Like Patrice Bergeron, I’m back!  After a long flight back home, it’ll be difficult for me to return in the style he did.  Bergeron had a goal and three assists with six shots in his season debut, a 6-3 win over the Canucks.  There’s not much to be said about Bergeron; get him back in your lineup immediately.  Look for his linemates to take off as well.  Let’s take a look at what happened over the last two nights:

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Minnesota played an excellent game on Thursday booking an impressive 5-2 win over the Blackhawks.  Sadly for them, it came at a brutal cost.  Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter both left the game injured and were already ruled out for Saturday’s game.  Coyle was hit in the back of the leg with a shot while Nino looked to suffer an ankle injury that could cost him multiple weeks.  Hopefully you have an injured reserve spot for both of these guys but Nino definitely should be held through the injury.  With Mikael Granlund out as well, the Wild are getting extremely thin.  So who gets a boost?  Jason Zucker (1+1, 5 SOG) becomes must-own in 12’ers while Chris Stewart (2G, 5 SOG) moves back on to the streaming radar.  We’ll have a clearer picture tomorrow but this is a big blow to the Wild and fantasy teams in the short term.  Here’s what else happened the last two nights around the league:

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Giving up five goals to St. Louis in the opener wasn’t extremely concerning for the Penguins.  But ten goals to Chicago in game two?  I believe that qualifies as a mess.  Obviously I’m not going to panic in regards to the Pittsburgh season outlook; I’d actually try to trade for Matt Murray if their owner is panicking.  We’ll have to wait a few weeks to develop a bigger sample size, especially because this spot was perfect for the Blackhawks, but maybe they’re better than I gave them credit for.  Let’s take a look at the eight games from Thursday night and see what developed:

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There comes a point in the season where teams are desperate for their superstars to carry them towards the playoffs. That time is now and it’s happening in Tampa Bay. Nikita Kucherov has been spectacular all season but he had his best game Monday night scoring a hat trick on seven shots and adding an assist in the 5-1 win over the Senators. Look how remarkably similar all three goals are:

He now has nine points in his last three games and twenty-five shots on goal over the pats four. Kucherov is producing points at the fourth highest rate in the league this season (min 20 GP) and sits as a top ten forward on the season despite missing some time. I had him as a high second round pick going into this season but he’s been ever better than that. I expect to have Kucherov ranked as a first rounder going into next season and given that he’s still 23 years old, we may not have seen the best from him. Let’s take a look at what else has happened in the game around the league the last two nights:

NOTE: There is a separate post going up regarding trades that will be updated throughout the trade deadline. For instant analysis, go here

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In my season preview for the Chicago Blackhawks, I projected that Richard Panik would be the new player that slides into the Blackhawks’ top 6. “Panik should get a chance in the top 6 because quite frankly, the Blackhawks don’t have anybody else. He could be a decent streamer but I can’t expect anything more from the 25 year old.” And that’s me quoting me doing what Grey does! In the long term for the season, I still think that’ll be the case, but for now, Panik is must-own. After scoring in the season opener, Panik had an assist on Friday and came back with a hat trick on four shots on Saturday, both against the Predators. He’s getting power play time right now and with 5 points in 3 games, Panik should be held for the time being as he rides the hot streak. Here’s what else I saw this weekend around the NHL:

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Even the most casual of hockey fans know who Patrick Kane is.  Last year, he was well on his way to his best regular season ever until an injury shut him down until the playoffs.  This year, he’s well on his away again.  In two games over the weekend, Kane had two goals, three assists and nine shots, putting him at 23 points in 15 games this season.  A big reason for his big year is his new linemate, the rookie Artemi Panarin.  Panarin had two goals, two assists and six shots over the weekend bringing him up to 15 points this year.  With the injury to Connor McDavid, Panarin is arguably the front runner for the Calder Trophy now.  Kane is pushing the top 5 overall for the rest of the season while Panarin has showed no signs of slowing down and is now a top 50 player.

Here’s what else happened over the weekend:

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As far as regular season games go, Blues versus the Blackhawks from last night was one of the best games I’ve seen in years and definitely the best from this year.  The Blackhawks were incredible offensively scoring 5 goals in the first only for the Blues to tie it up in the 2nd period at 5!  Then Vladimir Tarasenko took care of business in overtime to earn a big two points for St. Louis early in the season.  Tarasenko, who ended with a goal, assist, one shot and +3 with a -13 Corsi, was one of 7 Blues and 11 players total in the game who had two points; that’s simply absurd.

Let’s take a deeper look at this game along with the other three games from Wednesday night:

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This weekend, we saw some amazing statlines from players around the league, including 3 hat tricks.  Mats Zuccarello scored all 3 goals for the Rangers in a 3-1 win over Toronto on Friday, all assisted by Derick Brassard and Rick Nash.  Long time fourth liner Dale Weise had a hat trick on Friday against Calgary and added an assist on Sunday, totaling eight shots between the two games.  In the battle of Alberta on Saturday, Michael Frolik scored a hat trick on seven shots.   Going forward, Zuccarello is obviously must own.  I still wouldn’t own Weise in leagues unless it’s a super deep league where you include hits.  Frolik is an interesting case.  On one hand, those were his first three goals of the season.  On the other, he now has 8 points in 12 games, is close to 3 shots per game and is now in the top six.  I’d call him a streamer in 12’ers for now since he isn’t getting much power play time but if he starts to get it, things will change.  

Here’s what else happened in an action packed weekend…

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The Arizona Coyotes put forward a great display of tanking at the end of last season pushing the Sabres for the worst record in the league.  Unfortunately for them, they came up short and were jumped in the lottery.  They were expected to be horrible again and the first two games do not really change their expectations.  That said, you had to come away impressed by the Desert Dogs this weekend crushing the Kings 4-1 in LA on Friday and beating Pittsburgh 2-1 on Saturday. The quick start can largely be attributed to Mike Smith stopping 40 of 41 shots Friday and 27 of 28 on Saturday. He’s an incredibly streaky goalie so it’s not a terrible idea to pick him up and stream him while it lasts.  He could also get shelled in their next game  (Wednesday at Anaheim) so you have to decide for yourself if it’s worth the gamble (I’d lean yes).  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:

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Man, what the hell happened with Kari Lehtonen, G (W, 33 SV, 1.000%, SHO) this season? I honestly have no idea. Yes, the Stars have dealt with injuries since before the start of the season and that’s definitely hurt team chemistry. Yes, their defense is more offensively minded than they should be and when you mix that with a handful of youth on the blue line and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster. Yes, he sports a 31-14-10 record which is pretty stellar, but when you pair it with a 2.82 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage through 59 starts this season you’ve got yourself a recipe for a lot of disgruntled owners. Despite all that, and despite everything I’ve been saying for most of the season, Kari is getting hot at the right time and you’d do well to pick him up for the playoffs.

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