Injuries this time of year are the main thing we are trying to avoid. This season probably hasn’t been as bad as last year, but unfortunately two of the best players in the world are going to be out for a while. Steven Stamkos needed core muscle surgery which will put him out for 6-8 weeks. That’s right into the first round of the playoffs, so for those of you in redrafts, you can safely cut Stamkos at this point. Mark Stone is week-to-week with a lower body injury, but DeBoer could only say that he is hopeful that Stone will be back before the regular season ends. In other words, I’m not counting on it and it would be a bonus if Stone does return. So who are the beneficiaries? In Tampa, it’s clearly Ondrej Palat right now as he took Stamkos’ place with Point and Kucherov. I would own Palat in all formats. In Vegas, Nicolas Roy is currently with Patches and Karlsson. Will it stick? Who knows, but he did score a goal against the Sabres on Friday. He’s a solid streamer for the time being until we see if he keeps that role. Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last few nights:
Victor Olofsson – Left Saturday’s game with an ankle injury. No update yet, but it did not look good. Perhaps Jeff Skinner finally gets another chance on the first line? He’s looked very good lately despite the team’s struggles.
Chris Kreider – Out indefinitely. It’s a shame as that line was playing like one of the best in hockey.
Leon Draisaitl scored two goals and an assist on Saturday to reach 102 points on the season. To get to over 100 points before March is remarkable. Props to him on having a real chance to win the Hart.
Alex Ovechkin had two goals and an assist against the Wild on Sunday as he continues to push towards Pastrnak for the league lead in goals. Home ice is quite important for the Caps so I’m not expecting anyone’s workload to be limited in March. Ovechkin has a great chance at 55+ goals, but will it be enough for another Richard Trophy?
Who is in second place chasing the Caps? No, it’s not the Pens, but their cross-state rivals in Philly. They’ve won six in a row, with Carter Hart winning five in a row. Credit to Alain Vigneault for putting a great defensive system in place as Cart’s 2.51 GAA is very good despite only a .909 save percentage. If Hart can take a small step forward next year, he could have a top 5 season for goalies.
Joonas Korpisalo is back as the main goalie in Columbus, at least while Elvis Merzlikins is out. He was solid against the Senators, was brutal against the Wild, and then solid against the Canucks. He was on a tear before getting injured in December so if he’s available in your league, grab him now.
Who had the Kings beating the Penguins and Golden Knights in the same week? Certainly not me. They won both on the back of Cal Petersen, who saved 35 of 36 shots against the Penguins before stopping 42 of 43 against the Golden Knights. Petersen worked his way into being a top prospect at one point signing with the Kings instead of with the Sabres, who drafted him. He has a chance to be the goalie of the future for the Kings. That doesn’t sound great now, but they have one of the best farm systems in hockey and another top pick coming on the way so the Kings could turn it around in a couple years. In a deep dynasty, Petersen is a nice lotto ticket to have.
Three Point Challenge: Let’s do it for the Tuesday slate of games. I’m going to take Mitch Marner against the Sharks.
That’s all for now guys. I’ll be back on Wednesday with a set of notes for the games the next two nights. I’ll also have my playoff manifesto coming out starting on Thursday, probably in multiple parts because it usually ends up being the longest post of the year. As always, feel free to ask any questions, leave any comments, or make any suggestions below. Thanks for reading, take care!