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Hello everyone. Welcome to the seventh edition of JOT This Down! Thank you to everyone who provided feedback in volume six. I appreciate it.  Keep the questions, comments, and concerns coming. I’ll be here all week to answer any and everything you may have.
How does Sidney Crosby keep getting better at 36 years old?  Crosby had a hat trick and an assist on Tuesday, leading the Penguins to a 5-3 win over the Blue Jackets.  He opened the scoring in the game, he got the lead back in the last six minuets and then sealed the game with an empty netter.  That brings Crosby to 10 goals and 9 assists in 14 games while pushing four shots per game.  He's on a nine game point streak and is a top 20 forward again.  With the arrival of Erik Karlsson (goal and an assist, two shots), Crosby has a great chance of getting to 100 points for the first time in five seasons and 40 goals for the first time since 2016-17.  I think at this point, he has to be considered a top five player of all-time.  If you have him in fantasy, enjoy it, because there's no reason to expect regression.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We found a new level of ridiculousness on Thursday night.  The Canadiens were in Florida and they managed to tie the record for the most goals in a first period in modern NHL history, and they did it in barely over 13 minutes!  Both Montreal goalies allowed 3+ goals in the first 13 minutes, and Sergei Bobrovsky allowed goals on the first three shots he faced.  My god.  The Panthers ended up winning 9-5 to keep pace in the Eastern playoff race.  The only player who made more than two points was Matthew Tkachuk, who had a goal and three assists to keep up his torrid pace.  Thanks Aleksander Barkov for not getting three points when I pick him in the three point challenge!  Anyways, Florida is battling hard for a Wild Card spot, so expect their studs to get all of the minutes they can handle.  For playing all games against Eastern teams the rest of the way, Florida's schedule is fairly soft, so expect it to come down to the wire.  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:
The Jets have been excellent to open the season, but that hasn't stopped them from tweaking things to get better.  On Friday, we saw Bowness go back to last season's duo of Pierre-Luc Dubois and Kyle Connor together, something I've been clamoring for.  They notched one goal on Friday by Connor from Dubois, but they went off against Chicago on Sunday.  Dubois had two goals on eight shots, while Connor had a goal and two assists with two shots.  I've been saying it was a matter of time for Connor to get going, and I think that time is now.  He's too talented to not pile up goals.  Dubois has been quite good across the board so far this season, but career highs are now in play.  The shot rate is fantastic, the PIM are strong, and he's playing at a 40 goal pace.  It sucks that they're missing Ehlers indefinitely so they don't have a great second winger, but even still, look for these guys to improve their even strength performance while remaining great on the power play.  Let's see what else happened over the weekend:
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.
We move through more defensemen today going through my Top 40.  For those that didn't see my Top 20, you can check that out here.  I have some good news before I get going with these rankings.  JKJ is going to be back!  He's going to shift his focus this season towards defensemen, similar to what he does on the baseball side of things with relief pitchers.  Look for him to be writing again in the near future, with a rebuttal to my defenseman rankings the first thing coming.  And now, let's get to it!
It wasn't that long ago that Vladimir Tarasenko requested a trade from the Blues. It wasn't that long ago that Tarasenko could have went to Seattle in the expansion draft.  Now, St. Louis has to be thanking their lucky stars that he's still on the roster.  Tarasenko had his biggest game of the season on Thursday, scoring a hat trick on four shots and adding two more assists in the 6-2 win over the Sabres.  Tarasenko now has 31+41 in 67 games, with a great chance of setting a career high in points.  It's a remarkable turnaround for the Russian who is certainly a top 100 player for drafts next season.  I don't see him cracking the top 50, but it's great to see Tarasenko playing great hockey again.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights: