Have a great weekend, knuckleheads and knuckle-pucks. I’ll be back at it on Monday, while the Dose continues on Saturday and Sunday in far more capable hands.
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CAPITALS 3, ISLANDERS 2 (OT)
-- I’m not sure exactly why Barry Trotz mixed up Washington’s lines on Thursday. Maybe he did it just to torment the vast majority of other coaches who lack the Capitals’ options? Seriously, when you can say “You know, I think I’ll put Alex Ovechkin with Evgeny Kuznetsov instead of Nicklas Backstrom tonight,” you’ll probably hear Dave Tippett whimper off in the distance.
(No, that’s not the Coyotes howl.)
-- Ovechkin scored two goals in 87 seconds, amusingly being assisted by his two sets of linemates: first by Kuznetsov and Justin Williams, next by Backstrom and T.J. Oshie. The Great Eight now has 37 goals on the season. Ridiculous.
-- Another day, another clutch moment by Williams, who scored the OTGWG. I still can’t believe how cheaply the Capitals landed him, especially since Williams really hasn’t had a colossal payday in his fairly impressive career.
PENGUINS 6, RED WINGS 3
-- This game began with some dizzying end-to-end action, and honestly, there weren't many moments in which players could catch their breath. It was amusing that Ben Lovejoy was the guy to finally open the scoring, and then the Penguins enjoyed supporting cast contributions in the beginning, with Matt Cullen's one-goal, one-assist first period really standing out.
(Scott Wilson also nabbed his first career goal.)
-- Every Red Wing goal was nice-to-beautiful in this one, with the big line of Henrik Zetterberg (who actually finished the play), Justin Abdelkader and Pavel Datsyuk authoring the most artistic tally of the three. At least, in my opinion.
-- Petr Mrazek couldn't make it through the whole game, while Marc-Andre Fleury did enough to win. It wasn't an easy night for either goalie which is part of the reason I really hope these two teams make the playoffs ahead of more boring groups.
RANGERS 4, MAPLE LEAFS 2
-- While he hasn't made the kind of game-saving splash that Lee Stempniak has, P.A. Parenteau continues to argue with his play that he deserved a contract right away (rather than a PTO). He scored his 15th goal of the season and now has 30 points for the goal-starved Maple Leafs.
-- Great game by Mats Zuccarello (one goal, two assists), J.T. Miller (three helpers), Derek Stepan (1G, 1A) and Derick Brassard (1G, 1A) here. Their strong moments helped the Rangers overcome being outshot 37-20 by the lowly Leafs.
Jonathan Bernier, meanwhile, continues to look like a backup in starter's clothing. He allowed three goals on just 19 shots. Aside from keeping the tank-job going, I can't see why the Leafs would want to go much further with Bernier over James Reimer.
I'd be more critical, but goaltending's such an enigma that I could see Bernier figuring it out at the exact moment that everyone gives up on him.
SENATORS 4, HURRICANES 2
-- Strong couple of games for Craig Anderson, who has been called upon to work quite a bit considering the fact that the Senators faced weaker opponents in Carolina last night (although the Hurricanes have this funky way of being sneaky-good) and the Sabres on Tuesday. After stopping 38 out of 39 against Buffalo, Anderson turned aside 30 of 32 to improve his record to 24-19-4.
I have to admit, I'm a little surprised he's been treated as such a workhorse after Andrew Hammond essentially saved Ottawa's bacon last season, but I guess Ottawa wasn't ever that sold on "The Hamburglar."
-- Erik Karlsson's just ridiculous. Another pair of assists for the near-peerless offensive defenseman. He only generated one SOG but hit peripherals on Thursday, getting two PIM and six blocked shots.
(Seriously, Carolina needs to get on that whole trading Eric Staal thing.)
LIGHTNING 6, JETS 5 (SO)
-- It's too bad we can't get PIM for the occasional coach freakout. Paul Maurice was tossed for flipping out after Anton Stralman delivered two questionable hits, including one that might have injured Bryan Little.
As usual, stay tuned for updates there.
-- The Jets should get some credit for shaking off a terrible 3-0 start to the game to squeeze a point out of this one, as this was a clash of two teams who have been different degrees of disappointing this season.
It's, in a lot of ways, a game that's symbolic of Winnipeg's weird patience with Ondrej Pavelec that he made it through this whole game. I can't believe his seemingly eternal contract won't expire until after the 2016-17 season. What a disaster.
-- Andrei Vasilevskiy reminded us of his first-round pedigree here, stopping 36 out of 41 shots as Winnipeg significantly out-shot the Lightning. It's interesting that Tampa Bay scored so many goals after going 0-for-5 on the PP (the Jets were efficient at 2-for-4).
SHARKS 2, PANTHERS 1 (SO)
-- Again, it's a little tougher to get behind the Panthers when you see low-event games like these. The two teams combined for just 38 SOG, which is basically half of the output from that great Penguins - Red Wings game.
If this kind of hockey captivates you, then you're quite the fan.
(Although I find it hard to believe that you weren't looking at Twitter/YouTube videos of cute animals at least a third of the time while "watching" the game.)
