In a Pacific Division battle on Thursday, Stuart Skinner stole the show. Against the Kings, Skinner saved all 43 shots he faced in the 2-0 win. We all know about the firepower the Oilers possess, but they made the conference finals last season in large part because of Mike Smith getting hot as he was known to do. The Oilers replaced him with Campbell, but that has been an epic disaster. Skinner has established himself as the clear #1 and will be going into the playoffs. His numbers are that of a #2 in fantasy, and while I do like the 24 year old long term, I don't really see upside past that unless the Oilers completely revamp their defense. That said, for the Oilers to get on a run, they'll need solid goaltending, and Skinner has shown that he's capable of that. He's the goalie of the future and more importantly, the present. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The Oilers are peaking at the right time, as they've gone from battling for a playoff spot to battling for the Pacific Division. It started with a 5-4 win over the Coyotes on Monday, before a dominating 7-4 win over the Golden Knights on Tuesday. The man leading the way was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who continued his career season. RNH had a goal and an assist on Monday, before following that up with a goal and four assists with two shots against Vegas. That brings RNH up to a whopping 96 points (35+61), blowing away his previous career high of 69 points. 96, much nicer than 69. McDavid and Draisaitl justifiably get most of the attention surrounding the Oilers, but the impact that RNH has made this season can't be understated. Adding a third 100+ point player to the mix is insane, and Edmonton has as good of a set of forwards as there is in the league. They're a bit light on games the rest of the way, but their schedule is among the softest in the league, so look for the studs to continue to crush. As for where RNH will rank next season, that's an extremely difficult question to answer. I have to expect some regression, but how much? Given the mediocre shot rate, I assume I'll have RNH towards the bottom of the top 50? If he's only a PPG guy, there's plenty of value but it would be a bit underwhelming compared to other guys in his range i.e. his floor is lower. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It has been a terrible year for Kris Letang on and off the ice, but mostly off. He suffered a stroke and his father passed away shortly after. After almost a month away from the team, Letang returned on Tuesday and carried the Penguins to victory. Letang had a vintage performance, scoring two goals and two assists with six shots, four hits, and two blocks in the 7-6 OT win over the Panthers. I'm not going to say Letang will have a monster second half based on one game in his age 35 season. The good news is that there's a lot of games left for him to make an impact, and we know how big the upside is. If I said Letang was a top five defenseman the rest of the way, would you be shocked? I wouldn't. Now, the floor is much lower in the past, even assuming he can stay healthy. However, Pitt is starting to round into form, offensively at least, and the opportunity is there for a big finish. If your team is in position where you need to take a gamble, I would float some offers to the Letang owner. If I had him and was patient through the first three months, fingers crossed that he can salvage the season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
One of the goaltending performances of the season came in the marquee showdown on Tuesday. Toronto sure didn't make it easy on Matt Murray, taking seven penalties, but Murray stood up to the challenge and then some. Murray had a 44 save shutout, leading Toronto to a 4-0 victory. I thought the Toronto goaltending would be rough this season, but Murray has been very good when on the ice. Same goes with Ilya Samsonov. It could fall apart just like it did for Campbell last season, but the reason I liked these guys as #2 goalies is their floor is so high because of wins. When Toronto gets this level of goaltending, it's extremely hard to beat them. Here's to hoping Murray can stay healthy because he could be a big difference maker in fantasy. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
In terms of expected goals and puck possession, the Devils have been the best team in October, bar none. They've been absolutely dominant and earned every single bit of their 6-3 record. Their most impressive win came on Friday beating the Avalanche 1-0, and they followed that up with a complete demolition of Columbus, 7-1. The common denominator? Vitek Vanecek started both of these games. Vanecek saved all 24 shots from Colorado before saving 20 of 21 shots from the Blue Jackets. We're looking at a time share in New Jersey, but Vanecek appears to have grabbed the upper hand for now. Before the season, I had little interest in either of their goalies. Now, with how well they're playing, both could be owned in 12'ers, but Vanecek definitely has to be. Ride the hot hand while you can. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
During the longest playoff drought in NHL history, there have been plenty of hot starts from the Sabres. While I still expect that drought to extend for another season, Thursday's game against the Flames felt different. Coming off a win that they stole in Edmonton, the Sabres came in with house money. They got a 4-1 lead before giving a goal with 1.6 seconds left in the second that the linesman inexplicably kicked into the middle of the ice. Then, the Flames scored a minute into the third. Old Sabres teams would have collapsed, but this one took over the rest of the game, winning 6-3 and being the better team against an elite Calgary team. Leading the way was Alex Tuch, scoring a hat trick to give him five goals in the past three games. Tuch has at least three shots on goal in all four games this season. Buffalo's schedule for the rest of the month? Vancouver, Seattle, Montreal, Chicago and Detroit. Yeah, Tuch definitely needs to be held for the time being. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
What’s poppin, Razzpimples?
If you missed my Top 20 full-bangs defensemen piece (accounting for standard cats + blocks + PIMs), you can find it right here.
Below, you'll see #21-#40. After that, I'll give a list of names to watch for various reasons, but I don't see much point ranking guys when you get to that range. It'll depend on personal preference and your team build when it comes to deciding who should be our #4 or #5 defenseman. Odds are they won't stick on your roster all season anyway.
Keep in mind, these rankings are for categories leagues.
Well, we have a clear winner for craziest game of the season. Toronto went up 6-1 and 7-2 going into the third, only to allow four goals in the first 5:21 of the second, only to end up pulling away from the Red Wings. 10-7! 10-7!!! Absolutely bonkers. Toronto scored ten goals and didn't even have a power play. The top line destroyed Detroit, led by Mitch Marner, who had four goals and two assists with six shots and two PIM. Michael Bunting had a goal and four assists with four shots, while Auston Matthews had a goal and three assists with four shots. Look, we know what we're getting from Marner and Matthews. Bunting I'm still torn on. Even in this game, Bunting played under 14 minutes. It's hard to sustain success with that workload. On the other hand, that line is as good as any in hockey right now, and Bunting has been going off. I'm still leaning towards elite streamer, but I can't argue with anyone holding him. Seventeen goals in a game! Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It's no surprise that an ex-Sabre destroyed the Sabres in their first game against their former team. I've seen it for the better part of the decade. The surprise was that the Sabres stormed out to a 3-0 and 4-1 lead, only to blow the game. Sam Reinhart had a goal and three assists with two shots in the comeback, but that's not what makes me excited. Four points doesn't make me excited? Well, it does, but what really excites me is that Reinhart moved onto the first line once the game was 4-1. The line change sparked the Florida comeback, and I'd have to think they keep Reinhart there to start next game. I've already been holding Reinhart, but he is available in a fairly large number of leagues. I'd grab him now because if he stays on the top line, we could see him push towards a point per game.
Joel Eriksson Ek took a big step forward last season, one of the main reasons the Wild made the playoffs with relative ease. It was more on the defensive end than offensively, but he showed plenty of offense with 19 goals in 56 games. On Tuesday, Eriksson Ek controlled the game for the Wild, scoring a hat trick on seven shots in the 6-5 OT win over the Jets. Eriksson Ek averaged just over two shots per game last season, but he now has twelve shots in three games. The minutes are going to be there so there's a chance he could push into bottom end hold territory. For now, he's an elite streamer. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
I certainly won't be doing any victory laps after the first weekend, but Sam Bennett made me look good on Saturday, scoring a hat trick on six shots in the 5-1 win over the Islanders. Bennett finds himself in the same role as last season when he blew up after the trade deadline. Remarkably, he's still available in 40% of leagues on ESPN. I assume nobody that reads my posts would be in a league where Bennett is on the waiver wire, but if he is, grab him right now. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Hello again, Razzfolks!
Wrapping up the Western Conference today. Time for Part 2 of the Central Division previews, finishing things out with the Wild, the Predators, the Blues, and the Jets.
If you want to check out (or look back over) the other previews thus far, links are below: