Quick update from the Penguins’ morning skate, which has shifted the team’s first line for the better from yesterday’s info from Dan Bylsma. James Neal is skating on Sidney Crosby’s line now.
Kunitz-Crosby-Neal; Bennett-Sutter-Dupuis; Cooke-Jeffrey-Kennedy.
PP1: Letang, Martin, Neal, Kunitz, Crosby. PP2: Niskanen, Despres/Jeffrey, Bennett, Kennedy, Sutter.
Alex Ovechkin opened Saturday's NHL slate with one of his hungriest performances of the season. This was an effective carryover of the effort he put forth Thursday night against this same Devils squad, albeit with Johan Hedberg in net this time.
Ovechkin delivered a strong 3-1-4 showing, including 7 SOG, 5 hits and that eye of the tiger glean in his eyes. Say what you will about his mixed results overall, but the effort has been there. The tide has slowly been turning and owners' patience in him will be rewarded. He has points in six of his past nine games, including three multi-pointers in that span. He's had no fewer than three shots in a game this month and that only happened once. He has 53 shots over his 10 February clashes. And actually, over this whole campaign he's averaging a full shot more per tilt than he did last season.
In Braden Holtby's last four tries, he has stopped 120 of 129 shots for a sparkling .930 SV%. Michal Neuvirth hasn't started since February 7th, when the Penguins steamrolled the Caps 5-2.
No. 19 was back for the Flyers and Philadelphia's top six sure looks a lot stronger now. Scott Hartnell–Claude Giroux–Jakub Voracek; Danny Briere–Brayden Schenn–Wayne Simmonds.
The power play was mostly still just Schenn, Giroux, Simmonds, Voracek and Timonen.
Giroux has been coming on strong over the last week and a bit, pulling his totals to 3-8-11 in his past seven outings and 3-5-8 on this current four-game point streak alone. Hartnell's return should only bolster Giroux's production levels, which had been lower than expected in the first portion of the season.
Simmonds has been unreal for this Flyers team since coming over from Los Angeles. He was largely a third line presence with the Kings, but last season boosted his totals across the board when better-utilized by Peter Laviolette. More goals, assists, points, penalty minutes, a few more hits and a lot more shots.
With another 1-2-3 against Jets, Simmonds has ramped up his results to 7-9-16 in 17 GP. He had 49 points in a full season last year. He fights, he hits, he scores and he is rightfully adored by the Flyers faithful. One of my favourite of the less-heralded players around the league. Perfect fit in Philly.
Evander Kane extended his point streak to six games and he also already had a five-game point streak to his name this year. He currently sits at 6-8-14.
Through 17 affairs, he has 50 hits and 62 SOG. Last season, he averaged 2.34 hits/game and 3.88 shots/game. This year he's up to 2.94 hits/game and the shot/game pace is basically the same at 3.82.
Say what you want about his immaturity (all true), his brashness (which I generally like), his awful haircuts (ugh) or whatever else you want, but when it comes to fantasy hockey this guy is a gamer who has really elevated his standard league worth in leaps and bounds in the last calendar year. You had a window of opportunity to acquire him during the lockout with his piss-poor KHL results. That window has likely long-since closed.
Evgeni Malkin has apparently been experiencing concussion symptoms since his fall into the boards Friday night, including what a Tribune-Review report termed "severe headaches and mild disorientation."
We've all, unfortunately, seen more than enough concussions in recent years to know that there is no way to tell how serious this issue may become or what sort of timetable with which we may be dealing. What we do know is that Dan Bylsma is not going to move James Neal onto Sidney Crosby's line, at least not initially.