-- Jaromir Jagr moved within one goal of tying Brett Hull for third all-time with his 740th career tally. It was also Jagr's first goal at age 44, becoming the fourth player in history to find the net at such an age.
-- This was a matchup between a backup-turned-starter (Martin Jones) and a backup who is playing like a starter (Al Montoya). Both goalies had pretty easy nights, obviously, yet each is delivering in ways that have to make their teams pretty happy.
BLUES 2, KINGS 1 (OT)
-- In four games back in action, Jaden Schwartz has three goals and an assist, including the OTGWG in this one. I've hammered this point frequently lately, but The Shorts really brings St. Louis up a level.
-- Robby Fabbri scored his 14th goal of the season and his third tally in four games. He's been frisky, too, with 13 of his season's 17 PIM coming in five games from Feb. 6-16.
-- With his 24th goal, Tyler Toffoli set a new career-high. He's just 23 years old, and could very well be one of those guys who makes the difference between Los Angeles sustaining its contender status vs. starting to fade earlier with age.
(Even if people really seem eager to argue against his merits online, apparently.)
PREDATORS 2, BRUINS 0
-- I had a hearty chuckle at the "Oh, is there really a goalie controversy in Nashville?" tweets after Pekka Rinne's third shutout of the season as if getting that win nullifies his terrible .904 save percentage. He's just now peeking his head above water with a 21-18-8 record. That's a hopeful sign for the Preds, but he's often taking one step forward (example: Thursday's win) and two backward (allowing four goals in each of his previous two appearances).
-- Fantastic work from Filip Forsberg, who scored his 20th goal and 19th assist of the season in this one. It was really all about Nashville's second scoring line, as Craig Smith scored their other goal while Mike Ribeiro creeped his way to two assists.
-- A light, frustrating night for Zdeno Chara. His team lost, he suffered a -2 rating and only had 21:48 TOI.
WILD 5, OILERS 2
-- John Torchetti won his third game in a row (out of three games) since taking over the Wild head coaching gig. Before you get too excited - as I mentioned before - the Wild have been beating up on weaker teams like the Oilers. We'll get a better idea about Minnesota starting this weekend, when they host the scary Chicago Blackhawks.
-- Remarkably, this three-game winning streak included three straight games in which the Wild scored five goals in regulation. That's the first time Minnesota's ever done that, which isn't as shocking when you remember how long Jacques Lemaire was their coach.
-- Two straight games where Charlie Coyle grabbed ENGs. Thattaboy.
-- Connor McDavid just keeps chugging along. He scored his 10th goal of the season and now has 26 points in 22 games. All things considered, as long as he's healthy, this might just be the way for him to start: look great, miss enough games that Edmonton can patch up more holes with another high-end prospect.
/Pauses for grunts from fans of other cellar teams.
COYOTES 6, STARS 3
-- The anti-Stars crowd worries me a little bit. Yes, Dallas is imperfect, but hopefully you're not pumping your fist at the stumbles of one of the most entertaining teams in recent memory.
The Coyotes did poke a few holes here, generating a 42-39 SOG advantage in this 6-3 win. So, congrats I guess, fun-killers.
-- The Coyotes' dynamic duo (plus one really tall dude) had a fantastic night. Max Domi scored two goals and one assist, Anthony Duclair racked up a trio of helpers and Martin Hanzal enjoyed a one-goal, two-assist performance.
-- I know that a top pick is a big deal, but I was taken aback at how flippantly one rumor just threw Oliver Ekman-Larsson in trade talks. He's outstanding, and at 24, I'd be really hesitant to deal a prime-age OEL, even for an outstanding prospect. It would be like hitting rewind without even knowing that you're going to watch a movie of the same quality.
DUCKS 5, CANUCKS 2
-- We don't even need to meekly mention this any longer; the race for the Pacific's top spot is legitimately on. Anaheim only trails Los Angeles by two standings points with the two teams having the same games played (although the Kings have more wins and more ROW). The Sharks are right there, too, with one point fewer than the Ducks and three fewer than the Kings (but San Jose holds a game in hand on both).
This has been a weird year that forces you not to proclaim any team the division-winner too early, as Montreal learned.
Although ... the Capitals have to be safe, right?
-- I get that goalie controversies can be frustrating, and eventually re-signing John Gibson and Frederik Andersen could be expensive ... but why are people so eager to see the Ducks trade one of them? How many teams stuck with a struggling No. 1 wouldn't want to be more like, say, the Ducks, Islanders or Panthers in having two difference-making options in net?
I've said this multiple times, but I think people really underestimate how useful it can be to have a strong second goaltending option.
If you want another reminder, look at how well the "rely totally on one goalie" mindset is working out for Montreal, a franchise that clearly didn't make much of a plan for a Carey Price injury scenario.
(Besides curl up in the fetal position and deflect questions about their overwhelmed coach, I guess.)
-- Speaking of having more than one option in net, how are the Canucks not getting that memo that Jacob Markstrom's outplaying Ryan Miller? Are they just so tired of goalie controversies that they'll plug in a top guy who's struggling just to get that decision over with?
Vancouver's become one of the league's strangely dire teams over the last few seasons. They almost feel like the Flames when Darryl Sutter was elevated beyond his expertise to the GM position (rather than being a useful goofball of a head coach).