms as they’re becoming part of the narrative, and while player and puck tracking will soon be the norm, you can garner a slight edge over the competition with a bit of manual work if you’re so inclined. In any case, none of these stats should be considered in a vacuum, and hockey isn’t a science in that you’ll accurately predict an outcome via advanced stats alone, so don’t go crazy looking for a pattern that probably isn’t there.
You can find all these stats (and much more) listed below at Corsica Hockey and Natural Stat Trick.
Shooting Percentage
Shooting percentage is predictive of whether on a player’s ice performance is sustainable. It’s most useful as a comparison to league and individual averages weighed against current performance to determine whether it’s an outlier. Simply, whether a player is slumping or over-performing.
Scoring Chances
These are shots taken where goals are likely to be scored, weighed based on where on the ice they’re taken from. It’s fallible, but it’s one of the strongest predictors currently available. If a player has a high shooting percentage but is also taking high danger shots, it stands to reason why they’re converting into goals. It’s worth noting when a line is generating high danger scoring opportunities without producing, as they’ll likely fly under the radar in the meantime.
Expected Goals FoAgainst (xGF/xGA)
Expected goals is a measurement of unblocked shots that register on net in the offensive zone. xGF/xGA doesn’t have a strong correlation with actual goals scored, which seems easily explained because it doesn’t take into account individual talent or scoring probability. While there’s a chance any puck thrown toward the net could lead to a goal, without taking into account the shot quality or where it’s generated from, I don’t place much weight on this personally.
Expected Save Percentage (xSv%)
This stat takes into account shot quality (though not shooter quality) and quantity and ranks the goaltender against the league average performance. Again, this isn’t necessarily a fair indicator of how well the goaltender performed. It is worth considering for how well the team’s defense has played in front of him though, so it can be used in conjunction with other stats when picking a goalie for the win and save upside.
Corsi and Fenwick
Corsi is likely the most recognizable name in advanced stats. This was devised to account for goaltender workload and adjusts for every time they have to be in position to make a save, so it takes into account shot attempts that are blocked or go wide of the net. It’s sister stat, Fenwick, is identical, aside excluding blocked shots. >50% Corsi/Fenwick indicates more shots on net than against. Neither take into account shot quality. Therefore, rather than using positive metrics to determine whether a team will score, I consider this a determining factor for diminishing the opposition from scoring, as they’ll possess the puck less often. This is especially worth considering for linematching.
Note that Corsi/Fenwick will be influenced by zone starts. A player that gets more faceoffs in the offensive zone is more likely to put pucks on net than they are to have shots against theirs, and vice versa. A player that has negative percentage and >50% offensive zone starts represents poor ice performance.
PDO/SPSV%
This statistic is nothing more than shooting percentage added to the save percentage. Since this will always total 100% league-wide, variance higher than 100 supposedly indicates luck, or that a team is not as good as they seem, and anything lower indicates they may be better than they appear. Though this stat supposedly measures luck it can also indicate a significant skill gap (Kucherov and Matthews are dominant in this category). A line generating many high danger scoring chances without conversion should have a low PDO that regresses to the mean.
There are more advanced stats available than these, as well as derivatives of each, though I think this is enough of an overview for daily fantasy purposes. If there’s something you’ve found to be useful though, feel free to drop it in the comments.
Lineup Construction
Now that you have narrowed down your chosen lines based on which teams you want to target and have a handful of goaltenders and defensemen/utility players selected, you’re ready to construct your lineups.
This will likely be a very individual process based on system comfortability and how many entries you’re submitting. The default will be simply to load the corresponding app or website and do everything entirely on your device or browser, if not supplementing with pen and paper. Perfectly acceptable. However, this would be both cumbersome and time consuming for MME, so there’s also a bulk upload option available with .csv spreadsheets. This might be the approach you take if you’re using an optimizer too.
Optimizers
Free optimizers are basically designed to squeeze out every dollar per average point production or projection, which is very much not what I prefer to build my lineups on. Though there are better options if you’re willing to shell out some money, I don’t play enough volume to warrant a subscription and prefer a more hands-on approach anyway. I would highly recommend checking out Linestar though. I am not affiliated with them in any way, but they seem under-recognized in the market and are easily the best optimizer available for hockey in my opinion, utilizing a lot of the criteria I’ve mentioned here, including historical data, stacking and advanced stats, etc. which many other optimizers omit. There’s also an option for a brief trial based on ad views.
Line Stacker
I personally use a custom line stacker that I hobbled together with spreadsheets and the downloadable .csv files from Draftkings and Fanduel. You can access it here along with the basic instructions for how it works. Someone always comes along and messes it up somehow, so I would recommend downloading it to your desktop and using Excel to play around with it.
Late Night Swaps
Rosters lock when the first game of the night is slated to begin. If there are games on your slate starting later than that, keep in mind that changes can and do happen. Check for last minute line changes or which goaltender takes the ice even if things seemed certain at the morning skate. The worst thing that can happen is watching your first place entry plummet because it was a late reveal that someone has the flu and isn’t on the bench.
Additional Resources
Breadispain’s FREE Fanduel and Draftkings Line Stacker v1.1: My own hobbled together line-stacking tool for up to 24 lines. I don't know of a similar tool available right now and I find it handier than an optimizer. There’s also a rudimentary salary comparison tool between Draftkings and Fanduel implemented if that interests you.
ShrpSports: See how well teams have performed against each other historically.
CBC Sports: maybe it’s because I’m Canadian, but I think the CBC does the best overview of the slate with easy access to the latest game data.
Daily Faceoff: Your best source for lineups, injury news and starting goaltender information.
Daily Fantasy Nerd: I use this daily for an overview of who’s hot/cold in the last five games for shots on goal, ice time and points, though it’s worth making a deeper dive to see whether those points came from a single outlier game.
Corsica Hockey and Natural Stat Trick: I use both of these sites for advanced stats, and occasionally the latter for line-matching data and post-game analysis.
Linestar: Linestar comes closest to developing a DFS tool that actually correlates with how I build my lineups. They offer everything from analysis on value plays, recent performance in varying metrics, historical data vs opponent, change in salary, salary disparity between platforms, and much more.
Results DB: see the best and optimal lineups from previous nights and who came out ahead.
Awesemo, Rotogrinders and DFS Army: Since these are the more popular sites, I tend to review their postings and livestreams when time permits on the big slates for anything I might’ve overlooked and to get a better idea of where other people might be targeting. I personally place more weight on boggslite and Homercles, for whatever that’s worth to you.
Summary
It’s my opinion that Vegas odds and expert predictions should be used as a guide for chalk more than what you should target. It won’t take research to determine that good players with ideal linemates against weak opponents are more likely to score. Don’t ignore narrative games and historical performances. Advanced stats can be both helpful and distracting. Ideally you’ll always stack two or more players who are correlated on the powerplay with one or both of your defensemen, on teams with high GF/G and/or PP%, against teams with low CF% and/or a goaltender with high GAA, ideally with a low PK%. Consider whether these players have been under or overperforming and have any chemistry together. Players who shoot more often increase their point floor and probability to score. It’s advantageous to be on home ice for linematching but it’s rarely a dealbreaker. Round this out with a goaltender with a high expected SA/G and low GAA that fits within your salary constraints. Alternatively, build from the goaltender out or just hamfist whomever works.
And that’s always easier said than done.
Best of luck.
submitted by breadispain to dfsports [link] [comments]

Destinys design faults is death by a thousand cuts.

I want to start off this post (its gonna be long) to first make it clear that I absolutely love Destiny. Everytime I put this game down and eventually find myself coming back to it I'm reminded of just how perfect minor (albeit important) pockets of the game are.
The Art, the music, the controls, the surrounding lore of this vast in game universe.
It has the swagger of a game that knows it nails the fundamentals, it plays well and looks amazing at the same time. Its "game feel" is second to none for first person shooters and to have it wrapped up in a FPSRPG, a genre known to sacrifice its feel for function, is incredible.
To put it simply it FEELS GOOD to play the game and it leaves you wishing there were not 1001 other issues stopping you from enjoying the game at its purest form.
With that said lets get into it.
So I titled this post "Destinys design faults is death by a thousand cuts" and my complaints are quite literal. So many of these issues seem like minor things that just leave you scratching your head wondering why they havent been addressed but the vast quantity of these piling issues lead to massive frustration.
I'm gonna start off with a really overlooked issue just so its clear my complaints are not "give me more free stuff" and is more of a question of just the odd ineptitude of certain decisions.

Eververse

Okay so lets talk about this.
Destiny is a GaaS title, it survives by producing content that brings in regular income on a persistent basis (or should in theory) just like most F2P games like Overwatch/Dota2/Warframe/Path of Exile/ect., you get the idea.
Most of these games collect this consistent revenue through purely microtransactions with no sale of actual content (Fortnite is an obvious example of this) whereas some others collect this revenue through selling said added content (The Sims for example) with some microtransactions on the side if the game makes sense for it.
Destiny is one of the latter games, it sells its content releases and also has a very robust microtransaction shop and a game model that supports it.
So Destiny should be swimming in money then right? A popular game that has you paying for all the content AND sells you the costumes and superficial items to dress up your digital avatars with, its a easy homerun.
But with Activisions release of the franchise we know this isn't the case. Though it may be profitable we know it isn't making the money usually expected of a cash cow model like this.
So why is that? Well simply put their microtransactions make no sense to buy.
Really the ideal only question the consumer should have with regards to purchasing a microtransaction is "does this appeal to me?".
Because in reality art is subjective and when selling cosmetics its hard to have everyone agree on what is good enough to buy.
But Destiny doesnt achieve this, instead there are multitude of questions that arise that are so numerous it is almost impossible to justify spending money.
Wanting to buy the Eververse only armor sets? Good luck gambling for the specific perks you want on the armor you want from them. So not only does Destiny need to sell you on the art design of this armor for a premium cost over just wearing regular Destiny armor for free but now it also has to sell you on having you buy box after box after box looking for the correct perks for your preferred loadout. Then even if you do get the entire set with the perks you want it is still being outperformed by Raid only perks and activity specific perks that leave you constantly taking it off. Even if you dont need those raid enhanced or activity enhanced perks like Gambit armor you still might just end up taking the armor off when you simply switch to another loadout that doesnt utilize the same perks. For example, have perks all for light arms? Now you are using Rifles and those perks no longer work.
Compare this to other games that sell cosmetics like Overwatch, like Dota 2, like Path of Exile.
These games I can purchase a costume and its done, I dont need to fish in boxes for the correct perks and I dont have to worry about not using said purchased skin because its not optimal. The only question I have about whether I want to use a cosmetic armor in these games is "do I like how it looks?".
Now you might be saying well some of those games like Overwatch, like Dota are not games with persistent gear stat systems and you are right but there are plenty of games (Warframe/PoE/WoW) that are stat gear games that accomplish selling you cosmetic only items. Most of these games achieve this via a cosmetic only tab which sets the look of your character that ignores the look of your currently equipped items. And you may be saying that its not realistic to expect Destiny to be able to achieve the same thing.
But they already have.
Ornaments are this system and they need only make eververse type cosmetics global ornaments that can be outfitted on any piece of gear.
Now there might be more to this but the point remains this is a significant hurdle to them selling something as basic as cosmetic armor in a game like this which they pump a significant amount of their art assets and money into yet clearly have shown they have not fleshed out the basic necessities for accommodating said sale.
"Thats it, your done with Eververse problems right?"
No, it just keeps going.
So I'm going to condense these last points because yes I understand it could literally go forever so here are some rapid fire issues with the rest of eververse.
Rather than do what most games do (cosmetics limited to weapon classes for example 2 handed weapons can only use 2 handed cosmetics) they go several layers deeper and limit them to incredibly specific weapons and armor meaning that if that isn't part of your loadout (and the hundreds of items in the games library almost guarantees its not) it has no value whatsoever as a consumer even if you actually like the art and want to purchase the cosmetic. There simply is no sensible reason to purchase it because you either wont use said item or you actively limit yourself doing so.
Doesnt have guiding light and cant roll it at all? Might as well not even exist.
Why is Bungie giving me reasons not to buy the cosmetics that their amazing art team slaves over?
Why do these even exist? Again WHY ARE YOU GIVING ME REASONS NOT TO WANT SOMETHING?
Why are these on use? Their cost to get more is so insignificant that it doesnt even matter except to swindle new players and instead leads to people never experimenting with shaders/transmats because their "finite" usage leads people to fear wasting them and thus never using them.
Simple stuff.
In reality the Ships/Projections/Emotes are the only things that actually work within the shop and even those have their own issues.
But you know what the biggest issue of all of this is?
Obsolescence.
You see these other games sell cosmetics for 60$ and people actually buy them because they know that the purchase isn't a rental, its a purchase that they can still be using in a relevant game 10 years from now whether they pay into it or not.
The same Dota 2 skins I bought in 2013 are still usable in the game today, same goes for the WoW mount I bought in 2008, still works today in the current version of the game.
Destiny does not have this, when Destiny 2 launched all the money spent on cosmetics for your character or flair or what have you went completely in the trash and people are already preparing themselves for the same farewell to their current collection for when Destiny 3 launches.
This simply doesnt work in a model like this and you best believe it hurts Bungies ability to sell cosmetics knowing their consumers think its not a purchase but simply a rental til the next game ships.
Okay I think I bitched enough about cosmetics, but for my final word on them I want everyone to know I dont mind them. Microtransactions are just a part of gaming at this point and I've accepted that but my beef isn't that they exist in Destiny its that they are just squandered so much and it just seems like a colossal waste of Bungies time creating all these assets to fund their game only to have no one buy them because of all the things surrounding them.
So what next?
Lets talk about....

Strikes

For the majority of games like Destiny strikes would be the absolute bread and butter of its repeatable content.
Here we have small group instanced pve content in a variety of areas, against a variety of bosses/enemies, in a variety of different engagements.
So whats wrong? Why is nobody doing this content they spent all this time making?
The loot pool is incredibly limited and the content is snore levels of easy. So if its not fun, and its not rewarding, then why play it at all? Why does it even exist? And what is the solution to this if there is one at all?
The answer is Nightfall.
What? You may be saying to yourself, but yes, Nightfall.
You see there are other games that ran into this same exact issue, I'm going to use one of them as an example (since its the one I know best) and how they solved the issue.
Introducing WoW Mythic+ dungeons.
You see in WoW there too was an issue with dungeon difficulty and lack of rewards. In previous years/expansions after the initial post max level phase of dungeon grinding dungeons were all but obsolete to the majority of the playerbase. The content simply sat abandoned and wasted with no incentive at all for players to return to them.
Enter Mythic+ dungeons.
Now some super smart guy at Blizzard decided he had an idea on how to fix this issue of having so much development time and effort be completed so quickly and thrown away. His solution was an ever scaling dungeon difficultly alongside scaling rewards (capped at a certain point) with an emphasis on random selections of dungeons (so as to not have the fastest/easiest dungeons farmed each time) and to have multiple variables introduced per week to spice up the difficulty (think NF mission modifiers except you didnt select them and they changed weekly). These alternating variables made it so one week ranged might be the preferable damage dealers or Priests might be the preferable healers, either way it created new challenges for your group of players per week as you attempt to progress into the higher keys (Mythic+ dungeons were tied to keystones that chose the dungeon and the difficultly for you) for better rewards.
This worked fabulously.
Now instead of Joe Rogue hitting max level and being done with all dungeon content in a week he is instead finding reasons to be running dungeons INDEFINITELY if he so desired for better and better rewards. Even players well into Mythic Raids (the hardest content in the game and the most rewarding) had reasons to run at least a few per week.
Now how does this relate to Destiny and Nightfall?
Well, Nightfall is Mythic dungeons....or at least a form of it.
Variable modifiers, repeatable dungeons, scaling difficulty... its all there waiting to be utilized.
Instead we get nothing, complete 1 NF a week for 2 powerful pieces of gear and thats it, your done.
Its just completely wasted potential sitting in their laps and rather than work the content to fix it into being a viable way to gear your character and spend time in game they instead leave it to rot wasting their time creating another horde mode activity....
No wonder they dont want to give us any more strikes in this season pass, they think its completely wasted content since its not "repeatable" in their current iteration of it.
But lets move on, plenty more to cover and I thank anyone still bothering to stick with my rant at this point.
Lets get into my favorite part of the game and where I have easily spent the most time in game.

Crucible

Lets begin.
So first off let me say that I fucking love the Crucible, I love the dynamics of this games PvP and even with all its massive shortcomings (P2P/Matchmaking/Lack of modes) I still love the hell out of it as it offers a type of gameplay that exists nowhere else as this psuedo Halo/CoD arena shooter with Overwatch lite abilities.
That said...
Its horrible.
Lets start off with a thing most people can agree on, comp is not a fun experience. But why?
Well the issue is multifaceted, lets start with the ranking system itself. The game simply does not separate players into the correct skill tiers so players in the higher end of the skill spectrum are often placed within the low end of the skill bracket and it ends in a horrible experience for players on said lower end.
Now this happens in a lot of games.....initially.... this is due to the fact that the game simply doesnt have enough data on said player to place them accordingly in their skill bracket. In most games ranked mode where there are new seasons (as there are in Destiny) they will have placement matches at the start of every new season to determine how much different your ranking should be from the previous season if any change needs to occur at all. This means GM Overwatch players will remain in GM (or roughly around their original rating) the following season since its clear they shouldnt be playing with Bronze players based on their previous ranking.
This is not how Destinys ranking system works.
Instead a 5500 Unbroken top 500 player is sent back to the bucket bracket with every other player and the ranking bracket calibration is needed yet again to eventually get this player facing the correct skill players and no longer stomping on players that have absolutely no chance.
Its just complete nonsense and its completely counter to the point of the mode which is to have it be COMPETITIVE, I can tell you right now from personal experience that I dont enjoy going through the lower bracket and making lower skilled players get worked over and I bet they dont enjoy being worked over by a person who doesnt belong in their bracket at all either.
And this lack of a sensible system bleeds into a bunch of other issues within the mode.
Long queues/bad matchmaking connections/4man vs randoms, these issues all stem from a lack of a playerbase playing the mode but the mode is so poorly designed that it actively discourages people from playing it which as I just highlighted leads to these other issues.
Then there is the issues within the mode itself, a 4v4 mode in a game exclusively cut to groups divisible by 3, an emphasis on team play with no real communication methods available to non pre made teams, gamemodes like countdown that dont fit very well with the gameplay of Destinys crucible (this isn't CS, not all FPS modes work just by importing them).
And then there is a lack of overall rewards, what value is there in playing comp for a player who already has Not Forgotten? There is no end of season rank reward like an emblem or cosmetic armor. What about people who wont be getting any of the pinnacle weapons or comp exclusives? What are you doing to keep them playing? You need reasons for every type of player to keep playing this mode because when they dont have reasons to play they stop queuing and the whole mode suffers for the lack of a healthy playerbase.
The most frustrating thing about all of this is they've done it better before.... This is Bungie for Travelers sake, they had the first working automated online ranking system I had ever interacted with and refined it through their other releases.
Now here we are 15 years after they released a completely functional ranking system in Halo 2 and they can't even match that let alone follow along with other better versions in online gaming like the often used ELO system used in games like League/Dota/Overwatch/ect.
Okay good lord I spent enough time on that, what about the rest of crucible?
Uhh not much really to complain about here, maybe some basic features like map/mode voting, obviously better matchmaking in general but again they need the playerbase to accomplish that.
I do have a tie in complaint to my earlier bitching about Eververse, here we have a multitude of opportunities for Bungie to make an easy buck selling us stuff like taunts/player intros/victory poses and they miss out on it completely.
And again its something they've already done better elsewhere, I'm not talking about using the Trials of the Nine 20 minute intro with dances and what not but maybe instead of everyone standing around whilst you plant a flag and the game does a slow flyby of the map it instead puts you into a Gambit like room for you to taunt the opposing team in.
And how about they steal their "MVP" idea from Halo (I know thats from Halo 5 but they had a similar system in their own games I just like 5s presentation of it better for my example).
You sell people taunts and flourishes for MVP poses at the end of games and hell it even helps sell the other eververse cosmetics like armor since people will want to show off in the window with their gear as well.
Here is a fantastic example mocked up by blankscientist to give you an idea of it in Destiny. It even incentivizes those "taunts/cosmetics" even more for people to purchase for their character since it is used to taunt nemesis players and you dont need to be MVP to show it off.
You get the idea.
I can speak more of issues like Iron Banana or the stagnation of balance metas but we'll move on.
So ok what else can I bitch about?
How about.....

Raids

Or more specifically, forming raids.
So guiding games eh? Thats your attempt?
Look we know what systems work, we've been using them for years now via the apps and websites, this isn't really a code that needs to be cracked. All that really needs to be done is finding a way to implement those group creation curation tools in game and you are done.
WoW (I know, I'm using it again) accomplishes this via a window in game that lets player pick specific activities to either form groups for or find groups for and has a very clean UI for giving descriptions to group creators or players looking to join a group on what the expectations of said group and who is actually applying to said group.
Data is given like what their light level is, what class they are, what spec they are.
Its simple but incredibly effective and all these websites that have cropped up over the years are some version of said window allowing group leaders the tools to curate a group themselves to complete the content and allowing players the ability to find groups for activities they want to do. Its not "automated" but it gives enough structure to allow these groups to take form and tackle content at a much faster pace than randomly messaging every max level player in the Tower.
The fact that the game doesnt have a functional tool like this in game despite its requirement (as seen by the rampancy of its usage in outside forms) is an enormous failure only compounded by the fact that they wasted so much time with the complete dumpster fire that is Guided Games instead of making a functional in game version of the tool everyone else is already using and knows works.
This post is getting entirely too long and as I continue to type I'm finding it harder and harder to keep my points coherent so for now I'll leave it on the issue that bugged me enough to start this rant in the first place.

Not fast enough updates

So we got some nerfs coming yeah? Heard we are all sorts of upset about this. Personally I dont mind as I've seen this song and dance a hundred times before, balance is a seesaw and sometimes your WAY UP and sometimes you are WAY DOWN.
But you know what makes these nerfs so hard to stomach in a game like this? The fact that we all know how long the next set of imbalances will be around.
You see in games like this quick updates are the lifeblood that keeps the game going. We need constant tweaks and changes and we pay a premium to the developer via microtransactions (or season passes) with the expectation that they happen frequently.
After all it is a "living game" and just like in life, changes come often.
But they dont in Destiny do they? We often spend 6 months staring at obvious issues and imbalances knowing something (ANYTHING!) needs to be done to rectify these issues minor and major just waiting for Bungie to even acknowledge the issue let alone issue their idea of a fix. And I'm completely open to Bungie not taking our word for it and simply trying their own idea of solutions first to these problems. The issue is that when they miss on the fix its like your life has ended, 6 months go by and this is what we get? We may not even see another pass on this issue until a sequel is released and that might involve a whole new slew of issues.
It feels awful and really highlights the compounding issue with all of Destiny, that problems pile up rather than cycle out. Because updates and changes are so infrequent it almost seems like things will never get fixed. Minor issues stick around for so long that they become major problems, systems that get submitted as drafts (Guided Games/Ranked Crucible) never see refinement and thus never work to their full potential. These systems stagnate and because they are always working on the next content release we never see real fixes or improvements despite the fact that a strike rework likely has more potential staying power as far as content goes than anything included in these DLC releases.

Thanks for reading

I might have more to add on to this later but I feel thats enough to make my point and to help foster some kind of discussion, I appreciate anyone who actually read through this colossal bitch fest. I love Destiny and hope it gets to be as good as a whole experience as its foundation has always been.
submitted by Falcker_v2 to DestinyTheGame [link] [comments]

Growler Season Preview & GDT: Manchester Monarchs at Growlers 5:30PM EST (watch live)

