All everyone talked about in the preseason was wondering how bad Vegas was going to be in their expansion year.  Sure, it’s only two games, but boy did they have some excitement.  On Friday, Dallas was dominating Vegas in their franchise opener but was only up 1-0 in the third.  Down goes Ben Bishop which opened up the door for James Neal to give the people of Las Vegas some relief in an awful time.  Neal scored two goals in the third period to propel the Golden Knights to victory.  To top off the weekend, Neal scored another goal, this time the game winner in overtime, to give Vegas two wins to start the season.  Neal is still available in over 40% of leagues and if you are in one of them, grab him.  The shot rate is going to be elite along with solid penalty minutes and goals.  At least for now, I’m not overly concerned about the top guys on Vegas having bad plus-minuses either.  Let’s take a look at what else happened in the first (long) weekend of the NHL season:

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When players get interviewed before their first game, they always give the same boring mundane answers. “I’m focused on keeping things simple out there.” “I’m just going to play my game,” etc. They dream of scoring a goal in their first game. Well, Auston Matthews did just that in his first game. And then he did it again. And again, and again. The first overall pick from this year’s draft became the first player in NHL history to score 4 goals in his debut, doing so on 6 shots playing 17:37 against the Senators. And the Leafs still lost! Man, they are horrible. Everyone is going to overreact to this game so I’ll be the one to say that you need to lower expectations. Yes, there will be flashes from Matthews but like any rookie, consistency will come and go. He also won’t get to play a team as hopeless defensively as the Senators are again any time soon. There’s no doubting that Matthews will be a superstar but in the fantasy realm that we live in, don’t think he’s going to be a top 50 player this season or anything outlandish after one game. Here’s what else happened around the league in the first two nights of the season:

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Hey everyone! We are only two days away from the season starting and the preseason is in the books. Today, I’m going to take a quick look at all 30 teams in regards to lines, injuries and surprise players who may make the team. Players officially have to go down by Tuesday so there will be a little guess work on my part for the last couple guys to make the roster but at least for standard leagues, nearly everything is clear at this point. Let’s get right to it!

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Let’s play a quick game. Goalie A, in 32 games and 29 starts, won 18 games with a 2.27 GAA and .924 save percentage. Goalie B, in 54 games and 53 starts, had 23 wins, a 2.51 GAA and .918 sv%. Looks like you’d choose A pretty easily, correct? Just 5 less wins in 24 less starts with better percentages. Goalie A is Michal Neuvirth and Goalie B is Steve Mason. I have been calling for Neuvirth to get more action all season (half of those starts were when Mason was out) and after Mason made a fool of himself in game 2 and was lit up for 6 in game 3, Neuvirth got a chance with the Flyers’ season on the line. He stopped 31 of 32 shots in the 2-1 win and kept the team alive for at least a couple more days. Neuvirth played very well on a tanking Sabres team and continued his success in Philly this year. I think there’s a starting goalie here so it’ll be interesting to see what happens with him in the offseason. Here’s what else around the league Wednesday night:

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He’s always piled up the assists but Jason Spezza has never been known as a goal scorer. This year, it’s a different story because if he wasn’t injured, he’d have set a career high in goals. On Friday, Spezza scored a goal and an assist on four shots against the Blackhawks before Spezza scored for the fifth consecutive game Saturday, burying two goals on seven shots against the Blues. Spezza now has 28 goals and 25 assists in 64 games; his career high is 34 goals. Spezza is now a top 50 skater on the year and with the talent the Stars have, he should be around there next year. Here’s what else I saw around the league this weekend:

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It’s that time of year again. You’re in or you’re out. You’re contending in hockey or you’re mock drafting for baseball. You’re hunkered at the computer reading advanced stats or you’re naked and running crazily among the spring daffodils. Why are you naked? Who knows, it just seems to fit the picture. You’re either getting outta my car or into my dreams. Okay, this is now getting weird. Let’s get to the point.

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At this point, it’s about time we recognize that Artemi Panarin isn’t just riding Patrick Kane’s coattails. On Wednesday, the rookie vaulted himself into a tie for 5th in the league in points, scoring a hat trick to lead the Blackhawks to a 5-3 victory against the Rangers. It was a 3-3 game with 3 minutes left until Panarin scored to take the lead and then he sealed it with an empty netter. He now has 22 goals and 35 assists with solid numbers in the other categories. As long as voters don’t punish him for being 24 years old, Panarin should run away with the Calder. He’s gone from a late round flier this year to a slam dunk top 50 asset going forward that’s probably closer to the top 25 than 50. Here’s what else I saw around the league the last two nights:

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