It has been a terrible year for Kris Letang on and off the ice, but mostly off.  He suffered a stroke and his father passed away shortly after.  After almost a month away from the team, Letang returned on Tuesday and carried the Penguins to victory.  Letang had a vintage performance, scoring two goals and two assists with six shots, four hits, and two blocks in the 7-6 OT win over the Panthers.  I'm not going to say Letang will have a monster second half based on one game in his age 35 season.  The good news is that there's a lot of games left for him to make an impact, and we know how big the upside is.  If I said Letang was a top five defenseman the rest of the way, would you be shocked?  I wouldn't.  Now, the floor is much lower in the past, even assuming he can stay healthy.  However, Pitt is starting to round into form, offensively at least, and the opportunity is there for a big finish.  If your team is in position where you need to take a gamble, I would float some offers to the Letang owner.  If I had him and was patient through the first three months, fingers crossed that he can salvage the season.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
I've never seen an organization do more to sabotage their own team and coach as the Canucks have over the last six weeks.  They've been openly interviewing coaches for two months while Boudreau was still employed.  It was already reported that Rick Tocchet was going to take over the Canucks before the Canucks played on Saturday night.  It was highly emotional for the fans, players, and coaches, as Zach Hyman had a goal and three assists with five shots to lead Edmonton to a 4-2 win over the Canucks in Boudreau's last game.  He was 50-40-13 in his Vancouver, a 90 point pace per 82 games, much better than it should be with their roster.  Boudreau is one of the best coaches of the last 20 years, and I hope he gets another chance.  Fantasy wise, Tocchet steps in and well, he was really bad when he coached the Lightning and Coyotes.  His only playoff appearance was in the bubble because of an expanded playoffs.  The schedule does lighten up quite a bit for the Canucks in the short term, which obviously helps.  The distraction of the entire situation being gone also helps, but at the same time, they're going to trade Horvat sooner than later, and this could end up a slight negative for the value of their players.  If anything, I lean neutral to their values, but I really don't like the way things are trending in Vancouver.  Shame on Aquilini and Rutherford for handling this situation as poorly as possible.  As for the Oilers, they're on fire finally starting to solidify their playoff positioning being carried by their superstars.  The big thing I would say is never panic about their lines, Hyman and RNH will score plenty regardless, and will end up taking extra shifts with McDavid and Draisaitl anyways.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Not a bad way for Kevin Fiala to follow up a hat trick.  In a new rivalry developing between the Kings and Oilers, Fiala scored two goals and two assists with four shots.  That brings Fiala to 10 points in his last five games with his shot rate jumping up quite a bit lately.  The new line shuffle seems to be working, and the new Los Angeles All-Star has been fantastic in his first year with the Kings.  It's a fantastic stat line across the board that has Fiala comfortably as a top 50 player with upside from there.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's no secret in these parts that I'm from Buffalo and root for the local teams.  I've seen plenty of devastating injuries over the years, from hockey players being severely cut, Pronger's collapse on the ice, soccer players collapsing like Eriksen in 2021, and I was at the Bills game when Kevin Everett was paralyzed.  Damar Hamlin's cardiac arrest was the first time that it felt like "life or death" on the football field.  It seemed like an eternity between first responders helping him, getting him to the hospital, and waiting for any update.  I can only imagine how it was for his family, friends, and teammates.  Here's to hoping that Hamlin continues to progress in his battle towards recovery.  The Sabres played in Washington on Tuesday night, with the entire team wearing "Love For Three" t-shirts for their Buffalo brethren.  The Sabres won the game 5-4 in the most fitting way possible.  Tage Thompson scored his third goal of the game, completing his third hat trick of the season, exactly three minutes into overtime, playing three on three, bringing him to 30 on the season, which is three off the league lead.  You can't write a better ending than that.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights while we keep Damar in our thoughts:
While I wasn't expecting a repeat of last season from Filip Forsberg, his drop off was a much higher level than it should have been.  Thankfully, he started the turn around in a massive way this weekend.  Against Anaheim on Friday, Forsberg had a goal and two assists.  He followed it up with an even better game, scoring a hat trick on six shots against the Golden Knights.  With those performances, Forsberg is on a 33+41 pace, which isn't amazing, but far more acceptable given Forsberg's shot rate.  Here's to hoping that Forsberg can keep building.  Nashville is going on a long road trip soon, which could lead to a bit more ice time for Forsberg when Hynes can't protect matchups as easily.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Mats Zuccarello has gone through three separate streaks this season.  He started the season on fire, he had a cold streak, and now he's on a heater again.  Zuccarello started off the weekend with a hat trick and an assist against the Blackhawks, before adding a goal and an assist against the Senators.  That brings Zucc's point streak up to ten games.  He's well over a point per game, and pushing towards three shots per game.  The 35 year old has shown no signs of slowing down, being rejuvenated playing with Kaprizov.  Zuccarello is starting to erase his plus-minus hole as well.  Even including the plus-minus, Zuccarello has been a top 50 player, and should continue to be so.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
What better way to become the third player ever to 800 goals than to score a hat trick?  Alex Ovechkin did just that on Tuesday, scoring three times and adding an assist against the Chicago Blackhawks.  He's only one goal behind Gordie Howe for second all-time, and then the real chase towards Gretzky starts.  Ovechkin already has 20 goals this season in 31 games, a mere 53 goal pace for the 37 year old.  He's over four shots per game, and while the plus-minus is disappointing, it's starting to turn around a bit.  My love for Ovechkin is well known in these parts, so I don't need to belabor the point, but I can't wait for the greatest goal scorer ever to push towards 895.  Here's to hoping he keeps battling father time and gives hockey fans a great chase.  Let's see what else happened over the last two nights:
Tage Thompson's nickname, as given to him by Sabres announcer Dan Dunleavy, is TNT.  Safe to say that everyone who watched Wednesday's game on TNT learned the nickname.  Thompson had the game of the season, scoring five times, five times, five times, five times!  He scored four in the first period, becoming the 18th player to ever score four in a period, and the fourth to do it in the first period.  He put nine shots on goal in total and added an assist despite playing only 13:56 in the game.  Here's the list of players who have multiple 3+ goals, 6+ point games in the last 30 seasons: Thompson, Zibanejad, Lemieux, and Gretzky.  And Thompson is only 1/3 of the way through the season!  He now has 21+19 in 26 games with over five shots per game.  Honestly, it doesn't look like a fluke at all.  Sure, his shooting percentage is a little high, but marginally so.  If he can maintain his shot rate, that's over 400 shots in a season, making him close to a lock for 50 goals.  As far as going forward, Thompson has played his way into the top 10 discussion.  His minutes could even end up increasing towards 20 per game from the 18:31 he's at now.  Thompson has already turned his contract extension into a massive steal for the Sabres.  Let's take a look at what else happened the last two nights:
Remember when the Devils fans were chanting "Fire Lindy" two games into the season?  My, how the tides have turned.  The Devils have won 13 of 14 since, including 10 in a row.  The most recent win was 5-1 against the Canadiens on Tuesday with their star players leading the way.  Jack Hughes scored twice on seven shots and added an assist in the victory.  Hughes now has multiple points in six of his last ten games, and is pushing 4.5 shots on goal per game.  Even with a lack of penalty minutes, that's enough to be the top 20 player that I ranked him as before the season.  The future is incredibly bright in New Jersey with two elite defensemen prospects coming to support the excellent foundation in place.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
During the longest playoff drought in NHL history, there have been plenty of hot starts from the Sabres.  While I still expect that drought to extend for another season, Thursday's game against the Flames felt different.  Coming off a win that they stole in Edmonton, the Sabres came in with house money.  They got a 4-1 lead before giving a goal with 1.6 seconds left in the second that the linesman inexplicably kicked into the middle of the ice.  Then, the Flames scored a minute into the third.  Old Sabres teams would have collapsed, but this one took over the rest of the game, winning 6-3 and being the better team against an elite Calgary team.  Leading the way was Alex Tuch, scoring a hat trick to give him five goals in the past three games.  Tuch has at least three shots on goal in all four games this season.  Buffalo's schedule for the rest of the month?  Vancouver, Seattle, Montreal, Chicago and Detroit.  Yeah, Tuch definitely needs to be held for the time being.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights: 
Kevin Fiala's first two games for the Kings left a lot to be desired.  He didn't generate much in terms of chances, he took a stupid penalty in their opener against Vegas, and his ice time suffered as a result.  His old team, the Wild, were coming off giving up seven goals against the Rangers and were big favorites to get their first win of the season.  Instead, the Wild gave up seven goals again, with the Los Angeles top line leading the way.  Fiala scored a goal and two assists with six shots in the 7-6 win, while Anze Kopitar dished three assists and Adrian Kempe scored two goals and an assist with three shots and four PIM.  My biggest takeaway from this trio in the early going is that I was too low on Kempe this season.  While he's not the focal point of the power play anymore, he's still vital to its success, and the addition of Fiala strengthened the top line.  All of them are easy holds at the moment and I don't expect that to change.  Let's take a look at what else happened on Friday and Saturday:
I've been aggressive ranking Matthew Tkachuk for years, but I never expected this type of offense from him.  Tkachuk had a hat trick on Tuesday, bringing his season totals up to 37+55 in 73 games.  He has a chance for 100 points, he's +49, the PIM are strong, and his shot rate is over three per game.  Tkachuk is pretty much having a Marchand-esque season.  That's the Marchand who has been a top five player for the past 4-5 years.  Now, I'm not quite going there with Tkachuk for next season.  Gaudreau could leave and this is an outlier in terms of past performance.  That said, he's firmly in the first round pick discussion because he smashes every category.  I can't wait to see what he does in the playoffs.  Let's take a look at what else happened the last two nights: