The countdown to the trade deadline is on ... and each day it becomes more difficult to determine who will buy and who will sell. Let's get right to Saturday's recaps ...
LIGHTNING 4, PENGUINS 2
— Despite what the score says, the shot differential speaks a different tone: 39-20 Pittsburgh. The score-adjusted possession numbers were actually pretty even until early in the third period, when the Penguins dominated.
— So, yeah, the Lightning can give a big thanks to Ben Bishop (37 saves) for this win. He has two wins over his past five games, with this the only game during the stretch where he’s exceeded a .905 SV%.
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— Tyler Johnson also scored. It’s only his ninth of the season, and 23rd point. He has scored on 8.4% of his shots, though his shot rate is down this season — from 203 in 77 games to 107 in 45.
— Tampa Bay also got help from its defensemen Matt Carle (goal, assist and Anton Stralman (goal). Stralman tied his career high in goals with nine. He remains one of the most reliable lock-down blueliners.
— Jeff Zatkoff (16 saves) did not have a good day. It was his first start since Feb. 6. He won’t get many more with the Pens in a playoff race.
CAPITALS 4, DEVILS 3
— The Capitals are 43-10-4, 15 points better than any team in the East and nine points better than any team in the West. You can’t count them out — they trailed for only a few minutes in the third before scoring two in a row.
— Ovechkin (goal, assist) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (goal, assist) continue to dominate. What makes the Capitals so dangerous now is their layered offense. Kuznetsov has 17 goals and 60 points this season. He is 23 years old.
— T.J. Oshie and Brooks Orpik also got goals. Oshie got the tying goal minutes after Reid Boucher (goal, two assists) put the Devils ahead in the third. I think it’s fair to say Oshie has not performed to quite the level many expected; he has 17 goals and 35 points.
— Cory Schneider (28 saves) has lost three games in a row. Still feel very confident in him from a ratio standpoint, though the wins won’t be easy to come by.
PANTHERS 3, JETS 1
— The best part about this day and age of sports is that you can pretty much watch whatever game you want. Thank you, NHL.tv. This game was a treat because I watched history, live. Jaromir Jagr scored twice, to give him 742 goals for his career. Only Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801) have more.
— Jagr wasn’t the only “old" guy to play well. Roberto Luongo (30 saves) was sharp, posting his first game above .900 SV% in four contests. He had allowed three or more goals in five games in a row, too.
— Nikolaj Ehlers (goal) needs to be owned in deep leagues and dynasty ones. He has 14 goals and 27 points, numbers that don’t “wow,” but he’s been much more productive lately, with nine goals since the start of January.
— Stay away from Jets goalies. Michael Hutchinson (28 saves) has one win in his past 11 games.
FLYERS 5, MAPLE LEAFS 4 (overtime)
— I don’t think there’s any way you can not include Shayne Gostisbehere in the conversation with the best rookies. He scored a beautiful goal where he acted like a third forward on a rush to lift the Flyers. He has points in 15 consecutive games, becoming the first defenseman since Chris Chelios in 1995-96 to achieve the feat. Chelios was 34 at the time. Gostisbehere is 22. He has 12 goals and 34 points. He’s a top-three candidate for Calder, in my book.
— Jakub Voracek (goal, assist) is a player I’d target in fantasy leagues. Ten goals and 47 points is not exciting, but he is still scoring at less than 6%. When that ticks up to his career average of 9.6%, goals will come in bunches. Just saying.
— Brayden Schenn (goal, assist) is in the midst of his own streak, now with goals in four of his past six games. He’s on pace to top his career highs in goals (20) and points (47).
— Nick Spaling (goal, assist) scored his first goal since Feb. 15, 2015. Congrats, but there’s absolutely no fantasy value here.
— Sam Gagner scored his first goal since Oct. 21. He could be a good addition at the deadline if he didn’t come with a $4.8 million cap hit. Gross.
SENATORS 3, RED WINGS 2 (shootout)
— Zack Smith (goal) has goals in back-to-back games, which sounds all well and good until you realize he has 15 on the year. Not buying.
— Craig Anderson (29 saves) has won three games in a row. Even more impressive is that he has posted at least a .923 SV% in seven games in a row, with five wins to show for it. I think he’s very underrated, but I’d trust him more if the Senators were cleaner in their own zone. Phaneuf could be changing the complexion a bit.
