I wrote in this space two seasons ago that Nathan MacKinnon deserved the Hart Trophy.  While he didn't ultimately win, he's been one of the best players in the league for a few years now.  Right now, he's making a legitimate case again in the early going.  With both of his star linemates injured, MacKinnon has continued to dominate.  His best game yet came on Thursday, where he scored a goal on ten shots and added three assists.  In his last four games, he has 34 SOG!  MacKinnon now has 9+13 in 16 games with over five shots per game.  We haven't seen a shot rate like this since prime Ovechkin.  Obviously there's a long way to go, but MacKinnon has a great chance to finally get to 100 points this season.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
For two periods, the Red Wings were locking the Canucks down defensively.  They went into the third period up 2-0 but that lead didn't last long.  In fact, the Canucks ended up scoring five goals in the third to win with ease.  They were lead by their captain, Bo Horvat, who had his first career hat trick in the victory.  Loyal Razzballers know how much I like Dr. Bo as a player.  It's been a slow start, but here's why I'm buying Horvat (and another Canuck I'll talk about later).  One, Horvat is shooting the puck at an excellent rate.  He's over three shots per game on the season.  Two, and the main reason, is that Horvat is back on the first power play unit.  In fact, two of his goals came on that unit.  There's a ton of potential in that group and Horvat should be a beneficiary.  He's an easy hold and should push the top 100 going forward.  Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
The day has come!  The NHL Season starts today!  I'll be waiting for daily notes until Friday since there are only four games tonight, but for this post I'm going to write about what I'm looking for from each team in their opening game.  Yes, some teams don't start until Friday, but we're covering all 31 of them here.  Let's get to it!
Detroit's season has been over for months, but they haven't mailed it in.  The Red Wings have won six in a row and it starts with their first line.  Of late, Tyler Bertuzzi has been on an absolute tear.  He had two goals and an assist with five shots on Tuesday, his fourth consecutive third point game!  That brings him to 21+26 on the season with 32 PIM and a +13 rating, a great number on a poor team.  So what's his value going into next season?  It's hard to say.  He looks great with Larkin and Mantha, but what if the Red Wings bring someone else in and he's not there to open next season?  The PIM also aren't at the elite level I had hoped like his old man brought.  I do like Bertuzzi a lot for deeper leagues, but for him to be a play in standard leagues, he'll need to get his shot rate up and maintain the role he's had to finish the season.  You don't need streaming on Thursday or Saturday given the massive schedules, but if you need a guy, Bertuzzi is a great choice while he's hotter than hell.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
One of my favorite late round gambles on the blue line this season was Erik Gustafsson.  Gustafsson played 35 games last season and has 16 points and two shots per game.  That doesn't sound great, but that was with zero power play time and limited minutes.  Keith and Seabrook were falling off a cliff giving Gustafsson prime opportunity.  He took advantage of it and then some.  Gustafsson dished three assists on Monday night while putting a shot on goal and adding 4 PIM.  That brings Gustafsson up to a whopping 17+42 with 34 PIM and almost exactly two shots per game.  That's with 18 STP, a number which could be higher if he played on PP1 all year.  So what do we make of Gustafsson for next season?  Well, it's early to say.  I think these numbers are mostly sustainable as long as Chicago doesn't add a PP specialist in the offseason.  I don't expect them to with the young guys they have coming, especially Jokiharju, but there's always a chance.  Gustafsson looks like he'll be a solid #3 next season, possibly a bottom end #2.  The goals will probably come down a bit, but 40+ assists should be a near lock with Chicago's style and strong PP, and he's average in PIM and shot rate.  If he's going to be better, it's because he takes a few more shots.  Let's take a look at what else happened on Monday night: