Ramblings: Ovechkin Clicking at Career-Rate, Rantanen On Another Planet, Meier, & Johnsson (Dec 12)

Cam Robinson


Alex Ovechkin – USA Today Sports Images


William Nylander hit the scoresheet for the first time this season. The 22-year-old led the way for the Leafs with two even-strength assists as they beat the Hurricanes 4-1 on Tuesday evening. Nylander continued to skate alongside Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau on the team's third line. He's also working the half-wall on the team's second power-play unit. 


It isn't exactly the ideal spot to push his metrics to the next level, but it should be enough for him to play at a 60-point pace – about where I'd peg his floor to be. 



Freddie Andersen continues to roll on. The 29-year-old has been the best fantasy netminder in all setups. His win tonight pushes his record to 17-8-0 with a 0.928 save percentage. He's posted a quality start rate of 72 percent. That's a puck-stopper you can rely on. 



Andreas Johnsson scored a goal on Tuesday night but it was quickly changed to give credit to Morgan Rielly. Despite the pointless night, Johnsson has been playing well of late. He was a sleeper pick by many last offseason to break out in Toronto this year. He started his season by watching up in the press box as a healthy scratch. When he did get into the lineup, it was in a depth role.


Well, Willy Nylander is back in Leaf-land and things are moving and shaking. Johnsson has been lining up on the left side of Auston Matthews at even strength the past few games. He's also seeing his fair share of second power-play unit duties.


The 24-year-old has made the most of his upgrade in deployment.  He came into the game against Carolina with two consecutive games with a goal and an assist. He’s owned in just 16 percent of Yahoo leagues but that number is climbing.


Patty Marleau doesn’t look like a true fit beside Matthews, and Johnsson’s speed, skill and tenacious-style fits well to pursue the puck and cause turnovers for the big pivot to operate with. I love this type of streamer. A young player with upside who is in a good spot. He won’t see PP1 time, so the results will be held back to some degree. But he could become a staple on that line with a few more strong performances.


Buy-in if you can.



It was reported that Ryan Miller will miss six weeks with a sprained MCL. The Ducks wasted no time in claiming Chad Johnson off of waivers from St Louis to provide some support to John Gibson.


Jordan Binnington is the new back-up in STL. The 25-year-old has a single NHL game on his resume. He managed to wrestle the starting gig in the American league from Ville Huuso who has been projected as the up and comer for a few seasons.


With the way the Blues are playing these days, it is conceivable that Binnington sees some ice, but the results will likely be very muted.



It was Jake Allen who got the start and the win against the Panthers on Tuesday. St Louis needed this one. After getting shelled on home ice by Vancouver on Sunday, the media was all over the practice tilt involving Bortuzzo and Sanford. Perhaps that was the gelling moment for a squad that should be much better than they've been. 


David Perron (2+0), Brayden Schenn (1+1) and Jaden Schwartz (0+2) led the way for the Blues. 



Speaking of bad teams, the Blackhawks dropped their eighth consecutive contest on Tuesday. They fell 6-3 the Jets on the road. 


Winnipeg was led by Kyle Connor and his two tallies. Dustin Byfuglien chipped in with three assists. He seems to be back to his old ways after that terribly managed concussion. 



More injuries in Anaheim? You don't say. This time it's the team’s top left-wing, Rickard Rakell who continues to be out with a sprained ankle. There is no timeline for his return at this point.


That’s another gaping hole on a team that has been decimated with injuries this season. It was Pontus Aberg who rolled next to Getzlaf and Ondrej Kase on the team’s ‘top line’ during the last game. Aberg and Sprong both took turns on the team’s top power play unit.


No one is replacing Rackell in the short term, but Sprong or Aberg could provide some streaming options if they are getting exposure to Getzlaf in all situations.



Boston and Arizona squared off in a cross-conference battle that drew…very little attention. While it didn't have the heat of a divisional matchup, this was a good game. The Coyotes jumped out to a 2-0 lead after Nick Schmaltz and Nick Cousins potted first-period tallies. Schmaltz has seven points in the seven games since landing in the desert. Here's hoping you bought in when we told you to. 


The Bruins stormed back to score four unanswered goals. Brad Marchand popped two. David Pastrnak chipped in with a goal and two helpers. The Bruins haven't been their dominant self with Patrice Bergeron on the shelf. But they're finding their way. 


Of note, Ryan Donato skated on the team's second line and top power-play unit. He saw 3:35 of PPTOI and recorded an assist and two shots on goal. That's the type of deployment you want to see the young sharp-shooter receive to start considering him an asset for this season. 



The NHL has its first 50-point scorer in 2018-19. Mikko Rantanen buried his 13th and 14th goals of the season and added two assists on Tuesday in a 6-4 loss to the Oilers. That extended his point streak to 12 games and 23 points. This dude is on another planet. 


He has a six-point lead atop the Art Ross race. 



Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl combined for five points in the victory. Drai was chucking some backhand sauce out there. 



The big German has quietly slid into the top-15 point producers with 37 points in 31 contests. He and McDavid belong together. I don't ever want to see those two split up again. 


