While general sports fans were watching playoff baseball (Go Braves!) or Sunday Night Baseball, hockey fans saw one of the best performances of the season take place on the first weekend. Anthony Mantha scored four goals on eight shot, including the winner in the last minute of the game, to beat the Stars 4-3. This comes after an incredible performance in his season opener in which he scored a goal and two assists with five shots and four penalty minutes in the upset win over Nashville. In both games, the players on the top line were at or above 20 minutes each. That's extremely encouraging for their long-term success. Obviously we're not expecting Mantha to be a top 25 player all of a sudden, but the potential is there for 30 goals, 50 PIM and a very good shot rate. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Monday night was a short slate, but there were a couple great games. Florida and Edmonton decided that defense (and goaltending) was optional leading to a 7-5 barn burner. Vincent Trocheck took over the game late, scoring three goals in the third period on six shots to record his first career hat trick. No matter what format you play, Trocheck has been incredible this season. By the end of the month, there's a great chance that Trocheck has set career highs in goals, assists, PPP (already did that) and SOG. The 24 year old is also a monster in faceoffs, hits, and blocks for a forward as well. For those of us in standard leagues, Trocheck looks like a top 35 player for this season and in the future, if not even better. He's basically Jamie Benn with a better shot rate and a lower floor for penalty minutes (obviously plus-minus can shift year-to-year). The only potential downside going forward is that Trocheck is already averaging 21:33 per game, which has nowhere to go but down. Either way, that's of no concern for me; Trocheck is still underrated in my eyes. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
In my second half predictions post, I said that Jack Eichel would be in the top 5 in scoring for the rest of the season. He's certainly started on the right track. Eichel scored the OT winner on his seventh shot against the Flames on Monday before exploding against the Oilers with a goal and three assists with five shots on Tuesday. The Sabres power play looks like last season's unit again, the unit that was #1 in the entire NHL. Eichel is leading the way there but has also been dominant in all phases. He's currently in the midst of a 7 game point streak totaling a whopping 14 points in those 7 games while averaging almost 5 shots per game. This game put Eichel above a point per game for the season and I expect him to finish there. Sure, the plus-minus is poor, but everything else is outstanding. He's a first round pick for me next season, no doubt about it. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
After a massive breakout in which he scored 72 points in 77 games and Tampa Bay made the Cup Finals in 2014-15, everyone expected Tyler Johnson to push his way into superstardom. Then he struggled massively in 2015-16 scoring 38 points in 69 not-so-nice games. "It's okay, he'll bounce back!" Kind of, but 45 points in 66 games wasn't necessarily what people hoped. "Write him off, that was a fluke!" Nope, Johnson is back on track. Johnson scored a hat trick on Tuesday putting six shots on goal in the 5-4 win over Carolina. He now has 16 goals and 18 assists in 42 games with a +11 rating. The shot rate on the whole doesn't look great, but Johnson has 33 shots on goal in his past 9 games, in which he has 8 goals. The player that was tied for the team lead in points during the regular season and led a Cup finalist in points in the playoffs looks to be back. If he is, Tampa is going to be even more unstoppable. Johnson is available in around 25% of leagues and if you're lucky enough to be in, grab him immediately. If you own him, props for grabbing him and don't look to sell high because we know the upside. Let's take a look at what else happened the last two nights:
There have been a few big games by individuals this season but Patrice Bergeron's on Saturday is the new leader for the best of the year. Bergeron scored four goals and added an assist with seven shots in the 7-1 win over the Hurricanes. Bergeron was the second player this year to score four goals after Alex Ovechkin. Per usual, Bergeron is crushing all of the categories. He's playing around a 40+35 pace while already having a +19 rating, solid PIM and pushing four shots per game. Bergeron is a slam dunk top 50 player for the rest of the season who should push towards the top 25. Again, the top line in Boston is as good as it gets and Bergeron is at the forefront of their success. That line just gave up their first goal against at even strength all season! Remarkable stuff. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Reid and I talked about Tristan Jarry extensively on last week's podcast. We said that he should be picked up immediately with Matt Murray out for at least a few weeks, mostly because the Penguins had a back-to-back against the hapless Sabres. Well, Jarry delivered and then some in both games. He started off with a 34 save shutout in Buffalo before allowing 1 goal on 33 shots in Pittsburgh on Saturday. The schedule isn't great this week with the Rangers, Islanders, and Maple Leafs on deck, but they're all at home. At the least, Jarry is a nice spec add to see how things go against better competition. He's still available in over 70% of leagues so go grab him now. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
I've generally been lower on players like Johnny Gaudreau than consensus for fantasy hockey. The penalty minutes aren't there, the shot rate was good but not elite, and the power play points were in the same boat as shot rate. It's why I've had him ranked as a third or fourth round pick because if he hasn't not a point per game, he's not giving you value. Well, Gaudreau is laughing in my face at a point per game. Gaudreau extended his point streak to ten games on Monday scoring a goal and an assist against the Capitals. That gives him an incredible 31 points (10+21) in 20 games so far this season. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that's pretty good. Johnny Hockey and the Flames look excellent right now (nods in approval since they're my Cup pick) and Gaudreau is going down the path of being a second round pick in the future. Let's take a look at what else happened on Monday night:
We've gone without daily notes for five days due to Razzball crashing for a short period of time. The good news is that the problem is fixed and that we are backed! I'm not going to go through every single game over the past five days because at this point, some of it would be outdated. I'm going to go through each team in the league and write a little bit about each of them. Let's get right to it!
We have actual hockey to talk about! After Reid gets me to voice my displeasure with the USMNT for a couple minutes, we get to some teams who have had hot starts, notably the Vegas Golden Knights. After running down the list of surprises and disappointments, we zoom in and look at individual players who have stood out, positively or negatively, in the early going and how that's impacting our fantasy decisions going forward. We wrap things up with a preview of Thursday's games and bring back The Three Point Challenge! Be sure to make your picks in the comments section below. All of that and more on the latest edition of the Razzball Hockey Podcast!
While the Razzball Hockey committee of one didn't love the Patrick Marleau contract, we did like Marleau for this season in fantasy. Like the majority of his teammates, his season debut went extremely well. Marleau scored twice in his first game as a Maple Leaf registering five shots on goal. His linemates were inconsistent but whether he's with Matthews or Kadri, it doesn't really matter. Marleau scored 27 goals last season and I don't see why he can't get back to that number. Despite ranking him as a top 150 player, he's still available in over 50% of ESPN leagues, so grab him now. Here's what else happened around the NHL on opening night: