We had five games in the NHL on Sunday night so let’s get right into the games.
Carolina’s top line continued it’s tear by helping down the New York Islanders 4-2. That makes three straight wins, including a back-to-back this weekend, and a 5-2-2 record overall for the Hurricanes in November.
Teuvo Teravainen had two goals, including the game-winner on the power play in the second period. He added an assist, six total shots, two blocked shots, and a hit. Line mate Sebastian Aho had a goal and two assists, four total shots, and a hit. Somehow, Jordan Staal ended up pointless. C’est la vie.
Elias Lindholm tallied the other marker.
The Hurricanes' blue line had fine fantasy performances in this one: Justin Faulk had two assists, three shots, two blocks, and two penalty minutes; Noah Hanifin had an assist and three hits; Jaccob Slavin had three shots and seven blocks.
Cam Ward got the start for Carolina and saved 27 of 29 for the win. Jaroslav Halak took all four goals in the loss.
Nick Leddy had a great fantasy night putting up a goal and an assist with two total shots, two blocks, two penalty minutes, and two hits. John Tavares had the other goal for the Islanders and he had six shots himself. Yes, Tavares is shooting 23.8 percent and that will keep coming down, but he’s still over halfway (15) to his goal total from last year (28) and over one-third of the way (23) to surpassing his point total (66) in 2016-17. A very nice rebound season is on its way even though he won’t keep up this pace through March.
Both teams are off until Wednesday when each of them have a home game against a Metro opponent.
Of note to fantasy owners is that Victor Rask was scratched in this game. Coach Bill Peters said he wasn’t happy with his play and thought some time in the press box would help. He does have just five points this year and his play-driving numbers aren’t very good either. Hopefully this is the wake-up call he needs.
I know coaches have their reasons for doing things. They’re trying to win games, send messages, etc. I get that. But I can’t say I wasn’t furious when I saw that Jeff Blashill put Andreas Athanasiou back on the fourth line for their matchup last night against Colorado. He had four goals in 10 games and four points in three games heading into Sunday night. He was still demoted to the fourth line and played the second-fewest even-strength minutes of any Detroit forward (10:10). It’s going to be frustrating having his fantasy shares because his value is tied to his coach’s whims.
On the bright side, Athanasiou scored in this game. I mean, the team still lost 4-3 in overtime, but he scored. So. Whatever.
Justin Abdelkader and Niklas Kronwall had the other markers for the Red Wings. No one had a multi-point night for Detroit, but some players found other ways to contribute. Frans Nielsen, for instance, had three shots, two blocks, two penalty minutes, but he was a minus-2.
Jimmy Howard faced 37 shots but came up a bit short by stopping 33 of them.
The story of this game, really, was Nathan MacKinnon. He has looked snake-bit at times this year, but this game was another example of him looking like he’s on a different level than each of his previous seasons. His speed, his hands, his quick release. All his attributes are coming to the forefront in his age-22 season. He had a goal and an assist in this game and his goal was the overtime winner. He played 23:31 and even had a hit for good measure. He’s now up to seven goals and 22 points on the year. It feels like he’s been in the league forever but the first overall pick in 2013 is really just coming into his prime now. It’s fun to watch.
For those starting Erik Johnson in fantasy leagues, please come to the ticket window to claim your prize. He had a goal and an assist against Detroit, adding four more shots, two blocks, and a hit. Carl Soderberg and Nail Yakupov scored the other two goals for Colorado. Yak’s minutes are still too low to be relied upon for fantasy, but he does have as many points this year as last (9) and this tally was his sixth, doubling last season’s output. He won’t live up to his hype from five years ago, but it’d be nice to see him carve out a career playing specialized minutes. There’s still offensive talent there. Just not franchise-changing talent.
Jonathan Bernier was in the cage for Colorado, and stopped 21 of 24 in the victory.
There was a scary moment in the Senators-Rangers game where Ottawa defenceman Mark Borowiecki took a hit from Rangers defenceman Brendan Smith and was knocked unconscious going into the boards. Smith was given a five-minute major and was kicked out of the game. I won’t post the injury video here but Sportsnet has it up on their site for those that want to view it. I didn’t see any post-game updates as to the severity. If someone did, please post them (not rumours, actual reports) in the comments.
Let’s hope it’s nothing long-term with Borowiecki. Best wishes to him.
Outside of that incident, the Senators looked rather uninspired in the game, getting shut out 3-0. They managed just 20 shots and while Henrik Lundqvist had to make a couple tough saves, he was far from under siege for 60 minutes.
Craig Anderson allowed two goals on 26 shots in the loss.
