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Hockey Daily Dose

Hats off to Connor McDavid

by James O'Brien
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

I have no pre-recap wisdom to share, but this thing is close to 3,000 words, so maybe it’s merciful to keep this lead brief? Yeah, let’s go with that.

 

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OILERS 5, STARS 2

 

-- Somehow, Connor McDavid failed to score a goal for 10 straight games, so what does the wunderkind do? He generates his first hat trick, of course.

 

(Allow mercy from your deity of choice if you decided NOT to start No. 97 for some reason. Surely someone in this warped world did that, right? I shudder to imagine such a human.)

 

The puck "was finding" McDavid, as pundits like to say, as he generated that trio of goals on just four SOG. He was doing just fine even without scoring goals during this slow patch, so I imagine only the true crazies were grumbling before this outburst. McDavid's 22 points ties him for the NHL lead.

 

-- The Stars' two goals came in pretty hilarious fashion. They received four minutes of PP time when Zack Kassian received a hooking penalty and then pleaded his case way too much about a dive, getting an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to boot. Dallas scored twice to make him pay, and get the power forward stapled to the bench.

 

Nights like these make me wonder if Kassian will eventually blunder his way out of the NHL, as he's not quite the scorer some were hoping for.

 

(He's certainly the ... disruptive force many of us expected, however.)

 

-- Drake Caggiula is probably OK with your "Hotline Bling" references, but what about his NHL debut? Well, he didn't manage a SOG and only logged 12:49 TOI, but he did get an assist and a +1 rating. Not sure what to expect from a 22-year-old who didn't get drafted and did some nice damage at the University of North Dakota last season. I know there are conversion charts and fancy things to speculate on how different leagues translate to the NHL, but I generally prefer seeing AHL numbers over any other transition.

 

With that, we'll need to keep an eye on his linemates and ice time opportunities. Too early to say, IMO.

 

-- I must say, I thought Jordan Eberle would be glued to Connor McDavid all season, but perhaps Edmonton's losing streak jarred that loose. Instead, Eberle was with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Patrick Maroon while McDavid skated with Milan Lucic and Jesse Puljujarvi.

 

If you're the type who frequently adds and drops, I say grab Puljujarvi for a little bit. He's only owned in 16 percent of Yahoo leagues right now, and that's reasonable, but he could have a ticket to easy points for as long as he can stick with McDavid. He had two assists on Saturday vs. a goal and two assists in his previous 14 games.

 

McDavid serves as the Mario Lemieux in the "a fire hydrant could score 50 goals with Mario" scenario, and Puljujarvi is one of those really fancy fire hydrants, what with him being the fourth pick of the 2016 draft.

 

(And, luckily, Yahoo will guess the rest of his name when you start typing in a few letters, so typos shouldn't even thwart you.)

 

LIGHTNING 3, FLYERS 0

 

-- Not that long after Tampa Bay lost Steven Stamkos to his semi-annual catastrophic injury, there was some justifiable concern that Jonathan Drouin would be hurt again, too.

 

I'd still keep an eye on that situation, as we've seen players seemingly return from concussions only to miss quite a bit of time later on, but it was a good sign that he came back and an even better sign that he scored a tremendous 3-0 goal.

 

There were some other players who might be banged up, but I won't go deep into that because this column's already going to be long and, honestly, I doubt you should have anyone like Ryan Callahan on your team. At least in 2016-17. Maybe if you're in some blocked-shot-heavy time machine league, in which case, why are you wasting your time on Callahan?

 

-- Andrei Vasilevskiy was brilliant in this one, stopping 32 SOG and registered a second consecutive shutout. He's on a three-game winning streak in which he's allowed a single goal despite facing 98 shots. Oh yeah, he's only 22 and his save percentage is .953. It's almost like he's pushing Ben Bishop further out the door with every moment of impressive lateral movement.

 

-- Radko Gudas remains a peripheral peacock. Sure, he didn't score a point and had a -1, but he also racked up five PIM, one SOG, seven hits and four blocked shots.

 

BRUINS 4, JETS 1

 

-- Honestly, with David Pastrnak out thanks to an upper-body injury (not sure how bad that is, but it so is a bummer), I thought the Bruins were at risk of losing a track meet with the Jets.

 

I thought wrong.

 

It's not just that Boston beat Winnipeg 4-1, it's that they dominated every phase of the game, including generating a ridiculous 38-12 SOG differential. That's more than three times the shots. Holy smokes.

 

-- Tuukka Rask's been all-world lately, and the Bruins have often needed him to be that way, so it had to be nice for him to get a layup win.

 

Seven of Winnipeg's 12 SOG came on the PP, by the way. Yikes.

 

-- Plus/minus is a dopey stat, but there are the rare guys who come up strong in that category so often that you can at least point to it being a fantasy strength. Zdeno Chara's in that limited group where, if you're looking for your last pick of a draft, he's not a bad choice.

 

Six points in 18 GP aren't going to excite anyone, but he's +12 with 19 PIM. In deeper leagues, that really isn't too shabby.

 

SABRES 2, PENGUINS 1 (SO)

 

-- If this game didn't blow your mind enough already, consider that Anders Nilsson was in net, and he was AWESOME. He stopped 46 out of 47 SOG(!) and stopped every Penguins shootout attempt. Nilsson is the sort of guy I wasn't sure was NHL-worthy, yet he has a .951 save percentage in five GP this season. That's clearly a small sample size, but if nothing else, he's made a resounding statement that he deserves more opportunities.

 

Goalies, errybody.

 

-- Even Nilsson couldn't keep the Sidney Crosby goal train from chugging along, as No. 87 continues to play out of his mind with his 12th goal already in 2016-17. I still think his luck will subside (27.9 shooting percentage, almost double his already-high career mark of 14.7 percent), but it's not like he won't generate points at an impressive clip even if those goals begin to turn to assists.

 

-- Carl Hagelin probably deserved to join Saturday's list of players who broke slumps, as he hammered a gaudy eight SOG. His points drought was extended to five games nonetheless.

 

CANADIENS 2, MAPLE LEAFS 1

 

-- In his return to the mix after missing two games, Alex Radulov was a big difference-maker, assisting on both goals (one by Alex Galchenyuk, the other by Paul Byron).

 

"Lord Byron" already has seven goals, by the way.

 

-- William Nylander scored a goal, with Auston Matthews grabbing the assist.

 

I know Matthews' slump is frustrating, and maybe he's shown a little fatigued lately (limited two SOG twice and one SOG once in the past four games ... but he had five against Nashville on Nov. 15), but I still believe in the guy.

 

He still has 13 points in his 18 games, and his 67 SOG argue passionately in favor of him being in the thick of things. Matthews could be an interesting buy-low trade target, even.

 

-- Frederik Andersen might be settling down. He's won two of his last three games, allowing a reasonable five goals during that span. I'd guess he'll fall somewhere between his current .908 save percentage and his career .917 save percentage this season and maybe beyond.

 

(Of course, a lot of that hinges on the growth of the team in front of him. Should be an interesting situation to follow.)

 

PANTHERS 4, SENATORS 1

 

-- Jaromir Jagr went 13 games without a goal until he generated his second tally of the season (plus two assists) on Saturday. At 44, goals might be the area where Jagr struggles the most - he can help set the table, but firing past a netminder might be a tougher mountain to climb.

 

At least he's generating attempts with a respectable 42 SOG in 18 GP. Florida could stand to help him more, and maybe that would be the case when they get a guy or two back?

 

-- Jonathan Marchessault might be a little hit or miss, but he finds his way into the "praise" section of Sunday Doses. The guy scored a goal on Nov. 12, failed to find the net on Tuesday and Thursday, then scored a goal on Saturday.

 

Out of curiosity, he DOES have his most goals and points on Saturdays, but the sample size is silly enough that it's merely a fun distraction.

 

-- What a game for Roberto Luongo, who extended his winning streak to four straight by stopping 39 out of 40 SOG. His season stats look pretty impressive now. While greedy fantasy owners want a better record (7-5-0), his save percentage is up to .923. Good stuff.

 

COYOTES 3, SHARKS 2 (OT)

 

-- Mike Smith played an outstanding game of his own, and his save percentage (.922) almost matches Luongo's, although he's only played four games. Still, for a guy whose viability is open to - very fair - questions, it's a good sign. Not sure the Coyotes really want him to keep it up, honestly, as they're probably still best off tanking for at least another year.

 

-- After going seven games without a point, Alex Goligoski grabbed an assist and enjoyed a +2 rating in this one. The guy has skill and is a boon in transition, but fantasy-wise, he's pretty limited, right down to just two PPP and 28 SOG in 17 GP.

 

Honestly, generally falling in the 30-point range on a team as explosive as Dallas probably clued us into his value being a little more on the "subtle" side, at least if you're looking for fantasy defensemen who are true difference-makers.

 

Again, not saying he isn't good ... just that it doesn't translate as well to fantasy as guys who might stuff a few more peripheral categories and whatnot.

 

-- Max Domi got just his second goal of 2016-17, but he's still been nicely productive thanks to 11 assists for 13 points in 17 GP. I imagine the bounces will come (just a 5.4 shooting percentage, way down from last season's 11.5), but ... you probably know what I'm going to say: I'd love to see him shoot a little more.

 

He generated a make-his-dad proud 72 PIM last season, so maybe take some of that bad puck luck frustration out on more faces in fights?

 

/Dooms him to a hand injury

 

BLUES 3, PREDATORS 1

 

-- The Blues have been getting "the good" David Perron lately. Saturday's goal extended his current point streak to four games (2G, 4A), covering more than half of his 11 points this season. He has six games with a point this season and 13 with none. On the bright side, he's only had two pointless games in his last seven contests.

 

-- Vladimir Tarasenko scored just his seventh goal of 2016-17, but he's been productive; with 12 assists, he has exactly a point per game (19 in 19). Can't really complain about 71 SOG in 19 games.

 

*fights urge to complain because Vlad tends to make us greedy when it comes to goals*

 

-- James Neal couldn't keep his scoring streak alive, but he did fire four SOG, deliver eight hits and one blocked shot. Did St. Louis put dry shampoo on his hair or something?

 

-- You know, these are two teams capable of great hockey with very talented players, and they combined for 65 SOG. Still, I reflexively yawned when I saw them on the schedule, against each other. Weird.

 

AVALANCHE 3, WILD 2

 

-- OK, at this point, why wouldn't the Avalanche give Calvin Pickard a longer look than Semyon Varlamov? They could always double back if Pickard cools off. Just take a look at their numbers in 2016-17 after Pickard stopped 41 out of 43 SOG for the win.

 

Pickard: 4-1-0, .931 save percentage, 2.07 GAA (and now a career save percentage of .927)

 

Varlamov: 4-8-0, .901 save percentage, 3.01 GAA

 

Varlamov's saved jobs in Colorado at times, I bet. I get that pull to play your richer goalie.

 

Still, the difference is stark: so far, Varly is allowing almost exactly an extra goal per game. With Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog on the mend, how can you afford not to see if Pickard can keep this going?

 

It's a long season, and in a West that's in an off-year, riding the hot hand could make the difference between early golfing and some playoff action.

 

-- For two straight games, Nathan MacKinnon scored one goal and one assist. He did so on 11 SOG, with one of his tallies coming shorthanded. With just a 6.3 shooting percentage this season, I wonder if MacKinnon's in for a hot run ... then again, maybe he's the type who whimpers at the "Finish Him" prompt in Mortal Kombat? His career shooting percentage averages out at 8.5, pretty low for a high-end talent (and in 235 GP, enough of a sample size to at least make you wonder).

 

-- Mikko Rantanen's flubbed his big opportunities quite often, but he had a nice Saturday with a goal and an assist of his own. He now has four points in his last five games (versus one in his previous seven).

 

He's an interesting guy to watch, especially since it generally seems like the Avs are trying to put him in a situation to succeed. Rantanen's ice time actually went down into the 16 minute range the last three games, and I wonder if the 20-year-old might actually benefit. At least as he gets adjusted to the pro game.

 

BLACKHAWKS 4, CANUCKS 3 (OT)

 

-- Man, how many days can Vancouver go without something brutal happening to the Canucks? They built a 3-0 lead in this game, allowed Chicago to score three times in the third period and then lost in overtime.

 

Actually, it probably felt like they loss twice in OT, as one goal was called back on offside before Marian Hossa buried the OTGWG for reals.

 

Hossa already has 11 goals in 2016-17 after being limited to 13 last season.

 

-- Vince Hinostroza scored one goal and two assists in this game. Before Saturday, he never generated an NHL point.

 

-- Scott Darling has it pretty good. He's undefeated (4-0-0) despite a mediocre .904 save percentage. His .920 save percentage in 49 career GP gives you the impression that he might do better in mop-up duty going forward, although the Blackhawks are trending more toward "finding ways to win" rather than dominating most facets of play like they used to.

 

KINGS 4, DEVILS 2

 

-- Cory Schneider is, to me, a no-brainer top five goalie in reality. His fantasy ceiling takes a hit with Taylor Hall out of the lineup, though, as New Jersey's firepower is pretty limp without the bombastic winger. For all their flaws, the Kings are the sort of team that can really expose your offensive shortcomings.

 

-- Jeff Carter scored his seventh goal of 2016-17 and has three points (2G, 1A) in the past two games. The thing that really piques my interest is how much he's firing the puck, though. He has 11 SOG in the past two games and an impressive 59 SOG in 19 GP this season. Four of his seven goals are game-winners.

 

-- With nine wins, Peter Budaj is tied with Braden Holtby, Corey Crawford, Henrik Lundqvist, Sergei Bobrovsky and Cam Talbot for third in the NHL. And it's almost December. What a world we live in.

James O'Brien
James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.