Feast your eyes on my last Dose for the week, as Michael Finewax takes over on Saturday and Jimmy Hascup covers the bases on Sunday. I’ll be back on Monday, but until then, enjoy 10 recaps of good ‘ol hockey games.
RANGERS 4, KINGS 3
-- OK, it’s getting tougher to deny the legitimacy of the Rangers. They're actually not that far off from the Metropolitan Division (ugh, that name) lead; the Penguins have 54 points with 40 games played and the Islanders are at 53 in 40 while the Rangers have 50 in 38. The Capitals aren't far behind with 50 in 40, though.
Anyway, color me impressed if they win on Saturday and sweep their California jaunt.
-- It's easy to see why Rick Nash is getting most of the attention, but Martin St. Louis continues to produce at 39. He has five points in his last four games, giving him 31 in 39 on the season. It will be really interesting to see what happens when he becomes an unrestricted free agent, especially since he hits the big 4-0 in June.
-- All of a sudden, Dustin Brown is playing really well, with a three-game point streak (four assists) and five assists in six games. He hasn't scored a goal since collecting two (plus a helper) on Dec. 4, but if he can produce decent points he's a great find in hits leagues.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting an $20,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Friday night's NHL games. It's just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Friday at 7pm ET. Here's the FanDuel link.
BLACKHAWKS 4, WILD 2
-- Tough times for the Parise family. Here's hoping Zach Parise and everyone else found closure as J.P. passed away yesterday.
-- The Wild are in "Mike Yeo could very well get fired" mode, even if it's hard to slam a 44-shot effort. Considering some of the low shooting percentages on this team, I almost wonder if there's a systemic problem.
-- How poor is Josh Harding's health right now? Things must not be going well for him at the moment if the Wild won't give him a chance to clean up this profound goaltending mess. It's plausible that Darcy Kuemper may redeem himself down the line, but at the moment, it's tough to deny that he simply wasn't ready for this challenge.
-- Patrick Kane's career-best numbers came in 2009-10 (30 goals, 58 assists, 88 points). He's on pace to best that at 90. Many fantasy owners would merely take something in that neighborhood, as his second best mark is 73 (although he generated 69 points in as many games last season).
PREDATORS 3, STARS 2 (OT)
-- It's pretty clear that Nashville is for real, resoundingly so. I also think there's a chance that Dallas might just charge its way back in the playoffs. It won't be easy for the Stars (especially if they continue to procrastinate regarding getting a backup who isn't made of Swiss cheese), but it's more plausible by the week.
-- Shea Weber already has 10 goals on the season. Normally, I'd talk people down since his shooting percentage is nine percent, yet his career mark is 8.1 and he connected on 11.8 percent last season, so we could very well see him (remarkably) generate back-to-back 20+ goal campaigns. Throwing out the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, he wasn't that far off in 2011-12 either, as he scored 19 goals.
His OT winner was a weird one, but it's great to see Weber show a willingness to fire wristers every now and then, so teams can't just prepare for that terrifying slapper.
-- Trevor Daley hit the nine-goal mark in his own right, although he really won't keep this up (14.3 shooting percentage this season versus a 6.1 career average).
BLUES 7, SHARKS 2
-- Man, are the Blues ever smoking opponents or what lately? The STL line of Jaden Schwartz, Jori Lehtera and Vladimir Tarasenko was explosive after being relatively quiet, but it didn't come at the expense of the Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie trio. With Paul Stastny also really showing life, opponents more or less have to hope for off nights.
Really, the biggest concern might be that St. Louis is peaking at the wrong time.
-- Logan Couture continues to grow into one of the league's better two-way players. With five points in three games and seven in five, it seems like he's ready to take on more of the offensive burden considering Joe Thornton's health issues.
-- Kevin Shattenkirk generated a career-high for points with 45 last season. With 36 points in 41 games, he should obliterate that mark, even if he understandably slows down a touch.
BRUINS 3, DEVILS 0
-- Sheesh, which team was closing off a back-to-back set, again? Despite beating the Penguins in OT on Wednesday, the Bruins lobbed 43 shots to the Devils’ meager 14 last night. New Jersey turns around for what could be a challenging game against the Islanders on Friday, yet honestly, the Devils have been unpredictable enough as a fantasy opponent that I’m not sure what to think (other than that they’re not very good, overall).
-- Could the lights be on for Milan Lucic? In a 48-hour (give or take) period, the Vancouver native generated two goals and two assists in two games. This helps him barely clear the point-every-other-contest mark (22 points in 41 games).
-- Niklas Svedberg doesn't see action very often, but he's acquitted himself nicely enough, at least as a sparsely used backup. It doesn't get much easier than a 14-save shutout.
-- Relatively speaking, Zdeno Chara hasn't been seeing as much ice time lately, and he's long been a guy whose fantasy value falls far short of his real value (even if he's still fantasy-relevant, of course).
Jump for the rest of the recaps.
FLYERS 3, CAPITALS 2 (OT)
-- Jakub Voracek has been slowing down (two goals and one assist in seven games), but he's still pulling the trigger to a nice extent (nine SOG in his last two games, with one goal to show for it). As much potential as he's shown since becoming Claude Giroux's partner in crime, he's exceeded expectations in a big way this season, and I wouldn't worry too much about this.
(Just don't expect him to hang with the top five scorers all season long ... he'll probably dip a tier or two below. Still fantastic value.)
-- It sounded like Steve Mason got injured, but he shook off whatever bothered him and won his second game in a row. I'd be surprised if Philly made a playoff surge, but Mason's shown that he can be a credible starter.
-- A remarkable Wayne Simmonds run of three games: seven SOG last night, one goal and five PIM on Jan.6 and another five PIM on Jan. 3. He's a bit unpredictable, but he's playing like the high-end fantasy power forward many of us were hoping for.
-- Mike Green collected another two assists, giving him six in five games. I get the impression he might just price himself out of Washington considering all they're paying other guys. Really, that might just be the true price of that hilariously bad Brooks Orpik contract.
AVALANCHE 5, SENATORS 2
-- Can Colorado keep up this run of competence? It all depends upon how often Semyon Varlamov can push the calendar back to the 2013-14 season; he followed Tuesday's 54-save shutout by stopping 36 out of 38 shots to go above .500 (9-8-5) last night. Ottawa generated 17 more shots on Colorado but fell anyway.
-- While I think Montreal won the trade nonetheless, it's interesting to note that Daniel Briere's production (eight goals, 11 points) isn't that far behind that of P.A. Parenteau (six goals, 15 points).
-- Considering where he was likely drafted, Tyson Barrie might be the Avalanche's best fantasy value through the first half of the season.
PANTHERS 3, CANUCKS 1
-- Florida strikes me as a team that would be a nightmare to deal with for a top seed in the East. I mean, what happens if a bunch of players start to figure it out, like Jonathan Huberdeau? He has the pedigree, and at 21, could easily make a Ryan Johansen/Jaden Schwartz-type leap. It seems like the Cats are close to being a handful, whether that breakthrough comes this season or a little later.
-- Roberto Luongo stopped 32 out of 33 shots to win in his first start against the Canucks in Vancouver. You think this game meant something to him? (He admitted it meant quite a bit.) While the youth movement makes Florida intriguing, Luongo's the top reason why they can be a threat right away; he's now 16-7-7 with a .926 save percentage.
-- In three games back in the Vancouver mix, Zack Kassian hasn't scored a point and only has one SOG, although at least he has four PIM. It's hard to believe he's only 23.
COYOTES 4, JETS 1
-- Special teams clearly tilted the scales in this one, as Arizona went 3-for-5 on its power play (providing the first three goals of the game and thus a 3-0 lead), while Winnipeg failed to score on seven power-play opportunities.
-- Then again, it was really all about the Mikkel Boedker - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan line taking over, as one or more of those players were involved in all of the Coyotes' goals. They stand among Martin Hanzal as Arizona's few forward threats (Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Keith Yandle being great fantasy blueliners, obviously).
-- A much-needed rebound for Mike Smith: he stopped 34 out of 35 shots to improve to (snickers) 7-16-2 with an .886 save percentage. All mockery aside, Arizona is really hoping to justify paying him crazy dollars, so it's a situation worth monitoring ... as weird as that sounds.
-- Yikes, the Ondrej Pavelec resurgence seems like it's hit a brick wall. He's now lost five of six games, although the Jets did get a charity point in three of those defeats. His stats now seem to fall in line with his profile as reliably the worst starter in the NHL: 10-10-5 with a .909 save percentage.
I'm not saying he's been the absolute worst in 2014-15, just that it's a joke that he's kept his job for so long.
Then again, with goalies, it seems like weird things keep happening. Maybe he'll pull a Steve Mason and become a solid No. 1 if he leaves Winnipeg?
HURRICANES 5, SABRES 2
-- If Tampa Bay doesn't roll over Buffalo on Friday night, I'll be shocked. Then again, it's an 82-game season, so a lot of weird things can happen.
-- In case you're avoiding starting players/etc. when Jhonas Enroth is in net ... do not worry about that any longer. The Swede's regressed sharply and now has a mediocre save percentage of .906. Not saying he can't be solid in the future - playing behind that Buffalo team has to muddy your motivation and confidence after a while - just that he's not up to the task of propping that awful team up most nights.
-- Spare yourself and don't even look at Alexander Semin's stats this season. Good grief.
-- Jeff Skinner ended a seven-game pointless skid last night with a goal. I'd be really surprised if he doesn't enjoy a more prolific second half of 2014-15, health permitting.