Ramblings: Double Hat Tricks, The Bruins’ Crease, Strome, Dzingel, and Rittich (Jan. 23)

Cam Robinson



Oh boy, am I ever glad I caught the early game on Tuesday’s schedule. It was the marquee matchup pitting the defending Stanley Cup champs versus the San Jose Sharks. The two squads did not disappoint.


13 goals, two hat tricks, two two-goal deficits wiped out. Good times.


Alex Ovechkin led the Caps with his third trick of the season and added an assist for good measure. The captain is up to 36 goals and 56 points in 49 contests. With that performance, Ovechkin extended his goal-scoring lead to six.



However, it wasn’t enough as Washington surrendered a 6-4 lead in the third period and lost the game 7-6 in overtime. That’s six straight losses for the Caps.


The hero of that extra frame was Tomas Hertl. The 25-year-old is having a career-season and added to that with his own three-goal, four-point night affair. It’s his second hat trick in the last five contests. He’s already matched his career-high in goals (22) set last season, and is just one shy of his career-high in points (45).


He’s vying for the award for best value in fantasy drafts at this point.


Linemate, Evander Kane continued his red-hot play right alongside Hertl scoring two goals in this one. The left-winger has 12 goals and 24 points in his last 19 contests while putting up 3.5 shots per game over that span. All but three of those points have come at five-on-five.


After a dreadful November and so-so December, the 27-year-old has been a man possessed.


Kane has always been a streaky scorer, but the difference this year is his chemistry and the development of Hertl. Kane is clicking well above his normal assist-rate, all the while finding the back of the net in a sustainable way. He's likely to go on a goal-scoring binge at some point too, but when he's dried up, you can likely now count on the apples to keep your squad from starving with him in the lineup.


These two players performing at such high levels are excellent signs for the Sharks as we witness Joe Thornton finally begin to succumb to Father Time and his perfect record.



Not to be forgotten, Joe Pavelski added a goal and three helpers, and Logan Couture added a goal and two assists. Both of these guys are producing just below a point-per-game and are continuing to bring the consistent results that a fantasy team can set their watch to.



Erik Karlsson sat this one out again. The team still expects he’ll suit up at the local All-Star festivities, which is a good sign that this shouldn't linger into the stretch drive.



Of note, it sounds like Ovechkin will play Wednesday against the Maple Leafs and as such will sit out his All-Star-skipping suspension on February 1 against the Flames.



Don’t look now, but the Arizona Coyotes are just two points out of a Wild Card spot. Their 3-2 win over the Senators on Tuesday evening catapulted them up the standings and into that spot.


This is a squad that has been decimated by injuries this season. They don’t have their starting netminder. They’ve been without top forwards, and top defenders. They lack star power but are finding ways to win games.


Not exactly a recipe for fantasy owners to be clamouring for.


The injury concerns haven’t subsided yet either. Tuesday night saw the squad down to four defenders for a stretch as Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson both left the game. Hjalmarsson returned but OEL did not.


No word on his condition for tonight, but with the All-Star break upon us, here’s hoping that rest will suffice for OEL. At this point though, I feel it’s time to stop considering Ekman-Larsson as a high-end asset, or even one with a high-end upside.


He’ll be 28 this offseason and has played at or above a 50-point pace just once in his career. He has witnessed his shooting volume and conversion rate consistently decline over the last four seasons. God help you if your league still counts plus/minus. 



Lost in the shuffle of this one was Ryan Dzingel scoring his 20th goal of the season. The soon-to-be unrestricted free agent has saved his best hockey for when his bank account needed it most. The speedy 26-year-old winger is on pace for a tidy 34 goals and 65 points.


Hands up if you saw this one coming?


Dzingel is clicking at 18 percent which is likely to see some regression, but this is a player who hasn’t shot below 11.5 in any of his four NHL campaigns. He’s putting 2.3 shots on net per game after managing just 1.7 a year ago. His production will likely slow, but doesn't appear to be a true aberration.


All this while finding chemistry with Matt Duchene means he’s a worthy stream in the back half of the season. Even as the Senators likely settle in at the bottom of the standings, Dzingel, Duchene and Mark Stone all have millions of reasons to produce big numbers with July 1st looming.



Chicago has won two games in a row. This is not a drill.


On the heels of an 8-5 drubbing of the Caps on Sunday, the Blackhawks defeated the Metropolitan Division-leading Islanders 3-2 in the shootout on Tuesday. Dylan Strome and Jonathan Toews scored for the Hawks, while Valtteri Filppula and Mat Barzal answered for the Isles.


Strome has been given new life in the Windy City. He has 15 points in his last 13 games and has reignited the chemistry with junior linemate, Alex DeBrincat on the Hawks’ second line. He’s also loving life on the top power-play unit.


This is why we don’t toss away high-pedigree players before their 22nd birthday.


Meanwhile, Toews now has 17 points in his last 14 games and 48 in 51 games overall. That 0.94 point-per-game output is right in line with his peak production during Chicago’s heyday. Perhaps we were too quick to write off the captain as waiver wire fodder.


  • Patrick Kane is on pace for 47 goals and 116 points.
  • Jonathan Toews is on pace for 35 goals and 77 points.
  • Alex DeBrincat is on pace for 40 goals.


Yet the Blackhawks are racing towards a lottery finish. In the world of fantasy, I’ll take that combination over the Coyotes’ situation any day.



Drake Caggiula skated on the top line with Kane and Toews for the second straight contest skating 20 minutes on Tuesday. He’s failed to record a point in either match, but if he’s to live there long term, that makes for an interesting stream for daily setups.



Edmonton lost again. This time to the team who started the night in 31st place. But, hey, at least they locked up a 30-year-old goaltender with 31 games of NHL experience and a 0.905 career save percentage. *shrug*


Mikko Koskinen took the loss tonight, stopping 24 of 27 shots. He’s 3-8-0 in his last 12 games (10 starts) with a 0.880 save percentage and a couple of hooks midway. Not exactly pressuring management to extend him. 


Needless to say, I don’t love the extension.


Then there’s this:


I’m guessing that seat under Peter Chiarelli is red hot.



It turned out to be too hot to handle. 





The Flames defeated the Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime in the late affair. David Rittich was once again stellar, stopping 33 of 35 to win his seventh game in the last eight. He owns a 0.918 save percentage on the season and has fully and completely locked down the starting gig in Calgary.


With the way the Flames are playing, that’s a mighty powerful asset.



Sebastian Aho continues his run by recording an assist in this one to give him 16 points in his last 11 games and 54 in 49 on the season.


Meanwhile, Andrei Svechnikov saw just 12 minutes of ice and none on the man-advantage. Not exactly the setup we were hoping to see the youngster rocket down the back 30.



There were some whispers leaking out of Boston regarding Tuukka Rask's health status on Tuesday. If you missed it, Rask suffered a nasty looking concussion when his own defender, Charlie McAvoy shoved Filip Chytil into him during a rush.



Apparently, the Bruins’ trainer needed to be held back from McAvoy as he was irate that he put their goaltender in such a dangerous position. After the game, Rask was wearing a blindfold to deflect any light – not a great sign for a minor concussion.


On Tuesday, his agent said that Rask is more day-to-day and that the injury doesn’t appear to be anything too serious. Speaking from experience, thinking that a concussion won’t be a big deal a few days after the incident is asking for trouble. We can hope Rask returns quickly and healthy, but I’m sure the Bruins (and fantasy owners) are preparing for the worst. That universe sees Jaroslav Halak take the reins.


Back in November, this wouldn’t have seemed like much of an issue. Halak was vastly outplaying Rask – arguably playing the best hockey since his run in Montreal all those seasons ago. However, despite his strong play at the time, the Bruins refused to anoint either as the clear number one and have run a pure tandem setup.


Season to date:

Rask: 14-8-3 0.919 SV% over 1457 minutes

Halak: 13-9-2 0.919 SV% over 1480 minutes


However, over the last month, they’re going in opposite directions.


Since December 22nd

Rask:  6-1-1 0.928 SV%

Halak: 2-4 0.875 SV%


It looks to have been the right move as Rask appears to need the push throughout the season – similar to what Khudobin did for him last year. This concussion will surely throw a wrench in that. It does open up the value of Halak in a big way though, but only if he can get back to the level of play from earlier this year.


That’s a big if. But one that is worthy to swing on if you’re in need of a starter on a good team as your squad pushes into the playoffs.



Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson



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