Mikko Koskinen was good once again. Ken Hitchcock appears to have cleaned the squad up defensively, and it's Koskinen who is thriving the most. He sporting a 0.928 save percentage in 15 games played. He has two regulation losses in his last 11 games and has posted a quality start rate of 60 percent. 


The crease is his. 


Oscar Klefbom left the game and it's reported he could be out for multiple weeks. Just as things were starting to heat up for him. Darnell Nurse replaced him on the top power-play unit. There aren't many other options on this team, so Nurse may just lock this down for a bit. If he does, that's a guy to take a swing on off of the wire. 



The LA Kings are dreadful. Leading the Sabres 3-1 heading into the third period they managed to blow things.  Granted they were down to four defensemen in the game as Drew Doughty and Dion Phaneuf both left this one.


Jeff Skinner ended up potting the overtime winner, his 21st of the season. His captain and linemate, Jack Eichel contributed a goal and an assist. It was his fifth multi-point outing in the last six games. 


Eichel now sits tied for ninth in NHL scoring with 38 points in 31 contests. The 22-year-old has officially arrived. And so have the Sabres. Buffalo is solidly in the playoffs and third in their division. Just three points behind the Leafs for second. It's been a long road in upstate New York, it's good to finally see some success. 


Rasmus Dahlin was held off the scoresheet in this one. But the 18-year-old played 28:34, had eight shots and three blocks. He played 10:04 on the man-advantage! 


Fret not keeper league owners, his counting stats may not jump off the page just yet, but he's out there doing things like this before he even has to shave. Imagine what he'll do in a year or three. 




Nick Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin teamed up to lay a beatdown on the Red Wings on Tuesday. Ovi proceeded to score three goals to push his league-leading total to 25 in 30 games. The 33-year-old has never had that many tallies through 30 games in any of his previous 13 seasons. 


Let that sink in for a moment. He's 33 years old and on pace for his highest output yet. The man is pacing for 68 goals!


What a legend. 


Ovechkin is currently riding an 11-game point streak where he's scored 13 goals and 19 points. 


Meanwhile, Backstrom continues to be the most underappreciated fantasy star ever. Left for dead by many after a 'disappointing' 71-point campaign a year ago and looking like his days of dishing to Ovi at even-strength were over. Well, turns out he's far from dead. The 31-year-old has 38 points in 30 games to be living in the top-10 league-wide. 


I keep trying to trade for him in my main league and you should too.


Rick Roos is rolling again with his annual Cage Match Tournament. Check out the forums to vote for The New Normal edition.



Gus Nyqvist potted a goal and an assist. The 29-year-old has produced nine points in the six games since Anthony Mantha went down with a hand injury. Nyqvist is having his best start to date with 28 points in 32 games. A quiet but effective producer who is seeing high-end deployment.

That's a good combination.


The requisite Elias Pettersson tidbit.


Heading into Tuesday’s contests, Pettersson had 15 goals and 30 points in 26 career games. Here’s a look at some other current stars and their totals after 26 contests.


Some current NHL stars and their points totals after 26 career games:


Elias Pettersson – 30

Evgeni Malkin – 30

Alex Ovechkin – 29

Sidney Crosby – 28

Connor McDavid – 28

Patrick Kane – 27

Patrik Laine – 21

Johnny Gaudreau – 20

Auston Matthews – 20





Since we're talking about Pettersson (when am I not?), the 20-year-old rookie posted a goal and an assist in Tuesday's 3-2 win over Columbus. His 32 points in 27 games vaults into the top-30 for skaters league-wide. His 1.19 points-per-game represent the 18th best mark. 


As amazing as that is, the thing that really stands out is that 1.19 points-per-game is only good for 18th in the league! We are living in a high-scoring and enjoyable time. Perhaps the 22 skaters that played at or above a point-per-game last year wasn't an aberration after all. The goalie pads are slimmer, and the red lights are warmer. 


Good times. 



The Wild laid the boots to Canadiens 7-1 on home ice on Tuesday. Matt Dumba scored two goals, while Zach Parise added a goal and two helpers. 


Dumba has been good again this season. The 24-year-old has 12 goals and 21 points in 30 games this year. His 12 markers lead all blueliners and he's on pace for another career year. That would be five seasons in a row where the former WHL stud improved on his goal and point total. 



Jeff Petry may not be working the top power-play unit in Montreal now that Shea Weber is healthy, but that hasn't slowed him down yet. The veteran defender has five points in the five games since Weber rejoined the team. 

His five-on-five shooting percentage is a bit high, but the rest of his metrics remain solid. Better not drop him yet.



Let's talk about Timo Meier for a moment. The 22-year-old is tied for 10th in the NHL with 26 even-strength points. His 3.6 P/60 is 17th most – tied with Crosby, Wheeler, Eichel, Pasta, and Malkin.


He's putting 3.31 shots on goal per night and is on pace for 44 goals and 82 points in 79 games.


PLUS! his name is really fun to say.



People need to be waking up on this kid. He’s a play-driver and he’s driving the bus in San Jose as a third-year player. We keep waiting for his numbers to slag, but there have been no signs of slowing down yet.



Feel free to follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson




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