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:
Well if I had to guess who would have the second four goal game of the season, I'm not sure Brad Richardson would have been in the first 500 guesses.  Richardson single-handedly carried the Coyotes to victory on Thursday with those four goals on six shots, adding two PIM with a +4 rating.  Richardson has 16 goals in 48 games now, a career high in his 14th season.  For those of you in deep leagues, I would grab Richardson for the faceoff boost too.  In standard leagues, I'm probably passing still despite playing at a 27 goal pace.  Everything about it screams unsustainable, but we have to give props to him burying four in one game.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The Penguins have been on quite a tear lately, and it's not just their All-Stars.  Over the weekend, Jake Guentzel destroyed the Ducks and Kings.  In the Penguins comeback against the Ducks, Guentzel had a hat trick on seven shots with two penalty minutes, before scoring two more goals on six shots against the Kings.  That brings Guentzel to 23 goals, which is already a career high.  The shot rate has taken a big jump as well, although we can't expect him to shoot 19% all season.  Regardless, Guentzel has settled into being a top 100 player who is a clear hold in all formats.  As long as he continues to play with Crosby, things will be just fine.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
There are probably a dozen different players who I could give this lede to. There were a bunch of people who hit the 3 point challenge, my love affair for the Jetse guys is paying off and there were also some shutouts. I decided to take a look at somebody who generates some talk in the comments, Max Domi. Domi finally broke and in a big way with a goal and two assists and two shots. It was shockingly his first goal of the season but he now has 9 assists in 12 games, including 8 in the last 8 games. The shots have slightly increased, not as much as I hoped, but with almost a penalty minute per game as well, he's easily a top 100 player at this point. Domi's minutes are a bit inconsistent but with how thin the Coyotes roster, I expect them to go up as the season progresses. Let's take a look at what else happened around the league the last two nights.
In my season preview for the Chicago Blackhawks, I projected that Richard Panik would be the new player that slides into the Blackhawks' top 6. "Panik should get a chance in the top 6 because quite frankly, the Blackhawks don’t have anybody else. He could be a decent streamer but I can’t expect anything more from the 25 year old." And that's me quoting me doing what Grey does! In the long term for the season, I still think that'll be the case, but for now, Panik is must-own. After scoring in the season opener, Panik had an assist on Friday and came back with a hat trick on four shots on Saturday, both against the Predators. He's getting power play time right now and with 5 points in 3 games, Panik should be held for the time being as he rides the hot streak. Here's what else I saw this weekend around the NHL:
It's been quite a while since we've seen a shutout streak like the Blues are on. On Friday, Brian Elliott had one of the easiest shutouts of the season making 15 saves in the 4-0 win over the Canucks. The next day, Jake Allen recorded the fourth consecutive Blues shutout, stopping all 32 Capitals shots in the 4-0 win. Both have been outstanding this season and should be started every game the rest of the way. Get them in your lineup every time they start; the Blues will be highly motivated down the stretch to get home ice throughout the Western Conference Playoffs. Here's what else I saw around the league this weekend:
If you've been following along with me all year, or at least the last month, you know how much I like Mark Scheifele. The 22 year old was having an excellent start to the year until an injury sidelined him for 11 games. He came back and started well only to take off when he moved up to the first line in the wake of Bryan Little's injury. Scheifele is in the midst of his best stretch to date. After his two goal performance on Thursday, Scheifele topped it with his first career hat trick on four shots in the 4-2 win over Montreal on Saturday. He then scored a goal on five shots in the 2-1 defeat against the Oilers. Scheifele now has 21 goals and 20 assists in 54 games with an excellent plus-minus, solid PIM and a near-elite shot rate. Scheifele is conservatively a top 50 player for the rest of this season and going forward. As I've said before, I want him on all of my teams next year. Here's what else I saw around the league this weekend:
To start the year, John Gibson was stuck in the AHL because the Ducks wanted to get him playing time. It took an injury to Fredrik Anderson for Gibson to start getting playing time and now Bruce Boudreau has realized that Gibson, their goalie of the future, is their present as well. On Thursday, Gibson had his second consecutive 1-0 win stopping all 21 shots against the Oilers. On Sunday, Gibson stopped 19 of 20 shots in the 4-1 win over the Jets. In 15 starts, Gibson has an absurd 1.63 GAA and a .932 save percentage. After an absolutely dreadful start, the Ducks are in a playoff spot thanks mostly to Gibson. Here's what else has happened around the league going back to the 31st of last year:
Yesterday I wrote at length about the possibility that Henrik Lundqvist was poised to miss significant time with a mysterious neck injury that the Rangers were saying very little about. They didn’t have much to say about it this morning, either, other than the fact that Hank is out for at least a month, perhaps longer. The exact nature of the injury has not been disclosed and honestly, I wouldn’t expect to hear much about it for at least a few more days. All that is known is Hank did not develop a blood clot, suffer nerve damage or, despite the reports of intermittent headaches, he is not suffering from post-concussion syndrome either. This changes everything for the Rangers and Lundqvist fantasy owners. It goes without saying that Cam Talbot is now a must add everywhere as he is now the undisputed starter for the high powered Rangers with the 20-year-old, unfortunately named and wholly unproven MacKenzie Skapski getting recalled from the Hartford Wolfpack of the AHL to serve as Tablot’s backup.
Since Corey Crawford went down with his latest injury the Blackhawks have had six games and Scott Darling, G (L, 38 SV, 3 GA, .927%) has started four of them until Antti Raanta, G (W, 23 SV, 1 GA, .960%) won last night in the second game of a back-to-back. In fact, Raanta has only played in six games so far this season to Darling’s seven so it begs the question, has Darling usurped Raanta as Crawdad backup? It sure seems that way. It’s clear that Raanta isn’t a guy you can count on for long streaks of solid play. He’s fine in spot starts and sheltered minutes, but some time in the AHL wouldn’t hurt him at all, and so far it seems that the 6’ 6” Darling has caught the attention of Blackhawk’s Head Coach Joel Quenneville. When asked about the situation Quenneville didn’t offer much insight, but does he ever? He did have this to offer on Darling though "He's played well, every time he's been in the net he's been consistent, looks big (and) handles the puck well. Keep him going." That bodes well for Darling sticking around, but either way it doesn’t seem like we’ll have to wait very long to find out how this situation is going to shake out because Crawdad was a surprise participant in the morning skate for the Hawks this past weekend. He didn’t speculate on when he’ll return to the lineup but the fact that his foot is well enough for him to skate on is a good sign that he’ll be back in the next few weeks at most. If I had to put money down I’d say Darling has earned the backup job and it’s Raanta who will head down to the AHL when he returns. In the meantime, both should be owned in deep leagues. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey this weekend: