On paper, Sunday seemed like a pretty bland day for the NHL, but most of the games actually delivered some interesting storylines, so I’ll forego the preamble.
EXTENDED TAKE ON MIKA ZIBANEJAD
-- Holy smokes, what a game by Mika Zibanejad, whose name welcomes all sort of jokes both good and bad (this article’s headline obviously being an example of the latter). The remarkable thing about his four-point output on Sunday was that he made some other plays, notably a beauty of a pass to Mike Hoffman, who couldn’t beat Eddie Lack.
Zibanejad is an interesting dichotomy as far as fantasy hockey decisions go.
The good: He's red-hot right now, and not just considering Sunday's brilliant performance. He's currently on a four-game point streak (four goals, three assists), a run that has produced more than half of his 13 points in 2014-15.
The pedigree is there. He was the sixth pick of the 2011 NHL Draft; at age 21, he might be getting close to that "finding confidence" stage. Let's not forget that players of this caliber sometimes make huge leaps ... Ryan Johansen's a solid example.
An Ottawa Senators fan can clarify more specifically, but it seems to me that his shift to Bobby Ryan's line is a fairly recent development. Even if I'm wrong there - ultimately, Ryan has been one of his most common linemates overall - the point is that MZ has a quality partner-in-crime.
He’s currently C/RW eligible, so that’s nice too.
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The Zibanebad:* Frequent readers of the Dose probably see this one coming, but his puck luck stands as pretty high, with a 16.7 shooting percentage. He started the season with an eight-game pointless streak, so there's always the worry that he could go as cold as he's currently hot.
Ryan's a quality player, yet the Senators are a pretty weak bunch, so plus/minus will probably be negligible at best.
Sunday's 21:14 TOI represents the only time this season he's exceeded 18 minutes in ice time, and that's with OT, so the other concern is about opportunities.
The verdict: I’d give him a shot in deeper formats especially, but probably if you need a little spark either way. One would think he’ll climb in ownership (just three percent owned right now), but that current lack of interest at least indicates that you can wait.
SENATORS 4, CANUCKS 3 (OT)
I'm almost a little surprised that fantasy owners have remained faithful to Bobby Ryan (85 percent). I guess Brian Burke doesn't own that many fantasy teams.
-- The Canucks big line is kicking it up a notch. That's especially true with Daniel Sedin (three goals, two assists in four games) and Radim Vrbata (two goals, three assists and a whopping 25 SOG in his last four games). Vrbata already has 99 SOG in 26 games.
-- Quite a game for Erik Karlsson: he got the OT GWG and fired eight SOG. He was one of the few players firing more pucks on net than Vrbata (104 in 27 games).
DUCKS 4, JETS 3 (OT)
-- Rene Bourque scored his first goal as a member of the Anaheim Ducks. Bruce Boudreau seems like the type of coach whose positivity could benefit a guy like Bourque. DEFINITELY NOT saying pick Bourque up, yet it's an intriguing situation.
-- Hey look, the bounces are finally going Buffy's way. Dustin Byfuglien now has a four-game goal streak (throwing one assist in for good measure). Even with that run, he's still been generally unlucky so far in 2014-15, as only 7.4 percent of his 95 SOG have resulted in goals. Naturally, his peripheral prowess makes that easier to digest. He's truly worthy of his RW/D designation as he seems to bounce around a bit, there, too.
-- Evander Kane generated one of those "Make your coach mad but fantasy owners happy" games: 15 PIM, four SOG and four hits. Bonus points if he doesn't get suspended ... not sure how that will play out.
-- Ryan Getzlaf already has 21 assists, yet I especially like that he's using his shot a decent amount (72 SOG in 28 games). He should unleash that scary shot more often, if you ask greedy fantasy owners.
-- "Sudden workhorse" Frederik Andersen is now 14-4-4. Fantasy owners who bet on him must be giving themselves high-fives.
OILERS 2, SHARKS 1
-- Huzzah, the Edmonton Oilers' losing streak is finally over. Clearly everyone's doing a good job there ...
-- The Sharks are just weird. How else do you explain that team managing just two SOG in the opening period against Edmonton? Just when it feels safe to mark them down as quite good, they sort of stink enough to leave you bewildered.
(I still think they're generally pretty good, even if they're also weirdly depressing).
-- David Perron is a lot like Dustin Byfuglien: meaty peripherals, a nice streak (one point in four straight) and generally crummy luck in 2014-15 (6.9 shooting percentage). Unlike Byfuglien, Perron needs to shoot more often, though.
-- Patrick Marleau: still awesome, still likely to get blamed for things that are out of his control.
-- Alex Stalock quietly has a .923 save percentage, but that's not much use to fantasy owners, as he's just 2-3-1.
-- Best news for Ben Scrivens: it pretty much can only get better.
(Unless he's simply not an NHL-level goalie, of course.)
RED WINGS 3, HURRICANES 1
-- My advice to craftier fantasy owners out there: try to sell high on more borderline Red Wings at the end of this month/beginning of January. (Again, not saying trade Pavel Datsyuk or Henrik Zetterberg, though …)
The Red Wings play seven out of 10 remaining December games in Detroit, but they'll have eight more road contests than home games during the rest of the season. Things get dicier starting right off the bat in 2015, as they open the new year with six straight away contests (and eight of nine away stretching back to Dec. 27).
I know that's a small detail, but if you're in an especially competitive league, perhaps it's a useful nugget?
-- The rest of this month probably won't be very kind to the Hurricanes, as they play 7 of 11 on the road.
-- Tomas Tatar's 12 goals are a bit much (almost the same shooting percentage as Zibanejad with 16.4), yet he's had enough of a run to easily instill confidence that he'll be useful going forward. Another nice Detroit draft choice (60th overall in 2009), as he's hitting his prime at 24.
-- The Red Wings may be wise to give Petr Mrazek an extended look. Sunday represented his first really good outing of 2014-15 (34 out of 35 saves), even if he's 3-0-0. I know Detroit is generally timid about giving the young'uns the keys, but sticking with Jonas Gustavsson as the No. 2 is treading water in a bad way.
-- It certainly looks like Jeff Skinner was trying: 10 SOG on Sunday.
* - Sorry.