With February now firmly upon us, we’re getting closer to that time in which various games played stats matter a little more. Maybe three games in hand (or down the drain) weren’t something that would tip the fantasy trade scales back in November, but they could very well now.
Considering that point, I’ll probably trot out different notes here and there, in case you’re looking for a slight edge.
This won’t be the main aim of the Dose, mind you. Rotoworld’s suite of NHL columns are far better equipped to provide you with info, including Michael Finewax’s Week Ahead feature.
Anyway, my goal is to inform as much as I can, and I think this stuff might be of at least mild note to you. Here are the slight outliers in games played/in hand right now:
Winnipeg: 52 GP
Tampa Bay, Toronto, Philadelphia, San Jose, Calgary, Edmonton: 51 GP
Florida, Ottawa, Rangers, Columbus, Vancouver: 48 GP
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A quick home/road list, too:
Most home games played: Pittsburgh and Los Angeles with 28
Least home games played: Florida, Nashville, Ottawa, Islanders with 22
Most road games played: New Jersey, Islanders, Winnipeg and Nashville with 27
Fewest road games played: Kings at 21. Rangers and Penguins tied for second-least with 22.
So, hey, with 20 home games and 34 total games left, the Senators and Panthers carry certain subtle advantages that might set them up for future success (at least in tipping the scales ever so slightly).
Those points are at least worth considering. Let’s get recapping now.
RANGERS 6, PANTHERS 3
-- Rick Nash keeps pace with Alex Ovechkin after scoring a shorthander and empty-netter to hit 31 goals in 2014-15. He's one tally away from matching his best goal-generating work since 2010-11 and two more from matching 2009-10's 33 tallies. His best-ever season was 41 goals, a mark that seems at least somewhat within reach. He's within striking distance of his career-best 79 points with 46 in 48 games this season, too.
His shooting percentage is a touch high at 17.3 - that would be the best mark of his career if it were to persist - but he's firing plenty of pucks on net with a lot of confidence. What a turnaround from a forward who might not be hitting the 30-year-old sniper wall just yet, after all.
Normally I'd critique Barkov's big-picture SOG totals, but the heartening thing is that he's coming in around 2 or 3 SOG most nights during his recent hot streak.
-- While his brother Kevin Hayes scored a goal, it was a tough night for Jimmy Hayes, who suffered a -3 rating while firing four SOG and delivering four hits. Bad plus/minuses ran in the family on Monday, really, as Kevin was also -2.
-- Things seem to be slowing down a bit for Nick Bjugstad lately; he has one goal and one assist along with a -6 rating in the last five games. Going without a SOG and -3 last night was especially ugly.
-- Two goals in as many games for Dan Boyle, who hasn't been shy about shooting. I'd tap the brakes on grabbing him from the waiver, but keep an eye on Boyle.
FLAMES 5, JETS 2
-- Heading into the All-Star break, I wondered if the Jets might have grumbled to see their moment stop, as they had won five straight games, often looking like a freight train in the process.
Since getting back into action, they've now lost four in a row, allowing five goals in all of those defeats. They don't get any time to catch their breath as they face the Canucks in Vancouver on Tuesday.
One bright side: this closes out four of five games on the road. Winnipeg can get its bearings with a three-game homestand before things get frosty again.
-- Michael Hutchinson looks like he's losing his grip on the starting job, if he ever had it in the first place. He was pulled about seven minutes into the third period after allowing four goals on 23 shots.
Ondrej Pavelec is flawed, but I (gulp) can't blame the Jets if they give him a chance to right the ship a little bit. Not a ton of time to roll with either guy if he isn't getting the job done.
-- Sean Monahan is one point away from matching his rookie mark of 34 points. He looks like he should be able to exceed 2013-14's 22 goals, as he has 17 goals to go with his 16 assists, too. Johnny Gaudreau understandably gets the bulk of the attention, but Monahan's another quick learner for Calgary.
-- Not spectacular by any means, but Joe Colborne's been competent enough. His two assists from Monday give him 20 points in 33 games. Respectable stuff, even if he may struggle to justify his status as the 16th pick of the 2008 NHL Draft.
-- It almost seems like Jonas Hiller got a wakeup call. He's won three of four games, allowing only six goals during that stretch.
OILERS 5, SHARKS 4 (SO)
-- Melker Karlsson sounds like a guy who would own a bakery, but instead, he's the latest winner of the Joe Thornton Linemate Sweepstakes. Joe Pavelski was actually the primary beneficiary of that rub last night, but if Karlsson can stick with those two for an extended period of time, he could become interesting.
(Hey, they say a fire hydrant could score 50 goals with Mario Lemieux passing it the puck, but why should a fantasy owner begrudge the idea of picking up F. Hydrant if it means improving odds of victory?)
-- Speaking of Jumbo Joe, Thornton is on quite the tear. Last night's trio of assists extends his point streak to six games (two goals, eight assists).
Thornton's another guy whose negative attention baffles me. He just keeps setting people up for goals and getting blamed for losses that frequently aren't really his fault.
-- Brent Burns earned his post-game pizza on Monday: one assist, two PIM, two SOG and six hits.
-- During the same game that Taylor Hall was a late addition, he was hurt again. Hall and Benoit Pouliot appeared to suffer feet-related injuries. Hall had missed the previous three games with a leg issue/generally hitting his "missing a lot of late-season games" quota.
-- Tyler Kennedy generated an assist in his first game back since Jan. 21. His offense is generally modest, yet he could be a nice benefit to San Jose's depth scoring.