It was quite the Saturday night in the NHL. We had one game in which a team scored seven goals and another that saw one score six. And five teams got shut out.
Let’s get right to the recaps …
CANUCKS 6, BLACKHAWKS 3
— On a night in which we saw five shutouts, it’s only fair that we start with offense, and it came from two guys who have made a habit of affecting each others’ performance in big ways.
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— This was vintage Sedin twins. Daniel scored three times, his sixth career hat trick, with primary assists going to his brother, Henrik, who had a goal and four helpers. Daniel also added an assist himself. So the Sedin brothers collected four goals and nine points. Daniel scored the go-ahead goal at 14:35 of the third period. The chemistry between them was a sight to behold. A really fun game to watch, for two of the nicest guys in the game. These guys are not done yet, even if their age (35) might hint that it’s coming close.
— Sure, Ryan Miller (26 saves) gets the check mark in the win column. But he’s now allowed at least three goals in seven consecutive games. If you think that’s good then you need to rethink things. Miller is not good enough to be a starter anymore.
— Speaking of abysmal performances. Corey Crawford made only 14 saves. If you subtract the Sedins’ performances, then he almost had a shutout. (The final goal was scored via the empty net.)
— Jonathan Toews scored and assisted. He’s on pace for about 25 goals and 50 points. The point production certainly isn’t what anyone expected. He should get hot, soon.
RANGERS 5, PANTHERS 4 (OT)
— Rick Nash netted a hat trick, with he final goal giving the Rangers the win. He also had 10 shots on net. Nash still only has five goals (and 13 points), but it isn’t for a lack of trying as he has 57 shots on goal, an 8.8% scoring rate. (His career average is 12.5%.) The goals will come as long as he keeps putting rubber on net.
— My Mats Zuccarello could be an All-Star prediction might be the only one I have come close to getting right so far. He had a goal and three assists. His 10 goals and 21 points lead the Rangers. Watch Zuccarello play and you’ll see what makes him so effective — he thinks the game five steps ahead and sees the ice so well.
— Henrik Lundqvist (39 saves) deserved a better fate. Yeah, he won, but his team did him no favors in almost blowing a 4-2 lead late in the third period. Lundqvist’s 11 wins, 1.85 GAA and .943 SV% lead the league. Look no further than him to why the Rangers have jumped out to such a great start.
— Aleksander Barkov (goal, assist) is going to be a superstar, and we’re starting to see why in his third season. His 10 games hide his potential; he’s going to be a fantasy ace in short order. He has five goals and nine points.
— Is it fair that Aaron Ekblad, at 19 years old, is this good? He chipped in with two assists Saturday. He is nearly a 60% possession player. At 19, I was just trying to get 60s on my econ exams. Kidding. Maybe.
— Roberto Luongo (26 saves) did not have a good night. He’s going to have to be a stabilizing guy for them if they want to make the playoffs. There are still a lot of growing pains here in the defensive zone.
BRUINS 2, MAPLE LEAFS 0
—If Zdeno Chara ultimately is traded this season, the acquiring team is still getting a very good player, even at 38 years old. Chara had a goal, his third, and he has 11 points on the year. But does a team want a near-40 blueliner with close to a $7 million cap hit until 2018?
— Not sure about you, but when I saw Tuukka Rask’s numbers I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. Even after the 22-save shutout, Rask has a 2.95 GAA and .896 SV%. There are flashes of returning to form, though: He has given up one, three, one, five, and zero goals in his past five starts.
— If we had to nominate an All-Star from the Maple Leafs, it would be James Reimer (35 saves). That is not a joke. He has a 2.01 GAA and .936 SV%. There is no chance this lasts, but perhaps he can be league average going forward?
LIGHTNING 5, DUCKS 0
— The longer Steven Stamkos goes on without signing an extension, the reality becomes more likely that he won’t be in Tampa Bay next season. Stamkos scored twice and had an assist. Is he worth more than $10 million annually for potentially seven years? Is any player really worth that much? I don’t envy Steve Yzerman.
— Nikita Kucherov picked up a goal and two assists. With a few key guys banged up, the Lightning need their 22-year-old to produce. The goal, his sixth, was his first since Nov. 5, and he has 13 points.
— Ben Bishop (30 saves) is playing some of his best hockey. Over his past ten starts, he has given up more than two goals just once. Eight wins are certainly not reminiscent of those ratios.
— Frederik Andersen (19 saves) has been flat-out terrible lately. While he was keeping them in games earlier in the season, he’s doing anything but not. His save percentages of his past five games: .792, .960, .700, .852, .857.
SHARKS 3, PENGUINS 1
— The Sharks and Martin Jones (38 saves) have won five games in a row. Jones has a 2.02 GAA and .929 SV%. As I’ve said before, what I’m really looking at with Jones is whether he can do it over a full season, especially toward the end when the Sharks are (presumably) fighting for a playoff spot. We’ll find out about his mental makeup then.
— Brent Burns, man. I wish i had him on one of my teams. Burns had two goals on seven shots, with two penalty minutes and a plus-two rating. His 90 shots rank second in the league; he has 15 over his past two games. Such a unique player — a 6-5 bulldozer who can skate with tremendous offensive skills.
— Remember when everyone thought Phil Kessel was going to get 50 goals? Well, even after the power-play marker, Kessel is on pace for more like 30. He has seven goals and seven assists this season. I’m very interested in seeing how Team USA sees him for their squad for the World Cup.
— Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves. Normally, I like to blame him. But i just can’t right now. He’s actually been solid — 2.19 GAA, .925 SV%. The Penguins have not hit their stride and he still has 10 wins. I’m not really a big fan, but a goalie with seven 30-win seasons … you get my point.
JETS 3, COYOTES 2
— The Jets have not come close to my expectations this season. The goaltending really hasn’t been that great and the defense still is a little flimsy.
— That being said, the possession game (50.8%, score-adjusted, entering this game) is good enough and the forwards are underrated. Mark Scheifele (goal) is a burgeoning star. Love his game. He has eight goals and 13 points this year. A 60-point season is well within reach.
— Dustin Byfuglien also scored. He has six goals and 11 points, to go along with 71 shots. Another one of those Burns-types, with some more penalty minutes.
— Shane Doan has goals in back-to-back games. But don’t let that entice you to add him. He has 10 points, sure, but his offensive game leaves a lot to be desired at this point. He’s a good leader for the young core players on the roster.
STARS 3, SABRES 0
— I’m not sure there is a more dangerous one-two punch in the NHL than Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. These guys are wreaking havoc every night, and they are a joy to watch with their exuberance and moves on the ice. Benn scored twice — both in the third period. And Seguin got assists on both of them. Benn has 14 goals and 29 points, while his partner in crime has 30 points.
— Antti Niemi (22 saves) posted his second shutout. The Stars are playing so well you’d think their goalie would be worth using. The problem is they’ve gone with the 1A-1B approach, rendering them both as more second-tier options.
— Jack Eichel got three shots on goal. He hasn’t scored in five games. It’s certainly not an issue. He’s still creating, but he’s now converting at less than 9%.
SENATORS 4, FLYERS 0
— Tough to get a good gauge on the Senators right now. Sure, they are 10-5-5. Their possession numbers pretty putrid, though. (46.5% entering the game, second-worst in the NHL.) You’d think there’s some upside to get better.
— I don’t really believe in the sophomore slump, but for those who do, Mike Hoffman is letting you know he wants no part of it. After his goal-assist performance, Hoffman has six goals and 16 points. He’s basically on pace to replicate last year’s goal (27) numbers, while also improving his point output.
— Kyle Turris also tickled the twine for his 10th of the season. He hasn’t shot as much as you’d like lately (eight in five games), but he remains a strong center option in fantasy leagues.
— Craig Anderson (36 saves) might be one of the more underrated goalies. He has posted shutouts in his past two starts, improving his ratios to 2.61 GAA and .921 SV%. He has the net to himself for now as Andrew Hammond is dealing with a head injury.
— I thought Steve Mason (27 saves) would be much better than this. He started to find a rhythm over his past few starts, giving up a total of five goals in three games. Then this.
— Jakub Voracek has one goal (on 67 shots) and nine points. Baffling, really.
CAPITALS 7, AVALANCHE 3
— Games are much more exciting with a lot of goals, right? Well, I guess unless you’re a team on the other side of it all, like the Avs in this case.
— The Capitals jumped out to a 4-0 first-period lead, chasing Reto Berra after he made seven saves. The Avs made things somewhat interesting with two second-period goals, then the Caps poured it on again.
— Entering the season, I worried that the Capitals didn’t have the center depth if Evgeny Kuznetsov didn’t step up. I look like an idiot now because Kuznetskov (goal, two assists) has showed he’s not caving to the expanded responsibility. Kuznetsov has seven goals and 14 points. He has formed a very nice 1-2 center punch with Nicklas Backstrom.
— What, did you expect seven goals and none from Alex Ovechkin? The captain scored his 10th and added an assist. There were only four Capitals who didn’t find the scoresheet with either a goal or assit.
— Most impressive for the Capitals is that they got four goals from defensemen — John Carlson, Nate Schmidt, Dmitry Orlov (both with their first of the season), and Karl Alzner. This is a very good team with exceptional coaching.
— One of those nights where a win salvaged a so-so performance. Braden Holtby made 24 saves. He has won five of his past six games.
— The Avalanche are not very good. But third-year forward Nathan MacKinnon sure is. He scored his ninth of the season, so he now has 21 points, ninth in the league. MacKinnon recorded just 38 points in 64 games in his second season. If you slept on him in drafts this year, you should be upset with yourself.
RED WINGS 4, BLUES 3 (OT)
— Lots of good things went on in this game for the Red Wings, the first of which was defeating a pretty good team. Pavel Datsyuk and Luke Glendening each scored their first goals of the season. Dylan Larkin also scored, his eighth.
— But the highlight goes to Teemu Pulkkinen, who won the game with 19 seconds left in overtime. The 23-year-old has six goals and 10 points this season. It’s not as if he doesn’t know how to put the puck in the net; he had 34 goals in 46 AHL games last season. He could be a sneaky addition for those in need of a scoring jolt.
— Jimmy Howard (30 saves) did just enough to earn the win. Howard (.917 SV%) has not played poorly. Petr Mrazek (.935 SV%) has just been better. Howard does make for a great bench option because he’s starting more than a typical backup. The Red Wings are also playing better lately, making both usable.
— There are a handful of players in the conversation as “game-changers.” Vladimir Tarasenko would be included. He had a goal and an assist. He has 13 goals and 22 points this season, nine coming in his past six tilts.
— Some cracks have started to appear in Jake Allen’s game. He gave up four goals on 28 shots. Over his past five games, he’s posted a save percentage over .900 once.
WILD 4, PREDATORS 0
— Ryan Suter has always been among the game’s best all-around defensemen. He plays a stout game in his own end, logs a ton of minutes in all situations and chips in around 40 points. This season, after his goal-three helper performance, he has three goals and 19 points in 19 games. He won’t be a point-per-game defenseman, but 60 points is attainable.
— The Wild also got two-point nights (goal, assist) from Thomas Vanek and Mikael Granlund, who has three goals and 11 points on the year. Still think the Wild need more from him if they want to be a serious contender.
— Devan Dubnyk stopped 23 shots for his third shutout. That he has a 2.49 goals-against average and .911 save percentage tells you the rest of the season hasn’t been too kind. He won’t post another .936 stretch, but he should be at least average moving forward.
— Pekka Rinne (23 saves) will probably want to discard the tape of this game. He has a 2.27 GAA and .913 SV%. Even though the Predators are in the top half of the league in scoring, their offense (from forwards) is still a weak point.