With a month left in the regular season, and the playoffs either starting or about to start in fantasy, I’m going to keep most of these lead-ins pretty brief for everyone. I figure you’re either trying to crunch as much information as possible or your teams are out of the mix, yet you can’t quite break the hockey cycle just yet.
Either way, let’s save everyone some sanity and time and focus on recaps, shall we? There may be the occasional soap box here and there, yet I’ll mostly try to embrace the virtues of brevity.
(Pretty selfless of me, I agree.)
CAPITALS 4, SABRES 3 (SO)
-- Mean(est) theory of the Dose day: maybe the Sabres inflate various goalies’ numbers because opposing teams are laughing at their defensive efforts while shooting?
Joking aside, it almost seems plausible that this team cooks the books a bit for goalies. I wonder if sheer volume and shooting range feelings help to bump the stats of the likes of Michal Neuvirth and Jhonas Enroth … and now Anders Lindback.
This hypothesis was already building a bit, especially after seeing less-than-spectacular work from Enroth and Neuvirth in new locales, but Lindback would probably be my choice for “worst NHL goalie in recent seasons who is making quite a bit more than minimum wage.”
Anyway, in leagues that reward quantity, Buffalo goalies aren’t outright awful EVERY night. That’s about the brightest faint praise I can serve in a backhanded fashion to Lindback & Co.
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-- Transitioning to more straightforward positive talk, Tyler Ennis continues a nice season with his 18th goal and 38th point of the season. He seems like a fairly safe bet for 20 goals and 40-50 points for the near future, at least.
Not spectacular, but he could be useful if Buffalo starts to not be terrible sooner rather than later.
-- Mike Green scored his sixth goal of the season and 39th point, giving him his best point total since 2009-10, when he was in the thick of his Norris-if-they-didn't-hate-his-defense years (76 points in 2009-10, 73 in 2008-09). It's hard to imagine him playing for the Capitals unless they do some serious salary shifting, so he could be a real boon in a desolate free agent market.
-- That challenge won't be any easier considering the fact that Braden Holtby needs a new deal. It wasn't a perfect game by any stretch for Holtby on Monday, but considering the fact that he was pressed into back-to-back duty, he did well enough, stopping 30 out of 33 for his 34th win of 2014-15.
-- Alex Ovechkin fired approximately billion shots (a half billion being blocked or missing the net), and didn't score a goal. He still had a useful fantasy night, however, generating four PIM, nine SOG and three hits.
OILERS 4, LEAFS 1
-- Jonathan Bernier only made it through one period of this game. He’s having one of the oddest contract years in recent memory. If I were his agent, I’d probably try to direct the focus to his status as a first-round pick and maybe make comparisons to guys like Niklas Backstrom (who didn’t exactly light the world on fire in contract years, but still got paid pretty handsomely).
As usual, it probably wasn’t all Bernier’s fault.
-- Great game for what is the Oilers' top line at the moment. Benoit Pouliot scored two goals. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins generated a pair of assists. Jordan Eberle had the best night of the three, getting a goal and two helpers.
There's a chance Taylor Hall may play again this season (I'd guess because the Oilers need to make another bad decision before the draft). If I were Edmonton's management, I'd consider seeing how well Hall can raise the level of a different line.
I'd do that once I got over the shame and embarrassment, that is.
-- Phil Kessel sadly spoke about how he's at an "all-time low" personally when it come to his on-ice experiences, but at least he seems to be trying. He generated an assist on Toronto's only goal (a James van Riemsdyk tip-in), giving him a solid three points in his last four games. Things had been really slow for him since mid-February, so at least he's fighting through it.
KINGS 1, COYOTES 0
-- With Edmonton winning and Buffalo getting a charity point, one might argue that the Coyotes were the “winners at losing” on Monday night. They’re doing a heck of a job of not doing a good job ever since it became clear that a playoff berth wasn’t in the books honestly.
-- It was even a close-to-ideal loss in the sense that Mike Smith (a guy they basically cannot get rid of) showed more signs of life, even if those moments of hope haven't included wins ... which, again, is probably A-OK with 'Yotes management. He stopped 34 out of 35 Kings shots in the loss.
-- Fairly easy shutout for Jonathan Quick (25 shots), who now has six goose eggs during his very up-and-down 2014-15 season. With 30 wins also in the mix, I'd argue he's had a fairly acceptable overall year for fantasy owners, even if he may never really please statheads as much as he gets the rub from talking heads.
-- Andy Andreoff scored the winning (and only) goal, proving that he isn’t a fictional character.
LIGHTNING 4, CANADIENS 2
-- The Tampa Bay Lightning swept all five games against the Montreal Canadiens, who managed 1 out of 10 possible standings points in this season series. Pretty easy to point to that tidbit if Tampa Bay wins the Atlantic (Montreal currently holds a game in hand).
-- Considering Max Pacioretty's awful giveaway and then an empty-net goal, I'd wager that Steve Stamkos hasn't enjoyed an easier two-goal night. (He also grabbed a power-play assist for his troubles.)
-- There's a "what if" element to Victor Hedman's season, as he missed time with injury issues and may have been out of the groove for a bit when he returned. Either way, he's a pretty brilliant talent, as was on display for his 10th goal of the season. He added an assist to give him 35 points in 51 games, definitely an impressive clip for a 24-year-old who could finish with a Norris or two on his resume before he hangs up his presumably large skates.
-- Brandon Prust might be a lock for big PIM every time he plays the Lightning going forward, as he seems to delight in going after Ben Bishop. Targeting the opposing team's goalie tends to draw some negative attention, wouldn't you say?