Ramblings: Beaulieu, Matthews, Kucherov, Orlov and more
Well, Columbus won again. Sorry, but I’m going to keep leading with this story and pumping their tires for as long as they keep winning. Because it’s just so unbelievable. Cam Atkinson scored again. He now has 34 points in his last 30 games and is plus-11 in that span. I know he’s not the most popular name out there (other than to the readers of this site and the fans in Columbus), but if he doesn’t make the All-Star game then it’s time to hand in our NHL fan card. Atkinson had four shots on goal and it was the 12th time this season that he’s had at least that many in a game. He’s on pace for 237 shots, which would be a career high but only barely.
The usual suspects got their points: Alexander Wennberg got a points for the ninth time in 10 games. He has 12 points in that span; Nick Foligno now has nine points in five games; Zach Werenski has four in four; Seth Jones is on a four-game points streak; Brandon Saad is on a six-gamer, and has 11 points in eight games. And on and on and on. This whole thing is just astounding, not just as a hockey fan, but it’s turning the fantasy hockey world upside down. Anyone with Blue Jackets on their team is at least doing reasonably well – and they’re likely dominating if they own three or more!
All that – and Sergei Bobrovsky is the best goalie to own in fantasy hockey right now. And it’s not even close. He has 25 wins, which is six more than the next guy on the list. He could go the rest of January without getting another win…and still very likely lead the NHL still.
Shea Weber and Alexander Radulov returned to Nashville last night and they certainly came to play. Radulov was a beast, setting up both goals including the OT winner, while Weber scored the first one. PK Subban did not get to play his former team as he is on the IR. Although Radulov is now on a four-game points streak, that was his first multi-point game since December 10 and he had somewhat been slumping with just three points in nine games heading in. This should be enough to light a fire under him – and Weber, for that matter – to get things rolling again.
Radulov to Weber for Montreal’s first goal of the game:
Hey, remember that white-hot streak that Jeff Petry was on? He has cooled down some. But even when he was on fire, his points didn’t come from the power play. He’s firing a ton of shots on net at even strength and putting up his numbers that way (seven SOG last night). So what has happened is, about five games ago, his PP time has been given to Nathan Beaulieu. Instead of getting 70% of available PP time, Petry is now getting about 35%…and Beaulieu is getting 70%. What does this mean? Well, Beaulieu could start putting up some numbers. He has 12 SOG and two points in the last three games.
The Jets scored more than five goals for the first time in two months with their 6-4 win. Nik Ehlers now has eight points in five games with the three last night.
Patrik Laine’s goal was just his third in 11 games.
Jacob Trouba has six points during a four-game points streak. Still not getting PP time, so likely not sustainable, but it’s reassuring to be reminded of the talent that he has – for when he actually gets power-play time. Be it with Winnipeg or otherwise…
With three points last night, Nikita Kucherov has pulled himself right in the scoring race. He has nine points in his last five games and if he didn’t miss seven games this season he’d be right there. His points-per-game of 1.19 is second only to Sidney Crosby’s 1.31.
Andrei Vasilevskiy was just starting to turn things around when he coughed up five goals to the Jets. He had gone the month of December (10 games) without giving up that many, though he had given up four on three occasions.
No, Frederik Gauthier doesn’t have much in the way of offensive upside, despite his three points in seven games so far. But he’s looked damn good out there – as if the Leafs needed another quality prospect.
Did I just write those words? Apocalypse!
Anyway, Gauthier is listed at 6-5 but is it just me or does he look 7-2? He’s a monster!
Auston Matthews picked up two points against the Caps in a losing effort, and it was the fourth consecutive game in which he tallied that many. Remember in the summer when readers kept commenting “Babcock says he’ll be the third-line center, why do you project so many points?” and I kept responding “he’ll be the No.1 center by Christmas, Babcock is just saying that to take the pressure off.” Remember that? So where do we stand now?
Matthews is on a seven-game points streak and he has 14 in his last 10 games.
Evgeny Kuznetsov owners breathed a sigh of relief last night. Four points! In just one game, his end-of-season pace jumped from 43 points to 51 points. That number is still hard to swallow for a guy coming off a 77-point season, but it’s closer to the number he’ll actually end up with (if he falls short of 60 this year I’ll eat my hat***).
Dmitry Orlov continues to chip in some solid points and he’s now officially on a 40-point pace (per our profile here). With two points last night he now has eight in his last 10 games. Still only getting secondary PP time, but just three of his 18 points have come with the man advantage anyway.
Ty Rattie was placed on waivers by the Blues and I think he’ll get picked up. I’m not overly high on Reid Boucher, who – if the stars aligned – could maybe get 25 goals and 45 points in the right situation. But I do like Rattie and think he can do a little better than that. Watch carefully for where he goes. And if he doesn’t get picked up then that is also pretty telling about him as a player.
Anders Nilsson continues to get the second-class treatment yet he continues to be the better goalie. Remember in Edmonton? He was better than Talbot for two months before Talbot finally came around. If it weren’t for ‘hockey politics’, which involve a mix of pedigree, contract, and what the team has invested, then Nilsson would be getting more starts right now. But they are riding Robin Lehner. But Nilsson has a winning record and boasts a SV% of 0.928. He’s still only 26. I wonder if he could play his way into a 1A/1B situation with this team. “The Swedish Duo” they can be called.
Henrik Lundqvist. Woof. He’s given up 10 goals on his last 59 shots faced. The last two seasons Lundqvist has had stronger second halves and salvaged some good end-of-season numbers, so perhaps now is the time to kick tires on him and see if you can’t pick him up.
San Jose rookie Kevin Labanc has points in three straight games now. Lots of upside with this guy, for those of you who hadn’t caught his name in my Prospects Report. But last year he had 127 points for Barrie of the OHL, and 107 points the season before that. He’s up to 11 points in 25 games for the Sharks, and 10 in his last 18.
*** -The hat is made of nachos. I’ll be eating it anyway.