The New York Islanders have one of the best offenses in the NHL, in fact they have the second best offense in the entire league. Let that sink in for a moment. Yes, it’s true, the Isles sport the second best offense posting 3.2 goals per tilt and they show absolutely no signs of stopping anytime soon. In fact, they’ve been picking up the pace lately and could soon be the best offense in the league. The engine that drives this goal scoring machine is their top line, anchored by the dynamic duo of John Tavares, C (1 G, 1 A, 6 SOG) and Kyle Okposo, RW (1 G, 1 SOG, +1). The wild card has been the coveted third spot that has mostly been used by Isles Head Coach Jack Capuano to stream whoever the hot hand is at the moment, and lately with eight points (2 G, 6 A) over his last eight games that’s been Josh Bailey, LW (1 G, 1 SOG, +1).
The Pittsburgh Penguins are getting beat up by injury, disease and all sorts of nonsense this season and their luck didn’t improve with the news that Patric Hornqvist will miss at least a few weeks with a lower-body injury as he hit the IR for the first time this season a few days ago. Horny isn’t the only Pen down for a few weeks either, Blake Comeau suffered an upper-body injury a few days before Christmas and will be out until mid-January as well. The fun doesn’t stop there, either! Steve Downie joined the mumps brigade not too long ago, and though he’s returning this week and bringing his NHL leading 135 PIM with him, the Pens needed to shore up their top six in a bad way so they saved David Perron from the Oilers and banished Rob Klinkhammer and whoever the poor bastard that ends up being their number one pick in 2015 to the Great White North. While this does little to help Klink’s already minimal value, Perron gets a huge boost, but expectations should be tempered.
When John Tavares blew out his knee in Sochi the fantasy hockey gods mocked us and Kyle Okposo (3 A, 3 SOG, +1) might have died a little inside. We all knew that Thomas Vanek was on his way out the door after he turned down a sizeable, long term deal from the Isles and when he was shipped to the Habs at the deadline Okie and his owners had to wonder what the hell he’d be doing for the rest of the season and who he’d be doing it with. Well, wonder no longer because he’s doing what he’s been doing and that’s scoring mad points y’all! I said trade him if you can when Tavares went down and at this point I still stand by that, but I assumed he’d dip below a point-per-game pace at best, not flirt with maintaining it. His new look like wouldn’t raise any eyebrows on paper, but on the ice it seems there’s some serious chemistry between Okie, rookie Anders Lee (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG, +1) and veteran Frans Neilsen (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +1) as they lead the way in a 7-4 whoopin’ of the Canucks. I mentioned Lee yesterday but he’s worth expanding on today because the kid just keeps on scoring, and if he’s going to spend time with Okie, that’s probably going to continue. The kid is big, mobile and fast for his size with a long reach, a big shot and a ton of grit n’ determination, Lee can also deliver some monster hits, works well along the boards and drives hard to the net. He knows how to score and does so often, don’t believe me? So far Lee has seven points in seven games played with five goals to his name. Playing with Okie and Frans is going to give him a real opportunity to keep that roll going, so grab him where you can for the playoffs! It’s guys like Lee on tears like this that win leagues. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night: