Prime Panarin




With the pressure off of those teams who are out of the playoff race, many teams are playing all loosey-goosey. I love that Jimmy Vesey had a hat trick for the Rangers last night and that Seth Jones add two big power play points as Columbus fights for a playoff position. The Sens Magnus Paajarvi showing signs of life with a two-goal performance, but the story from last night is Alexander Ovechkin notching his 600th NHL goal. The guy has been a beast and the king of fantasy hockey since entering the league in 2005-06.


Fantasy Focus


After breaking into the NHL with an impressive 30 goal, 77-point rookie campaign, Artemi Panarin served up a 31 goal, 74-point sophomore season. He was then dealt to Columbus with Tyler Motte in a deal that sent Brandon Saad and goaltender Anton Forsberg (along with a swap of draft picks) back to the windy city.


An injury to starting goaltender Corey Crawford has seen Forsberg start 25 games this season, which in part explains why the Blackhawks are going to miss the playoffs for the first time in a decade (2007-08). In his four previous campaigns, Saad had averaged 51 points per year. He is well off that pace this season and will very likely finish with less than 35 points.


Panarin has acquitted himself well in Columbus, recording 21 goals and 61 points in 70 games. He is on pace to finish with more than 70 points for the third consecutive season, no small feat in his first campaign without Patrick Kane. That said, he doesn’t exactly line up with talentless slugs; Cam Atkinson and rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois are offensive-minded players, plus the Breadman receives the most power play minutes on the team.


If the Columbus Blue Jackets hope to punch their ticket to the post-season dance, Panarin is going to have to continue to be one of their best players down the stretch. The 26-year-old is undeniably in the prime of his career, recording 15 points over his last 12 games. While it won’t be a skate in the park, I’m betting that when all is said and done, the Blue Jackets will indeed have their tickets to the post-season dance in hand.


Team by Team Quick Hits by Division




In his last nine starts, Tuukka Rask has a 6-2-0 record. His underlying numbers are less impressive; a 3.22 goals-against average and 0.891 save percentage. Not great, but the Bruins averaged 3.89 goals per game in run support over those games.


Jason Pominville (population: 1) has six points in his last seven matches. He has seen an uptick in power play minutes of late, but after the exit of