A little bit behind schedule this morn, so let’s cut to the chase, Dose-sters.
BLUES 4, JETS 2
-- Stunned that Dustin Byfuglien’s stat line didn’t change after some scorekeeping tidying or something. He laid a terrifying hit on Jay Bouwmeester and then basically went on an Incredible Hulk rampage when people tried to get back at him. The final damage? A -2 rating and just four PIM.
-- Boy, the Blues are showing the kind of heartiness management hopes will re-surface in mid-April or so. They seem like they get a injury (or near-injury, maybe, with Troy Brouwer getting clobbered by Jacob Trouba on Sunday) and a tough win on an almost nightly basis.
-- Ondrej Pavelec had a scare when he took a Colton Parayko shot the wrong way, but he shook it off (unless there's word of a setback coming). The Blues fired 17 SOG on him in the third period alone, and he kept Winnipeg in the game.
Parayko, BTW, seems like an interesting deeper consideration. He's gotten nice ice time lately (19:04 TOI on Sunday) and has three points in six games. I'd probably be more interested in him as a bargain DFS (daily fantasy sports, like FanDuel) option than a traditional consideration, but that may also change under further observation.
He’s fifth on the Blues in power-play TOI, so he really might be watch list material.
-- I often wonder if St. Louis would just be better off sticking with Brian Elliott, who’s the hockey equivalent of the nice friend who has a crush on the main star of the show/movie, only that love never gets requited.
/cuts to a sad Elliott in the rain with wilted flowers
DEVILS 2, RANGERS 1 (OT)
-- New Jersey celebrated as if … it won something important, other than its first game of the season (and John Hynes’ first as an NHL coach). I get it, though, because this team is B-A-D. Watching their games is like detention for hockey fans, and there’s no Judd Nelson to spice things up.
-- This was one of those games that reminded me of something I mention in the preseason: as much as 3-on-3 OT can be a great cap to quality games, I actually believe that its true value will be to lift really bland contests out of the morass, even if it just for a few minutes.
In the “dog days” of a season - somewhere around January or February, when the new car smell is gone - we may have to admit that some games are worth watching only for the nuggets of faux entertainment from 3-on-3 OT to the shootout.
Would I like games to be better at even-strength, in more “organic” ways? Sure, but the NHL seems to have zero interest in improving that facet of the game. Gotta make the best of it, then.
-- Lee Stempniak’s winner was nice, though I’d give most of the credit to Andy Greene (great breakout) and Adam Henrique (settled down a bouncing puck, made a great pass). Henrique also scored a goal.
That said, nice work by Stempniak, a guy who needed to try out.
-- You know a game’s bad when even Henrik Lundqvist called it “low energy.”
-- Speaking of low energy, the Rangers have only managed two goals on their three-game losing streak (0-2-1). So much for that hot start.
DUCKS 4, WILD 1
-- Anaheim had been creating a nice set of chances, but failed to win in the last couple losses. So, naturally, they lose the shot battle by a large margin (35-22) and finally get their first win.
-- Rough night for Charlie Coyle. Despite just 12:03 TOI, he managed to be a -3 with zero SOG. He's been quiet since starting the season with three points in two games.
-- Cam Fowler found the net for one goal on three SOG. Pretty lousy start to his season, although at least he's shooting (11 SOG in five GP).
-- Devan Dubnyk suffered his first loss of 2015-16, yet his individual numbers look bad, even beyond Sunday's work (three goals allowed on a mere 21 SOG). Despite his 3-1-0 record, his save percentage is a putrid .887.
OILERS 2, CANUCKS 1 (OT)
-- Break up the Oilers! This group cannot be stopped!
-- All kidding aside, watching this game got me thinking: if Todd McLellan can basically grind down games to a mush - you know, dumb it down like many other coaches do - the Oil might at least be able to be respectable. If you can make things come down two a few make-or-break chances, the Oilers have a few weapons to possibly steal some games.
-- The underlying numbers aren't promising, though. They only managed 24 SOG to Vancouver's 34, and guys like Justin Schultz really drag this team down at even-strength.
-- Heck of a start to the season for Anders Nilsson, who has to know that his NHL future is on the line. Honestly, I didn't think he had the stuff of even a backup looking at some of his previous work, but goalies make so little sense it sometimes feels like an endless run of moments where an NFL QB will just throw up a long bomb into double coverage, just hoping that his guy will come down with the ball.
I wouldn't stumble over my own feet to get Nilsson, mind you, yet maybe he can at least be a solid backup.
-- Nail Yakupov has been one of the more annoying fantasy teases since his sophomore season, very much in the "fool me once ..." sort of way.
He might just get some stuff done if he can stick with Connor McDavid, however. The Wunderkind (not Alex Wright) has really been cooking lately, and Yakupov appears to be along for the ride.
It's kind of sad that a No.1 overall pick sort of needs to be dragged to relevance, but that's Edmonton's problem, not yours.
-- Congrats to Matt Bartkowski, who scored the first goal of his NHL career at age 27.
KINGS 2, AVALANCHE 1
-- The Kings managed to salvage a really bad start at home (and to the season in general) with this two-game winning streak.
While they didn't blow their opponents out (needing OT against Minnesota and only beating Colorado by one goal), they absolutely dominated possession. In Sunday's case, the Kings generated a robust 40-23 shot advantage.
The Kings might need to settle for being what they were in better years: a team that seems to hog the puck, but for whatever reason - maybe limited creativity as something of a bludgeoning, bullrushing force - not a team that wins a lot of cakewalk victories.
Hey, it's worked well for them nonetheless.
-- I've mentioned that I believe Carl Soderberg might be a little overpaid as an Av, but maybe he just needed an elevated role? (I always liked him as a depth forward in Boston, but didn't know if he could do more.)
Just six SOG in five games makes me wonder how much he's truly contributing, but four assists are nice to have. That's especially true if you serendipitously sat him on his one bad night (-4 rating, zero points against Boston on Oct. 14).
Milan Lucic has been a big disappointment so far in Los Angeles. Owners are fairly used to him being an average SOG guy, but one assist in five games is disappointing. Ten of his 12 PIM came in the season opener, so he hasn't done a lot for people lately.
To be fair, he's not on a red-hot offense either.
-- I've mocked the Avalanche for the price they paid to get Reto Berra before, but that's not his fault. The fairly large goalie has been doing something of a Semyon Varlamov impression the past two games (as far as facing a ton of SOG but playing well).
After a 35-save shutout against the Ducks, Berra stopped 38 out of 40 shots in this one. As desperate and lost as Patrick Roy clearly his as an NHL head coach, he should go back to the thing that worked for him during his incredibly lucky first season as Avs head coach: ride the hot hand in net.
That might not last long with Berra, but why not see how much mileage you can get out of this?