Friday Night Game & Banner Hanging
Watch: Will post below
Listen: Mixlr NLGrowlers
It’s Game 1, Season 2 for the reigning Kelly Cup Champion Newfoundland Growlers! To no one’s surprise who understands the Dubas mindset, this year’s Growlers are the youngest team in ECHL again, by almost half a year. In fact, a quick glance at this Growler roster shows that Dubas and the organization is doubling-down again this year on youth, scoring and speed - in an even more extreme way than Season 1.
Dubas is Doubling-Down on Previous Wagers:
Wager #1: Get Even Younger - While this team has more pro hockey experience than last year’s team by virtue of the fact that 10 players from last year’s team return, the Growlers still have 4 rookie pros at forward (Conrad, Woods, Brazeau and Trey Bradley), 3 rookie pros on defence (Hollowell, Duszak and Sapego), and 2 rookie pros at goaltender (Zhukov & Scott “IR”). Interestingly, only 2 players (Melindy & O’Brien) will qualify as ECHL Veterans (ECHL permits 4). In fact, they are so young that none of the current non-veteran players will even qualify as veterans next year.
Wager #2: The 3 Tier System - This is a term that is now being heard repeatedly out of the organization. The philosophy of Toronto’s farm system has now been identified, labelled and it is being sold into the hockey community - especially to prospective players and their representatives. Last year’s and previous ECHL “experiments” are over. The 3 Tier System is now being accelerated, and marketed, which brings us to Wager #3.
Wager #3: Roster Stability - Dubas signed a bunch of AHL contracts - AGAIN. He keeps breaking signing records, set previously by himself (Note: Dubas is pace-setting this trend as AHL signings have increased gradually from 250 to 316 AHL contract signings the past 4 years). This year, there are so many talented players in both minor pro tiers that I don’t foresee a lot of movement of players between the Growlers and Marlies during the year - certainly much less movement than last year. Both teams are stacked and deep - and I think this was done intentionally to allow players to develop at one tier for the entire season. I think the organization believes that upward mobility should be primarily reserved for the off-season, not during the season. Injuries will happen, but last year 49 different players put on a Growler uniform (just slightly above average in the ECHL). This year, I don’t think that number will get much above 30, and will be among the lowest in the league. So, sit back and enjoy Growlers fans, Brazeau, Conrad, Duszak, Scott, Zhukov, Hollowell etc. are all highly likely to play the entire season in Newfoundland because that is the best place for their development.
Wager #4: Organizational Depth - Fully healthy, every single one of the 10 Growler forwards will be on either NHL or AHL contracts, plus one more AHL contract will be in the press box. The depth and talent is so ridiculously good that it is, well…ridiculous. Expect a LOT of goals. In one preseason game against Brampton last week there were two 4 on 1s and one 5 on 1 break-out. Yes, you read that right - a 5 on 1. It’s the ECHL baby.
The Growler Defence Top 6 has 2 players on NHL contracts, 2 players on AHL contracts, and 2 players (Melindy & Johnston) on ECHL contracts - who are excellent ECHL defence men. When Gudbranson comes off the IR, he should be in the Top 6, and would add a 3rd veteran to the overall roster, but there legitimately is an issue as to where Gilman can put him. The organization is stacked on the Right Side with Liljegren, Schmaltz, Lindgren, Ryan Johnston, Hollowell, Duszak, Melindy and returning Growler #7 RHD Evan Neugold. Gudbranson would be a #7-9 D man on the Marlies, thus forced to sit, and the ECHL permits only a 20 man roster, so he can’t camp there. And they are not going to sit ELC players like Duszak and Hollowell, nor will they sit team Captain James Melindy. What makes Gudbranson’s situation even trickier is a new ECHL rule which stipulates that a veteran player on an AHL deal will have to have played 5 games in the AHL in order to be eligible for the ECHL playoffs.
Wager #5: Rookie Goaltenders - “Ian, Maxim, there’s the deep end. Now jump in!” How the tandem of two rookie goaltenders Scott and Zhukov will perform is the biggest question next to the defence. Scott is still on the IR, and is being spelled by Patrick Munson who also is pretty much a rookie with only 12 professional games played…in the U.K. So, youth it is. Personally, I am kind of excited to see what Zhukov might be capable of. He was drafted by Vegas in 2017 and was of the same pedigree as Scott at that time (he was drafted ahead of Scott). He did not have the junior success of Scott, but he also bounced around North America 10,000 miles away from home. I’m willing to see what can play out here. Personally, I love the idea of having 2-3 young goaltenders in the system at all times anyway.
Wager #6 (and the biggest bet of them all): A young, small and highly mobile defence. This year’s starting Top 6 is 25lbs. lighter per player than last year’s playoff Top 6, and includes 3 rookies, two of whom are on NHL contracts. The organization experimented with small defensemen last year, (e.g. PTO 150lb. Cory Dunn from Division III NCAA. Dunn scored 5 points in 7 games before he was eventually released), but NOTHING like this.
It is going to be very interesting to see what a small, mobile defence will be capable of in the ECHL. As much as I embrace faster, skilled hockey, there were times in the Kelly Cup playoffs last year when I was very thankful that the Growlers had big, tough, stay-at-home defensemen like Adam Pardy, James Melindy and Alex Gudbranson to withstand heavy forechecking and calm things down.
To me, this year’s ECHL defence consisting of 170lb. Hollowell, 179lb. Sapego and 185lb. Duzsak is perhaps the biggest experiment Dubas has attempted to date as Maple Leafs GM. I liken Dubas’ all-out focus on skill and speed - and apparent disregard of size - to the evolution of no-huddle, spread, high-tempo offences that proliferated college football 15 years ago to great success. Speed and space are the tenets of modern gridiron offences now - even the NFL game adapted and evolved. Pioneers of this style of play were coaches like Chip Kelly, Gus Malzhan, Urban Meyer, Hal Mumme, Mike Leach etc. I classify Dubas is a similar category of game innovators — and the Newfoundland Growlers are his test laboratory.
If this Growler Top 6 can be effective in the ECHL, then a similar concept can work in the NHL. It is going to be a fascinating experiment. People criticized Football Spread Offences as being merely a technique to level the playing field between the smaller schools which could not recruit the big, elite athletes like the Alabamas & Ohio States of the world by exploiting an inefficiency on the field — space. The criticism was that while the Spread offences could score a lot of points, ultimately the game will get ground-down by the bigger athletes who will control the ball, the clock, and wear the other team down.
Sounds a lot like the current hockey debate, doesn’t it?
But then the Cincinnati Bearcats nearly won the National Championship. And Boise State beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. And Oregon became a National Power. And Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and West Virginia became perennial top 20 Programs. And high school coaches who pioneered the Spread like Gus Malzahn became Big SEC Program Head Coaches. Now the game is changed forever - at all levels.
Will the Growlers attempt a different style of hockey engineered around their small, mobile defensemen akin to how smaller universities experimented with the Spread in the 1990s with their fast, under-recruited but speedy athletes? Why not use the ECHL as the test lab?
While there will be undoubtedly some Growlers defensive challenges this year, keep in mind that this is the most talented and deep forward group in the ECHL capable of out-scoring any deficit. Maybe the 5 on 1 will be a frequent thing. lol
Defensive experiments aside, I believe the Growlers is the best possible place for Hollowell and Duzsak to develop - it will be a trial by fire because they will not be protected and will be playing 20+ minutes a game every night in all situations. They are going to grow up in a hurry, and after a full season in the ECHL, they should be ready to go in all situations with the Marlies next year.
Enjoy the game.

EDIT POST GAME
Growlers lose 6-5 in a game where they went ahead 3-0 half way through the first period and looked on the way towards a blow-out. Then Zhukov started letting pucks in. He looked bad. Really bad. Growlers win this game 6-1 or 6-2 with Garteig in net. I'm not sure what to make of this game other than 6 goals from 24 shots for a 0.75 SV% and a 6.0 GAA. The Growlers had the lead 5-4 mid way through the 3rd period and were playing pretty conservatively, perhaps too much so, but it probably wouldn't have mattered.
Notable play from all the usuals like O'Brien, Ferguson and Estephan. Hollowell, Riley Woods and Duszak looked pretty good too. Sapego was a -4 and Melindy a -3. Hollowell, Duszak, Kapla and Johnston were all +1.
It's going to take some time. :)
submitted by irishcedar to TorontoMarlies [link] [comments]

Franchised Killers List, ideas for killers with unique kits

Heya fam. So, a friend of mine is a horror film aficionado, and I decided to ask him about some of his favorite horror films. Turns out, there's a great deal more horror films than I thought, spanning nearly 140 years worth (he loves this stuff). He started going on and on about all sorts of neat franchises I'd never heard of, and got to see a few of them. We all know of some of the more famous ones that we want (It anyone?), but what if we compiled a list of them because boredom reasons? I've decided to create said list, because working in IT during a dead period with no tickets is for chumps.
Please note that as expected, there are spoilers present throughout these descriptions, so look away if you care for that sort of thing. There is no earthly way that everyone of them could fit in this game given the average GaaS space games like Dead By Daylight tend to inhabit before a sequel comes out (5-12 years), so I only went through and chose the most iconic that added something unique besides generic slash killing, as we've our fair share of those at the moment. Some killers, such as in The Grudge/The Ring, have already been added as a similar killer already, and so didn't make the list (The Spirit). Lastly, some absolutely excellent horror films in general didn't make my list because the killer either wasn't unique enough or has been done already before.

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The Alien: A xenomorph alien lifeform from a remote ship wreck discovered in space. The alien was born straight out of the nightmarish head of H.R. Giger and his tormented drawings/artwork. The offspring of this loathsome creature leap onto people's faces and lay eggs inside of them, which will eventually burst out of them and continue to propagate, taking genetic material from its host to better hunt down its prey. Game design space: Attacking someone and laying eggs in them shares similar space to the Pig's playstyle. Something would need to change to this pattern in order to be workable in this game of cops vs robbers, as the only acceptable outcome to not getting the egg out would/should be death, which is already (excellently, might I add) done through the Pig's gameplay.
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The Candyman: A vengeful folklore spirit of a famous black painter, who eventually attracted the anger and hatred of a man who hired a mob to lynch him for his only sin of loving his white daughter during the then highly racially charged 1890's. The mob cut off his hand and smeared it with apiary honey, where bees then devoured his flesh. He was later burned at the pyre. The Candyman's gimmick is that his spirit was bound to tales of him, and of his need to spread his story (and killing while doing so) in order to sustain his existence. A sad and excellent tale, but design wise there's an enormous amount of space as his signature method of killing is B E E S. In the eyes, organs, you name it. Not sure what could be done with such a character in dbd, as his lore is modestly reminiscent of Freddy's. All I know is that the mori had better be of his iconic horror scene where he kisses the protagonist, sending a swarm of bees down their throat.
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The Babadook: The antagonist in this film is a take on the horrors of single parenting. In this tale, an exhausted and miserable widow takes care of her child, who she barely understands. She eventually finds a children's book called Mr. Babadook, about a creature who feeds on denial and sorrow. The child becomes convinced that Mr. Babadook is real, and the effects of the tale slowly affect his mother, who begins to experience events that make her utterly miserable and deranged. This eventually culminates with the mother attempting to kill her son, who snaps out of it at the last second vomiting a large amount of black ooze. Eventually the creature is confronted and robbed of its greatest strength, denial, and is cast into the basement. The two eventually come to an uneasy relationship with the creature, and feed it earthworms. Design wise, this film depict active hallucinations, m i s e r y, and possession effects. There are a number of possession movies out there, but this is one of the better of the bunch for this particular design.
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The Brute: The story of an amateur alchemist named Dr.Jekyll who took things a little too far. Dr.Jekyll/Mr.Hyde is a very old tale about the duality of man. In the classical tale, Dr. Jekyll is a well made man of higher social standing who attempts to create a potion to separate his evil and selfish urges. He succeeds in dividing his mind into two, an enormous, selfish, murderous brute version he calls Mr.Hyde, and his original form of Dr.Jekyll. Eventually, he becomes dependent on the thrill of this other form, and begins to transform back and forth uncontrollably. The film(s) are more of a mystery than a true horror film, but the classicness of the tale bares similar traits with dbd's as-of-yet unnamed alchemist, who appears to be having a similar situation. If the alchemist is released as a killer, then Mr.Hyde would probably be incompatible. Design space would include everything an enormous brute would involve, throwing map objects as people like Left 4 Dead's tank, smashing walls, and so on. There are many ways such a thing could be designed.
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The Lagoon Creature: The tale of the creature of the black lagoon is also old, but still a goldie. A swamp creature who resides in a large aquatic region around a lagoon. A band of researchers visit the lagoon looking for some blahblahblah get ambushed by the creature, who falls in love with one of the woman with the research team. This 1950's era movie featured the creature swimming stealthily out of ponds, surfaces of water, and making rudimentary traps. For that design, large sections of water would need to be added to the maps, potentially making running through them very noisy and difficult for survivors for killer instinct reveals for those who run, resulting in having to gauge whether certain generators are worth it.
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The Count: Or the Vampire. Yeah, this guy needs no preamble or explanation. Dracula's one of the most classical horror film icons out there, I'd bet money this guy comes out within the timetable of the next two years. There's all sorts of ways he can be done, but unique components to him involve flying, blood drain, and magic. Given dbd's design, I'd imagine that the flying component would be needed the most, with a requirement that you couldn't turn back from a bat until you were out of sight of the survivors, forcing a stealthy playstyle. The Oni's kind of taken blood drain's design space, but there's always room for more.
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The Werewolf: I figured I'd get the classics out. There's a couple dozen werewolf films out there. The design is straight forward, smelling blood, running fast, charging at people, and howling. A vicious chasing killing machine through and through. They'd probably set this as an in universe killer given the very high amount of adaptations of this, but I'd probably say that some kind of cheesey 80's high school character might make a nice change of pace. Followed by murder. Unique components worth going around involve blood scent, where the more puddles of blood are in an area, the brighter and more pronounced it is to them. I'd give such a thing extreme speed in exchange for a truely obnoxious vision reduction, having to rely on scent more than sight through a UI design to reward clever play from survivors.
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The Horde: At this point, I'm mostly adding this one for the sake of being thorough in my search. The Night of the Living Dead, is one of the most iconic horror films of all time, but the current day and age culture of zombies, the never ending stream of zombie game mods, the endless movies, means that there's almost a sense of goofiness instead of terror. At this point, an opportunity could be taken to make a Left 4 Dead Director style killer, where instead of one killer, the player can create a good portion of zombies and gently (but frustratingly) guide them towards certain directions, much like a bad RTS. To not mess with the formula too much and minimize the amount of added work, melee weapons would be needed to be placed around the map as items with charges to temporarily repel or sometimes kill one of these creatures, only to have them rise elsewhere. Game pacing still requires that these still need to be hid from, for while the weapons could repel, they cannot be permanently dealt with. This could reward clever game play with survivors making aura trigger events and noise/distractions to draw away a very slowly moving zombie away while their teammates repair a generator, in exchange for, I dunno, 16 of them throughout a map. Perhaps the Evil Dead could fit the role for this? Ash never did have a killer, which was a same as I'd love to watch him have some cheesy lines about the book.
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The Spider: The last of our really old killers. There have been several 'excellent' 70's horror films involving spiders the size of buses that go around attacking and killing people. Since our list is made of a great deal of humanoid monsters, a monstrous one should round things up well. Design space could involve laying spider eggs for little spiders that swarm players and must stomp them out or scream incoherently, or laying webs. Good design space. At this point on, most killers end up being franchised base.
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The Lamia: Drag me to Hell is a magnificent horror film involving a foolish banker who denies a gypsy woman a 3rd extension to her mortgage and embarrasses her morbidly in an attempt to secure a higher position at her company. "Embarrass an old Gypsy woman" is not a very wise thing to do it seems, and the gypsy returns to curse the protagonist by ripping off one of her buttons and returning it to her. She later dies, securing her curse. A monstrous demon named the Lamia begins to stalk her through a number of ways, hallucinations, eyeballs appearing on objects while she hunts for a way to be free of the demon during her 3 day stalking period. A psychic agrees to help the protagonist, and attempts to perform a seance to banish the creature involving animal sacrifice of a goat. The primary components unique to the Lamia involves demonic possession of people, animal sacrifice to appease it, and a death timer (3 days or I'll take your soul). In this case, the button/goat are the most iconic parts of the movie, and should have something to do with getting rid of the timer. A limited number of goats could spawn throughout the map, eating grass and making noise. These goats will have to be chased down with multiple survivors assisting to corner it into a wall, and dragged to an altar. If a goat is sacrificed, the killer disappears from the map for a few moments, allowing the survivors to move unhindered. A primary power should involved the iconic button, perhaps something similar where ripping out a button and returning it gives it a 5 minute timer where they die with no way to remove it. It can be passed to another for points, or passed to a goat during sacrifice for added value. Button should be rechargeable.
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The Poltergeist: A classical 80's horror film about a family who unwittingly buy a house built on top of an ancient burial ground. Spiritual phenomena start to appear throughout the house, moving objects, opening and closing doors, and begin to escalate until eventually their daughter is abducted and later heard speaking through television static. Household objects begin to float, attack, assault the family while a medium is called in to help with the issue. She tries, claims she succeeds, and leaves, only for the situation gets far worse with a particular spirit causing terrible havoc upon the family, trees attacking and eating people, dolls stabbing the children in bed, a pool that fills with mud and attempts to drag and drown the family while coffins begin to burst out of the ground. Eventually the family flees their home with their daughter, with the final scene is of them rolling the motel's television outside and locking the door. The most iconic parts of the film involve the daughter announcing "They're here" while a white hand comes out of a television accompanied by an earthquake, floating objects attacking the family, and hallucinations and brief periods of mania. In design, barriers and inanimate objects should be used to attack the survivors, trees, tombstones, shards of metal from the garbage heaps, all sorts of stuff. Objects might have to be added to avoid having to rekey the entire map, but larger objects should be possessable.
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The Mummy: Mummy curses! An Egyptian underground would be horrifying to have to perform in, but the map would make it magnificent. With the loss of the sky, claustrophobia and panic would set in for a magnificent setting. In this film, the high priest Imhotep has an affair with the wife of one of the Pharaohs of his day and age, and he prepares a ritual so the two of them can be together. He's caught after she ritually commits suicide to be followed by him, and he is instead captured and subjected with a terrible curse of unliving, denied his love. Key components to his method of killing is sucking the life from things, flesh eating scarabs, and drowning things in sand. As trap killers have been done a plenty, I'd love to see a curse mechanic come into play here, with books of the dead/books of life having to be hunted down to remove them, adding a find and seek mechanic to avoid a plague like curse. These books could be used to mitigate other things, such as filling a generator with injured -> dying beetles or pouring sand that slows people. there's a lot of space to use here.
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It: The it, the thing, the legend. This fear eating monster that adores wearing the form of a clown that stalks the sewers is like, the most iconic of them all, almost second to none (Freddy and Meiers arguably share first place). This psychotic, highly jerky, leapy, crawly thing with teeth in places it shouldn't have is a nightmare to behold and needs to definitely rely on hallucinations as part of its power. A mechanic should involve a mixture of the hag's powers to teleport to listed events and creating freaky illusions to chase people down, never sure if it's the real one or the actual clown. The triggers should have events and problems should the player react to them, like an illusion that becomes real if you twitch to hard or run from it. Additional takes to the mechanic can be done, slowness, dropping items, having items turn into stun objects like clown balloons/otherwise are all great designs. It has more than plenty of design space to separate it from the clown, and it's fitting that Stephen King's horrible creation should be present here to torment us.
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The Puppet: Chucky is part of everything that's wrong with puppets and I hate him for it. This killer would need to be a stealth killer, and would be terribly short. This doesn't work in the game mode, so alternative means to animate Chucky would have to be perused. I have none to present him with, an extraordinarily short killer just can't really be done, even the pig must chase standing up. Having to deal with a knee sized shankster sounds like misery, even if it does cause terror. I foresee this design space (puppet) being used as an in universe creation.
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The Sharknado: You know you want it.
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The Maze: The Little Shop of Horrors is a lovely, time honored cult classic about a meat eating flytrap plant that needs blood to thrive and grow. The film itself is intended as a horror comedy, but the potential is there for a plant based entity that has covered the entire map like a maze, completely encrusted with vines, strange plants, and all sorts of skill checks to avoid things like flowers shooting out poisoned needles like in jumanji. Design space is very, very high for a map based killer that can't move in the center of the map and must rely on randomly generated tilesets for areas like "the corner covered in yellow poisonous flowers, or blue vision damaging mushrooms, or red vines that chase people." This one'd admittedly need a lot of work, but we've no plant based killers, and there's plenty of plants that one to kill people already.

There's far, far more out there than the ones I can name off the top of my head, but here's a brief list of some killers with design space that shouldn't get stale with plenty of nobs to tweak. I don't actually have anything else to add, this was just pure boredom. Feel free to add any other unique concepts you might think of that aren't taken (like generic witch killers and the hag, ect ect).
submitted by Eboksba to deadbydaylight [link] [comments]

New Holland Easy Pickins For Ferals (6-0)

Binnington Suspended 15 Games

Knee Injury to Darroll Brind'Amour Earns Lengthy Time Off
It was a foregone conclusion that the Ferals would likely beat the New Holland Tractors. The Tractors already were 0-14 on the season, so it was unlikely they'd suddenly win against the Ferals who are in the top half of teams in the league.
However, in spite of the 6-0 win, the Ferals felt like losers when they packed up the bus to head home, knowing one of the top players on the team, if not in the league, would be riding the pine for the next 15 games.
Binnington's hit on Brind'Amour, sending him off with a knee injury, did not at the point of contact seem illegal. In fact, no penalty was called on the play. It wasn't until after the game the competition committee ruled that Binnington would sit for the time of Brind'Amour's injury. This is a substantial loss for the Ferals. Dunc Binnington is their top-line defenseman, with 7 goals and 9 assists in 15 games, a +27 overall, the top +/- in the entire league.
Scoring opened early in the first, Elich would fire the puck over the boards for a delay of game penalty. This would give Knudsen an opportunity to pot a power play goal for the Ferals to make it 1-0. Although it was only Sebastian Knudsen's second goal of the season, he'd have a three point night for Lower Duck Pond. Danault would be the next to score , and Riley Tschantz would have an assist on a LiPuma goal in his first night back to make it 3-0. Woytowich would also score near the end of the first to put the Ferals up 4-0 before the end of the period.
Second period would see Brousseau get a quick one against Manny Trooien, the new signing for the Tractors who got the start, only six seconds into the period. Cleon Spring would net another one to wrap up the scoring only two minutes later.
The Ferals would take it easy for the remainder of the game and the night would end 6-0, with not even one shot being taken on Eduard Cecconi for the shutout. Manny Trooien wouldn't fare nearly as well. The new goaltender for the Tractors was pulled after allowing the fifth goal early in the second period, allowing 5 in 28 shots. Klas Tanskanen would allow only 1 for a 1.50 GAA and a 0.909 save percentage in 39 minutes of play, leading many to wonder why Tanskanen wasn't the starter in the first place.
The Ferals will be back in action on Tuesday night when they host the Queen's Forest Knights, who are 10-4-1-0 and second in the Mountain Division, and are coming off a loss to Grassland on Friday night. They'll have to decide who is going to fill in on the first defensive pairing before then.

Upsets and Close Games!

Grassland knocks off Queen's Forest; Poleville Drops Another against Challengers
There were a few surprises in Friday night regular season play. The first being the Grassland Gators' 2-1 victory over the Knights of Queen's Forest. In fact, it was the Knights that drew first blood in the second period with a goal from Quincey four minutes in. However, in the third the Gators would come back with a power play goal from Sanheim, and then an even strength goal from Clymer at seven minutes in. The Gators would hold on for victory, and Ike Phair, who has been playing well of late, secured a 0.965 save percentage. Cedrick Harrington for the Knights also played well, stopping 2 of 26 for a .923 save percentage on the night. Grassland improves to 6-9 on the season in the Plains division, while in the Mountain division the Knights fall to 10-4-1, one point ahead of Mount Shenley.
The Challengers took on Poleville in what was predicted to be a tight game. Grand Coulee Junction laid a licking on the Pirates and came out with a 5-2 win. Goals from Peterson and Irving would see the first period end 1-1. The Challengers would open it up in the second, scoring three by Ranta, Coureau and McGregor. In the third, Poleville would finally answer back with Placeholder netting one at the 9 minute mark. Finally, the Challengers would put the final nail in the coffin with their fifth goal of the night by Ring. Poleville net minder Skene Makayev would face 56 shots, allowing 5, while Carol Libbey for the Challengers would save 20 of 22. Poleville drops to second in the Creek division at 12-3-0, tied with the Ferals in terms of points, but with one win in hand. The Challengers improve to 13-2-0 and are alone at the top of the Plains division, 14 points ahead of the second place Grassland Gators.
Redburg finally got their third win of the season against the Rosewater Roses 4-0. It was goaltender K'Andre Winslow who got the start, earning the shutout. The Rangers put 59 shots on net in the game, and earned two powerplay goals in eight man-advantages. The Roses woes continue as they took no less than 9 penalties during the game.
Eston City easily dispatched Bellevue 6-3 for their 13th win of the year, now sitting alone on the top of the Creek division two points ahead of Lower Duck Pond and Poleville.
Jarville defeated Upper Duck Pond for their 5th win in as many games. They are now over 0.500 and alone on the top of the Coast division standings, proving themselves a potential force to be wreckoned with.
Finally, Hydroelectric City chalked up another win against Mount Shenley, who have had a rough go of it lately. Once one of the toughest teams in the league, the Mountaineers fall to 10-5, and are now third in the Mountain division. They have lost three of their last five games and are currently out of a playoff spot. They'll have a chance to get back on track against the Bellevue Bulldogs when the league resumes play on Tuesday night.

Around The League

There were a few notable roster moves on Friday and Saturday as teams continue to strengthen themselves and make adjustments as the regular season is still early.
The Grassland Gators signed two players: Goaltender Mervyn Arndt to a $959,000 a year contract over 4 years. Andt did not arrive in time to play the Friday evening game. Akil Matheson, 21 year old Canadian goaltender also joined the team on a $397,000 contract over 3 years. The Gators' usual starter-in-net Matti Fafrak was injured on Tuesday night, and was 1-4-0 in 7 games, with a 3.81 GAA average. In spite of all these new signings, which also include Barton Dickens who was just signed this week and played backup on Friday night, the Gators seem to still be sticking with Ike Phair as their starting goaltender. Phair is 5-5-0 in 10 games, has played 568 minutes, and is a 3.38 GAA with a 0.886 save percentage.
The Rosewater Roses signed forward Barry Dailey to a $618,000 contract over 6 years, as they bet he will produce for them for years to come. The 21 year old Canadian is described as a checker. That means Lorne Dill, 26 year old American forward will be placed on waivers and sent down. Dill has not played any ice time for the Roses yet this season. The Roses are also shopping for a goaltender as Juraj Nemchinov suffered strained quadriceps, and will miss 7 games. Nemchinov, in spite earning over $1 million per year, has played 441 minutes, and is a 6.12 GAA and a 0.889 save percentage.
Finally, the Rangers signed Milos Emery to a 1 year, $100,000 introductory contract. The 26 year old Canadian right winger may not see any actual ice time, and will likely fill a roster hole.

RUSTWOOD RADIO - YOUR SOURCE FOR LOWER DUCK POND FERALS HOCKEY

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Jeff Veillette on Gareth Sparks trade rumours & facts based on performance

https://twitter.com/JeffVeillette/status/1139594079266836480
JEFF VEILLETTE (Faceoffcircle.ca) points out:
"I don't know if I really believe that Sparks is being shopped. Backup goalies carry next to no value, especially ones coming off of down years. The Leafs are also in a cap bind this summer, so it'd be weird to ditch a backup who makes near-minimum to seek out a notable upgrade."
"I think people overestimate how easy it is to "just get four wins" out of a backup. Sparks started 17 games last year and wasn't far off of the league average SV% for backups. A guy who gets you a WAR every 4 games would be, uhh, probably the most valuable player on the planet" .

"In the eight games where Sparks started and the Leafs lost in regulation, they were outscored 32-9. Toronto scored 1, 0, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, and 1 goals. Basically, whichever magic backup was supposed to get the Leafs home ice would've needed half of his lost starts to be shutouts."
"The scores of the games he started and lost
5-1
4-0
2-1
3-1
6-1
6-2
3-2
3-1
He basically would've needed to pick up shutouts to flip those four wins. I agree with upgrading where you can, I just don't know if its the most cost-effective spot to do so"
"I'd bet you that a GAA of 4 in lost games is pretty normal"


My note FROM ELITE PROSPECTS
https://www.eliteprospects.com/playe91267/garret-sparks
Sparks 2018-2019 20gms 3.15GAA, 902 save pctg.
My note: Avg NHL back up save pctg= 908
20 gms over 7 months isn't much esp with no goal support and likely little defensive effort. People tend to play better for goalies/players they know and trust more. He did play poorly but not horribly for first full NHL backup season. I say give him a chance


OPTION: Get a mentor but competitor for Sparks (but only at league min) and let them split 30 gms for the year.
Reminder: Goalies are voodoo so expecting the same from them as year before is a dice throw.
Who do you choose?
A) If Carolina doesn't re-sign Mac and he's 35 and has played well only last 3 yrs as back up. Before that no.
B) IF Reims is bought out by Florida, despite his game falling off a cliff this year and having worse numbers than Sparks. He's 31
C) Condon if he's bought out by Ottawa. His game has been trash past two yrs but Leafs were about to sign him before Ottawa re-signed him for way more than expected.


