So, it’s 2015. Weird, huh?
Honestly, I started putting this together about 90 minutes after the calendar turned to a new year, and I haven’t really had much time to digest it all.
Luckily, this isn’t the place in which Dudes Work Out Their Feelings … unless those feelings are about fantasy hockey. There are plenty of games to cover, too, so read with sunglasses if a bright screen is tough on you in your current, um, condition.
MAPLE LEAFS 4, BRUINS 3 (SO)
-- It felt like we were all talking a little too much about Leo Komarov, yet he justified some of the discussion by scoring a goal in his first game back from concussion issues. Komarov brings a nice amount of variety (and a great 'stache) to the table, so he's at least intriguing in some formats.
-- This just in: Phil Kessel is still awesome. Man, what a game he enjoyed. He scored a goal and an assist, yet it felt like he was everywhere. I've said this about a bajillion times, but just to reiterate: he hasn't been and isn't the Maple Leafs' problem.
-- Things are still really clicking for the Swede duo of Loui Eriksson (one assist last night, nine points in his last seven games) and Carl Soderberg (two points on Wednesday, five in two contests). I'm having an increasingly difficult time denying that they might have something impressive going. At least keep one of them on your watch list.
SHARKS 3, DUCKS 0
-- Anaheim had been off since Sunday. San Jose was on a back-to-back. The rest factor seems like it would make an enormous difference, but it's another reminder not to invest TOO much in any one theory.
(Even if it's kind of fun to think there are hard and fast rules.)
-- It looked like Joe Thornton suffered an arm/hand injury (it's technically undisclosed). Consider all the magic passing he's produced, here's hoping it's mostly a false alarm.
-- Many believed that Joe Pavelski would tail off thanks to high percentages in 2013-14, but it seems like Pavelski has upped his shot output enough to make up the difference.
-- Another big penalty disparity in favor of the Sharks: they went 1-for-8 while the Ducks failed to score on three power-play opportunities.
-- Corey Perry finally returned, and while it was rough in some ways (-2 rating, zero points), he managed to play 16:21 TOI, generate two PIM and three SOG.
AVALANCHE 4, FLYERS 3 (OT)
-- Watching some of the goal replays - particularly Claude Giroux cutting up the Colorado defense like a hot knife through butter - I get the impression players on these two teams wish that they were in the same division. Some of the space allotted almost seemed unfair to the goalies.
-- Jarome Iginla update: in 37 games, Iggy has nine goals, 24 points, a -4 rating, 24 PIM, 60 hits and 68 SOG. He's obviously not what he once was, but he's useful enough in peripheral categories that I'm surprised he's only 71 percent owned.
-- The goalie stats are weird. Steve Mason has played in six more games and has a better save percentage (.917 to Semyon Varlamov's .911), yet Varlamov has as many wins (six) so far this season. Both are doing so pretty solid work considering the tough circumstances their teams often put them in, but by that token, you likely know that they bring risks with them.
ISLANDERS 5, JETS 2
-- Honestly, I felt like a tough night for Winnipeg was almost overdue considering all the defensive injuries and Ondrej Pavelec's occasional presence (Pavelec has been pretty good at times, but his reputation isn't ... strong).
The Islanders generated more shots on goal (25) in two periods than the Jets did in three periods (23). The Isles were the perfect team to take advantage of this situation, really.
-- Ryan Strome is on quite the run to close out 2014. With Wednesday's four-point (one goal, three assists) performance, the 21-year-old has six points in two games. At the absolute minimum, he's a fantastic steal in daily fantasy formats such as FanDuel.
RANGERS 5, PANTHERS 2
-- I imagine Henrik Lundqvist shaking off a slow start is one of the leading reasons why the Rangers have bounced back, but it's clear that Derek Stepan was missed, too. With three assists last night, he now has 11 points in his last seven games. He's putting together quite the contract year, albeit with a delayed takeoff.
-- This was another contest in which the New York team out-shot its opponent in two periods vs. three, as the Rangers generated 24 in two periods while the Panthers produced 20 in three. Overall, it was a 34-20 advantage for the Rangers. Generating a nice shot disparity most nights is certainly a solid recipe for success, even if it's easier said than done.
-- Interesting stuff from Jimmy Hayes lately, as he now has four goals in his last four games. The Hayes family has been showing some promise in general, really. Not sure they're consistent enough to be fantasy buys in shallower leagues, but the evidence is mounting.
LIGHTNING 5, SABRES 1
-- Nikita Kucherov is 75 percent owned. Ondrej Palat is (somehow, maybe injury-related?) only 56 percent owned. Tyler Johnson is still available in about 14 percent of leagues, which I guess is the part of the fantasy population that is basically just a ghost town.
Anyway, I highly recommend buying into this trio at some point, as they've done the unthinkable in stealing a lot of Steve Stamkos' thunder (pardon the weather pun).
-- Andrei Vasilevskiy is maybe the best reason to be worried that Ben Bishop might not be as strong of a keeper pick as he seems according to every other bit of criteria. He could be something special.
-- After a hot October (nine points in 11 games), Anton Stralman slowed down in November and came to a halt in December (three assists in 15 games thanks to last night's duo). He's a quality defenseman in real life whose skills don't always translate to fantasy.
Jump for the remaining recaps.
PENGUINS 2, HURRICANES 1
-- Man, I've stumbled along a weird NYE theme: the Penguins in two periods: 26 SOG; Carolina in three: 25. I swear I didn't realize this was the case, but it's a bizarre trend of the night. It's also a sign that there were a few big matchups/examples of teams that were mainly thinking about their upcoming parties.
-- Hey guys, Chris Kunitz scored a goal and it wasn't created by Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby. Not Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry, either. It's almost like he's probably pretty talented in his own right.
-- Beau Bennett finally played for the first time in more than a month and generated two assists (waits to hear how HE baby-birded Kunitz, now). At 23, the 20th pick of the 2010 NHL Draft might be in a position to make a jump soon. It would help if he had any health luck, though.
-- Cam Ward has lost four games in a row, yet he's made 32 saves or more in three of those defeats. He's been effective enough in a bounce-back year, although I'm not sure how much meaning that has since he's still too expensive to trade (I think) and Carolina's buried in the East. It's the tree falling in a deserted forest and making a sound but no one caring.
BLUE JACKETS 3, WILD 1
-- Mikko Koivu's still had a rough go of things with one assist and a -5 rating in his last four games, but I like that he's trying, as his seven SOG from Wednesday attest. That 5.3 shooting percentage indicates that things could still get better, even if saying such things doesn't always feel comfortable when we're more or less halfway through a season.
-- In seven games, Brandon Dubinsky only had two assists. He has four in his last two contests.
-- Tough month for Ryan Johansen: he scored his first goal of December, and it was an empty-netter. With six assists, he wasn't totally out of the mix, but it was disappointing after his seemingly rust-defying start.
RED WINGS 3, DEVILS 1
-- I must admit that, considering New Jersey's penchant for leaning on ancient players, my mind inserted "Ryan" and "Ray" into the scroll that said "Whitney (1)." Luckily, some logic prevailed, as it was instead Joe Whitney's first goal of 2014-15.
-- Gustav Nyquist continues to sizzle. He has six points in four games, with his only goal being that incredible OT-winner against Detroit on Dec. 27.
-- Uh oh, is Jaromir Jagr running out of gas? Or is he just suffering from a lack of support? Maybe a little of both? Either way, he only has one goal and a -5 rating in his last seven games.
STARS 6, COYOTES 0
-- I know it's patently ridiculous to look at playoff odds right now, but the Dallas Stars have a 14.5 percent shot at getting in at the moment, according to Sports Club Stats.
-- Kari Lehtonen is now on a three-game winning streak, stopping all 32 saves for his third shutout of 2014-15. His save percentage still isn't so hot at .908, yet his record is quite respectable at 16-8-5.
-- Ales Hemsky has been showing life lately, but he doesn't produce frequently enough to overcome the weak peripherals.
-- Considering how tough it is to find pests who can score at an every-other-game pace, Antoine Roussel having 18 points in 36 games is pretty great for fantasy purposes. He already has 80 PIM, after all.
-- Devan Dubnyk has been a world better than Mike Smith, but we kinda have to expect a rough outing every now and then, right? In fact, a dip might come at some point, as he's shown signs of being pretty streaky.
Either way, Dubnyk's earned a morsel of the gigantic benefit of the doubt Smith received.
FLAMES 4, OILERS 3 (OT)
-- Josh Jooris missed some time, but returned in a nice fashion, scored the OT GWG on his only shot of the game. He's been a solid complementary player for Calgary so far.
-- Will Leon Draisaitl last much longer? I have absolutely no clue - you may remember that I wondered why they burnt an ELC year off him in the first place - but at least he did a little something last night, collecting his sixth and seventh assists of his rookie season.
-- Jonas Hiller's now won four games in a row. If someone asked you to guess in which month a Calgary goalie would hit 13 months, you might've guessed February, right?
-- Ben Scrivens is 6-13-6 with an .894 save percentage. Those are "You won't ever work again in this town" numbers.