It all began on a cool winter’s day when the young men from Calgary came down to play the feisty fellas in Vancouver in a nice, gentlemanly game o’ hockey. That lasted less than zero seconds because when the puck dropped all the starters paired off and fought one another. What the eff happened?! Apparently Canucks coach John Tortorella saw that the Flames were sending out their fourth line to start the game. Torts flipped the hell out for no apparent reason and it didn’t end with his usual ranting and raving and turning oh so many shades o’ purple behind the bench. No, Torts decided he needed to have a few more words with those boys from Calgary so he did what every rational, level-headed adult would do; he attempted to storm into their locker room and basically challenged the entire team to a fight, or so much is what I gather in between the seemingly endless stream of obscenities from Tortorella. In the end 204 penalty minutes were dished out with Jason Garrison, Dale Weise, Kevin Bieksa and Kellan Lain all getting game misconducts. Lain made his NHL debut that night! A short but adventurous start for the kid, eh?! Ladislav Smid, Chris Butler, Blair Jones and Kevin Westergarth also received game misconducts for the Flames. Why does any of this matter? Well, for starters it’s effin’ hilarious and I wanted an excuse to write about it. And here’s my excuse; Garrison and Bieksa racked up some baller PIM that night, so some owners, somewhere, actually benefitted from this madness. If only we could own coaches and they could earn PIM, Tortorella would have just won many a roto team’s PIM category in this game alone! Torts should probably be suspended. Anyway, here’s what else I saw last night on a short night o’ fantasy hockey:
Ondrej Palat (1 G, 2 A, 2 SOG, +2) continues to be extremely streaky, but hey that’s youth for you, so fickle! He has 10 points in 11 games in January but seven of those came on that eight game scoring stream he rode in from the last bit of December. Last night’s game broke a six game scoreless stretch, so here’s to hoping he strings off another five or six game scoring streak!
Rick Nash (2 G, 2 SOG, +2) has shaken all the rust off, finally, and returned to his usual, magnificent, goal scoring self. He’s potted three in his last two games, four over his last five and seven in his last eight games. That’s a thing of beauty and it looks like Nash is poised not only for a big showing at the Olympics in a few weeks, but a very solid second half for fantasy owners.
Brad Marchand (2 G, 4 SOG, +1) has five points over his last three games as he continues his somewhat futile quest to put up a decent season.
Dan Girardi (2 A, 1 SOG, +3) rarely gets a mention in my roundups because, well, he doesn’t do eff all for fantasy owners unless your league heavily weights blocked shots and grit as scoring categories. Two helpers last night put him on pace for 23 points in 82 games; that sounds aboot right!
John-Michael Liles (1 A, 6 SOG, +2) has just two points in his first 14 games with the Hurricanes after getting dealt from Toronto for, uh, a bag of pucks? Backstage paces to the next Miley Cryus show for someone’s daughter? As a MSU alum I have a soft spot in my heart for Liles, but he’s worthless the way he’s been playing, so move along.
Eric Staal (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG, even) tried to get his act together with a couple points last night in a loss to the Bolts. He has six points over his last five games, and that’s a good sign, but he has been largely disappointing so far this season on pace to deliver just 68 points in 78 games with a painful minus-23! You can’t drop him and trades won’t return decent value, so let’s hope the four points in his last two games is the start of a big streak.
Justin Peters (3 GA, 4 SV) was finally given a start with Cam Ward hurt and Anton Khudobin playing better than any Canes goalie has all season, aaaand he only lasted 15 minutes before getting yanked. Peters is most definitely headed back to the AHL when Ward gets activated.
Anton Khudobin (2 GA, 15 SV, L) came in to a mess that Peters made and he didn’t fare much better allowing two goals and getting saddled with Peters’ loss. He’s still the undisputed no. 1 in Carolina with Ward down and might retain a good chunk of the starts when Ward returns if he keeps his stellar play up.
Braden Holtby (1 GA, 17 SV, L) came in to relieve Philipp Grubauer after Grubi coughed up thee goals on eight shots. Holtby looked great allowing just one goal on 18 shots. This was the second game in row that Grubi has fallen apart and Holtby has been asked to come in and pick up the pieces and both times Holtby has looked solid. I don’t think this changes the depth chart in Washington, but the winds are starting to shift back toward Holtby. If he gets the next start and performs really well? Grab him where you can.
Ryan McDonagh (1 A, 2 SOG, +2) had long been touted for his stout defensive play, and with good cause, be he has officially arrived as an elite fantasy defenseman on pace to post 45 points with 11 goals this season. He has three points over his last five games and now looks as comfortable in the offensive zone as he always does in the defensive end. He’s totally gone in ESPN leagues, but he’s up for grabs in a whopping 40% of Yahoo! Leagues.
Ben Bishop (3 GA, 48 SV, W) pushed away 48 of 51 shots against the Canes for the win despite allowing three goals. Hell, on 51 shots three goals allowed isn’t that bad, his save percentage was still .941% by the game’s end. Bishop remains on target for a Vezina in his first full season as a starter.
Derek Stepan (1 G, 2 SOG, +2) is one of many Rangers having a down season, but he’s been picking it up of late on a line with Calder hopeful Chris Kreider and sniper Rich Nash. He has four pages in his last two games, with goals in both contests and that’s faaaantastic to see. He’s only going to end up giving you another 20ish points and his season is basically a bust, but if some owner is sick of waiting he’s worth trying to buy low on before the trade deadlines pass. With Kreider chugging along and Nash streaking, Stepan’s numbers will boom too.
Alexander Semin (1 G, 5 SOG, even) has three goals in his last two games after ‘Canes GM Jim Rutherford blew him up in a local TV interview saying that they [Hurricanes] where “very disappointed with his production at this time. He’s a guy who is paid to score goals and put up points, and he hasn’t done that.” Ouch, well, that’s all true and Semin has responded for at least a few games, anyway. Those Russians, man, they’re hella unpredictable.
Tyler Johnson (1 A, 2 SOG, +2) continues to have a very solid, albeit very quiet rookie season in Tampa. He has five points in his last five, all assists though. Either way, he’s worth owning in keeper leagues for sure and he might even fight with Chris Kreider for the Calder.
Duncan Keith (1 A, 4 SOG, +1) tallied an assist for the one billionth time in his career. It’s true! Very impressive numbers.
Alex Killorn (1 A, 3 SOG, +1) has these streaks that make me want to add him but then by the time I’m finally ready to pull the trigger, he goes cold. I think that’s a sign.
Ryan Callahan (1 G, 3 SOG, +1) would be a top five fantasy forward if there was a scoring category for moxie. But there isn’t, and this isn’t the 1930s, who the hell says “moxie” anymore? Hmn. Anyway, Cally put the biscuit in the basket, but he doesn’t do it often enough for us to care. Love that moxie, though!
Marian Hossa (1 G, 5 SOG, even) isn’t effin’ around anymore and has blown up with five goals and seven points in his last five games. He only seems to be getting stronger as the season goes on, posting 14 points in 14 games last month combined with his recent streak gives him 22 points in his last 23 games. Yes, yes a thousand times yes. I love owning Blackhawks, don’t you? Now all I can think is “Please stay healthy, please stay healthy, please stay healthy…” say it with me now! “Please stay healthy, please stay healthy, please stay healthy…”
Patrice Bergeron (1 A, 3 SOG, +1) has decided that he, too, would like to not be a total schmuck this season and disappoint everyone with his lackluster play, so he’s donated seven points over his last four games to the “Save Patrice’s Season” fund. He’ll need to donate a hell of a lot more than that to get to respectable numbers by season’s end, but the recent play is encouraging nonetheless.
Reilly Smith (1 A, 3 SOG, +1) is impressive as hell for a kid his age adding assists in each of his last three games. He’s on pace to notch 26 goals and I think he’ll get there. He’s worth owning in most formats.
Teddy Purcell (1 G, 2 SOG, even) has come alive with 11 points in his last 11 games and should be owned everywhere while he’s scoring. When Steven Stamkos returns, and given the fact that he’s skating with the team wearing a no-contact jersey now, that’s not far off, Purcell’s value goes up another notch. These are the guys that help you win league titles, so long as you grab them at the right time.
Nikita Kucherov (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) is going to have a short and blah career in the NHL and head off to the KHL, never to be heard from again.
Alex Ovechkin (1 G, 6 SOG, even) scored more goals. No, you don’t say? He’s on pace for 60 this season and that would be his second best single season goal total behind the 65 he scored back in 2007-08.
Jeff Skinner (7 SOG, +1) is in a bit of a slump, going scoreless over his last four with a minus-two rating over that span. This is the second game in his last four that he’s pumped seven shots on goal and come up empty despite the hard work. He can’t buy a point right now, but that will end sooner than later.
Matt Carle (1 A, 1 SOG, +1) continues his best Duncan Keith impression with 24 points so far this season. How is that remotely like Keith? One goal, 23 assists. The important and sad difference is Keith has like 42 assists right now, so they aren’t even on the same planet. Still! Carle is on pace for 39 points this season, and even though they’re all going to be assists, that’s good production from your third or fourth defenseman.
Brad Richards (1 A, 2 SOG, even) might score 60 points this season. Wow, that’d be great someone who makes like 2 or 3 million a season, but Brad makes 7.8 mill per. So, you know, that’s terrible.
Corey Crawford (2 GA, 34 SV, W) now has wins in back-to-back games and has reasserted himself as the undisputed starter in Chicago. Antii Raanta will still get starts on back-to-back nights and when Corey needs a break, but Crawdad is the man in Chicago and looks great.
Henrik Lundqvist (1 GA, 24 SV, W) is the only goalie on earth that could start the season the way he did and finish it in such stunning fashion that if you just looked at the final season line, you’d think he was excellent from start to finish. He’s finally at .500 with a record of 17-17-3 and you’ll find his majesty at the heart of the Rangers’ recent surge in the standings.