I don't know how many people have watched Eastbound and Down, but every time there's a game with huge implications, I just want to yell " a f***ing showdown!" Monday had Kings vs. Flames, a crucial battle, and the Flames had their door blown off. The Kings went up 4-0 in the first, and ended up smoking the Flames 8-2. Despite the blowout, there wasn't a lot of headliners for the Kings, but the one was Adrian Kempe. Kempe had two goals and an assist to bring him up to 34 goals and 21 assists, ready to set a career high in both. Their schedule isn't ideal, but Kempe has played himself into a level where he's worth holding regardless. Let's take a look at the last two nights:
This year couldn't be going any worse for the Columbus Blue Jackets. A horrible record, terrible injuries to key players, and dreadful goaltending have sunk them from the beginning. Now that they're in the Bedard race, their fans probably aren't even happy that they won on Tuesday night. Their prize free agent signing, Johnny Gaudreau, dominated the game with two goals and three assists, plus six shots on goal. That brings him up to 62 points in 64 games, a far cry from last season, but not a complete disaster. The question isn't about what to expect from Gaudreau for the rest of this season, but going forward. He turns 30 in the summer, but I'm not expecting drop off in the short term. Can he approach 100 points again? I have my doubts, but if Columbus is lucky enough to get Bedard, it can't be ruled out. Bedard would be the perfect compliment, and Fantilli wouldn't be a bad consolation prize. I was lower on Gaudreau than consensus so I don't have any of him this year, but there's always a chance that with his talent, he makes a huge difference over the last month. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
While the NFL steals the spotlight during Championship Week, the Rangers started the weekend blowing out two top teams in Seattle and Carolina. They scored six goals in both games to bring their winning streak up to five. While it was a group effort on Friday, Artemi Panarin stole the show on Saturday. The Breadman scored four goals and an assist with five shots and two PIM against Carolina, after dishing an assist against the Kraken. Gallant shuffled the lines after Tarasenko's arrival, with Vincent Trocheck and Jimmy Vesey playing with Panarin again, setting up two of his goals. It was Panarin's third three-point game in his last eight, as he starts to heat up. While he hasn't approached his point production of his first three seasons in New York, Panarin is still on pace for 90+ points. That shows what kind of floor he has and why he's worthy of an early draft pick every year. Despite lower shots and PIM/hits, even his below average year (by his standards) is a top 50 player. Who knows, Panarin could finish the season on a massive heater and finally get to 100 points. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The Senators have been a disappointment this season despite their big forward acquisitions in the summer. Turns out that you can't get away with completely ignoring the blue line and being forced to give bad players big minutes. Anyways, we don't care about that for fantasy, we care about their scoring, and their top players have largely delivered. Claude Giroux had a great weekend, totaling three goals and two assists with ten shots over two games. Giroux is having his best goal scoring season since his monstrous 34 goal, 102 point season in 2017-18. Unsurprisingly, that season and this season are Giroux's two highest shooting percentages, but it seems a bit more sustainable in this environment in Ottawa. Even with an inconsistent PP1 role, Giroux has still played his way into being a bottom end hold in all formats. The one problem is that after Ottawa's game on Tuesday, they don't play again until February 11th. My biggest point here with bottom end holds over these bye weeks is that you need to know your league format and whether the waiver wire is strong enough that you can drop someone like Giroux to get more games. In head to head leagues, volume is king, so you can make a case after Tuesday that you can let him go for players with a bunch of games after the All-Star break. In roto, I would hold onto Giroux without hesitation. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Colorado has been decimated by injuries at a level we've never seen before. The return of Valeri Nichushkin makes him their second healthy top six forward. Luckily for them, Mikko Rantanen put the team on his back on Sunday. After scoring Colorado's only goal against the Rangers on Friday, Rantanen scored all three goals for Colorado on Sunday, tying the game with 7.1 seconds left before winning the game in overtime. Quietly, Rantanen is up to 19 goals on the season, playing at a higher point pace than his monster 2021-22. The shot rate is down a bit so his goal rate is a bit unsustainable, but hopefully the shots tick back up without MacKinnon. Regardless, Rantanen has cemented himself as a top 10 fantasy hockey player. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
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:
Mikhail Sergachev had the game of the weekend, scoring two goals and two assists on three shots in the 6-3 win over the Capitals. However, I was starting this post with Sergachev after watching the first ten minutes of the game. Sergachev moved to the first power play unit and immediately delivered, with one goal and one primary assist coming there. That is a massive boon to his value. Whether it lasts, who is to say? I would bet against it staying that way for the whole season, which is why I wouldn't panic if I owned Victor Hedman. However, in the short term, this is enough to make Sergachev a #2 defenseman in a 12 man league, with upside to be a #1. Getting to feed Stamkos and Kucherov for shots over and over again is a godsend to fantasy value. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
I'm going to do the second half of the Playoff Manifesto today. If you missed Part One, you can check it out here. Let's get right to it!
NASHVILLE PREDATORS (4,4,3,3)
This schedule is right up there for best in the league. Fourteen games is as good as it gets. They close each week with a back-to-back. The only nitpick is that there are no games on light days, but few things are perfect. Josi and Forsberg can both push for best player in the fantasy playoffs if things break right. Ryan Johansen and Tanner Jeannot are both elite streamers in the stretches where Nashville has three games in four nights.
Remember a month ago when it was a foregone conclusion J.T. Miller was going to get traded? It sure seems like he played the Canucks into close enough contention that it’s no longer a consideration. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Over the past few seasons, Patrik Laine has caught plenty of his slack for his game. The goals have been on the decline and his defense has remained terrible. The good news is that Laine has completely righted the ship this season. Laine had a hat trick on Thursday, bringing him up to 16+15 in 29 games. That's the best goal and assist rate of his career. The confidence in his game seems to fully be back which is great to see. He's one of the premier offensive players in the game, and it's crazy to think that Laine is still only 23 years old. It will be very interesting to see what happens with Laine in the offseason as he's one year away from free agency, but I have to say, I love the fit in Columbus right now given their style of play. There's a great chance that Laine is back to being the 35+ goal scorer that he was shaping up to be, with 50 goal upside. The shots aren't elite which keeps his value down a bit, but I'm back to being a big believer in dynasties again. Props to Fungazi for picking him in the Three Point Challenge. If you need streamer help for the weekend, go check out JKJ's piece from yesterday here! Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
A week without hockey in December did not seem right at all. Thankfully, the NHL is back up and running. Sure, there are plenty of postponements, but I'll take what we can get. There's not a lot of games over the past two nights, but I'm going to do a quick recap of everything that happened. Goaltending was mostly optional, especially in Wednesday's games. The highlight was a 8-7 SO win by the Sharks over the Coyotes, where Arizona scored two goals in the last three minutes of the game to send it to overtime. Phil Kessel had four assists and four shots in the game, and was dominant throughout the entire game. He's an elite streamer for now, but he can end up a hold depending where he goes at the trade deadline. Yes, I'm assuming he's traded, but that seems like a formality. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights. I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays!
It wasn't hard to figure out who to feature in the opening paragraph tonight. Andre Burakovsky started off the weekend with two goals on six shots against the Red Wings and finished it off with a hat trick on six shots against the Panthers. That brings Burakovsky to 12+8 in 24 games on the season, quite the respectable total. He's still available in 40% of leagues and that needs to change immediately. With Gabriel Landeskog out for two weeks, Burakovsky is playing on the top line and top power play unit. That's enough to make him must own in all formats, and he showed why on Sunday, getting a hat trick in a tough matchup. It should be an excellent December for Burakovsky and hopefully it continues into the New Year. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend: