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Fantasy Nuggets Week 3

Alex Ovechkin

Alex Ovechkin

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

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Odds are, you’re already very aware of the sexual assault allegations against former Blackhawks video coach Bradley Aldrich in 2010 and the results of the independent investigation that led to Stan Bowman and Al MacIsaac leaving their posts as Chicago’s GM and Senior VP of Hockey Operations respectively. If you haven’t heard about it though, I do recommend looking into it and the interview Kyle Beach gave after revealing himself as the John Doe who was the victim of the alleged sexually assaulted.

I won’t spend much time talking about it here, but it didn’t feel right to talk about what’s been happening over the last week in the world of hockey without at least mentioning it. I also wanted to add that one of my takeaways from what’s been revealed is that the culture of putting winning hockey games above all else is a dangerous sentiment. While it makes sense that the players, coaches, and management value winning the Stanley Cup very highly, the pursuit of the Stanley Cup shouldn’t take priority over basic human decency. Based on the report, the Chicago Blackhawks failed in that regard back in 2010 and it’s important that the league today takes measures to make amends for that while also working to minimize the chances of similar incidents from happening in the future.

To that end, it was troubling to see Joel Quenneville behind the bench of the Florida Panthers last night. Yes, the Panthers are 7-0-0 and he’s guided them well, but as I mentioned before, there needs to be some things that are more important than winning a hockey game.

With that said though we awkwardly move on to talking about what’s been happening on the ice and let’s start with the St. Louis Blues, who are 5-0-0. They’re not the only team who remains unbeaten, but they are arguably the most surprising member of that group.

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St. Louis won the Cup in 2019 and the Blues are still competitive, but they didn’t enter this season as a club that was projected to be at or near the top of the league. Not only have they won their first five games though, but they’ve been cruising through for the most part. They’ve outscored their opponents 25-11.

It’s helped that Vladimir Tarasenko’s return has gone as well as could be hoped with him scoring three goals and six points in five contests. Seattle passed on Tarasenko during the expansion draft, which highlights just how much his stock had fallen after missing most of 2019-20 and 2020-21 due to shoulder issues. There was some concern that his best days were behind him, but so far he’s played like a huge comeback player.

Jordan Kyrou has also been a pleasant surprise with two goals and eight points in five games. He broke out last season with 14 goals and 35 points in 55 contests and has the potential to do even better this season. That said, Kyrou’s early season numbers need to be taken with a grain of salt given that his performance was skewed by an amazing game on Oct. 18 when he scored two goals and two assists. In contrast, he has two assists over his last three games.

In the long run, how Jordan Binnington does will go a long way towards determining the Blues’ fate this season. So far he’s been solid with a 2.75 GAA and .919 save percentage in four starts, which in terms of save percentage is well above his .910 from 2020-21. Binnington was a major reason for the Blues’ championship in 2019, but he’s been a mixed bag since then and that’s part of the reason that St. Louis has been good, but not great. If he can rekindle some of his old success, then the Blues will be a very dangerous team.

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Elsewhere the Washington Capitals and in particular Alex Ovechkin is off to a great start. Ovechkin has eight goals and 13 points in seven contests, demonstrating once again that you should never assume he’ll slow down. Sure, it’s logical to believe that a 36-year-old would show signs of aging, but age hasn’t significantly impacted Ovechkin yet and it seems he’ll be able to continue to fight off the effects of Father Time for at least a little while longer.

With every passing day, the idea that Ovechkin will someday overtake Wayne Gretzky on the all-time goal list also seems more realistic. Ovechkin is at 738 goals now, putting him three away from Brett Hull and fourth place on the list. Gretzky sits atop the chart at 894 goals.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Montreal Canadiens woes have continued. The Canadiens were able to beat Detroit on Saturday to finally get something in the win column, but they followed that up with a 5-1 loss to Seattle on Tuesday. Montreal is now 1-6-0 and a lack of scoring has been the Canadiens’ lack of scoring. Jonathan Drouin, Mathieu Perreault, and Mike Hoffman have seven goals between them. The rest of the team has scored just four goals. To put that in perspective, the Buffalo Sabres are in a three-way tie for 14th in the league in goals scored per game, so they’ve been a roughly average team offensively. Buffalo has four different players with multiple goals and 12 players with at least one goal. In other words, Montreal’s main problem thus far has been a lack of offensive depth.

We’ll see if some of the Canadiens forwards can step up as the campaign goes on. In particular, keep an eye on Brendan Gallagher, Josh Anderson, Nick Suzuki, and Cole Caufield. The fact that none of those four have scored a goal yet is a big problem. It also doesn’t help that defenseman Jeff Petry, who typically is good for over 10 goals and 40 points, has no points through seven contests. All of those players should be able to turn things around, but until they do, the Canadiens are likely to continue to struggle.