Alex Ovechkin’s first hat trick in two years fueled the Washington Capitals to a 5-1 win over the New Jersey Devils as part of a 12-game Saturday in the NHL. Ovechkin scored twice in the third period when the Capitals scored four times to break open a 1-1 game. Ovechkin also added an assist to make it a four-point afternoon. Mike Ribiero picked up a couple assists in the win while Ilya Kovalchuk scored the lone goal for the Devils.
SPIN: Ovechkin finally showed up the way that his owners have expected him to since the start to this season. He’s a good example of how patience plays a huge role in fantasy hockey. Unlike other fantasy sports, hockey is the most unpredictable of all of them and this is why patience is super-critical with your team’s marquee players. It still doesn’t change the fact that the Caps are having a crappy season but at least this is a bright spot for them. And Nicklas Backstrom is still stuck at one goal after 17 games.
Johan Hedberg got the start in goal as Martin Brodeur had a day off. Hedberg got knocked around but still have pretty decent value behind Brodeur. The Devils have dropped three of their last four but still remain one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams at 10-4-4 on the season. David Clarkson has one goal in his last six games and is quickly falling off of my fantasy radar. The Devils don’t have too much after the bigger guns like Patrick Elias and Kovalchuk and most of their points (26 of 37 combined) are assists. After Clarkson’s 10 goals, no one on the Devils has more than five. While that kind of depth can be great for winning Stanley Cups, it doesn’t do much in fantasy. If not for the goaltenders, New Jersey would have extremely limited fantasy value.
Edmonton downed Phoenix 3-2 in a shootout. Kyle Chipchurra and Matthew Lombardi scored for Phoenix while Jordan Eberle and Teemu Hartikainen lit the lamp for Edmonton. Mike Smith made 41 saves for the Coyotes and Nikolai Khabibulin turned aside 34 Phoenix shots.
SPIN: It’s disappointing for Phoenix to just get one point out of this game when they led 2-0 halfway through it. If you have Smith, youv’e got to love all the saves he’s making as that stat and his save percentage have been looking pretty sharp as of late. The Coyotes’ offense hasn’t had that stud scorer step forward as they have a very balanced offense. And we all know that balanced offense is not fantasy-friendly. Phoenix was also without Radim Vrbata, the team’s leading scorer (4-8–12) with a lower body injury.
I’m going to back off the Oilers in the next couple weeks. They play nine straight games on the road due to the Canadian Curling Championships going on in Rexall Arena. The Oilers look like a team that will bob around the break-even point all season. Khabibulin has gotten three of the last four starts so while his value is coming up, Devan Dubnyk’s value is dropping. Of course, if either one of them would seize the lead role that would be helpful. Look for the Oilers to rotate goalies as they have a run of seven games in seven cities in the first 12 days of March.
The Flyers grounded the Jets 5-3 as Brayden Schenn scored twice and Jakub Voracek added three assists in the win. Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux each had a goal and an assist as the Flyers became the first team to play 20 games this season (9-10-1).
SPIN: Philly has had a real good week on offense with 20 goals in their last four games. No, that is not a typo. It’s amazing to see a team completely explode like that but we all know that offense won’t be sustained–here’s why. The Flyers only play twice this week (TOR-Mon; WSH-Wed) with both games at home. After that it starts looking like the goaltending will put the Flyers down. Ottawa, the Rangers, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and a pair with New Jersey are what they face to open the month of March. Also, I expect the Flyers to lose their next game against Toronto since they continue to pull their Icarus imitation and have their wings melt off when they try to get to the break-even point. Hope you enjoyed the ride if you own Flyers but it’s going to end real quick here.
Winnipeg saw its two-game win streak go by the boards and gave up their most goals since Tampa bombed them with an eight-spot to start the month. Dustin Byfuglien had a pair of assists for Winnipeg but the Jets are continuing to experience offensive issues. Outside of Big Buff and Andrew Ladd, I’m having a hard time putting any Jet in my lineups. The goaltending is average but the offense has virtually no punch. Even with Tobias Enstrom out of the lineup, the Jets are getting the same results as when they had him so it looks like the highest-scoring unit of defensemen in the league isn’t worth much.
The Kings escaped the Avalanche 4-1. Jeff Carter picked up his ninth goal of the season and was one of four Kings who scored in the win. Milan Hejduk scored for Colorado.
SPIN: Don’t look now, but here come the Kings. They’ve won five of six and the lone loss was a one-goal game at Chicago. I think they can build off this momentum and use it to power up the standings with this super run of home games. I’d look to get them in your lineups. Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist in the win for the Kings. They don’t have a barn-burner offense but there is some value to this team with the surge they are on and all those home games (12 of the next 15).
Colorado got Gabriel Landeskog back from an injured-reserve stint (head) and hopefully he can spark the Avalanche. This is another team I just can’t figure out. PA Parenteau has 13 points on the season and is a +7 yet David Jones is a -9. How do you get two players on the same team that have such a disparity in this category. That might explain why the Avs are still under .500 at 7-8-1 and why they have one of the weakest offenses in the Western Conference. Of course, it makes it easy as to who should be in your lineups.
The Islanders played a round of Match Game with Buffalo. When all was said and done Evgeni Nabokov left the Sabres’ side of the scoreboard with a blank. New York downed Buffalo 4-0 as Nabokov made 35 saves. John Tarvares scored his 12th goal of the season and Michael Grabner picked up his seventh of the season.
SPIN: Nabokov looks more like a legitimate starter with each passing game. Tarvares has blossomed nicely and Grabner continues to be a solid play on your fantasy team. Buffalo just hasn’t been able to support goaltender Ryan Miller or anything this season and were shutout for the second time this season and they’ve scored just two goals in the last three games. It’s hard for any goaltender to get wins with that little offensive support and that’s why Buffalo is 6-12-1 this season.
Montreal blanked the Rangers 3-0 as Erik Cole, Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk each had a goal and an assist for Montreal in the win. Carey Price made 17 saves for the shutout win while Martin Biron allowed three goals on 18 shots for the Rangers.
SPIN: The Habs are the second best team in hockey right now and are on a 6-0-1 run in their last seven games since a 6-0 thumping at Toronto two weeks ago. Price wasn’t tested but is a contender for the title of best goaltender in fantasy. Montreal has seven players with at least 10 points each, the most in the league. That makes them the kind of team you want to pick up as many players as possible on. The Rangers played without Rick Nash again and, no, they’re not saying what the issue is with him. He’s missed his third straight game and has reportedly been placed on injured reserve.
Ottawa took down Toronto 3-2 in a Battle of Ontario. Colin Greening had a goal and two assists for Ottawa while Erik Condra had a goal and an assist for the Sens. Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur hit the net for the Leafs.
SPIN: Ben Bishop played a solid game in goal as he starts his fill in role while Craig Anderson recovers from a sprained ankle and stopped 26 of 28 shots. Phil Kessel saw his three-game point streak end but he’s still in the lineup based on his talent. After Monday’s game with Philly, the Leafs face off with Montreal, the Islanders and New Jersey in a run of tough goaltenders so it might be a little while before the Toronto offense gets back to full speed.
A four-goal third period helped Tampa Bay beat Carolina 5-2. Mathieu Garon made 32 saves for Tampa while Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist to fuel the Lightning. Chad LaRose had a goal and an assist for Carolina.
SPIN: Tampa has scored 17 goals in its last four games so the Lightning’s offense looks to be back on track compared to the start of the season. Dan Ellis took the lumps in goal for Carolina as the Hurricanes gave Cam Ward a night off. Every goal was scored at even-strength so some players took lumps on their plus-minus rating like Jordan Staal getting a -4 in this game alone.
Detroit ended its five-game slide with a 4-0 win over Nashville. Niklas Kronwall had a goal and two assists to pace Detroit while Jimmy Howard turned aside all 33 Nashville shots.
SPIN: Nashville has been blanked in consecutive games so they’ve gone back to what we all thought they would be. Pekka Rinne took the loss for the Predators as he allowed an uncharacteristic four goals. Pavel Datsyuk picked up a pair of assists so the reliable stars for Detroit continue to perform. Hopefully Howard can build off of this shutout, the first of the season for him, as he had given up at least three goals in three of his last four starts. The other one was when he got yanked after allowing two goals in 11 minutes to Nashville.
St. Louis slipped past Columbus 2-1 thanks to David Perron’s game-winning goal midway through the third period. Chris Stewart scored for the Blues while Matt Calvert got the only goal for Columbus.
SPIN: Jaroslav Halak came back between the pipes and stopped 19 of 20 shots. This guy seems to have the easiest time of any goalie in the league as he doesn’t see very many shots. Memo to the rest of the West: Fire the puck at him! The Blues have actually scored just four games in their last three games so they need to find some more offense. Columbus has lost four of its last five games and have very little fantasy value.
Dallas made the Sharks into chum with a 3-1 win. Jamie Benn had a goal and an assist to power the Stars.
SPIN: Benn has been worth the wait for Dallas after his contract dispute that carried over into the regular season. The Stars even got power play goals, plural, for the first time in several games. Chris Nilstorp stopped 31 of 32 Sharks shots to drop San Jose to 1-6-2 in their last nine games. Patrick Marleau scored for San Jose and now has goals in consecutive games. Maybe he’s starting to get hot again but we know what he’s capable of so I’m getting him in my lineups.
Calgary beat Minnesota 3-1 behind two goals from Matt Stajan and a 30-save effort from Joey MacDonald.
SPIN: Stajan scored both goals in the third period including an empty-netter with nine seconds to go. MacDonald performed well while Miikka Kiprusoff missed his ninth game with a knee injury and could make a nice depth addition to your goaltending if you need it. Jarome Iginla is ice cold with two goals in his last 27 games, dating back to last season. He should be on the bench and maybe even on the waiver wire if you’re in a smaller league.
Multiple Goal Scorers
Ovechkin-WSH HAT TRICK
Stat of the Night–16 Shades of Blue (Jackets)
Halak is 16-1-1 in his last 18 regular-season starts at home and the Blues are 13-2-1 in their last 16 home games against Columbus.
Three Stars of the Night
1. Ovechkin Four-point game
2. Nabokov 35-save shutout
3. Kronwall Three-point night for the Wings
Sunday’s Schedule (all times ET)
Boston at Florida 3pm Boston has played the fewest games in the NHL with 14. Florida has the worst goal differential in the East at a shocking -20.
Winnipeg at New Jersey 5pm Will Brodeur or Hedberg extend the Jets’ woes?
Vancouver at Detroit 5pm Vancouver leads the Northwest Division by three games over Minnesota.
Carolina at NY Islanders 7pm Both teams have 17 points…but one is last and one is a point out first in its division.
Columbus at Chicago 7pm How shocking would it be if Columbus handed the Hawks their first regulation loss?
Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh 730pm Game of the night. Stamkos and company take on the Pens.
Colorado at Anaheim 8pm Ducks try to expand on a three-game divisional lead over three teams in the Pacific
Phoenix at Calgary 8pm The Coyotes blanked Calgary 4-0 on Monday.