Well, last night was … something. With so many games, I’m just going to dive right in.
PREDATORS 9, LEAFS 2
-- One week ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins 6-1. They’ve now lost three games in a row, including falling in the last two by a score of (waits a beat) 15-4.
Here’s the thing: the Maple Leafs did what a Typically Befuddled Organization does and fired Randy Carlyle’s assistant coaches, yet they extended his contract. There are so many issues here - how can a coach preach loyalty when he sells out his generals? - but the most obvious question is: how often does this actually work out for sports teams?
It’s not fair to drop all of this on Carlyle, but as many people who spout the “You can’t fire all the players” line would note, firing him is still the obvious first move. Why try to force a coach who doesn’t share your views to compromise when you can just get someone who “gets it” instead?
-- What a game for Taylor Beck. I saw him play very well in an AHL game in San Antonio the weekend I met my wife. No, I don’t think he’s worth adding, but it’s pretty cool to see anyway. He scored three points and generated buckets of chances.
--Filip Forsberg and James Neal are obvious enough Predators, but linemate Mike Ribeiro hasn't been too shabby either, with 16 points and a +12 rating in 28 games played. He's going to slow down in some regards - even with a 14.9 percent shooting rate for his career, he's not likely to continue to score on 22.7 percent of his shots - but his track record is solid enough to trust that he'll have a productive season. He might just earn himself another hefty contract (to the chagrin of the Arizona Coyotes).
-- Cody Franson was one of the lone positive notes for Toronto, and the former Predator had a nice night in general. He managed an even plus/minus and now has 13 points, 32 SOG and 42 hits on the season.
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SABRES 4, SHARKS 1
-- There are a lot of bewildering numbers jumping out from Tuesday night’s games, yet the most confusing ones might come from snowy Buffalo. The Sabres have now won eight straight games against San Jose. The Sabres have three regulation wins this season … with two of them coming against the Sharks. Stunning stuff.
-- Troy Grosenick’s magic seems to have run out after one game. Considering his paltry AHL numbers, I can’t say I’m thunderstruck here.
Remarkably, Neuvirth (10 for 10) and Jhonas Enroth (19 for 20) had at least as many saves as Grosenick (10 for 13). Enroth grabbed the win.
-- Brian Gionta had three points, but no, I'm not getting excited about him.
-- The best news for the Sharks is that their ridiculous 16 (road games) in 21 (games to start the season) run is now over. Also good news, I guess: no more games against the Sabres.
RED WINGS 5, BLUE JACKETS 0
-- Ryan Johansen seemed like a risk to miss last night's game with "soreness," yet he wasn't held out of third-period action because of injury. Instead, he took a penalty that Todd Richards objected to, and perhaps a lopsided loss is a good time for a lesson?
-- Hard to beat up on Sergei Bobrovsky TOO much, but he's been up-and-down. He's 5-5-0 with a .911 save percentage. Not exactly the kind of start that screams "lucrative contract year."
-- Jimmy Howard's enjoyed a nice start: 8-3-4, .924 save percentage and his first shutout of the season.
BRUINS 2, BLUES 0
-- David Krejci returned to action, generating two SOG and zero points in 17:15 of ice time. Hopefully he can stay healthy rather than continuing to bounce in and out of the lineup.
-- It looks like Tuukka Rask is starting to heat up. He's won six of his last seven games, allowing two goals or less in those wins. His Nov. 12 performance obviously wasn't ideal (four goals allowed in barely more than a period), but he's starting to look like a guy who will put up elite numbers again.
-- The Blues almost doubled the Bruins' shot output (33-17), so it wasn't like St. Louis was slacking.
-- Torey Krug's offense has been spotty this season. I was anticipating a jump in production with a jump in responsibilities, but that hasn't happened. At least not yet.
ISLANDERS 5, LIGHTNING 2
-- Cal Clutterbuck celebrated his 27th birthday with a very Cal Clutterbuck stat line: one goal, three SOG and six hits. He had 11 hits on Nov. 1 alone. Overall, he has 76 in 17 games. With 18 PIM this season and 405 penalty minutes in 436 career games, he's a unique specimen in fantasy.
-- Brock Nelson keeps chugging along, remarkably maintaining a point-per-game (18 in 18) pace. I expected his shooting percentage to go down earlier this season, and I feel the same way about his 18.4 percent mark now, but he keeps proving me wrong.
-- Jaroslav Halak's been streaky so far. After opening the season with a three-game winning streak, he lost four in a row and now has five straight wins. Hopefully this doesn't mean he'll throw in a six-game skid.
-- So far, still good for Kyle Okposo: five goals, 13 assists for 18 points in 18 games.
PENGUINS 4, CANADIENS 0
-- Man, how dangerous could Pittsburgh be if its third line of Beau Bennett, Brandon Sutter and Steve Downie could contribute semi-regularly? I've long been a fan of Downie in fantasy terms (not so much in reality); he now has nine points, 60 PIM, 24 SOG and 25 hits.
-- What a start so far for oft-ridiculed goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. He's 11-3-0 with a .930 save percentage and four (!) shutouts.
-- It might not be such a bad thing for Montreal to get trounced every now and then, as I'm not so sure a team with semi-bad habits really learns if they keep winning.
Jump for the remaining five games.
KINGS 5, PANTHERS 2
-- It's now “That Other 70's Line,” as Dwight King has taken Tanner Pearson's spot alongside Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli. Even Carter seems primed to cool off, as he has seven goals on 38 shots, good for what's likely an unsustainable 18.4 percent success rate.
-- Anze Kopitar continues to climb with seven points (three goals, four assists) in his last five games.
-- Roberto Luongo only made it through two periods, allowing four goals on 25 shots. These things are simply going to happen for him here and there this season. The Kings really took their foot off the pedal once Al Montoya came in, scoring a goal on two third period shots.
CAPITALS 2, COYOTES 1 (OT)
-- It's tempting to beat up a little bit on Washington for its rather slow improvement, but the Capitals are 11th in possession and seem to generally be OK.
The best development is that Braden Holtby's starting to get it together: 3-1-0 in his last four games with just six goals allowed.
-- Still, though, these teams had 24 SOG each and the contest stretched past the halfway point of overtime. It's difficult to get too excited about anything there, though perhaps that's the point considering Dave Tippett and Barry Trotz were behind the benches.
-- Mike Green's been pretty steady so far: 12 points, 38 SOG in 17 games played. Not sure he'll stay in Washington into his 30's, but he could be useful for a future team. It might be better for everyone if he gets a lot of money but very little term, though.
FLAMES 4, DUCKS 3 (SO)
-- Calgary is basically the Brock Nelson of NHL teams: I admire its moxie, yet I wonder how long this run of good luck will last. The Flames beat the Ducks on the strength of basically playing one period, as they only managed seven SOG through the first 40 minutes of last night's game.
-- I'm buying in to Johnny Gaudreau, though. He's only 29 percent owned despite some strong play lately, as he's already at 13 points on the season.
-- Kyle Palmieri scored his first goal of the season as he finally seems healthy. It looks like he's lining up with Matt Beleskey and Ryan Kesler so far, making for a promising second line. We'll see how long Emerson Etem lasts with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, too, although one wonders how long Perry's been healthy (if at all) lately.
-- Scary stat: Frederik Andersen hasn't won since Halloween.
HURRICANES 6, STARS 4
-- Carolina dipped with three straight losses recently, yet they're generally maintaining the trend of out-shooting opponents (again, lately). That actually didn't happen against Dallas, but the Stars are such a mess that it doesn't really matter.
-- As much as it's instinctive to lay the blame at the feet of the Dallas defense, Kari Lehtonen's been shaky to say the least. He's now 6-5-4 with a .903 save percentage, which is a pretty gross stat line. He's maintained a .911 save percentage or better since 2005-06, including some of his sad days with Atlanta.
-- Jamie Benn scored his first goal since Oct. 24 last night.
-- After scoring two goals and one assist on Tuesday, Eric Staal now has 11 points in 13 games. Maybe that bit of injury time off was valuable to him?
JETS 3, DEVILS 1
-- New Jersey's regularly great possession numbers make them a tempting dark horse pick, yet they might just lack the punch to be anything more than an also-ran. A game like this does little to dispel such notions.
-- I'm still trying to wrap my head around "Winnipeg Jets, possibly strong defensive team."
-- Michael Hutchinson continues to argue for playing time: 3-1-1 with a .948 save percentage so far. Ondrej Pavelec has been more competent than expected, yet his lesser known backup may just be the better option, anyway.