To me, giving up on a relatively young goalie after 1 slightly below avg year and some pretty brutal misses tbh, is horrible asset management.

Leafs have no cap space or assets to trade for goalie, when they need LW/RHD/4C as much if not more. Basically they need a goalie at league min (like Sparks) who can handle 20-30 gms. Before Mac's tenure with Leafs in his early 30s, he had been tossed around the league and wasn't particularly good. There is no promise he can replicate the last two years at 35, but maybe or another veteran can play back up mentor to Sparks.
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OFFSEASON DIGEST/SEASON PREVIEW

It’s that time of the year again. Maybe you took a few months off from thinking about hockey and might have missed a few things this offseason. Maybe you’re a fellow miserable Steelers fan trying to switch gears and think of something else. Maybe you just want a 10 min refresher. In any case, I thought I’d make a little cliff notes recap of everything involving the Pens and the NHL from this offseason and sprinkled a few takes in at the end. But let’s start with the one thing that nobody missed...
Phil Kessel to Arizona for Alex Galchenyuk and Pierre-Olivier Joseph - The deal also sent prospect Dane Birks and a 4th to the Coyotes. We will probably never know the full extent of the reported tension Kessel had with Sullivan or Malkin and how much of that was overblown, but it was pretty clear that things got to a point where there was no way around moving him. And considering those circumstances, Rutherford did about as well as he could.
Galchenyuk is coming off a 19/22/41 season in 72 games, but has several 50+ seasons under his belt. Way too early reports out of camp suggest he’s taking some drills with Malkin and he’s also a strong candidate to slide into Kessel’s place on the top power play unit. Joseph is a 2017 first round pick who possesses great skating, passing, and power play experience. The only consistent criticism of him through his whole juniors career is that for some inexplicable reason he can’t put on weight. It will be a situation worth monitoring as he begins his pro career in WBS.
Olli Maatta to Blackhawks for Dominik Kahun - After being healthy scratched for the last 3 games of the Islanders series, the writing was on the wall that Maatta could be the odd man out. In return, the Pens get a versatile (albeit undersized) 24 year old winger in Kahun who is coming off a 13/24/37 stat line in his first NHL season. Think “Dominik Simon with better hands” and that should give you a benchmark of how Kahun plays. He figures to start the year in a bottom 6 role but I have a sneaking suspicion that it might not be long before he gets a look with Crosby and Guentzel. His game seems to fit the mold of what Sullivan likes in that role.
Penguins Sign Brandon Tanev - Ok, lets get the obvious out of the way. The 6 year 3.5M AAV contract is not good. You never want to tether yourself to a bottom 6er for that long, especially when you’re strapped on the cap. But with all that being said, I actually really like the fit here. Tanev is coming off a career high 14/15/29 season where he was 3rd in the league in hits (278) and 3rd among forwards in blocked shots (81). Most importantly, he wins puck battles, which is something the Penguins sorely lacked while being eviscerated by the Islanders last spring.
RFA Roundup - The Penguins took care of business with their 4 main RFAs: Marcus Pettersson (1 x 875k), Teddy Blueger (2 x 750k), Zach Aston-Reese (2 x 1M) and Jusso Riikola (1 x 800k). The Penguins would have liked to get a longer term deal done with Pettersson but it was simply not feasible given their cap situation. Blueger and ZAR return looking to claim every night spots in the lineup, which Riikola showed enough promise in an up and down first North American season to warrant another look. AHL tweeners Adam Johnson and Joseph Blandisi also return on RFA deals.
Odds and Ends - 7th defenseman Chad Ruhwedel returns for another year, as do AHL defensemen Zach Trotman and Kevin Czuzman (2 years each). Familiar face David Warsofsky also returns for his 3rd stint with the Pens organization on a 2 year deal. On the forward side, AHLers Thomas Di Pauli and Ben Sexton return on 1 year deals while Andrew Agozzino comes over from the Avs organization as well. Departing the organization are Garrett Wilson (TOR), Ethan Prow (FLA), Chris Wideman (ANA), Chris Summers, and Jimmy Hayes.
Cullen Retires - Matt Cullen also returns to the Penguins, but this time he won’t be on the ice. Shortly after announcing his retirement, Cullen immediately rejoined the Penguins in a front office player development role. Given his popularity within the organization as a mentor for younger players, it’s a pretty safe bet to think he’ll excel in this new role.
Depth Goaltending - The Penguins top tandem of Murray and DeSmith remains unchanged. Tristan Jarry is back as well, but after a “just ok” 2.66 GAA and .915% season in WBS, he has some competition now. The Penguins added 22 year old Finnish goalie Emil Larmi, who backstopped his team to a championship in Finland’s top league with a stellar 18 game playoff run that saw him go 12-6 with a 1.72 GAA and .932 save percentage. Alex D’Orio also begins his first pro season, and although he struggled last year in the QMJHL, he’s coming off a great prospect camp and figures to be in the mix for playing time as well. WBS also added 9 year vet Dustin Tokarski on an AHL contract, who most recently served as backup for the Calder Cup winning Charlotte Checkers.
All of this really seems like writing on the wall that Jarry’s time with the organization could be numbered. He doesn’t have much standalone trade value, but could be an intriguing piece of a larger deal should one materialize.
Mike Vellucci - The least talked about but potentially incredibly significant organizational shakeup happened in WBS. After Clark Donatelli resigned as coach, the Penguins swooped in and hired Vellucci, who is coming off a season in which he just guided the Checkers to a Calder Cup. Then, when Billy Guerin left to become the Wild’s GM, Vellucci also assumed his responsibilities as the GM of the WBS Penguins. While this “double duty” may at first seem odd, it’s nothing new for Vellucci who served as assistant GM for the Hurricanes for 5 years and the last 2 of those as the Checkers head coach.
Guerin and Donatelli left WBS in a state of disarray, and it’s hard to think of anyone better suited to turn things around than the man who played an important role in both building the Hurricanes back into playoff contenders and building the Checkers into AHL champions. The only major question here is why Vellucci, whose name would surely have been in the mix soon for both NHL coaching and front office jobs, would want to make a lateral move like he did. Maybe he’s just loyal to his old boss Rutherford. Maybe he’s preparing to be his eventual successor? Maybe he feels Sullivan’s seat is getting hot? All fair questions but whatever his reason may be this is a huge get for the organization.
Sullivan Extended - While the Vellucci hire may have raised some suspicions about the Penguins confidence in Sullivan, Rutherford did his best to quiet those when he gave the 2 time champion coach a 3 year extension. No problems with this. Coaches salaries don’t count against the cap, so there was no reason to string things along.
Draft Recap - The Penguins actually made a first round selection this year, taking 6’2’’ 207 lbs power forward Samuel Poulin. Poulin projects as a “safe floor” pick with nice size and playmaking ability, although he does need to improve his skating. If safe and solid doesn’t get you excited, then maybe 3rd round pick Nathan Legare will. Possessing one of the best pure shots of the draft class and nice size and speed to match, Legare could develop into quite the player if he can improve on his ability to create for himself rather than just rely on the setup. But seriously, this guy shoots bombs and I suspect he will be a strong candidate to become the “hype bunny” of the preseason. The Pens also added big 6’3’’ defensive-minded forward Judd Caulfield out of USA development team in the 5th, and a pair of Finns in the 7th with selections of overage but speedy forward Valtteri Puustinen and defenseman Santeri Airola.
Prospect Pipeline - All of the above selections will return to their respective junior teams, but WBS will also be seeing an intriguing influx of first year pros. PO Joseph may have been the prized acquisition of the offseason, but it was his playing partner John Marino that was getting the buzz out of prospect camp. The Penguins acquired Marino from the Oilers for a 6th, and he projects to be a “jack of all trades” defenseman who doesn’t really have any overwhelming strengths or weaknesses to his game. He should make a splash in WBS. The Penguins also signed 27 year old Finn Oula Palve, who may not be a prospect anymore but will be treated as such as he enters his first North American season. Palve was a very productive player his past few seasons, although some of that may have been due to being line mates with Kappo Kakko.
The Pens also have an intriguing crop of home grown first year pros ready to make their WBS debuts. Most notable of those is 2017 preseason darling Jordy Bellerive, who is now a full year removed from his scary burn injuries and looking to bring his intriguing blend of speed and playmaking to the pro level. Joining him will be Justin Almeida, who is AHL eligible despite being drafted only last year as an overager. Almeida was an absolute scoring machine in the WHL, posting 111 points in 64 games last season. Kasper Bjorkqvist is perhaps the least flashy but also the most pro ready of the new crop, and while he may not have a history of scoring a lot, he’s a responsible 2 way forward with the kind of freakish conditioning routines that rival those of Kris Letang. Speedy Slovenian forward Jan Drozg will also be likely turning pro, as will defenseman Niclas Almari, who would have likely been the consensus choice for 2nd best D prospect behind Addison before the additions of Joseph and Marino. It will be interesting to see how those 3 are able to carve out playing time in WBS among the veterans.
AROUND THE METRO
Rangers- The clear “on paper” winners of the offseason, the Rangers kicked the rebuild into overdrive and went for broke. They signed Artemi Panarin to a massive 7 year 11.6M AAV contract, traded for Jacob Trouba, traded for prized Hurricanes defenseman prospect Adam Fox, and drafted young Finnish superstar Kappo Kakko with the 2nd overall pick. While it’s unclear just how all these pieces will fit together, this influx of talent at least gives them a seat at the table. How far they can go likely depends on the development of young goalie Alexander Georgiev and whether or not Henrik has any juice left in the tank.
Devils - If the Rangers were the offseason winners, Ray Shero’s Devils come a close 2nd. They drafted Jack Hughes #1 overall, made a blockbuster trade with the Preds for PK Subban, and won the trade sweepstakes for heavily hyped Russian defenseman Nikita Gusev. Like the Rangers, these additions put them in the conversation, but they have some serious question marks in net. Expect them to roll with a tandem of the promising but inconsistent young Mackenzie Blackwood and the oft-injured Cory Schneider.
Blue Jackets - For as good as things went for the Rangers and Devils, that’s as bad as things are in Columbus. After pushing all their chips to the middle last year, CBJ has parted ways with Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Dzingel and didn’t really bring in much aside from Gustav Nyqvist to replace that production. It’s back to the drawing board for these guys.
Hurricanes - They dodged a major bullet when they were able to match Montreal’s offer sheet for Aho, but continued to stay busy throughout the offseason. The Canes swapped out Calvin de Haan, Michael Ferland, and the retiring Justin Williams for Jake Gardiner (on a steal of a contract), Erik Haula, and Ryan Dzingel. They are also actively shopping Justin Faulk. It’s hard to say yet whether they got better or worse with this shuffle of players, but they’ll look to avoid statistical regression after their unexpected run to the ECF.
Capitals - Not too much change for Todd Reirden’s second year behind the bench. They’ll look to replace the departures of Brett Connolly, Andre Burakovsky, and Brooks Orpik largely from within, but the core remains intact, and we should expect to see more or less the same looking team as we have been accustomed to the past few years.
Islanders - Another team that (after losing the Panarin sweepstakes) didn’t have a lot of movement in the offseason, save for a potentially very significant development between the pipes. Robin Lehner is out after his breakthrough season last year, and replacing him will be journeyman vet Semyon Varlamov, who should figure to split about a 50-50 workload with Greiss. It’s puzzling that the team didn’t make a stronger effort to keep Lehner after he played so well for them last year, but they’ve proven before that they are willing to part with top talent and rely on their system to carry them.
Flyers - The biggest change here comes behind the bench, as Alain Vigneault returns to the metro division along with a pair of former Penguins Michel Therrien and Mike Yeo as assistants. They also made one splash signing in Kevin Hayes, who received a whopping 7 year 7.14M AAV deal. They also added Matt Niskanen, swapping Radko Gudas to the Caps. I feel like we already know what these guys are gonna be. They’ll go on some crazy mid season win streak, come crashing back to earth by losing 10 out of 12, and ultimately settle somewhere around the playoff bubble.
Make no mistake about it. This division is the Thunderdome now. With everyone but the Jackets projected to be in the playoff mix, there will be some talented teams that will miss the playoffs. Gone are the days where a second round Pens-Caps series is a foregone conclusion, and a slow start simply cannot be afforded in this suddenly wide open division.
Rest Of The East - In the Atlantic Division, the big 3 seem poised to continue their dominance. The Conference Champion Bruins remain mostly unchanged because, hey, if it’s not broke than don’t fix it. Coming off their historic regular season and inexplicable playoff exit, the Lightning mostly stood pat as well, making a minor alteration in the defense by bringing in Kevin Shattenkirk to replace Anton Stralman. They also still have some business to take care of with star RFA Brayden Point, although that is expected to be done at some point. The Maple Leafs opened their pocket books to give Marner his massive extension, and they now have a staggering 40.5M of cap space allocated to their top 4 players. They also had some considerable overturn with the rest of the roster, bringing in defenseman Tyson Barrie and forward Alex Kerfoot in a trade that sent Nazem Kadri to Colorado, and also adding Cody Ceci from the Sens.
The biggest movers in this division were the Panthers, who may have missed out on Panarin but made the biggest coaching hire in landing 3 time cup winner Joel Quenneville. Joining him will be Bobrovsky, Stralman, and Connolly. Does this get them closer to the top 3 in the division? Yes. Does it get them all the way there? Probably not. After whiffing on the offer sheet with Aho, the Canadiens came up empty handed with pretty much everyone else too. The Red Wings biggest change comes in the front office, as they finally parted ways with Ken Holland and brought in franchise legend Steve Yzerman who is largely responsible for assembling the juggernaut in Tampa. Jason Botterill’s Sabres, on the other hand, find themselves searching for answers after having to sacrifice Phil Housley at coach and replace him with Ralph Krueger. They also stayed active, adding Colin Miller, Jimmy Vesey, Henri Jokiharju, and Marcus Johansson. These all, on paper at least, seem like pretty shrewd moves but another underperforming season could see Botterill’s seat getting red hot. And the Senators...well, let’s just say that’s still a train wreck.
The Wild Wild West - Defending champion Blues return largely intact after locking up their young stud goalie Binnington, and like Boston, why wouldn’t they? The biggest movers in the entire conference have to be the Stars, who added veteran star Joe Pavelski as well as high upside reclamation project Corey Perry to an already star studded top 6. The PK Subban era is over for the Predators, but they still made a splash in signing Matt Duchene, who joins a core of centers that already included Ryan Johansen, Kyle Turris, and Nick Bonino. The Avalanche were also very active, adding Burakovsky, Kadri, and Joonas Donskoi while losing Barrie as they look to take the next step towards becoming major players in the west. Most of the Jets offseason has revolved around the potentially concerning RFA stalemate with superstar Patrik Laine, but it’s worth noting that they lost Trouba as well. The Blackhawks look to infuse more youth into their core of forwards, but they got some needed insurance on the back end in Robin Lehner, who should join a tandem with the oft-injured Corey Crawford. And the Wild pretty much spun their wheels after the failed Kessel-Zucker trade, and ended up going with vet forward Mats Zuccarello.
In the Pacific, the top points finishing Flames remain mostly intact, although it seems now they have committed to young David Rittich between the pipes following the departure of Mike Smith. The Golden Knights nightmare cap situation forced them to offload Miller, Haula, and Gusev, but the core of the team remains the same and primed for another deep playoff run. The Sharks moved on from one face of the franchise in Pavelski, but locked up another when they gave Erik Karlsson a huge 8 year extension. The Coyotes showed that they believe they are ready to contend with the big Kessel trade, but did little else to improve their forward depth. The Canucks accelerated their rebuild with major veteran signings of Michael Ferland, JT Miller, and Tyler Myers, and when you combine these with their promising young core and the league’s thinnest division, they could be a sleeper playoff team this year. The Kings and Ducks continued their rebuilds with coaching changes, bringing on Todd McLellan and Dallas Eakins respectively. And the Oilers latest attempt to fix their issues involves James Neal and 37 year old Mike Smith, so expect them to once again go exactly as far as McDavid can carry them.
SEASON STORYLINES
Salary cap trade - The dirt cheap Pettersson contract allows the Penguins to go into the season cap compliant without having to make any major trades, but that doesn’t mean one still isn’t coming at some point. Ideally, you’d love to get Jack Johnson’s 3.25M off the books but that would involve another team actually agreeing to that, so the Pens may have to look elsewhere to open up some space. Bryan Rust is another popular name in these discussions, as the additions of Kahun and Tanev make his role a bit more crowded.
Schedule Difficulty - Once again the schedule maker did the Pens no favors, hitting them with 17 back to backs (tied for the most). In addition, 14 of their last 16 games of the season will come against metro division opponents (including all 4 against Carolina in the month of March) so expect everything to still be on the line deep into the year.
Sullivan’s System - While I don’t yet think Sullivan’s seat is hot (nor should it be), the Isles series exposed some glaring flaws that need to be addressed. The 2019 playoffs as a whole were a case study on how bigger, more structured teams are becoming increasingly effective in countering free-flowing speed and skill teams, and now it’s on teams like the Pens to adjust. The challenge for Sullivan will be finding a way to add some additional structure without suffocating the playmaking abilities of his best players.
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