Matthew Tkachuk entered the All-Star break on a massive hot streak. He continued it at the All-Star Game, winning MVP honors. Needless to say, it was continued on Monday night against their rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tkachuk had two goals and three assists with six shots in the 7-1 win over Tampa, going +5 in the process. Tkachuk has managed to blow last season's 42+62 out of the water to this point. He's the #3 forward overall on the season and has the most balanced stat line of everyone in the entire league. Marchand was a top five forward for years because of his all-around contribution. Now, that spot is Tkachuk's. He's every bit of a top five player now and going forward. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
As good as the Jets have been, Friday was a huge boost for their team. Not only did they get Wheeler, Schmidt and Perfetti back, Nikolaj Ehlers returned for his first game since the second game of the season. He immediately went onto a line with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Kyle Connor, and it worked out as well as it has in the past. In the 4-2 win over the Lightning, Dubois scored two goals with four shots and four PIM, with Connor having a goal and an assist plus four PIM of his own. Sunday was even better with Connor scoring a hat trick, Dubois dishing four assists, and Ehlers scoring a goal and two assists. This line has the potential to be one of the best in hockey yet again, and with Dubois playing the best hockey of his career right now, it can be even better than last season. All of them are easily top 50 players with Connor in the top 20, and the other two with the potential to push towards that, but probably a step behind that. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's no secret in these parts that I'm from Buffalo and root for the local teams. I've seen plenty of devastating injuries over the years, from hockey players being severely cut, Pronger's collapse on the ice, soccer players collapsing like Eriksen in 2021, and I was at the Bills game when Kevin Everett was paralyzed. Damar Hamlin's cardiac arrest was the first time that it felt like "life or death" on the football field. It seemed like an eternity between first responders helping him, getting him to the hospital, and waiting for any update. I can only imagine how it was for his family, friends, and teammates. Here's to hoping that Hamlin continues to progress in his battle towards recovery. The Sabres played in Washington on Tuesday night, with the entire team wearing "Love For Three" t-shirts for their Buffalo brethren. The Sabres won the game 5-4 in the most fitting way possible. Tage Thompson scored his third goal of the game, completing his third hat trick of the season, exactly three minutes into overtime, playing three on three, bringing him to 30 on the season, which is three off the league lead. You can't write a better ending than that. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights while we keep Damar in our thoughts:
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:
Today, I'm going to complete my goaltending rankings with tiers 5-8. If you draft one of these guys as your #2 goalie, you're carrying a bit of risk that they could implode. There are guys in tiers 5-7 that have upside, whether it's needing an injury to the other goalie on the team, or being the #1 on a team with a lot of variance. Let's get to it!
The Flames are playing incredible hockey at the moment as they make their way up the standings. The top line gets a ton of credit, but the second line has been just as important. They've thoroughly dominated for months generating absurd shot rates and possession. This continued the last two nights as Calgary blew out Vegas and Toronto back to back. Mikael Backlund led the way with six points between the two games, scoring a goal and three assists against Vegas, then following it up with two more assists against the Leafs. Andrew Mangiapane scored three goals over the two games, while Blake Coleman dished two assists. It might be a stretch, but I have them all as elite streamers right now. I'd rank them Mangiapane, Coleman, Backlund depending on your league format, but the work they're doing against top lines is more valuable in real life than fantasy. Still, if they keep getting over 80 shots per 60 minutes as a line, which they've done for over a month, there will be plenty of fantasy value. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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:
One of the best coaches of the past two decades finally received another chance. Bruce Boudreau was hired by the Canucks and promptly won his first game 4-0. Thatcher Demko had a 31 save shutout and looks to be the biggest beneficiary of the coaching change. Boudreau has always had a great defensive system that inflated the numbers of his goaltenders. Dubnyk was never that good of a goalie, but he was great in fantasy. Same goes with the Washington guys earlier, or the other Wild goaltenders. Demko has the chance to be a bottom end #1 now. I'd also expect the stars on the Canucks to start turning things around. I still think the roster is incredibly flawed, but this is a huge win for the Canucks in real life and for us in fantasy. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Things have changed quite a bit with goaltending in the NHL since I started writing at Razzball. When I started, there were tons of workhorses with very few teams using a platoon. Now, more than half of the teams have a duo where the backup is getting at least 1/3 of the starts, if not a complete split. Among the few workhorses that we have left, there are only six that I completely trust to be a #1 goalie this year. I am breaking down all of the goalies in the NHL into tiers (and ranking them within in each tier), but be sure to understand how your league format can change the value of certain players. For example, if you're in a head to head league, Marc-Andre Fleury is going to be more valuable than in a roto league because the volume should be there. In a roto league where you have a set number of starts, someone like Ilya Sorokin, who, barring injury, should start 35-40 games, gets a boost because the quality of starts matters a lot more than volume. If you have specific questions, ask them in the comments section, but I'll have a quick note on everyone when necessary. Let's get to it!
"Joonas Donskoi is pushing towards being an elite streamer. Donskoi has eleven points in the past nine games while he received some shifts on the top PP unit on Monday as well." And that's me quoting me from two days ago! Well, Donskoi is certainly at that level now. Donskoi had a hat trick in the first period on Wednesday, adding an assist and six shots in the 9(!)-3 win over the Coyotes. Donskoi's third goal was on the PP with the top unit which does wonders for his value. While he's this hot, Donskoi is worth holding. I don't necessarily expect it to last, but he could easily stay an elite streamer for the rest of the season. The way the Avalanche are playing right now, I want as much to do with their offense as possible. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Injuries have robbed us of an amazing Cale Makar season. The good news is that he's back now and dominating games on a consistent basis. Makar had three assists with four shots in Colorado's 5-2 win over the Ducks on Monday. That brings Makar up to a point per game on the season with a +12 rating in 22 games that isn't a fluke at all. We've seen a slight uptick in his shot rate this season, but a big jump there is what it will take for Makar to move into being a top five defenseman instead of being a middling to bottom end #1. With how well he plays in his age 22 season, I have no doubt that it's coming. For dynasties, I think he has to be the top defenseman. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Mika Zibanejad was looking like the biggest bust of this season near the halfway point. Well, it's changing pretty quickly and amazingly, it wasn't the Sabres that turned it around. Last week, Zibanejad had three goals and three assists against the Flyers. It was so fun that he did it again eight days later! On Thursday, Zibanejad doubled down with his second natural hat trick and six point game in rapid succession against Philadelphia in the 8-3 win. That brings him up to 10+16 in 32 games, not exactly lighting the world on fire, but within reason. He's still over three shots per game, so while a repeat top 20 season is out of play, a top 50 season is still within reason. As I said at the time, Zibanejad is prone to huge hot streaks, and I think 17 points in 7 games qualifies. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights: