The silly season is upon us. Nikita Kucherov, Aleksander Barkov and Erik Karlsson were all out last night, among others. Sure, each of these taken on their own make sense (especially Kucherov who was out sick for a team with maybe five healthy forwards) but cumulatively it is a sign that we’ve reached the point where teams/players are packing things in. Players are either resting for the playoffs or just don’t have the need to push through an injury. Can you rely on anyone to play on any given night? Not if a team has clinched or been eliminated.
On the flip side, it now appears that both Steven Stamkos AND Tyler Johnson may return on Saturday, which is a shocking turn of events. This is a boon for the Lightning but also makes it exceedingly unlikely that Brayden Point will hang onto his cushy spot alongside Kucherov. Ondrej Palat’s status is much safer but stay tuned. For what it's worth, I'm not dropping Point just yet, probably because I don't have the moves to burn but also because he could remain productive even if shuffled to the third line. He's good.
By the way, Point and Palat still managed to score without Kucherov last night, combining for three points in a win against the Red Wings.
With Barkov out, Jonathan Huberdeau and Jaromir Jagr were centered by Denis Malgin with disastrous results. Huberdeau has 23 points in 26 games since returning and is clearly a stud but he loses something with Barkov out. Jagr wasn’t even relevant with both these guys around so he remains a fringe option.
Not much information on Barkov’s injury other than it is upper-body in nature. I don’t want to bring about panic but I wouldn’t be shocked if Barkov didn’t play again this season. He is a notorious Band-Aid Boy and it’s that time of year.
Vincent Trocheck owners like Yours Truly are secretly rooting for Barkov to be done because Trocheck has done so much better when Barkov has missed time. Trocheck scored 18 points in 16 games, while Barkov was out and has 18 in 25 since he returned. The latter run is not bad but I think we all enjoyed his point-per-game pace for over a month.
With Karlsson out, following a blocked shot, the Senators managed just 19 shots against the Wild. They scored one goal on Alex Stalock, in an absolute drubbing that Minnesota needed to build some confidence.
Karlsson was hurt blocking a shot, ending his consecutive games streak at 324. Every fant