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:
Things can change quickly in hockey.  Matt Murray led the Pens to two Stanley Cups, then struggled mightily last season and to open this year.  Now, Murray has caught fire once again.  The netminder had a 33 save shutout on Friday against the Jets.  That means in his last 6 games, he's allowed 6 goals total with his worst save percentage being .931.  We've seen the upside before, and that's of a top 5 goaltender, if not more.  First off, he's somehow available in 15% of leagues, which is absurd.  If you're lucky enough to be in one, grab him immediately.   Two, if you own Casey DeSmith, you can safely drop him.  Lastly, I doubt you'll be able to trade for him given his hot run, but I'd much rather do that than sell high.  The upside of Murray is too high to pass on, and with the Pens playing as well as they lately, the floor is fairly high too.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It was quite the weekend for last season's Calder Trophy winner.  Mathew Barzal entered Friday's game against the Senators with five goals on the season, and he matched that in two games.  Barzal scored two goals and an assist against the Senators before scoring a hat trick against the Maple Leafs on Saturday.  That brings Barzal up to 10+25 in 37 games with solid PIM and an improved shot rate.  He's still only 21 years old so clearly the best is to come.  For the rest of this season, I think he's just inside the top 50 now that his shot rate isn't far from average.  If he can eventually get that up towards three a game, it's game over.  Barzal has top 20 player upside down the line; hopefully the Isles get some more talent around him.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Mark Stone has been a favorite of Razzball Hockey (aka me) for a few years now.  One of the most underrated players in hockey, Stone is an above average first liner, no doubt about it.  Somebody is going to pay him a ton in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent and he'll be worth every penny.  Stone had an incredible game on Tuesday scoring two goals on seven shots while adding in three assists as well.  That brings him to 6+12 in 15 games.  He's somehow available in 25% of leagues on ESPN, which is crazy.  Stone should be owned everywhere, and while I've been clamoring for him to be traded so he's even better, it's become abundantly clear that he'll produce just fine in Ottawa this season.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
What's the worst spot for a goaltender to start right now?  Probably against Toronto on the road.  Well, Matt Murray had that exact spot on Thursday, and did the exact opposite of what most expected.  In a game where Toronto's expected goal total was pushing 4, Murray stopped all 38 shots he faced, shutting out the powerhouse Maple Leafs 3-0.  Murray's upside is undeniable; it's just a matter of keeping him on the ice and the defense in front of him not being a total mess.  For now, expect the Pens to give him the vast majority of the starts, meaning you can safely cut Casey DeSmith.  The Penguins schedule is fairly soft over the next couple of weeks, so feel safe rolling Murray.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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:
I hope everyone was able to watch the game between Pittsburgh and Washington on Monday night because that was everything that hockey should be. Yes, the defense was lacking at times, but man that was beautiful. Unsurprisingly, the star of the show was the #1 overall skater in fantasy to this point of the season, Evgeni Malkin. Malkin scored a hat trick in the second period and finished the game with those three goals, five shots and two PIM. Nobody can be surprised at how well Malkin is doing; his peak performance is on par with anybody in the league. The surprise is that he's managed to stay healthy to this point . I was lucky enough to have him fall to 24th and 25th overall in two separate drafts this season and took the gamble. Hopefully you guys all did the same because we're currently looking at a 40+55 with 100 PIM season. Here's what else happened around the league on Monday:
When players get interviewed before their first game, they always give the same boring mundane answers. "I'm focused on keeping things simple out there." "I'm just going to play my game," etc. They dream of scoring a goal in their first game. Well, Auston Matthews did just that in his first game. And then he did it again. And again, and again. The first overall pick from this year's draft became the first player in NHL history to score 4 goals in his debut, doing so on 6 shots playing 17:37 against the Senators. And the Leafs still lost! Man, they are horrible. Everyone is going to overreact to this game so I'll be the one to say that you need to lower expectations. Yes, there will be flashes from Matthews but like any rookie, consistency will come and go. He also won't get to play a team as hopeless defensively as the Senators are again any time soon. There's no doubting that Matthews will be a superstar but in the fantasy realm that we live in, don't think he's going to be a top 50 player this season or anything outlandish after one game. Here's what else happened around the league in the first two nights of the season:
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: