The season isn’t even a month old, and already a number of great story lines have developed.
Among them: How much longer will Bruce Boudreau last with the Ducks? What is going on with the Red Wings? Can the Blue Jackets make a run now that they’ve finally earned a win? What about the Canadiens — will they ever lose?
Let’s get right to the (12) recaps:
WILD 3, DUCKS 0
— We will get to the Ducks in a minute, believe me. Let’s start out with some good news, and that’s the Wild’s play. They flat-out dominated this game, with a 45-32 score-adjusted Corsi mark. Thomas Vanek can be a frustrating player to own. He’s one of those guys … even when he’s in a slump you don’t want to cut him in fear of the breakout. Well, this season, after Saturday’s goal, he has four goals and five points. Thirty goals is a possibility.
— I really like the Wild’s defense. Matt Dumba, who scored his first, is part of that. The 21-year-old had 16 points last season, and should be in store for more than that this year.
— Devan Dubnyk recorded an easy 15-save shutout. With a 2.35 GAA and .907 SV%, he hasn’t been nearly as good as he was last season. But if the last two starts are any indication, he’s finding his groove.
— The Ducks are 1-5-1. This is a team that was expected to compete for the Stanley Cup. Instead, they are now a point better than the Blue Jackets. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry combined for one shot on goal, and neither of them reached 18 minutes of ice time. Neither of them has scored this season. It’s only a matter of time until it happens, but will it come in time to save Bruce Boudreau? There’s no way this team should be getting outshot 30-15.
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BLUE JACKETS 4, AVALANCHE 3
— It took John Tortorella two games to earn a win with his new club, its first of the season in nine games. It's hard to believe but CBJ’s chances of reaching the playoffs are slim, even this early. I'm holding out hope because I think they have the roster to make a run. Think of it this way: 73 games left. To get to last year's cutoff of 98 points, the Blue Jackets need 96 points, or 48 wins. Plus, they have to leapfrog eight teams in the conference. That is tough to do.
— Boone Jenner (two goals) is going to become a Tortorella favorite, and fast. He is hard-nosed, hard-working and physical. From a fantasy standpoint, he has great upside there, too — this is a guy who scored 45 goals in his final OHL season. Jenner is still only 22 years old. A 20-goal, 40-point season is very reasonable.
— Brandon Dubinsky scored the game-winning goal in the third period. He’s scored in both games with Tortorella. Dubinsky is that “meat and potatoes”-type player Tortorella loves. Perhaps that gets him beyond the 20-goal mark again.
— A huge key to the Blue Jackets’ season will be Sergei Bobrovsky. He made 31 saves in this one and his confidence seemed to grow, even if he seemed all over the place at times. His ratios are unlikely to ever be great this year, but from this point forward he has top-15 ability. Right now it’s ugly, though: 4.45 GAA, .852 SV%.
— Jarome Iginla scored and assisted. The Avs aren’t good, but he certainly still has some juice left in the tank.
— Nathan MacKinnon’s breakout is happening before our eyes. He scored and had seven shots on net. He has three goals and seven points. With his talent, a point-per-game season is coming, and soon. Don’t judge him based on last year’s 14-goal, 38-point season.
DEVILS 4, SABRES 3
— Don’t look now but the Devils have won four in a row. In these four wins, they are averaging more than three goals per game. Of course, three of those wins came after regulation.
— Adam Henrique is off to a very fast start. He scored twice and had an assist, so he now has six goals and nine points on the year. Henrique could very well get to 25 goals this season, but I’m not that excited by what he brings. He’s not going to sustain a 31.6% scoring rate, so this will slow down.
— Michael Cammalleri got a goal and two assists. My money is on him leading the team in goals and points. He has 11 point this season, with eight of them coming over the past four games.
— Cory Schneider made 26 saves. While he has a 2.28 GAA and .922 SV%, he hasn’t been great over his past three starts, averaging a sub.-900 SV%. If this team can score more this season, Schneider will get Vezina votes. He is that good.
— Ryan O’Reilly had a goal and two helpers, while playing a team-high 22:25. Under Dan Bylsma and with these talented forwards, O’Reilly should return to a 25-goal, 60-point season.
— Jack Eichel also scored, his third of the season. He also has 24 shots on goal and no assists. He’s going to be a fantasy force, and that time will come very soon. You’d be crazy to move him in dynasty leagues, and even yearly leagues should take some prying.
CANADIENS 5, MAPLE LEAFS 3
— The Canadiens are 9-0. But there are some warning signs in their play — notably their past three games have been sub-50% possession performances. In this one, Toronto attempted 57 shots to 34 of their own. Montreal was outshot 52-27. That is not a good trend.
— Thankfully, though, they have Carey Price, who made 49 saves in his seventh win. How often does a performance like this decrease a goalie’s save percentage? Price has been that good, so it dented his. He has a 1.29 GAA and .961 SV%.
— P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty each scored and assisted. Both of these guys are expected to carry the offense. Subban has points in three games in a row, while Pacioretty has goals in three in a row.
— Brendan Gallagher, David Desharnais and Lars Eller got the other goals. I’m a huge Gallagher fan — he’s got a high motor and is always around the puck. The 5-9 winger has points in four consecutive games, and four goals in that span, too.
— James van Riemsdyk scored and assisted. He has started off the year slowly with only four points, but the offense should come. There aren’t many guys with the potential to score 30, and there’s no reason to think it should stop for JVR.
— If the Maple Leafs had a good goalie, this outcome would’ve been different. Jonathan Bernier made 22 saves on 27 shots.
COYOTES 4, SENATORS 1
— Mikkel Boedker’s hat trick led the way. His 2014-15 season might have dulled expectations this season, but he still put up 14 goals and 28 points in 45 games. The year before he had 19 and 51, respectively. There is sneaky value here, especially with all the attention on rookies Max Domi and Anthony Duclair.
— Anders Lindback (35 saves) was excellent in net. They Coyotes really needed him in this game, which should be a common occurrence for their netminders. It’s a young team that is still finding its identity. Mike Smith seems to have righted the ship after a rough 2014-15, but Lindback could be capable fill-in.
— Cody Ceci netted his first of the season. He had five goals and 21 points in his first full season. There’s a lot of offensive ability here, so the blueliner is worth monitoring. The 21-year-old is averaging close to 20 minutes of ice time.
FLYERS 3, RANGERS 2 (SO)
— First, it’s nice to hear that Michael Raffl is OK after he collapsed at the bench and suffered an upper-body injury. He took an accidental elbow from Jarret Stoll, and needed to be helped to the locker room.
— I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to always targeting the young guy, or the “next-big thing” in fantasy. Mark Streit is the perfect example that you can find plus production even from the “boring” types. Street scored Saturday. Let’s not forget he had 52 points last season, too, and has consistently been at least a half-a-point-per-game performer. That is more than usable.
— Scott Laughton had two goals and six points in 31 games last year. He already has a goal and three assists this season. The ascension of a young player is never linear, but it can be rewarding if you’re patient. Laughton might not be a huge factor this season, but he’s a first-round pick who had 40 goals and 87 points two years ago in the OHL.
— Steve Mason made 37 saves. It’s been a slow start for him, but I have confidence he can creep back into number-one value in fantasy leagues. He posted a .928 SV% last season.
ISLANDERS 3, BLUES 2 (OT)
— I picked John Tavares to win the Hart trophy last year, so I’m sure Tavares will win it this year. After a goal Saturday, he has a point in six games in a row, for 11 on the year. Tavares is still only 25 years old. He’s inches away from a 40-goal, 90-point season.
— I don’t think Kyle Okposo will be an Islander next season because of all the young players on this roster … unless he substantially lowers his asking price. But for now, Okposo has become a reliable 20-plus goal-guy. He has three goals and seven points this season.
— Jaroslav Halak is far from an elite netminder. Thomas Greiss might be one of the best backups, even after his disappointing 2014-15. Grease made 38 saves Saturday and is 3-0-1 with a 2.44 GAA and .932 SV% this season. Halak is the top guy, but I would not be surprised to see Greiss get plenty of action this year.
— I know this sounds clichéd, but it seems like this could be one of the deeper rookie classes in quite some time. We talk about Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, but then there’s guys like Colton Parayko, a 22-year-old defenseman, also playing very well. After his goal-assist effort, the 6-5 blueliner has three goals and five points this season. He also had six shots on goal and logged 23:39. Coach Ken Hitchcock is pushing him right off the deep end and the kid is rewarding him.
— Brian Elliott saw his four-game winning streak end, after he gave up three goals on 22 shots. I am not a fan of the Blues’ timeshare and fully believe Elliott should be given a long leash instead of keeping Jake Allen fresh.
PENGUINS 2, PREDATORS 1 (OT)
— Phil Kessel netted the game-winning goal 41 seconds into overtime. Everyone expects a 40-goal season to come so easily. Kessel has three goals and four points this season, with 30 shots on net.
— Where has all the offense gone from Chris Kunitz? I guess we can say that about a lot of Penguins. Kunitz’s goal was his first point of the season. This is a guy with six 20-goal seasons on his resume. Another veteran who might be “boring” to own, but who can be a great depth player on your roster. The Penguins are still seeking to find chemistry across their lines.
— Marc-Andre Fleury was sensational, making 38 saves. Not too often do we say his record could be better with more support. But I think that’s the case for the 4-4-0 netminder. He has a 2.02 GAA and .932 SV%.
— James Neal is on an absolute tear, with all six of his goals and nine of his points over his five-game point streak. The point total (37) last year in 67 games won’t excite anyone, but this guy is a pure sniper. The goal total to this point isn’t that unrealistic based on his shot rate, either — his 32 are sixth in the league.
PANTHERS 6, STARS 2
— I’m thinking at this rate that my kids will get to see Jaromir Jagr play. At 43 years old, is it possible he’s aging like fine wine in the NHL? Jagr had a goal and an assist, and five shots on goal in 14:17. In the early NHL ranks, his six goals are third and his 10 points are 10th in the league.
— Jagr was one of four Panthers to get two points. Nick Bjugstad was moved up to the top line with Aleksander Barkov out of the lineup with an injury. He had a goal and an assist as well. He has the size, speed, offensive and defensive ability to be a highly effective center in this league for a long time. The 23-year-old has three goals and three assists.
— Let’s not forget Aaron Ekblad, who scored and had four shots. He has three points this season. He has tremendous ability but it wouldn’t surprise me to see him post around 40 points again before he takes a big leap.
— Maybe the Stars should just go with Antti Niemi in net instead of this 1A-1B thing. Kari Lehtonen was yanked in the second period after giving up three goals on 11 shots. Niemi made 16 saves on 19 shots.
— Jamie Benn scored twice to give him eight on the year. There is a real possibility he reaches 40 goals this season. His shot volume is always very high (only 21 this year), so even when he slows down, he will still be in good shape there.
BLACKHAWKS 1, LIGHTNING 0 (OT)
— You have to check out Jonathan Toews’ goal. Simply amazing how he uses a burst of speed to win the puck then fights through the two defenders to beat Kristers Gudlevskis. I would not worry that Toews only has a goal and four points. In fact, now would be the time to check in to see if you can get him or 75 cents on the dollar.
— Corey Crawford (21 saves) is a great guy to own because of his wins upside. To me, the ratios are gravy. I don’t think of him as an elite goalie in that regard. This year, though, he has been pretty good — 1.84 GAA, .929 SV%.
— He didn’t get the win, but Gudlevskis (31 saves) was the best Lightning player. It was his second NHL start and first game since the playoffs (April 22). Add in that it was on the road and it’s even more impressive.
RED WINGS 3, CANUCKS 2 (OT)
— What has happened to the Red Wings? Even after this win, they are still among one of the worst possession teams in the league. The shot differential is the worst in the NHL. Long-term, that is not a sustainable recipe.
— Regardless, they needed a win in a big way. They entered this game in a 0-3-1 rut, and then trailed 2-0 entering the third period. Gustav Nyquist scored his fourth to get the win, with 1:10 left in overtime. He has points in six of eight games. Another mid-20s-goal, mid-50s-point season should be in the offing.
— Brandon Sutter notched his third goal (sixth) point of the season. His career highs are 21 and 40, respectively. So, no, I would not be getting too excited about this start. He is a bottom-six player even if the Canucks front office doesn’t believe so.
SHARKS 5, HURRICANES 2
— By all accounts, Joel Ward is one of the nicest guys in hockey. I love when those guys do well — he notched his second career hat trick in this one. Even after a night like this, a reminder to not pay for what a guy has done but what he will do. Ward has surpassed the 20-goal mark once, and he’s never reached 50 points. He is a more valuable real-life player than fantasy one.
— Joe Pavelski just keeps doing his thing. After his goal Saturday, he has three goals and seven points this season. No reason to think another close-to-40-goal season isn’t on the way.
— Martin Jones had given up four goals in each of his past two games. A 32-save effort in a win is a nice way to bounce back. It will be interesting to see how performs as the season continues because he’s never been a starter in the NHL.
— So much for my plea to make Eddie Lack the starter in Carolina. He gave up four goals on 13 shots and was yanked in the second period. Lack has allowed seven goals on 42 shots in two starts. He did himself no favors in this one. Cam Ward stopped the seven shots he faced. Yes, I still expect Lack to be the guy, it will just take some time.
— Justin Faulk would be a fantasy ace if plus-minus didn’t count. He had a power-play goal and five shots, but he also was on the ice for four goals against. I still like to take chances on guys like this because there aren’t a lot of defensemen with this type of upside. He had 15 goals and 49 points last season.