— Brad Richards (goal) has been a shell of himself this year. With six shots on goal, he has six goals on 119 shots this season, 2.6% lower than his career rate. Still, the Red Wings are paying him to be at least a middle-six forward. With 19 points, he’s been anything but.
— Even though he lost, Petr Mrazek (25 saves) seems to be back on track. This was his first game in five that he stopped more than 91% of the shots against.
KINGS 2, PREDATORS 1 (overtime)
— Tanner Pearson (goal) might only have two goals over his past 19 games. But at least they both have been overtime game winners. He’s not quite a usable player for fantasy purposes, though.
— Jake Muzzin (goal) doesn’t put up huge offensive numbers, but his shot rate (137) and penalty minutes (46) give him some sneaky value.
— Jonathan Quick (33 saves) has posted at least a .923 SV% in four of his past five games. He’s given up more than two goals once. That will get the job done. I like him for the wins, but not for elite SV%.
— Pekka Rinne (28 saves) has not had a good year. But if he plays like the past two games (two goals on 59 shots), the Preds will be in good shape. They are clinging to a wild-card spot.
BRUINS 7, STARS 3
— Considering the Bruins’ moves this offseason went against the grain, it’ll be interesting to see what GM Don Sweeney does with the team in second in the Atlantic.
— Their goal recap could account for 1,000 words, so let’s get the main ones out of the way. Brad Marchand (two goals, assist) is having a phenomenal season. He reached 30 goals for the first time, and he also has 46 points, nine shy of his career high. This season is not a fluke; it’s fully supported by 177 shots (his career best is 180 in 77 games, last year). Marchand has played 54 games. Add in 72 penalty minutes and he has been one of the best all-around plays.
— David Krejci (goal, assist) was among seven Bruins to record two-point nights. He has points in five of his past six games. Don’t expect goals (14), but he’s among the best at passing the puck (33 helpers).
— Loui Eriksson (goal) continues to ensure he won’t be dealt, and he continues to help his free-agent stock. He also had seven shots on goal. $6 million should be within reach this offseason if he keeps this up (not that he’s worth it, but still.)
— Because of his track record, Tuukka Rask (26 saves) is a goalie I’d buy the rest of the way. Even through a subpar season, Rask could win fantasy series down the stretch.
— The Stars rank in the bottom third in SV%. Kari Lehtonen (35 saves on 41 shots) did not help that cause. There’s no way I see this team going further than one round in the playoffs with this goaltending. Games get tighter, so they won’t be able to blow out everyone.
— Patrick Sharp (goal) has quietly had an effective season. He has 17 goals and 43 points. The goal ended an 18(!)-game stretch without one, though.
BLUES 6, COYOTES 4
— The Blues at full strength look pretty good. They have won five games in a row, outscoring their opponents 17-10.
— Three players had goal-assist nights: Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexander Steen and David Backes. Tarasenko is on pace for another 37-goal season, though it seems he’s flown under the radar a bit. Steen’s 17th means he’s likely to hit 20 for the fifth time in his career. Worth noting that he left in the first with an upper-body injury.
— Brian Elliott (18 saves) didn’t have to do much, though he’d probably say he didn’t deserve this win, either. We’ll cut him some slack; Elliott had won four games in a row, giving up a total of six goals.
— Max Domi (two goals) has recorded four of his 17 goals and six of his 41 points over his past three games. Doesn’t seem like he’ll win the Calder, but it’s been an impressive season nonetheless.
— Louis Domingue (30 saves on 35 shots) got yanked after giving up four goals on 10 shots in the first period. Niklas Treutle (four saves) came in for his NHL debut, which lasted 9:54. Domingue was a great story early on, but he’s been more bad than good recently.
AVALANCHE 3, OILERS 2
— Ignore the plus/minus (-8) and look at the upside of Tyson Barrie (two goals, assist). He is very much a double-digit goal, 50-point defenseman. Barrie is still only 24 years old, too.
— Taylor Hall (goal) has notched 20 goals in four seasons. he’s also at 52 points, so there’s an outside chance he slips into the 80 range. His goal total has slipped since January (five in 21 games), though the shots (59) are still there.
— Scary to think that Connor McDavid (assist) is already one of the better players in the game.
— Cam Talbot (26 saves) is nothing but an average (or below that) goalie, in my mind, especially with a team that struggles to play structured defense. Talbot has given up 10 goals over his past three games, all of which were losses.