For those who spent the evening watching the NFL playoffs, I can't blame you. Luckily I tuned into Cardinals-Packers at the perfect time, late in the fourth quarter. So I dedicate this Dose to all those who were consumed by the pigskin ...
RANGERS 3, FLYERS 2 (shootout)
— The Rangers, 5-4-1 in their past 10 games, have been more structured and fundamental, especially in their defensive zone, recently. Even though they won, that was not the case Saturday.
— It was back to Henrik Lundqvist (34 saves) bailing them out to help them escape with two points. They were on the wrong side of a 58-42 score-adjusted possession battle. After a rough spell, Lundqvist has been much better in his past three games, allowing five goals in two wins. He can’t do it all, though.
— J.T. Miller and Chris Kreider each picked up goals. Most people expected Kreider to take the next step this season, but he only has seven goals and 20 points. He clearly has the talent to be a major factor, but he struggles with consistency. Miller is one goal (10) and two points (23) away from tying those career highs. Both players snapped a six-game goal skid.
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— Wayne Simmonds has a goal in two consecutive games, and should be able to reach 20 for the fourth season. He’s been valuable because of the 84 penalty minutes, but he’s been a disappointment otherwise (12 goals, 24 points).
— Brayden Schenn has seven of his 22 points and three of his 10 goals in six January games. He has done nothing in his career to remind that he was once a fifth-overall pick. Still 24, but it would be nice to see him become at least a legitimate 20-goal, 50-point player.
— Steve Mason (29 saves) has helped the Flyers earn at least a point in four consecutive games. January (.940 SV%) has been his best month, so it looks like he’s finding his form after a so-so first half.
BRUINS 3, MAPLE LEAFS 2
— Patrice Bergeron’s MVP candidacy is starting to gain some mainstream steam. He scored twice Saturday. Bergeron might not be leading the league in offense, but he has been the engine for a Bruins team that has surprised after an offseason of change. Bergeron is having another sensational season on the defensive side. He’s been integral to the Bruins’ third-place spot in the Atlantic Division. His 17 goals, 40 points aren’t too bad, either.
— Brad Marchand won it all with 47 seconds remaining, ending an 11-game slide without one. He also had four penalty minutes, which speaks to his all-around benefit in fantasy leagues. Marchand’s goal pace was bound to slow down, but he’s still on pace for 31, which would be a career high.
— Tuukka Rask (27 saves) has not had a Tuukka Rask season, now with a 2.49 GAA and .915 SV%. After posting subpar numbers in October and November, Rask bounced back with a .948 SV% in December. Now he’s at .905 in January. He’s a guy that's worth trading for because his track record is so strong.
— Let’s not get on Jonathan Bernier (42 saves) too hard for this one. Not his fault the Maple Leafs came up short. After giving up seven goals a week ago, this was a nice showing. Still can’t rely on him, made tougher now because James Reimer is getting most of the starts.
— Leo Komarov ended a 10-game goal skid with his 16th. Even though he’s an All-Star and has had a strong season, this is a player I’d be open to selling. Just don’t think the upside is worth hanging onto if a good offer comes around.
DEVILS 2, COYOTES 0
— If there’s any doubt as to why the Devils are tied for the final wild-card spot, look no further than Cory Schneider, who made 38 saves for his fourth shutout. The Devils had no business winning this game, getting hammered 48-20 in the possession department. With a 2.03 GAA and .929 SV%, Schneider has put himself in the Vezina race this season. He’s a rock-solid option, even if the offense won't make the wins easy.
— All Kyle Palmieri needed was a first-line role, and look: a career high in goals (18) and points (32) in 46 games. Very happy I grabbed him early on the waiver wire in one of my leagues. The potential for 30 goals is hard to come by.
— Making his first appearance since Dec. 29, Anders Lindback (14 saves) would probably like this one back. He wasn’t tested much, facing eight shot on goal in the first, five in the second and three in the third.
SENATORS 5, KINGS 3
— The Senators were dominated from a shot-share standpoint, but ended up with the win because of better goaltending. Craig Anderson (30 saves) gave up the game’s first two goals before settling down. I think he’s an underrated option moving forward because the Senators will give up a lot of shots and he’s generally been very stable in his career. He’s faced a league-leading 1,160 shots, despite starting the seventh-most games.
— Still think there’s a very good player lurking in Zibanejad, one we’ll eventually consider a strong fantasy play. Not exactly there yet, but he’s 22 and has time. He’s right on par with last season when he scored 20 goals and had 46 points.
— Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli each picked up a goal and an assist. For those who thought Toffoli’s 2014-15 breakout season was a fluke, he’s more than silenced the doubters this year, now with 21 goals and 34 points. He leads the team in goals. I like him a lot moving forward, especially because he plays in such a favorable environment.
— Readers of this column know I don’t really get caught up in the past accolades of players because that doesn’t tell us much about the now and future. As such, I’m not a big fan of Jonathan Quick (18 saves). That being said, he’s been solid this year, with a 2.11 GAA and .922 SV%. If the season ended today, that would be the second-best mark of his career.
SABRES 4, CAPITALS 1
— Even the best teams can’t avoid clunkers. The Capitals showed little energy until the final 10 minutes of the game. Even Braden Holtby (13 saves on 16 shots) was a part of the problem. He was yanked 7:14 into the second period. This was his first regulation loss since Nov. 10. No reason to fret. Philipp Grubauer stopped 12 of 13 shots in 32:46.
— Would love to see Evander Kane (goal, assist, five shots on goal) do more of this. The Sabres acquired him thinking he’d be a frontline winger for years to come. The stat sheet doesn’t say that just yet: nine goals, 17 points. He is getting shots on goal at will, though, with 131. He could be in for a big second half.
— Cody Franson (goal) has been a solid addition for the Sabres, now with four goals and 14 points. Can’t say he’s worth using in fantasy, though.
— Not a lot of value in the rest of the Sabres scorers: Tim Schaller and Philip Varone.
— Chad Johnson (33 saves) is worth owning, though. He has a .919 SV% but just 11 wins, capping his upside. He’s not a bad second/third goalie option.
— At least Marcus Johansson (goal) didn’t let the Capitals get shut out. He has heated up the past few weeks, with four goals and seven points in seven games. Johansson is on pace for 21 goals and 51 points, which would be career highs.
BLUE JACKETS 2, AVALANCHE 1
— Joonas Korpisalo (29 saves) picked a bad time to play his best hockey. The 21-year-old has won back-to-back starts, stopping 70 of 72 shots in the process, for the first time in his career. Sergei Bobrovsky served as the backup, so Korpisalo might not get too much action moving forward. He’d probably be better off getting sent to the AHL, but CBJ can’t do that with Curtis McElhinney also banged up.
— Brandon Dubinsky (goal) is a valuable fantasy player. He’s not going to wow you with offense. But the offense- penalty minutes combination makes him an important contributor. I really like players who can fill up the stat sheet in different ways.
— Chris Wagner scored. Hooray for him. If you own him, you must play in one of the world’s deepest leagues.
BLUES 4, CANADIENS 3 (overtime)
— Not really sure why a player such as Robby Fabbri (goal, assist) is in Jonathan Drouin trade rumors. Sure, Drouin was a third-overall pick and Fabbri a 21st-overall selection. But Fabbri is 19 and playing well, now with 11 goals and 17 points. I don’t think that’s the type of deal the Blues should want to do.
— Jori Lehtera (goal, assist) had recorded a point in four games in a row. A steady player, but not one you’d want to pin your fantasy hopes on.
— Still believe Paul Stastny (goal) is the most important Blues forward moving forward. Vladimir Tarasenko will get his goals. But will Stastny produce like the first-line center he’s paid to be? He has four goals and 19 points.
— Paying tribute to Curtis Joseph with his mask, Brian Elliott (46 saves) did his best to honor netminders in attendance at Scottrade Center during “Goalies Night.” With Jake Allen on the shelf, Elliott is going to get a good stretch as the number one. He has been good the past two months, posting a .941 SV% in December and .923 SV% in January.
— Not often you see a team receive 28 penalty minutes in one period. But that’s what happened to the Blues. Kevin Shattenkirk got 14 of them.
— The Canadiens have won five games since the start of December. They are clinging to the last wild-card spot. During that stretch, they have been the league’s fifth-best (score-adjusted) possession team, according to puckon.net. But they’ve scored on 5.4% of their even-strength shots and have stopped just less than 91% of the shots against, per war-on-ice.com. Mike Condon made 18 saves in this loss.
PREDATORS 3, WILD 0
— The Predators halted a five-game losing streak and they did it with backup Carter Hutton (29 saves) in net. Hutton recorded his third career shutout in his first home start of the 2015-16 season. Pekka Rinne, who doesn’t deserve to be an All-Star, needs a mental break. Whether that lasts until Tuesday against the Blackhawks remains to be seen. But this was a smart call by coach Peter Laviolette.
— Roman Josi (goal) scored on the power play. He leads the Predators with 32 points, and his 10 goals rank fourth. That tells you all you need to know about what’s wrong with this team. Even after acquiring Ryan Johansen, they are still probably two forwards short in their top-six.
— Devan Dubnyk (22 saves) has lost three games in a row despite giving up a total of six goals. The Wild have their own scoring problems, but they haven’t been a great possession team (48.5%), so I’m more optimistic about the Predators’ chances of turning that side around.
OILERS 2, FLAMES 1
— Mark Fayne might be a player who has never been owned in any league, ever. He showed off his offensive prowess Saturday, scoring his first goal since Feb. 14, 2015. I’ve already wasted enough text on him.
— Cam Talbot (31 saves) is finally settling in as the go-to guy in Edmonton. He has given up seven goals over his past five games. His save percentage the past two months: .934 and .942. Still don’t trust him as an every-night starter in fantasy leagues, especially because wins will be hard to come by.
— Can anyone stop Sam Bennett? He has goals in three games in a row, a stretch that has given him six of his 11 markers. He also has 20 points. There is a ton of ability here. But I’m not ready to call his best three-game stretch in the NHL a precursor to instant stardom.
— Jonas Hiller (36 saves) has given up one goal no 52 shots during his past two games. He’s received two starts in a row. Will he get another one Tuesday at the Devils? He probably should.
SHARKS 4, STARS 3 (overtime)
— The Sharks are 7-3-0 in their past 10 games. If they can get Martin Jones (32 saves) to continue to play at his September level, they will be OK. Jones has a .923 SV% in January after a rough November and December.
— Marc-Edouard Vlasic (two goals, assist) is not known for his offense, but he’s likely going to set career highs this season. He has seven goals (vs. nine) and 23 points (vs. 36). Vlasic is a tremendous defender and great possession player, even if he’s not an offensive creator.
— Tomas Hertl (goal, assist) won the game with a wrist shot in overtime. The 22-year-old hasn’t been consistent enough to be worth rostering this season. Promising sign is that he’s fired at least four shots on goal in three of his past five games.
— The Stars came back twice in the third period to force overtime. It started with Tyler Seguin’s 25th of the season. Then he assisted on Jason Spezza’s goal. With two goals and three points in January, Seguin has been too quiet lately. So it’s time for a dominant stretch.
— Spezza has been on a roll since the middle of December. He has four goals and 16 points in 14 games. He remains a very strong secondary forward in fantasy.