Bennett scores four, Rask skidding, Ducks' power play struggles and more.

What a letdown game for the Panthers. After their streak ended Monday night against Vancouver they came out completely flat last night. It was as though the Sedins had scooped all the peanut butter out of their jar or something.

Seriously though, the Panthers just laid down for the Flames losing 6-0, managing just 15 shots. So far life without Aaron Ekblad is not going very well. The good news is that they don’t play again until Sunday so plenty of time to rest and heal and get ready to play.


What a night for Sam Bennett. He scored a first period hat-trick, then added one more late in the game to make it a four-goal affair. He was also a solid plus-five, with five SOG. As exciting a performance as this was, Bennett is still scoring at a sub-40-point pace so cool your jets in one-year formats.

This does hint at a bright future ahead and remember this is his rookie season. Bennett could be in for an intriguing second half given the Flames have turned things around but I am betting against it. Prior to scoring five goals in the last two games Bennett had gone scoreless in 10 straight. Unless I hear word that Bennett is on a line with Johnny Gaudreau I am steering clear. Again, I am talking one-year formats.

It should be mentioned that Bennett was skating with Jiri Hudler who returned from injury. Check out the Flames’ lines:

















Great spot for Micheal Ferland who was held scoreless. Not only was he on the top line with Sean Monahan and Gaudreau but he was on the top power-play unit with them as well. He could be in for a nice run if he clicks there and the Flames would probably benefit from having Hudler on his own line to produce some secondary offense alongside Bennett.

Speaking of depth scoring, Michael Frolik is apparently close to returning. Bob Hartley was saying maybe Saturday or early next week. He muddies things for Ferland and Bennett but could just as easily skate on the third line as he did in Winnipeg. The Jets certainly miss what Frolik brought to the table.

Shutout for Jonas Hiller in his first appearance since December 12. Prior to this, Hiller had given up three goals or more in five straight contests and had actually made just three appearances since October. I was ready for him to disintegrate like a rusty fender at the first sign of trouble but the Panthers didn’t offer up even a second of resistance.

This is a good confidence booster for Hiller but, more importantly, this was a great way to get Karri Ramo some rest. He is locked in as the #1 until further notice.


Nice display from Joonas Korpisalo stopping 41 of 42 shots from the James van Riemsdyk-less Leafs. Up to this point Korpisalo has struggled quite a bit and with constant rumours of a return for Sergei Bobrovsky it seems fruitless to pick him.

I do wonder about this Bobrovsky situation. Groins injuries never seem to go away. This could linger all season. I recently advised someone to take Bobrovsky over Antti Niemi and Connor Hellebuyck in a wins pool so my confidence in Bob isn’t all that shaken. I just wonder.

First point for Seth Jones in a Blue Jacket uniform was an assist. He has been up over 22 minutes in all four of his games with Columbus.

The Blue Jackets lost David Savard to an upper-body injury in this one. No update could be provided. If he misses time, we might see Jones push into Doughty/Suter ice time.

With Kerby Rychel up with the big club, does he still want a trade? I can’t imagine the Blue Jackets are actively looking to ship out another young forward.

Rychel has been back up for three games now and has two assists in those three games. He also has seven SOG in that stretch and has skated over 10 minutes in each contest. That’s notable because he saw fewer than 10 minutes in each and every one of his other 11 NHL appearances this season.

Don’t expect a ton out of Rychel. He might be seventh among Blue Jacket forwards I’d want in a fantasy league. That said, this is a good stepping stone to becoming a relevant fantasy asset at some point.


Check out the Leafs’ lines without JVR:




















Interesting that Shawn Matthias won the gig alongside Tyler Bozak and PA Parenteau. That does not bode well for Bozak and Parenteau.

Josh Leivo skated just over 10 minutes but did see some power-play time as noted from the lines above. Intriguing spot.

Six SOG and no points for Nazem Kadri who I am now convinced may be permanently snake-bitten.


Three points apiece for Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. Why were they ever apart?

I have seen a movement to make Sean Couturier a waiver pickup from many fantasy hockey columnists. I understand why. Going into last night Couturier had scored six goals and 12 points in his last 11 games.

Even after going scoreless last night, Couturier is still at 12 in 12, which is a good run but that run began with Voracek and Wayne Simmonds as linemates. For the past few games he has been with Michael Raffl and Brayden Schenn. He produced but it’s not the same. I don’t like Couturier going forward. This is a hot run but not a sustainable one.

Three straight wins for Steve Mason who is right back into the goalie battle with Michal Neuvirth.


Going the other direction, Tuukka Rask has lost five straight starts. The numbers haven’t been terrible in that run and Rask is a legit talent but it’s worth mentioning that this streak comes with David Krejci absent. No coincidence there. Don’t be shocked if the losses continue to pile up.

The only guy loving the absence of Krejci is Ryan Spooner who has eight in seven since Krejci went down. Spooner is up to 30 points, putting him on pace for just short of 60 this season. He won’t reach that high but low 50’s is looking highly attainable.


Losing the shot battle is no strange thing for the Senators but they got hosed 38-25 by the Ducks who finally got some secondary offense.

Jakob Silfverberg even scored, which might be cause for a parade given how often he shoots and how seldom it actually goes in.

Last night was probably the first night I didn’t inject Shea Theodore into my daily lineup as a cheap defense option. Naturally, he scores a power-play goal. I had been on him because of his presence on the Ducks’ top power-play unit. I guess it finally paid off.

My logic may have been flawed, however, because the Ducks’ power play is ^#$%ing terrible. At this point Oscar the Grouch is looking to move in.

Gus Katsaros with a look at how the Ducks’ scoring woes actually began last season:

Corey Perry recorded his final power play point of the season on Jan 30, so I split the Ducks season into two parts, pre- and post-Jan 30.

The results.


50 GP – 29 goals – 163 opportunities – 17.8% efficiency

0.58 power play goals per game on 3.26 opportunities.


32 GP – 8 goals – 74 opportunities – 10.8% efficiency

0.25 power play goals per game on 2.3 opportunities

This is pretty damning stuff.


Ryan Miller is ready to get back into the lineup and will start against the Capitals. Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Jacob Markstrom has been good while replacing Miller and at this point is the better of the two. Whether the Canucks want to make a push to win or a push to develop their youth Markstrom fits both scenarios. I don’t really see Miller starting more than 40% of the games the rest of the way.


The Avalanche called up prospects Nikita Zadorov and Chris Bigras and have plans on playing them tonight. I don’t envision much fantasy value for either one right now. Perhaps Zadorov would be of interest if you count hits.


It didn’t take the Oilers much time at all to recall Zack Kassian from their AHL affiliate. This is likely in response to the Matt Hendricks suspension as Kassian hardly had enough time in the minors to really make an impact. Keep your eye on him in leagues counting hits and PIM.


The Predators have placed Cody Hodgson on waivers. He will always be notable because he was a high pick but he hasn’t had relevance in years.

The Predators have also called up Kevin Fiala, which is extremely intriguing given the forward depth they have built up. There is room in the top six for Fiala with Colin Wilson on the shelf.

Read more on Fiala here.


Also in the fallout of the Jones-Johansen trade, the Blue Jackets lost Kevin Connauton on waivers to the Arizona Coyotes.

Given the Savard injury noted above, the Blue Jackets have to be kicking themselves. They’ve already lost two defensemen to waivers.

It was surprising to see the Blue Jackets waive Connauton who had become a bit of a John Tortorella favourite. The numbers game won out.

Somehow, Connauton managed to go plus-10 in 27 games for the Blue Jackets. There was likely some puck luck involved in that. Indeed, his PDO of 104.7 screams off unsustainability. Still, he could be useful for the Coyotes. His presence muddies the waters for reclamation project Stefan Elliott who has shown flashes in his time in Arizona.


Word is that the Sabres are listening to offers for Tyler Ennis. I would have figured Ennis into the long-term plans for the Sabres, especially considering they gave him a pretty sizable extension not too long ago. He still has three years left after this one at $4.6 million per. That’s a tough contract to move, but I suppose the Sabres are already thinking about getting their Ducks in a row considering the big contract extension they’ll have to give Rasmus Ristolainen this summer.

In the right spot, Ennis could be really intriguing. It’s almost a shame he isn’t a pending UFA because he could certainly help some teams as a rental. I don’t think he fits the salary structure for the Canadiens but his speedy game from the wing could certainly help fill that void on the second line right side.

Other teams like the Ducks could use a boost as well, but again, the salary doesn’t seem like a fit.

That said, I’m not so sure the Sabres even want to treat this like a rental situation. They probably just want to change their dynamic and add a different sort of player to the lineup, rather than simply dumping Ennis off on someone.

In any case, I know a lot of us were thinking Ennis would emerge as a real nice long-term option to team up with Jack Eichel and potentially go for 30 goals and 60 points one day. Doesn’t look like that is in the cards. Here’s hoping for a soft landing.


Good stuff in Elliotte Friedman’s latest 30 Thoughts:

20. Robin Lehner stopped 44 of 50 shots over the weekend in his first two AHL starts. Buffalo appreciated the fact he went with the team to Binghamton on Saturday to back up, as Lehner was given the option to stay home. (Maybe a former teammate owed him poker money.)

Rochester is in Albany on Wednesday, and if he gets through that healthy, does he start in one of the back-to-back games against Boston or Washington next weekend? “Welcome back, Robin. You might want to keep an eye on that number eight.”

I have mostly given up on Lehner as a prospect but he is only 24 years old. I just don’t have much patience with goalies who make the leap but don’t perform. One big knock against Lehner is that since turning pro he has had only one good season where he carried a .937 save percentage across 43 games at the NHL and AHL level combined. Every other season has been rather hodgepodge. I just worry about his consistency.


Thanks for reading. You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw. For more help in your fantasy league, pick up the Dobberhockey Mid-Season guide full with over 600 player projections for the second half of the season.