Let’s jump right in to examine a busy night for the NHL.
BLACKHAWKS 4, ISLANDERS 1
-- Pretty incredible game for Jonathan Toews, who scored two goals and racked up two assists, giving him 59 points in 69 games this season. He now has four GWG and with that +4, continues to be one of the most reliable plus/minus guys with a +27 (putting him at +168 in just 553 career games).
While plus/minus is a dopey stat, it seems like Toews should be a reliable producer in that area for the foreseeable future as such a great all-around player on a consistently great team.
-- Patrick Sharp, you're killing me here, bud.
After being patient with his poor play for some time (just two assists in 18 games!), I finally cut bait with Sharp as I tuned a team up for the fantasy playoffs. It wasn't an easy decision, as I generally like guys who take a healthy amount of SOG, as Sharp usually does (although he did have a string of low SOG too as things got especially bad).
In the two games since he was off my roster, Sharp has two goals, two assists, a +7 rating and 10 SOG. Harsh.
-- Corey Crawford stopped 38 out of 39 shots for his third straight win. Quite an impressive season so far: 29-14-5, two shutouts and a .926 save percentage. He isn't getting much credit here, but he deserves more at this point. A career .917 save percentage in 259 GP isn't too shabby.
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BLUES 4, FLAMES 0
-- Not a great start to Calgary's five-game homestand, which is absolutely crucial before they ready for a five-game road trip (which includes games against Minnesota, Nashville, Dallas and St. Louis). The Flames face the Flyers on Thursday, Columbus on Saturday, Colorado next Monday and Dallas on the 25th. It's not out of the question that they mop up all eight points from that run, and frankly, they may need it.
Interesting closing schedule for the Flames: at home vs. the Kings on April 9 and at the Jets on the 11th.
-- Big games for David Backes (one goal, two assists) and Alexander Steen (two goals, including the game-winner). I'd say Steen and Backes have lived up to expectations, as long as you kept them reasonable heading into 2014-15.
-- Paul Stastny now has 40 points in 62 games during his first season with the Blues, maintaining his reputation as a guy who is pretty good yet vaguely boring. He looks like a very nice piece for St. Louis.
-- Two shutouts in the last three games for Brian Elliott, who now has five on the season. It's remarkable that he's really only had one season of heavy usage in his career (55 GP in 2009-10), as we've still never really seen what he can do with a big workload. The jury's sort of continuously out on him, eh?
CANUCKS 4, FLYERS 1
-- I've seen enough arguments (and reasonable ones) for Alexandre Burrows being with the Sedin twins that I'm not on board with that idea, even if Radim Vrbata with the Sedins just seems to make so much sense. Burrows scored two goals - both assisted by Daniel Sedin - while Vrbata got an empty-netter last night.
-- Hard to imagine Alexander Edler returning to his 40-point-producing heyday, but this is at least a better all-around season that his tough 2013-14 season, as he moved a -39 to +10 and has almost as many points (19 versus 22 last year, although he scored those 22 in 63 games). Nothing spectacular, yet maybe some dignity is being restored there.
-- Eddie Lack has been really effective lately, winning four of his last five games while allowing just one goal in three of his last four starts. If the money was equal, it wouldn't be shocking to see Lack push Ryan Miller out of the top job in the future. Teams don't like to admit that they make mistakes in these areas, especially a team that's already dealt with the hockey equivalent of "quarterback controversies" as painfully as Vancouver has.
-- Michael Raffl could be an interesting fringe option as a last pick in deeper drafts next season, at least if he poses a decent chance of sticking with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek more often than not.
SABRES 2, BRUINS 1 (SO)
-- Hey, another Buffalo Sabres game that seemed like a gold mine on paper (they're closing off a back-to-back in Boston against a Bruins team that's more rested!), that wasn't!
Tuukka Rask not playing likely had something to do with it, as he was out with "general soreness." It's unclear how long such soreness will keep him out.
-- Anders Lindback finally got a reward for his recent hard work with a win, his first as a member of the Buffalo Sabres. After making at least 31 saves in three straight games (0-2-1 in that span), he made 44 out of 45 stops last night.
Hard to beat the Bruins up TOO much when they're generating that many shots, huh?
DEVILS 2, PENGUINS 0
-- Let's not kid ourselves, this was one of those games where Cory Schneider made the difference. Not many goalies will be fairly above .500 (26-25-7) and sport a .929 save percentage or five shutouts in the process.
Schneider stopped all 35 shots one game after making 30 out of 31 saves in his second-most recent win.
Seriously, his quality work is remarkable considering how poorly things have gone for the Devils overall, including his record. I honestly cannot recall many instances like these.
-- It's obviously been a pretty disastrous season for Michael Ryder, who is finally getting back in the mix for the Devils. He generated his assist in his second game back, and just his fourth appearance since February rolled around. At 34, it's conceivable that he could rebuild his career, but not so conceivable that such a turnaround will happen in New Jersey.
-- How much can we judge Thomas Greiss in his career, in general? He's never played more than 25 games in any single season, seeing 87 appearances spread out over six different seasons.
SENATORS 2, HURRICANES 1 (OT)
-- Andrew Hammond just keeps on winning, even after he already accomplished many a child's dream of gaining a lifetime supply of free McDonald's food. Next he'll become an astronaut, I'd guess.
(He’s breaking some non-McNugget-related-records it seems, too.)
-- Erik Karlsson has scored 56 points in 69 games, good for about a 66-67 point pace over 82 games. That doesn't stack up to 78 points (2011-12) and 74 points (2013-14), but it's still impressive work.
The real nice note is that he's shooting (almost) as often as ever.
-- Anton Khudobin isn't in Steve Mason's neighborhood as far as unexpected results go, but he is in an interesting bizarro situation. Mason's been given ample opportunities (and money) only to largely fail until recently. Khudobin sort of came out of nowhere only to put up great numbers (albeit in small samples), but he flopped pretty badly this season.
Both really highlight the notion that goalies are really, really tough to judge at this point.
CANADIENS 3, PANTHERS 2
-- Yet another game with outsized SOG totals where the less prolific team won. The Panthers fired 43 SOG to Montreal's 25, yet fell 3-2.
-- Dustin Tokarski was that difference-maker, making 41 out of 43 saves for his first win since Jan. 17 in just his second appearance in March. It's difficult to get a bead on what we may expect from Tokarski going forward considering how scarce his appearances have been. A .917 save percentage is pretty solid, after all, but in just 15 games played? Hard to tell, yet it sounds like he's doing his part.
-- This is now three straight games with a goal for Brandon Pirri. The 23-year-old generated an impressive 10 SOG last night and has 20 in this span. This makes his stats even odder: 16 goals, two assists in 37 games.
PREDATORS 3, PREDATORS 2 (OT)
Dubnyk's Minnesota numbers are pretty crazy right now: 21-5-1 with five shutouts and a .939 save percentage in 28 games. Wow, just wow.
-- Has Filip Forsberg figured things out again? After a rough stretch (just one assist in a nine-game span), the 20-year-old now has an assist in two straight games.
JETS 5, SHARKS 2
-- Yet another game in which a team was massively outshot yet won. The Sharks generated a 40-22 advantage (33-12 through the final 40 minutes), yet the Jets won pretty handily. Things obviously were altered by Winnipeg storming off to a 3-0 lead through the first period, but ... STILL.
-- Joe Thornton continues to produce a nice season, as his two assists give him 60 points in 66 games. "Jumbo Joe" has generated some off-the-ice headlines (often to no fault of his own) this season, but it hasn't stopped him from generating offense.
-- Can Joe Pavelski equal last season's 44 goals? He scored two on Tuesday, giving him 34 in 70 games. This is already the second-best season he's had goalscoring-wise. He's only eight SOG behind last season's 225 total with 217, too.