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:
Brad Marchand ´╗┐was one of the biggest breakout players in 2015-16 scoring 37 goals drastically increasing his shot rate to 3.5 per game while adding 90 PIM. While all of those numbers are taking a slight step back this season, he's improving the weaknesses in his game to become a well rounded player. Marchand returned to his old ways this weekend with three goals on six shots over two games to give him 12+22 on the season. He's only six assists from a career high and we've just reached the halfway point. Marchand also has nine power play points which is already a career high. Instead of being a three or four category stud (depending on plus-minus), he's become a big plus in five categories with the potential for all six if the plus-minus improves. These totals have him 15th in the player rater among forwards and that shouldn't come as a shock coming off a top ten season. It might not be exactly what you wanted but it's been excellent across the board. Here's what else I saw around the league this weekend:
When it comes to determining Patrick Maroon's fantasy value, someone who has no idea about hockey can figure it out. Is he playing on a line with Connor McDavid? If yes, pick him up and hold. If no, leave him on the waiver wire. Maroon received another chance to play with McDavid on Thursday and he took advantage in a big way scoring his first career hat trick on five shots and adding five penalty minutes. That brings his totals to 14 goals and 7 assists on the season with 48 PIM and a +12 rating. Does 30 goals and 100 PIM sound good to you? Maroon is almost on that pace and if he sticks with McDavid, I wouldn't rule out the possibility. He's available in over 80% of leagues at the moment so use whatever waiver priority you need to and grab him. Here's what else I saw around the league the last two nights:
There have been plenty of defensemen this season who have frustrated their owners due to lack of performance. A player who looked on the verge of a breakout after last season was Rasmus Ristolainen. The Sabres agreed with that take giving him a 5 year deal and early dividends were not there. Risto was accumulating assists but not much else. However, things are starting to change and it's no coincidence that it has occurred when Jack Eichel returned to the lineup. On Tuesday night, Ristolainen scored his first goal of the season, an amazing slapshot in overtime, and added two assists and three shots in the 4-3 OT win against the Oilers. That gives Ristolainen 1 goal and 6 assists in the 5 games with Eichel in the lineup. He played almost 30 minutes in each of the last two games showing how important he is to the Sabres depleted blue line and with how the top power play unit moves the puck, I expect Ristolainen to be a #2 defenseman the rest of the way with the upside to be a #1. Let's take a look at what else developed over the last two nights.
The general rule of thumb in these parts is when you score a hat trick, you're getting the lede. Vladimir Tarasenko was a clear first round pick this season (at least for me) and that's because of his consistency plus upside. Before Thursday night, Tarasenko was sitting at a point per game with elite shots. The penalty minutes have disappeared but overall, his owners had to be happy. Thursday night he showed his game to game upside scoring a hat trick and adding an assist in the 5-4 win over Tampa. After tonight, Tarasenko sits third in the league in goals and points. The scary thing is that he doesn't turn 25 for a couple weeks; we haven't seen his prime yet. Let's take a look at what else happened around the league the last two nights:
We should have saw this coming. After years of failing to meet expectations, the public wasn't expecting much from the Sharks in 2015-16 after missing the playoffs in 2014-15 and naturally made the Stanley Cup Finals. They are one of my favorite teams to watch for the absolutely loaded top 6 that they have while Brent Burns is making wild offensive rushes all game. There's a ton of fantasy assets on this roster so let's take a look at what they're working with:
Hey guys. The first two nights of The Stanley Cup Playoffs have been filled with drama and outstanding performances. Anytime somebody scores a hat trick in the playoffs, it's worth noting so Patric Hornqvist gets the lead here. The Penguins right winger, who had a disappointing season compared to ADP, came out as a man on a mission Wednesday night scoring a hat trick on four shots and added an assist in the 5-2 win over the Rangers. This series could turn ugly fast if Henrik Lundqvist misses any more time (more on that later). Hornqvist was in my top 50 going into the season along with the rest of the Penguins studs and ended up 60th in overall value in the player rater. Considering he played all 82 games, that's not the value we were looking for. As for next season, he's obviously in the top 100 but I expect him to settle outside of the top 50, somewhere between 50 and 75. The shots are great and everything else should be solid so there's value there but it doesn't look like he's going to be a guy who has a good chance of reaching 30+ goals, which looked like a good bet when he went to the Penguins. Could he do it? Sure, if things go right and he sticks with Sidney Crosby. But I'd rather wait until the end of the 5th or 6th round to find out. Here's what else I saw in the other games:
The story of the weekend around the league was the goaltending performances. There were quite a few duds and a bunch of outstanding starts, including 3 shutouts Friday, 4 shutouts Saturday and one more on Sunday. The best of the bunch was a 38 save shutout by Fredrik Andersen in the 4-0 win against the Bruins on Friday. It's rare for the Ducks to be outshot but they buried their chances and were continually bailed out by Andersen. We all know that Andersen is very good at this point so the most telling thing was that in their next game, John Gibson received the start despite Andersen coming off a shutout. Bruce Boudreau is giving both of his goalies plenty of action and seemingly has a set schedule so you have to pay attention every day and start whoever gets the nod. Here's what else I saw around the league this weekend, starting with Friday's games:
Goals were extremely hard to come by in the NHL on Tuesday night. Four of the eight games finished 2-1, 3 of which were 1-1 through 60 minutes and needed overtime. Surprisingly, the one game that had a lot of goals was in New Jersey where the Flyers exploded in the 3rd period to beat the Devils 6-3. Their best player, Claude Giroux, led the way with three assists and one shot on goal. After a slow start, Giroux is now in the top 20 in the league in points with 49 (16+33) in 56 games. The first line and first power play unit for the Flyers has been completely unstoppable for the last 4-6 weeks and is keeping the Flyers in the playoff race. If you own any of their big four, enjoy the ride. Here's what else I saw around the league on Tuesday night:
For most of the season, I've talked about why I wouldn't want to own Semyon Varlamov. Long story short, I don't trust the Avalanche to play defense well enough to prevent Varlamov from having a high goals against average. Well, the counter to that is Varlamov is a very good goaltender who can carry his team to wins. It happened twice this weekend. On Friday, he stopped 33 of 34 shots to beat the Blues 2-1 in a shootout, then he came back Saturday to make 42 saves against the Stars in a 3-1 victory. Even after these games, his goals against average is below league average but his save percentage is strong and he's top 10 in the league in wins. There's still plenty of value in a goalie like Varlamov, you just need to balance it by having an elite goalie to carry you in goals against average. Here's what else I saw around the league this weekend: