Life without Couturier hasn't been as good without Claude Giroux.  He started the turnaround on Thursday night.  Giroux scored two goals and two assists with three shots and two PIM in the 5-3 win over Carolina.  That brings Giroux up to 17 points in 22 games, not exactly lighting the world on fire, but the shot rate is the best of his career.  75 shots in 22 games is a huge step forward, and if that continues, we could be looking at a new career high in goals.  Yes, he only has 7 to this point, but we could be on the verge of a heater.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We've seen this story before.  Last year, upper management called out Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin for poor play.  This year, it was Jim Montgomery.  Benn had one goal through 20 games, but he now has three over the last two games.  Benn scored two goals and an assist with five shots and two PIM in the 6-1 win over the Canucks.  This came after a goal and an assist on four shots against the Oilers.  He wasn't going to shoot 2% forever, but Benn did not look good over the first six weeks of the season.  That said, we've seen a big hot streak from him before so there is hope he can do it again.  The schedule looks fairly good over the short term so I'm expecting Benn to turn this nice stretch into a hot streak.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The gap between Brad Marchand and the rest of the league right now for fantasy hockey is incredible.  Marchand scored five points on Monday, tallying two goals and three assists and a +4 rating.  It's nothing new, but the first line in Boston has managed to find a way to get even better.  Marchand is crushing every category with 10+18 in 15 games with a +13 rating, 28 PIM and 41 SOG.  He's as good of a bet as any to finish as the #1 player in fantasy this season.  Honestly, he'd be my pick as long as he avoids a lengthy suspension.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The last lottery pick for the Washington Capitals has really come into his own.  Jakub Vrana had an incredible weekend, starting with two goals on eight shots against the Sabres.  He followed it up with a hat trick on five shots against the Flames on Sunday.  That brings Vrana to 9+5 in 16 games with just under three shots per game.  He's a main stay on the second line and second power play unit, so the question is whether or not he's a hold.  For now, I lean towards yes.  I don't think it'll last all season, but Vrana is playing excellent hockey right now and I want to take advantage of it.  The 23 year old has made a jump in every season of his career and looks to be down that path again.  Given that he had 24+23 last season, another slight improvement will get right right onto the fringe.  Vrana isn't an automatic add given that Washington has only two games this week, but I'm holding onto him while Vrana has his foot on the accelerator.  Let's take a look at what else happened this weekend:
For two periods, the Red Wings were locking the Canucks down defensively.  They went into the third period up 2-0 but that lead didn't last long.  In fact, the Canucks ended up scoring five goals in the third to win with ease.  They were lead by their captain, Bo Horvat, who had his first career hat trick in the victory.  Loyal Razzballers know how much I like Dr. Bo as a player.  It's been a slow start, but here's why I'm buying Horvat (and another Canuck I'll talk about later).  One, Horvat is shooting the puck at an excellent rate.  He's over three shots per game on the season.  Two, and the main reason, is that Horvat is back on the first power play unit.  In fact, two of his goals came on that unit.  There's a ton of potential in that group and Horvat should be a beneficiary.  He's an easy hold and should push the top 100 going forward.  Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
Hat tricks aren't that uncommon in the NHL.  First period hat tricks are.  Evander Kane became the first player in Sharks history to do so, scoring three goals and adding an assist with five shots in the 5-2 win over the Hurricanes on Wednesday.  Kane has long been a player that I rate higher than consensus because of his shot rate and penalty minutes.  Kane has four goals and two assists in four games since returning from suspension to go along with four PIM and 13 shots.  Pretty, pretty good.  I don't think it's a coincidence that the Sharks went 0-3 without Kane and are 3-1 since.  With their current depth issues, Kane should be leaned on heavily giving him a great chance at a top 50 fantasy season.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
I've been stubborn in terms of thinking Dougie Hamilton was going to have a massive fantasy season for years now.  Loyal Razzballers know my love for guys who hit all of the categories, and Hamilton has always done that.  It seems like Carolina is finally giving him the chance to be the #1 guy in all situations and he's off to a tremendous start.  On Friday, Dougie scored a goal and an assist with four shots and two PIM.  He followed that up with a goal on five shots Saturday, bringing him to 4+4 in 6 games with 19 shots, 6 PIM and +7.  Obviously he's not going to keep up this pace, but this is the kind of start that can allow Hamilton to finish as a top five defenseman.  In fact, gun to head, I'd bet on it happening right now.  If you follow my rankings, odds are that you have Hamilton on your team in redrafts or keepers.  If that's the case, don't even consider selling high because this isn't a fluke.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
On Monday, I wrote the following about James Neal: "As long as he’s on the first power play unit, Neal has a real chance to bounce back.  I wouldn’t hold him yet, but he’s a solid streaming option." And that's me quoting me copying what Grey does! Well, I hope that you streamed him on Tuesday.  Neal stayed on the first power play unit, and the time to hold him is now.  Neal scored four goals on eight shots on Tuesday, playing almost 21 minutes, in the 5-2 win over the Islanders.  Two of those goals came on the power play where it's clear Edmonton is using him as one of their primary shooters.  Am I saying Neal is going to score 40 goals again?  Definitely not.  However, the upside is too high to leave him on the waiver wire.  He's always had a quality shot rate and there's a chance of good penalty minutes on top of the goals.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Hey guys! Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2019-20 fantasy hockey season. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to streamers, deeper league holds, even to rookie-eligible prospects that may make an appearance at some point this season. Please let me know if you guys enjoy this type of material! Reminder that the stat totals are from last season. Last year my previews went alphabetically, but this year we’re going to go division-by-division, starting with the top team. On our 17th stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we’re headed to Bean Town, home of the Eastern Conference Champion Bruins! The Bruins were one game away from hoisting Lord Stanley… Dang it, Gloria! That being said, this team had very little turnover from this past season to now, and should be primed for another great season in the extremely competitive Atlantic.
We have now reached the point of doing individual positions before I complete a top 200.  Through the top 20 overall, I have covered 18 forwards, one defenseman and a goalie.  For now, I'll be holding off on the last two.  I'll be covering the top 100 forwards in posts of twenty going forward.  For today, I will go through the top 40.  Let's get right to it!