Hump Day is upon us, so let’s not waste time and dive right in to a heaping platter of recaps.
PREDATORS 3, LIGHTNING 2 (OT)
-- Viktor Stalberg's breathing some of the NHL air after being buried in the AHL, and he responded with an assist. He's obviously been a big free-agent letdown pretty much from the get go, yet it does show off Nashville's impressive depth that they could demote him altogether.
(No, I wouldn't grab him, but maybe he's not a negative factor.)
-- As disappointing as this debut season has been for James Neal - at least in terms of the premium price he fetched in many drafts - he's likely to score the second-most amount of goals in his career, exceeding the two times he hit 27. His career-best of 40 is safe barring a real surge, though.
-- Seth Jones stretched his point streak to five games with a goal last night (three tallies, two assists). If Nashville's scoring defensive group isn't the best, I'd argue it's at least the deepest.
-- Brett Connolly is showing some potential to at least be a support scorer, but he's just not getting the ice time to be worth much consideration.
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JETS 2, WILD 1 (OT)
-- This was a big win for Winnipeg, as its seven-point lead over Minnesota is deceptive, as the Wild have three games in hand. The two teams now are tied with 24 ROW, so that Dustin Byfuglien OT winner was a significant swing, even if it was just a single standings point at face value.
-- I have to admit that the Tobias Enstrom I envision (a player who was a reasonable All-Star inclusion) is probably gone or at least fading away. He can still contribute here or there, but he only has two points - both goals - since Jan. 15.
-- Jason Pominville has a two-game goal streak going, and he's earning it. In the past two evenings, he generated 10 SOG. He also has 20 in his past four games and 173 in 53 so far in 2014-15. Don't be shocked if he goes on a spree, as his 6.4 shooting percentage is well short of his 11.3 career average.
-- Pretty huge confidence-booster for Michael Hutchinson, who had lost four games in a row coming into Tuesday. His numbers are still strong overall, but considering the Jets' investment in Ondrej Pavelec, a goalie like Hutchinson is probably in an almost unending audition with a limited margin of error.
-- Devan Dubnyk's winning streak ends at six games, but he still helped Minnesota gain a standings point. Darcy Kuemper's going to have to play out of his mind to wrestle away anything but token starts from DD.
PANTHERS 6, DUCKS 2
-- At first it sounded like Frederik Andersen would be OK, but the Ducks placed him on IR on Tuesday, so he'll miss at least a few games. Not good.
-- Well, unless you're crossing your fingers that John Gibson can use the thing that eliminated him from what looked like a close goalie competition (injuries) to get back in it. He was recalled, giving him at least a chance to conceivably make an impression.
-- I'd certainly give Gibson a long look, even as backup, as Ilya Bryzgalov looks like he's reaching Evgeni Nabokov/riding off into the sunset territory. If Breezy is in his last days - not a guarantee, but he's no spring chicken - he's had one odd NHL career, hasn't he?
-- Jonathan Huberdeau ranks among one of the safer recommendations when it comes to Florida forwards. He's playing well as of late - three assists last night - and has the first-round pedigree to turn heads.
-- Jimmy Hayes has been hot-and-cold this season, but he's heating up again. He scored a goal and an assist last night, giving him three goals and two assists in the last four contests.
RANGERS 5, MAPLE LEAFS 4
-- I hammered on Toronto's monstrous run of road games from late-December to Feb. 6, but I have to admit that the meltdown was far more dramatic than I anticipated. Normally, I'd say "oof" at the Maple Leafs losing by a goal in regulation, but let's be honest, it's probably for the best that they crash and burn instead of just whimper off into a weaker draft position.
-- Another nice night for the Hayes family, as Kevin Hayes also scored a goal on Tuesday. I'd generally say that the sizeable siblings have exceeded expectations in 2014-15, but mileage can vary depending upon the person expecting things.
-- Stephane Robidas scored his first goal of 2014-15. He's long been a nice, versatile fantasy option, but I can't really pretend to act as if his health concerns didn't rise as a serious red flag.
-- Morgan Rielly is heating up (two goals on Tuesday, four points in as many games), forcing hockey writers flinch at a future of straining to spell his last name "correctly."
STARS 5, BRUINS 3
-- Antoine Roussel will have his cross-checking major looked at for possible supplemental discipline. I'd wager that the PIM-generator pest will be on their speed dial list soon enough.
-- Trevor Daley scored his 14th (!) goal of the season (in mid-February!). He's been a fixture in Dallas since 2005-06 (though his rookie year came the season before that) and has never scored more than nine goals until 2014-15.
-- Jason Demers has fit in pretty nicely with the Stars, scoring 12 points in 33 games with Dallas after being traded from San Jose, where he had three assists in 20 games. He's coming off of a 34-point season and eclipsed 20 two other times, so it's not like he can't at least provide some secondary defensive scoring here and there.
-- John Klingberg improved to 29 points in 40 games and a four-game point streak (one goal, four assists). He's on almost a 60-point pace in 2014-15.
CANADIENS 2, FLYERS 1 (OT)
-- A set of not-so-dominant performances by favorites against underdogs starts here, although the Flyers have been hot enough lately that some might have pegged them to win.
-- Ray Emery deserves a lot of credit for Philadelphia grabbing a standings point at all, as he stopped 39 out of 41 shots as Philly fell in OT.
His total season numbers don't look so hot, but since Jan. 20, he's allowed two goals or less in every appearance and is 2-0-1 with a non-decision. There's some hope that the bug-eating one can carry the ball for Philly.
-- It says a lot about scoring this season that Jakub Voracek remains among the league leaders with 59 points. I'd be shocked if we have a 100-point guy this season.
BLUES 2, COYOTES 1
-- Mike Smith's resurgence feels easier to believe with a performance like this, when he stops 34 out of 36 shots. He lost, but quite a back-to-back set for Smith, who has a .953 save percentage in February. If you look at other months (/cues horror sound effect), he's only been above 90 percent one other month, when he had a .910 save percentage but languished with a 2-6-2 record.
It ... has been a long season for Smith, to make the understatement of this column. The benefit of this breakthrough is pretty limited, as this run is putting the Coyotes in contention to rise above the bottom two (they're way ahead lowest of the lows Buffalo and Edmonton along with being ahead of Carolina and gaining on Columbus).
-- Jake Allen is now on a five-game winning streak (ignoring relief duty on Feb. 6, when he didn't get a win or a loss). His 16-5-2 mark probably seems cruel to the goalies who've been scratching and clawing for each win.
(Smith, meanwhile, only has 10 wins despite a ton of chances.)
SENATORS 2, SABRES 1
-- Not a great sign when Buffalo doesn't just out-shoot you, but does so handily (36-26). Maybe Ottawa was sitting on its lead after Erik Karlsson scored in the first period, but yikes.
-- Gotta hand it to the Sabres for creating a jersey that makes the Buffaslug look like an Original Six beauty of a logo.
-- I've long been someone who pumps up Chris Stewart's potential fantasy-wise, even if he can be awfully frustrating. It still might be wise to wait until he (hopefully) gets traded to a contender/playoff striver, as playing for Buffalo brings some serious risks. His -30 rating is far and away the worst of his career.
-- Robin Lehner had been on a three-game losing streak before this nice win, but it's not as if he was outright terrible. In the past five games, he's giving up an average of two goals per night and has been better than his full-season results indicate.
I'm not exactly hugely confident about the 23-year-old, but if you're desperate, there could be modest gains.
ISLANDERS 3, OILERS 2
-- Another underwhelming win by a favorite who lost the shot battle (Oilers 36, Islanders 28). Both of the Oilers' goals came via the power play, which went 2-for-3 on Tuesday.
-- Jaroslav Halak has now won his third game in a row, allowing two goals in each of those three evenings. Overall, he's 29-11-0 with a .911 save percentage; not earth-shattering stuff, but good enough for a very promising team not to be submarined by a truly terrible goalie.
-- I wonder if Johnny Boychuk is hurt, as a few games ago he took a puck to the knee and did not look to be in great shape. He's on a six-game pointless streak that just seems like a run of bad luck, as he's been active enough (18 SOG in six games).