Boy, the NHL isn’t messing around when it comes to making up for lost time. Twelve games to recap … so let’s get to stepping.
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OILERS 5, BLUE JACKETS 1
-- You know that great/terrible ballad about not knowing what you got when it's gone?
Connor McDavid remixed it on Tuesday: sometimes you don't know how much you missed a player until he finally comes back.
Sure, it stunk when he first went down with that injury, but after a while you move on. That's life, right?
Anyway, glad McDavid's back; he scored a tremendous goal and two assists in his return. Here's hoping that freak injury isn't a sign of future freakish injuries.
-- Cam Talbot's been justifying that contract extension with his recent play, bouncing back from a rocky start with Edmonton.
Look at what he's done lately:
December: 2-3-1 record, but with a .934 save percentage
January: 4-4-1 with a .932 save percentage
Talbot stopped 36 out of 37 shots in this win. Perhaps he's an interesting guy to ponder as a bargain for next season's draft?
-- I can't help but wonder if Talbot's rise and McDavid's return may "help" Edmonton ruin its tank.
Yes the Oilers have been doing this eternally, but why not lock up one more high-end prospect before they ... maybe progress beyond better possession stats?
MAPLE LEAFS 4, BRUINS 3 (OT)
-- P. A. Parenteau scored a power play goal in overtime, the first that the Maple Leafs have enjoyed all season long. Weird, right
-- Nazem Kadri scored a goal and added an assist, helping Toronto earn its first win since Jan. 19.
-- James Reimer made 39 saves for the Buds. He continues to be a solid guy that the Maple Leafs simply aren’t sold on. If that’s the case and they’re not in denial, why not shop him around a bit? He’d make a lot of sense for quite a few teams, in my opinion, especially for say … Calgary.
-- Brad Marchand has produced five goals in his past five games, pushing him to 22 (and 34 points) in 45 contests this season. He's in a fantastic situation to blow his career-high of 28 goals away.
While he hasn't hit crazy peaks very often, Marchand has five 20+ goal seasons in six seasons. That sixth season where he didn't hit the mark? Marchand had 18 goals in 45 games during the streak-killing, stat-fun-ruining lockout season.
(Speaking of lockouts, that John Scott weekend felt so good! Soooo goood.)
DEVILS 3, RANGERS 2
-- J.T. Miller picked up both goals for the Rangers. It shouldn't be a surprise, either, as Miller's been on a goal-scoring spree lately. He now has six goals in his past five games, only failing to collect a tally once during that span.
He's been on a tear through mid-December, to be honest.
-- Both the Rangers and Devils played without star forwards. Rick Nash was out for the Rangers for the third straight game with a bruised bone on his left leg. New Jersey was missing Michael Cammalleri who sat out with an upper body injury. It’s unclear how long either player will be out; Nash was supposed to return quite a while ago.
-- The Rangers may also have lost defenseman Kevin Klein. He left the game late after being his awkwardly into the boards.
ISLANDERS 5, WILD 3
-- Brock Nelson scored a team-leading 20th goal of the season to break a tie in the second period, leading the Islanders to an eventual 5-3 win.
-- Mikhail Grabovski and John Tavares each had a goal and an assist. Anders Lee and Frans Nielsen scored the other two goals for the Islanders. They’re in a tight situation in the East/Metro Division, so winning is … you know, a big deal.
-- Jean-Francois Berube was in goal for New York and made 40 saves on the night, his first victory in the NHL.
-- The Wild have now lost eight of their last nine outings and have scored only 14 goals during that span. They’ve bounced back from slumps before, but they’re running out of Hail Mary passes/draft picks to ship out for rental players and upgrades.
FLYERS 4, CANADIENS 2
-- Wayne Simmonds scored two goals, continuing a blistering run that apparently wasn’t ended by the All-Star break. This extended his point streak to four games: four goals and two assists, pushing his season total to 31 points.
In what's been something of a theme, Simmonds has been on an outstanding run since the middle of December.
-- Three assists for Jakub Voracek, who keeps delivering for those who were patient to stick with him or opportunistic enough to grab him from someone in panic mode.
-- Brayden Schenn is another forward really putting together lately, with Tuesday's goal and an assist giving him six points during a four-game point streak.
Perhaps Schenn will make it a hot contract half-year?
PENGUINS 6, SENATORS 5
-- Yep, Sidney Crosby’s back to being his dominant self. Crosby scored a hat trick and added an assist to lead the Penguins over the Senators. He now has at least one goal in each of the Penguins' last eight home contests. No. 87 hadn’t generated a hat trick since Oct. 12, 2013.
-- Chris Kunitz had a goal and two assists, while Kris Letang picked up a goal and a helper. Letang was named one of the NHL’s three stars of the month for January, and it seems like he’ll keep it going … at least if he can stay healthy.
(In fact, Ottawa had a 4-3 lead until Crosby went off.)
PANTHERS 5, CAPITALS 2
-- Florida is now on a four-game winning streak and is 16-3-1 in its last 20 games. That little losing streak following their team-record 12-game winning run is pretty easy to forget about now.
It was easiest to see the difference in the scoreboard, as the Caps actually hogged the puck for most of the game. I can’t help but wonder if Washington should take this as a sign that things could get a little hairy if Holtby goes down with an injury, and that maybe they should at least evaluate backup options.
-- That said, the Panthers’ top line of Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr really stood out in this one. Huberdeau scored one goal and two assists, enjoying a particularly strong outing. Jagr is now one assists shy of 1,100 assists, by the way.
BLUES 1, PREDATORS 0
-- Wow, what a low-event game. The Blues only managed 23 shots on goal while Nashville was even quieter, managing just 16. It's one of those games in which the low score is fitting.
-- That makes every goal - or in this case, the only goal - that much more precious or cruel. Troy Brouwer scored the contest's only goal with just a few seconds more than a minute remaining in the third period (18:55 into that final frame).
That had to hurt for the Pres, who wowed the hockey world as Nashville proved to be a fantastic host for the ASG.
Pekka Rinne continues to show promise ... and hopefully this wasn't wasting a rare additional strong performance.
STARS 5, JETS 3
-- Something has to give with the Winnipeg Jets, right? They're only two points ahead of the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers in the West cellar, and Calgary is likely to pass Winnipeg with two games in hand.
-- On one hand, you have Andrew Ladd, who was deliberately benched late in the Jets' loss.
-- On the other, Dustin Byfuglien is red-hot, and is driving his price - trade value, contract demands, maybe both - up with each strong game.
The freakishly talented Byfuglien scored his 15th goal of the season, giving him four goals and an assist in his past three contests.
Klingberg's season continues to astound: 42 points in 51 games, plus a +15 rating and 20 PIM.
BLACKHAWKS 2, AVALANCHE 1
-- Artemi Panarin scored the decisive goal, his 18th tally and fifth GWG of his impressive rookie season. This pushes Panarin to 47 points in 54 games played. That's good enough to tie him with Johnny Gaudreau for 10th in scoring.
-- Semyon Varlamov wrapped up his civil suit on Tuesday, but not in time to play. Calvin Pickard kept Colorado in the game in Varlamov-like fashion, stopping an impressive 40 out of 42 shots. He's won just once game in his last four games.
KINGS 6, COYOTES 2
Domingue allowed five goals on 25 shots before being chased shortly into the third period.
-- Marian Gaborik scored just his 10th goal and 19th point in 50 games. What happened to him? It's not like he was that far off from his usual pace in 2014-15, generating 47 points in 69 games.
-- Dustin Brown isn't that far behind Gaborik. His two goals from Tuesday push him to 18 points. That would be a great story ... accept he's paying enough that it's not so triumphant.
How are the Kings so good again?
DUCKS 3, SHARKS 2
-- Frederik Andersen won his fourth consecutive game, which matches the Anaheim's four-game winning streak. Naturally, that winning streak mixes victories with All-Star John Gibson, as Andersen's starts have been a little spotty.
Side fact: I didn't realize Andersen was 26. By no means older, just a little older than expected.
Crosby’s Crosby and Perry - Getzlaf = Perry - Getzlaf? People are booing Perry too? It's like the world is making sense again.
-- Hot take: Sharks - Ducks would be a fun first-round series.
OK, those are all my thoughts for the day.