As far as I can tell, last night was pretty light on injuries, so I think it’s fairly safe to jump right into the fray with eight games on the docket. Just like usual, be sure to consult the Rotoworld NHL and injuries pages to keep an eye on any maladies that might affect your day-to-day (or even longer-term) planning.
BLUES 5, JETS 4
--Man, what a brutal game-winning goal for Ondrej Pavelec to allow. It's actually bad enough that I'll refrain from making fun of him, especially since he played so well taking over for Michael Hutchinson, who was pulled from the game during a poor performance.
-- There's no denying that this could haunt the Jets, though. Instead of getting a likely standings point or two, they now hold just a one-point advantage over the Kings for the final wild card spot (and Los Angeles has a game in hand). The Sharks are four points behind, and as up-and-down as they have been, they cannot be dismissed either. Yikes.
-- This is the sort of win that Brian Elliott haters probably imagine count as most of his victories: four goals allowed on just 16 shots, yet he gets the win. He's been pretty good when healthy, though, haters aside.
-- Alex Pietrangelo hasn't taken off much since Kevin Shattenkirk was injured on Feb. 1, but he had a nice night last night with two assists and 26:13 TOI. Not an awful season (36 points in 66 games), yet he's still four points behind Shattenkirk (who was limited to 49 - and really 48 - of his own).
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LIGHTNING 1, CANADIENS 0 (OT)
-- What a bad night for people named Ondrej. Ondrej Palat fired six SOG but couldn't score and then got hurt blocking a shot. I'd argue his evening still wasn't as bad as Pavelec's, though.
-- Tyler Johnson's 25th goal of 2014-15 was the only tally of the game, and it came in OT. I can't wait to see where he (not to mention Palat and Nikita Kucherov) lands in drafts for the 2015-16 season.
-- If you put all your MVP stock in "where would this team be without that guy?," then Carey Price is basically a no-brainer for the Hart Trophy. Great for him, yet it only deepens my feelings that Montreal keeps playing with fire.
-- Ben Bishop now has two shutouts and three wins in his last four games. You'd have to be pretty entitled not to be satisfied with what he's provided so far in 2013-14; while his individual stats have slid, he's only four wins from matching his 37 victories from last year's breakout run.
BRUINS 3, SENATORS 1
-- Naturally, Tuukka Rask was the goalie who stole the show, not anyone playing for Ottawa. He stopped 39 out of 40 shots and his numbers are starting to look a lot better now: 27-16-10, .922 save percentage, 2.31 GAA and two shutouts. He's also a little feisty with eight PIM, which would be kind of fun if they meant anything for fantasy.
-- Ryan Spooner scored two goals, giving him three on the season. He also owns a last name that serves romantic-comedy purposes.
-- Have we officially seen the return of Underrated Borderline All-Star Loui Eriksson, replacing the downtrodden model we've seen in Boston? Maybe that's too big of a leap, but he's now on a four-game point streak, including last night's game-winning tally.
-- If you're the Canadiens or the Islanders, you couldn't be too excited about the prospect of facing Boston in the first round, could you? Then again, the East really doesn't have a cream puff in the top eight right now.
(Imagine if Boston and Los Angeles are the two eight seeds this season? Home-ice, shmome-ice.)
RANGERS 2, ISLANDERS 1
-- Then again, the Islanders might not have to worry so much about the Bruins, as the Rangers are in a great position to take the Metropolitan crown. They are just one standings point behind the Isles with four (!) games in hand and also lead Pittsburgh with three more standings points and a game in hand.
-- Cam Talbot keeps climbing with a 15-6-1 record, .922 save percentage and five shutouts. He's remarkably matched Henrik Lundqvist's output, as the banged-up Swede is 25-11-3 with a .922 save percentage and five shutouts himself. Not bad for a dirt-cheap player who went undrafted.
-- There was more than a little luck involved in Rick Nash's game-winner, which is his 39th tally of 2014-15. That does not take much magic away from his rebound season, especially since he only needs two goals to match his career-high. Health permitting, he should obliterate that mark (while his 79-point peak is not totally out of the question, either).
KINGS 5, AVALANCHE 2
-- I did not get to see the very final moments (nature called for my doggie), so I did not see if, perhaps, Colorado returned a goalie to its empty net. It must have happened, as Patrick Roy removed Reto Berra with five minutes left, which is pretty aggressive even by his standards.
I actually don't mind emptying the net like that from a tactical standpoint, yet I wonder how many plus/minus nights were damaged (or inflated) by his practices in 2014-15.
(Columbus has allowed the most empty-net goals with 12 while Colorado has given up 10 so far this season.)
-- Sheesh, Tyson Barrie is just a joy to watch. It's hard to tell how often he can be a double-digit goalscorer. On one hand, he's now done it twice in a row (and in 60-something games each time). On the other, his shooting percentages have been high the past two seasons. Maybe correct for some of those bounces and hope he can get 11-or-so over an 82-game season.
Either way, he's easily the best defenseman Colorado boasts and has to be in the argument for best skater on that team, already.
-- Marian Gaborik scoring 20 goals is a pretty pleasant surprise because it means he's been moderately upright. Alex Tanguay scoring 18 already in 2015 is the greater accomplishment, though. Pretty cool to see him continue to be useful.
STARS 2, FLYERS 1
-- Few things are as humbling as realizing how little you/we all know about goalies at this point, aside from reasonable notions like "Henrik Lundqvist and Roberto Luongo are very good" and "Edmonton is a pit of doom for netminders." Steve Mason is a prime example of that creeping sense of bewilderment. He's clearly the biggest reason that you can only snicker (instead of cackling) when someone thinks the Flyers can will the playoffs.
-- Luke Schenn scored a goal, fired three SOG, delivered five hits and blocked three shots. Frame those numbers if you want to feel better about that still-pretty-funny trade for JVR.
-- For the second time in three games, Jakub Voracek fired six SOG. He didn't score a goal this time around, but now it seems puck luck has fully evened out: his 20 goals have come on 189 SOG, translating to a 10.6 shooting percentage. That's fairly compelling evidence that he can match this season's work - more or less - at least as long as Claude Giroux is still doing amazing things.
(Voracek is just 25, by the way.)
-- Kari Lehtonen boasts a relatively strong 27-13-10 record even with a .906 save percentage. Makes you wonder where Dallas would be with a competent backup, even considering such an off year for Lehtonen.
-- I wonder how many players shared “Boy, it would be nice to make the playoffs” thoughts and how many were tempted to ask opponents about their golfing plans this summer.
I know that observation seems snide, yet I mean it in an innocent way, for once. These guys are people, after all.
WILD 6, DEVILS 2
-- The good news: Sean Bergenheim scored his first goal with the Wild. The bad news: it took him seven games and he has a -3 rating in that span.
-- Chris Stewart has been much better, scoring two goals and two assists in five contests. He's also been much luckier, as his 28.6 shooting percentage can attest.
-- Is Thomas Vanek coming out of hibernation? He now has three goals in his past two games after scoring two last night, and he's gone three straight games with three SOG, which is especially promising since his indifference toward pulling the trigger has bordered on a meme at times with especially bitter Minnesota fans.
-- I don't know when the novelty of Scott Gomez being fairly productive - in 2015 - might wear off. Maybe in 2017? He has four points in his last four games.
-- It's probably inevitable considering his ice time, yet I'm almost surprised Ryan Suter has almost two SOG per game (122 in 63), as he has quite the aversion to letting it fly, too. His 1.6 shooting percentage doesn't exactly belie a confident shooter, either.
BLUE JACKETS 4, HURRICANES 3 (SO)
-- The true winners of this game: teams trying their best to win tank wars.
-- Boy did the power plays show up for this one. Columbus went 3-for-5 while Carolina managed to go 2-for-4. Justin Faulk's 13th tally was the only even-strength goal of the night.
-- It's been uneven to say the least, yet the sum of Scott Hartnell's season seems like it will fall in line with most of his work with Philly (though not his 60+ points, 130+ PIM peak). He has 18 goals and 45 points plus 88 PIM in 61 games so far. I think I like him fantasy-wise more than most, but I'd make him a solid mid-draft pick until he gets booted from positive linemate situations.
-- What a weird season for Rene Bourque. He scored his first goal with Columbus in his second game with the team, his third of 2014-15. For all the disappointment he seems to draw (or used to draw), it's easy to forget that he's fashioned a nice career for another undrafted player.