I swear “Put up Doses later than usual” was not one of my New Year’s resolutions.
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PANTHERS 5, SABRES 1
-- Florida just keeps rattling off wins.
The Panthers extended their franchise-record winning streak to 10 games, and their Atlantic edge is now fairly cushy at five standings points. They've also been doing well in the wins department, as their 24 only trails Washington's 29 in the East. The Panthers' +25 goal differential is also second-best in the conference to Washington's towering +39.
-- The line of Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr probably deserves more consideration in various "top line in the NHL" discussions. It has to create a pretty giddy feeling among Panthers fans to realize that both Huberdeau and Barkov still could improve ... while Jagr's adamantium skeleton ensures his continued indestructibility.
Jagr scored the opening goal of the contest, already his 14th of the season. Huberdeau grabbed a goal and an assist while Barkov pitched in a helper of his own.
-- It wasn't all big names here, as Derek McKenzie led the jabronie movement with the GWG and an assist.
-- The Sabres received five power play chances, connecting for their only goal on the man advantage. Roberto Luongo was a big reason for their frustrations, stopping 31 of 32 shots to improve to 18-11-3.
CAPITALS 3, BRUINS 2
-- For all the praise you want to heap on other contributors, to me, it's obvious that Braden Holtby is still the MVP of this impressive Washington bunch.
Holtby is now a ridiculous 17-0-2 in his last 19 decisions. It's tough to imagine anyone else winning the Vezina, at least at this exact moment in time.
-- Evgeny Kuznetsov already has as many points this season (37) as he generated in all of 2014-15 after Tuesday's one-goal, one-assist performance. Fantasy owners who passed him up shouldn't necessarily feel outright dumb; Kuznetsov is one of those guys whose leaps seem plausible but not necessarily guaranteed.
-- There was a time (the pre-season) when Andre Burakovsky seemed like he might be the more Barry Trotz-improved young forward between Kuznetsov and Burakovsky, as he plays a generally "more responsible" two-way game.
That obviously hasn't panned out, although perhaps scoring two goals in his past four games may portend a moderate jump?
-- Matt Niskanen now has a four-game assist streak going.
-- Patrice Bergeron is just a hair short of a point-per game this season with 37 in 38. It's not outrageous to wonder if he may just flirt with his career-high of 70 points from way back in 2005-06, before concussions threatened his career.
RANGERS 6, STARS 2
-- The Rangers managed to make the Stars play their game, limiting Dallas to just 23 SOG. I wonder how many coaches will try to use that as a blueprint of sorts against that locomotive of an offense?
-- Did Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have a little too much fun on New Year's Eve? Did they actually stay awake after their win against the Predators, unlike your humbled author (who fell asleep before midnight to really coronate his descent to oldness)?
Neither forward has generated a point so far in the new year, with both amassing ugly -5 ratings in the process. Benn's showing the frustration most obviously with 10 PIM during this span.
-- Strong game for the Rangers' big guns. Derek Stepan scored two goals while Rick Nash piled up three assists. Kevin Klein had a nice night in the solid-player-but-not-big-gun category, generating two assists.
-- Jayson Megna with an out-of-nowhere one-goal, one-assist night.
BLACKHAWKS 3, PENGUINS 2 (OT)
-- These two teams are playing back-to-backs with the location shifting to Chicago on Wednesday night. The Penguins are grinding away with at least a point in four straight games and solid work lately (4-1-2 in their last seven games).
They face a test up ahead, however, with a four-game road trip and away games in five of six.
-- Artemi Panarin scored twice for the Blackhawks, including the overtime-clincher. His surprise season continues with 13 goals and 36 points in 41 games. This was also his second GWG.
-- Patrick Kane generated primary assist on both of Panarin's goals. He's now on a four-game point streak (two goals, seven assists) and has an impressive 59 points in 41 games.
Especially nice all-around game for Letang: goal, assist, seven SOG, four hits, four PIM and a +1 rating in 26:26 TOI.
WILD 4, BLUE JACKETS 2
-- Zach Parise's had a trying season from a physical standpoint, yet he notched his second hat trick of 2015-16 on Tuesday. Mikael Granlund was almost as impressive, generating a goal and two assists.
-- Odd finish to this one, with both Parise and Granlund scoring empty-netters and Nick Foligno finding the net in the final minute.
As much as Foligno seems like a cautionary tale for contract years, he's been impressive lately, with a seven-game point streak (two goals, seven assists). Maybe he won't be that bad of an investment over the long haul?
FLYERS 4, CANADIENS 3
That second line did the most damage, led by Schenn, who scored a goal and two assists to go along with three SOG and six hits.
-- Shayne Gostisbehere broke up a small lull of four games without a point by scoring a goal and an assist. He now has 16 points in 22 GP.
-- Ben Scrivens didn't perform a whole lot better in his second game with the Habs, falling to 0-2-0 after allowing four goals on 31 shots.
JETS 4, PREDATORS 1
-- You look at the score and probably think Winnipeg dominated the game, but really, it was the other way around; Nashville generated a 44-18 SOG advantage.
-- Drew Stafford scored the game's first two goals, both on the PP, so he grabs the GWG. He now has 14 goals on the season.
FLAMES 3, LIGHTNING 1
-- This win had to feel especially good for Karri Ramo, who was drafted by the Lightning (191st overall in 2004). He's been hot the past two games, stopping 30 out of 31 shots in this one after his previous 26-save shutout.
He already has as many wins (15) as he did last season and is almost certain to set a new career-high from the 17 wins he grabbed in 2013-14.
-- Lance Bouma scored his first goal of the season on an empty net. I vaguely recall having to sort of care about his signing in the true dog days of the hockey summer.
-- Steven Stamkos scored his 17th goal of the season, assisted by Anton Stralman and Valtteri Filppula. This Lightning team would be awfully depressing without Stamkos, and the rest of the squad isn't really doing much for the previous notion that this squad was so loaded with young talent that they can let him go.
(Generally speaking, you shouldn't let a guy like Stamkos go unless you know you cannot keep him, which may or may not be the case for the Bolts.)