Remember that on Friday night, Pavel Buchnevich was essentially benched for the third period of their game against Columbus. He returned to the top line in this game with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, but was given under 13 minutes in total ice time. It appears his coach will be reluctant to use him in the final 10 minutes of a game if the team has a lead that isn’t a blowout. That’s going to be frustrating for fantasy owners.
Kevin Hayes scored in the second period while Michael Grabner potted his ninth goal of the season in the third. Zibanejad tallied late in the third period but it was in a shift with Mats Zuccarello on his line.
He didn’t manage a point but Brady Skjei had a plus-1, two shots, six blocks, and two hits. Kevin Shattenkirk put up four shots, two blocks, two penalty minutes, and two hits on his own.
Like I said, not much doing tonight for the Senators. Mike Hoffman had five shots while Derick Brassard had three. The two of them had 40 percent of the team’s shots. Just a game to put behind them.
Speaking of Skjei, if you haven't seen Saturday Night Live's NHL sketch from this past weekend that feature a Skjei reference, please do so. It's fantastic.
Vegas continued their winning ways at home by nabbing a 4-2 victory over Los Angeles on the back of three first-period goals, two by William Karlsson. Cody Eakin had a goal and an assist while Alex Tuch fired home an empty-netter.
The Golden Knights are now 8-1-0 at home on the season.
Reilly Smith had two assists to push his season-long point total to 16 points in 19 games. Karlsson has nine goals. Jonathan Marchessault was held pointless but he still has 12 points in 16 games on the campaign. This is a very good offensive line and it's fun watch watch highly-skilled players get the chance to play with creativity.
Maxime Lagace backstopped the Golden Knights to the tune of 27 saves on 29 shots. Jonathan Quick was pulled after the third goal of the first period and Darcy Kuemper held down the fort the rest of the way, stopping all 30 shots he faced.
Los Angeles made things interesting thanks to goals from Trevor Lewis, his sixth, and Tanner Pearson, his fourth. They had some chances, they just looked like they were running out of steam once the third period hit. Not to say Vegas didn’t earn the early 3-0 lead; they dominated long stretches through 40 minutes.
Drew Doughty had an assist, a shot, four blocks, and a hit while Alec Martinez had a shot, five blocks, and three hits. Tyler Toffoli had five shots on goal.
By the way, Malcolm Subban appears close to returning in goal. So, uh, maybe they’ll finally have NHL-calibre-ish goaltending?
Perhaps – I would say likely – the performance of the night came in the Panthers-Ducks game from Anaheim goaltender John Gibson. Florida threw 52 shots at home and he saved 50, earning the Ducks a 3-2 win. This pushes his save percentage on the year to .924 though it’s translated to just seven wins in 16 starts, largely thanks to all the team’s injuries.
Josh Manson scored first for Anaheim on a breakaway (seriously) while Rickard Rakell and Brandon Montour added power-play goals to help the team en route to victory. Vincent Trocheck and Keith Yandle replied in the loss. Both Florida goal scorers had two points while Aleksander Barkov assisted on both goals.
Aaron Ekblad had nine shots on goal. That tied him for the second-highest mark for a blue liner this season in a single game (John Carlson had 10 a month ago). Barkov had six shots, Trocheck had five, Huberdeau had five, Yandle had four, and Jared McCann had four.
Roberto Luongo saved just 25 shots of the 28 he faced in the loss.
One important note here: Evgeni Dadonov was moved to the second line with Trocheck and Nick Bjugstad was moved to the top line with Sasha and Huberdeau. That lasted right until the final 10 minutes of the game when all the lines were put in a blender while the team was fighting for a tying goal. If he stays on Trocheck’s line, that’s a small hit to his fantasy value. We’ll see if it lasts.
In addition to his goal, Rakell had five total shots in this one. Andrew Cogliano had six of his own while Hampus Lindholm – who returned from injury – had four of his own. Lindholm looked no worse for the wear, immediately playing over 25 minutes in his first game back from his one-game reprieve.
Radko Gudas was suspended for 10 games by the Department of Player Safety for his “slash” on Mathieu Perreault Thursday night:
Assuming he serves the full 10 games, he would return December 14th against Buffalo. By my count, this is the third straight season where he’s had a multi-game suspension. Fantasy owners are going to have to find their hits and blocked shots elsewhere. Here is the DoPS explanation:
Fantasy aside, I was hoping he’d get the rest of the season. What does he have to do here to warrant that, break Perreault’s neck? I liked an idea I saw floated around on Twitter: stop suspending the players and start penalizing the franchises that hires repeat offenders. A player's second or third suspension would mean a loss of draft picks or cap space, and it would escalate in severity. That would get all the meatheads out of the league in about two years.