It was a very full and exciting day of hockey in the National Hockey League. It was much-needed, too, as fans of the United States saw their national team fall 4-0 to Ilya Kovalchuk and the Olympic Athletes from Russia in PyeongChang, while Team Canada was upended late on Friday night by the Czech Republic in a shootout. There were some surprisingly bad performances from some star netminders in the NHL, too, as Washington's Braden Holtby and Boston's Tuukka Rask were slapped around and forced to early showers. We also saw a hat trick from Calgary's Dougie Hamilton, as he accounted for each of his team's goals in a 6-3 setback against Florida. Let's get started!
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Saturday's Fantasy Five
Eddie Lack of the New Jersey Devils certainly didn't lack tests in Saturday's 4-3 victory at Tampa Bay. He faced 16 shots in the first period, 17 shots in the second period and 18 shots in the third period. He allowed a goal in each period, including a power-play marker to Brayden Point in the second, and a goal on the man advantage to Steven Stamkos in the final period. He was the one on point, however, as the New Jersey rearguards were nowhere to be found, yet Lack stood on his head and helped his team to a nice road win and he helped his fantasy owners to an unexpected victory. The Swede, previously with the Calgary Flames, picked up his first win in three appearances in a Devils sweater.
Another unlikely netminder stepped up big for his team. Vancouver's Anders Nilsson allowed just one goal on 45 shots in a victory against the Boston Bruins. He faced a first-period onslaught, as the B's squeezed off 18 shots in the first period. However, he held his own and kept it clean, while his offense staked him to a 4-0 lead. Tuukka Rask allowed four goals on just eight shots in the setback and he was sent to the showers after 20 minutes in favor of Anton Khudobin. Back to Nilsson, he didn't cough up a goal until Tim Schaller snuck one by in a 19-shot third period. The Swede has been rather erratic lately, allowing four or more goals in six of his past eight starts. He was able to avenge an early pasting from the B's when he allowed four goals on just 17 shots in 10:40 of ice time on Oct. 19 in Beantown.
Reilly Smith lit the lamp twice while adding an assist with a plus-1 rating and a blocked shot over 17:02 of ice time as the Golden Knights doubled up the visiting Canadiens by a 6-3 count. His red-hot streak continues, as he has posted five multi-point performances across his past 10 outings dating back to Jan. 30, totaling seven goals with 15 points and a plus-6 rating during the impressive span. He also has three goals on the man advantage, and five power-play points totals since Jan. 30 in Calgary. Smith continues to help fantasy owners with an impressive plus-29 rating overall, and he is even or positive in the category in 13 straight outings, and 25 of the past 27 contests.
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It has been a lost season in the Windy City, but it was vintage Jonathan Toews in a rare rout of the Washington Capitals on Saturday. He earned first star honors with a goal, two assists and a plus-2 rating while also getting involved with a blocked shot and a hit over his 16:59 of ice time. He also had a decent night on faceoffs, winning 11 of his 20 opportunities in the circle. It wasn't terribly shocking to see Toews and the Blackhawks succeed against the Caps, as Washington ranks second-worst in the NHL in allowed high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes, second only behind the New York Islanders. The good times could continue to roll this week, as the schedule includes the Kings and Senators, the 18th- and 17th-ranked clubs in high-danger scoring opportunities.
The Florida Panthers have enjoyed their Canadian road trip so far, going a perfect 3-for-3. Aleksander Barkov was a big part of the success on Saturday, potting an even-strength goal with two assists, a plus-2 rating and two blocked shots over 21:02 of ice time. If you want to complain about something, he was just 12-of-27 in the faceoff circle, but that's really splitting hairs. Barkov has posted a goal with six points during the three-game road trip, and he has four goals and 10 points with a plus-2 rating in seven February outings. The Finn is flying for the Panthers, who will continue their Great White North Odyssey on Sunday in Winnipeg, and then Tuesday in Toronto before heading back to Sunrise.
Fantasy Game of the Night
The Ottawa Senators were able to double up the New York Rangers by a 6-3 score in a game littered with big fantasy performers, particularly those wearing red sweaters. Craig Anderson was as good as needed, stopping 35 of the 38 shots he faced for the victory. He has back-to-back victories, and five wins in seven appearances in February. Derick Brassard did in his former team with a goal, two assists and a plus-2 rating in the win. He scored a career-high 27 goals in 2015-16 with the Blueshirts, and the team dealt him to Canada's capital city for Mika Zibanejad and a swap of draft picks. So naturally Brassard had an ax to grind whenever he faces the Rangers. Cody Ceci, normally known for his hits (106) and blocked shots (121) stepped up with two assists and plus-3 rating for his first multi-point game since Oct. 13, the fourth game of the regular season. It was also his first multi-point performance in front of the home fans since Jan. 22, 2017. Thomas Chabot and Matt Duchene each stepped up with a goal, an assist, a plus-1 rating, a hit and three shots on goal. Johnny Oduya was also very involved in all facets of the game, posting a goal with a plus-1 rating, a blocked shots, two minor penalties and three hits in his 18:22 of ice time. Marian Gaborik scored in his Ottawa debut on Thursday, but was blanked in this one. Nick Shore is still looking for his first point in a Sens sweater, too. That's about all that didn't go right for the home side.
On the other side, the Rangers saw Michael Grabner flick the switch on the goal lamp twice, and the former Sens center Zibanejad also notched a goal while taking five shots with a blocked shot and two hits. Mats Zuccarello also got onto the board with an assist, a plus-1 rating, one blocked shot and a minor penalty in his 16:20 of ice time. Kevin Hayes and Pavel Buchnevich also chipped in with assists, as did J.T. Miller. The latter has been active in the past 10 outings, posting two goals with nine points, including four points (one goal, three assists) on the power play. It wasn't all good from a fantasy perspective, as Henrik Lundqvist was chased in the third period after yielding five goals on 27 shots. Might it be his final game in a Rangers sweater? His name has been bandied about leading up to the trade deadline. Jesper Fast had a dismal outing, as he was scoreless while posting an awful minus-5 rating. Jimmy Vesey was also blanked with an ugly minus-4 rating.
Quick Hits: Michael Amadio and Anze Kopitar each lit the lamp twice as the Kings doubled up the Sabres in Buffalo by a 4-2 count. Dion Phaneuf scored a goal in his L.A. debut on Thursday in Pittsburgh, but he was kept off the scoresheet in this one. … Justin Falk was scoreless for the Sabres, but he was credited with eight hits and a blocked shot. … Jonathan Quick settled down and allowed just two goals with 33 saves to pick up a win, turning things around after being peppered in Carolina on Tuesday while taking a loss in Pittsburgh on Thursday. … Antti Raanta stopped all 40 shots he faced in a shutout victory against the Edmonton Oilers. He probably should have been in the Fantasy Five, but not many owners are starting him these days. That should change, however, as the 'Dogs are streaking lately. … Christian Fischer's hot streak continued, as he posted an assist and a plus-1 rating. He has a fantasy-friendly goal and eight assists over his past 11 outings. He has emerged as a useful fantasy option, particularly in pools not using the plus/minus category. … Ben Lovejoy struck for a goal, an assist and a plus-2 rating, while Sami Vatanen managed two assists with a plus-1 rating and two hits. … Bryan Rust erupted for a goal, two assists and a plus-2 rating, matching the production of Evgeni Malkin in the team's 5-3 win against Frederik Andersen and the visiting Maple Leafs. Kris Letang led the team with seven shots on goal, finishing with two assists and a plus-1 rating with a blocked shot. … Zach Aston-Reese found the back of the net with a plus-1 rating, but his presence was really felt in the hits category, as he was credited with seven. … Jonathan Marchessault picked up three helpers in the 6-3 win against Montreal. Ryan Carpenter also had a goal, an assist and a plus-3 rating with two blocked shots and a hit in the win. … Petr Mrazek continues to be a thorn in the side of the Nashville Predators. He made 30 saves on 31 shots in the win, improving to 6-0-0 in his career against the Preds. … Luke Witkowski netted his first NHL goal for the winners. … Tom Wilson was the only Caps player bringing energy to the Windy City, scoring a goal while racking up 12 PIM and six hits. … Michael Matheson scored a pair of goals with a plus-2 rating and two blocked shots for the Panthers. He has no goals and six assists in 25 games at home, and eight goals with 15 points through 29 games on the road. … Roberto Luongo stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced to pick up a win in Calgary. It was his first action since Dec. 4 due to injury, and his first victory since a win at New Jersey back on Nov. 27. Welcome back, Louie! … Another Louie, okay Loui Eriksson, was getting busy against Boston. He scored two with a plus-2 rating, a blocked shot and a hit in the rout of the B's. Derrick Pouliot also struck for two assists, a plus-4 rating, a blocked shot and a hit. Sven Baertschi continues to pay dividends, scoring a goal with a plus-2 rating and four blocks. He has two goals and five points over the past five games.