Growing up, the Avalanche were always my second favorite team.  My grandpa was a huge Peter Forsberg fan and it didn’t interfere with my Sabres since they were in the Western Conference.  I’ve always kept a close eye on them even though my rooting interests are now firmly with the Sabres and “Team Whoever I Bet In Game X.”  Anyways, Gabriel Landeskog has been a personal favorite of mine in this new Avalanche era.  He became the youngest captain in the league when it wasn’t cool to make your young top pick a captain.  Landeskog won the Calder and led the Avs on a massive warpath to a shocking #1 seed in 2013-14.  When I started at Razzball, things looked on the up for Landeskog at 23 years old.  Then, like the rest of the Avalanche organization, Landeskog struggled mightily.  Thankfully for all of us fantasy owners, he’s back.  Landeskog had the best game of his career on Saturday scoring a hat trick and two assists with five shots against the Lightning.  Sure, the Avs lost, but it doesn’t change his stat line for us!  The Kog now has 13+11 in 28 games with a strong plus-minus and solid PIM plus shots.  In fact, I’d be surprised if the penalty minutes don’t jump soon.  It’s amazing that Landeskog just turned 25 so he’s not even in his prime yet.  Look for him to be a top 100 player for the rest of the season and for at least the next few years.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:

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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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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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While the Razzball Hockey committee of one didn’t love the Patrick Marleau contract, we did like Marleau for this season in fantasy.  Like the majority of his teammates, his season debut went extremely well.  Marleau scored twice in his first game as a Maple Leaf registering five shots on goal.  His linemates were inconsistent but whether he’s with Matthews or Kadri, it doesn’t really matter.  Marleau scored 27 goals last season and I don’t see why he can’t get back to that number.  Despite ranking him as a top 150 player, he’s still available in over 50% of ESPN leagues, so grab him now.  Here’s what else happened around the NHL on opening night:

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Once you get outside of the top 200 overall, you’re looking at the last 2-3 picks in a standard 12 man league.  There are a few different ways you can go about making your last few picks.  You can shoot for upside, get a couple safe players if you already have plenty of upside, fill out your last couple defensemen, grab a goalie out of desperation.  I’m going to list a bunch of players in different categories that fall outside of my top 200 that you can target depending on what you’re looking for.  I’m not going to go into detail on these guys but I will put them in my order of preference.  Here is my list:

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It’s nice to have a bunch of superstars and a lot of luck on your side.  The Penguins became the first team in almost two decades to win back to back Stanley Cups.  On top of their usual fantasy studs, they had a few wingers emerge that look at the verge of becoming elite fantasy assets.  Not much has changed on the whole but hey, why change a team that keeps winning?  Let’s take a look at the Penguins’ roster and see what they’re working with for fantasy hockey:

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Here’s what I said about Jonathan Marchessault in my season preview of the Florida Panthers: “Jared McCann and Jonathan Marchessault are the two Panthers I can see taking a late flier on in deep leagues… Marchessault scored 18 points in 45 games for Tampa Bay last season despite averaging only 12 minutes of ice time per game. When Tampa was hit with injuries, Marchessault filled in admirably. If Florida was hit by the injury bug, I could see both of these guys becoming relevant in 12’ers; for now they are potential waiting for their chance.” And that’s me quoting me! Well, Florida did get struck by the injury bug and while McCann didn’t provide much value this season, Marchessault certainly did. The return of their two best players hasn’t hurt Marchessault at all. In fact, it’s helped him on the power play. He recorded his first career hat trick in the 7-0 win over the Blackhawk, which also included four shots and four PIM. That brings Marchessault’s totals to 28+20 with 34 PIM and 2.5 shots per game in 67 GP. Not bad for a guy the Panthers signed for $750k for this season and next. The Panthers have an interesting offseason ahead to determine how their forward core is going to look next season. Regardless, I think Marchessault is worry of a late round pick next season. I don’t think there’s more upside than what he’s doing this season but there’s no complaints with a 34+25 per 82 games when he’s not hurting you elsewhere. I expect the Panthers to be back in the playoffs next season with Marchessault providing some nice depth behind the big guns. Let’s take a look at what else happened this weekend around the league:

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Hey everyone! I’m back following the All-Star break and with no games since last Thursday (recapped here), I need something else to talk about! Well, I thought something that would be very helpful is an in-depth look at the schedules for every team in the NHL the last four weeks of the season. I picked those weeks because at least the last three weeks (the last 4 if you’re in an RCL or any league with two week long playoff matchups) are your playoffs in head to head leagues. By giving you this information now, this gives everyone a few options. One, it helps everyone make decisions at the bottom of your roster. Don’t let the schedule be the final decision, but it’s a useful tiebreaker. Two, if you’re in top position, it allows you to make a trade that would greatly benefit you in the playoffs. Lastly, it shows you what teams will be the best to stream from at certain points in the playoffs. You’re going to want to bookmark this page for when you make it and use it as a guide. If a player finishes the week with three games in four nights, he’ll obviously make a great streamer for multiple days. Let’s look at every team and see what they’re working with:

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When it comes to the San Jose Sharks, the person playing with the Joes on the first line always gets a nice value boost. Lately, it’s been Patrick Marleau making him a solid streamer given his role on the first power play unit. Now that he’s settled into this spot, we have to talk about whether or not he’s a hold. Marleau had the period of a lifetime scoring four goals in the third period against Colorado. That brings his totals to 16+8 on the season. The shots are right around average and the PIM are low so what’s my verdict? It seems like a cop out but it’s team dependent. If you need goals and STP, then you can hold Marleau at the bottom of your roster. Otherwise, leave him on the waiver wire to hopefully stream. Also, bonus points for those who know the title reference. Here’s what else happened around the league on Monday night:

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On the last podcast, Reid and I looked at a bunch of players who were under 50% that I thought were must-own. I made a massive oversight leaving somebody off that list: Conor Sheary. I just looked and saw that he’s 45% owned which absolutely blows my mind (I thought he was in the 70’s or 80’s). Sheary had an excellent weekend scoring twice on three shots on Friday and then getting two goals and an assist with four shots on Sunday. That brings Sheary’s totals to 17+17 while being +17 in 39 games. Seventeens are wild! Anyways, Sheary is on pace for 35+35 over 82 games with an excellent plus-minus and decent enough shots. That’s closer to a top 50 player than someone who is on the waiver wire. We’ve seen guys in the past be excellent fantasy values being a passenger on Crosby’s line so if you’re in one of the leagues where Sheary is available, pick him up immediately (I’d put him ahead of everyone discussed on the podcast). Then come back and read what else happened around the league this weekend!

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