The NHL schedule was jam-packed with 15 games (only Columbus was not in action), so this Ramblings focus more on quick highlights than deep dives.
Jack Eichel scored all four Sabres’ goals on Saturday to go with a plus-4 and five shots on goal. Eichel had been slumping by his terms, recording just two points over his previous five games. However, this was the second consecutive game in which Eichel had taken five shots. This was the first four-goal game of Eichel’s career.
Jamie Benn goal alert! The slumping Star scored the overtime winner on Saturday and added an assist. He had not scored a goal in his previous 15 games, and the goal is only is second of the season. I wrote more about Benn and the Stars in the Friday Ramblings.
Benn’s linemate Tyler Seguin had a game, scoring the game-tying goal with less than two minutes in regulation and adding two assists while firing seven shots. Seguin hasn’t been spectacular, but he is getting back on track with multiple points in back-to-back games. The Stars mainly play a defensive style these days (aside from Saturday, when Ben Bishop was pulled), but it appears that their skaters are getting back on track after a miserable start.
Connor McDavid had another three-point game, while Leon Draisaitl added another two points. Only 13 points for each in their last four games. I’m getting killed by Draisaitl in one head-to-head league. I’m sure others are feeling the pain too.
Jujhar Khaira is owned in zero percent of Yahoo leagues (I’m sure it’s higher than that, but less than 1 percent). So probably almost no one benefitted from his two goals, plus-2, five shots, and four hits on Saturday.
Jonathan Drouin has been placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. Although Drouin had his bell rung after being hit by Alex Ovechkin on Friday, Claude Julien stated that Drouin’s injury is not related to the hit and is related to an injury that occurred after he returned to the game in the third period. Uh huh.
Patrice Bergeron missed Saturday’s game because of a lower-body injury. That meant David Krejci moved up to the top line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. Krejci assisted on Pastrnak’s league-leading 17th goal of the season. Bruce Cassidy used the term load management when describing the injury, given that the Bruins were playing their second game of back-to-backs. If it’s the groin injury that’s been bothering him, then this could well be more than load management. Krejci is worth a pickup if Bergeron also has to miss games next week.
The Bruins have also placed Torey Krug on IR with an upper-body injury. Saturday was the third consecutive game that Krug missed with the injury.
It seems like every year for about the past four years, Bryan Rust is a waiver-wire pickup you're looking at. Not someone you would draft, but someone you’re adding because he’s on a line with one of the Pittsburgh big guns. This season is no different, as he saw both even-strength and power-play time with Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel on Saturday. Rust took full advantage, scoring a goal and adding two assists with five shots on goal. After starting the season late due to injury, Rust has six goals and ten points in nine games, with points in seven of those nine games. He’s absolutely worth a pickup for the next few weeks.
Dominik Kahun snapped a four-game stretch without a point with two goals and an assist in the Penguins’ 6-1 win. Maybe it was the opposition, but the Penguins not having Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang wasn’t an issue. The Pens ended the game with 38 shots, but at one time it seemed like the total would be a lot higher. Making his first NHL start, Kasimir Kaskisuo was left in for all six goals and honestly deserved better.
During the second intermission of Hockey Night in Canada, Elliotte Friedman mentioned that it isn’t working for Tyson Barrie in Toronto and that teams are making trade calls for him. Barrie recorded an assist on the Leafs’ only goal, but he was a minus-4 in a game in which he played only 17 minutes. On the season, Barrie has just six assists with a minus-10 in 22 games, and he’s stuck on the second power-play unit. If the Leafs continue to struggle, Kyle Dubas might need to shake things up with a trade. Barrie owners should no doubt hope that the player shipped is their guy. Otherwise, a player with an 80 ADP in Yahoo leagues is jetting toward being a complete bust this season.
Goalie fight! Goalie fight! Well, sort of…
Surprisingly, Matthew Tkachuk only received a double minor for roughing, while Darcy Kuemper and David Rittich received four and two penalty minutes, respectively. Kuemper won what counted the most, which was a 38-save shutout of the Flames. With nine wins and two shutouts already and success dating back to last season, Kuemper has now achieved must-start status.
With a goal and an assist on Saturday, Artemi Panarin now has an 11-game point streak. Over that span Panarin has 17 points (5g-12a). Only three players have more points than Panarin over that span. Panarin also has multiple points in five of his last six games. Panarin also has more points than any player who changed teams during the offseason (23 points in 18 games). There’s been no issues fantasy-wise with his move to New York.
Keith Yandle recorded three assists in the Panthers’ 4-3 win over the Rangers. He now has a five-game point streak, which includes eight points over his last three games. A high proportion of Yandle’s points came on the power play last season (39 of 62), and the results this season are even more tilted toward power-play points (11 of 18). Not surprisingly, the Panthers possess a top-5 power play (26.6 PP%) and offense (3.55 GF/GP) as well as two scorers (Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov) in the top 15. If Sergei Bobrovsky rounds into form, this could be one dangerous team.
Cale Makar piled up four more assists on Saturday, giving him 22 points in 20 games. He’s now the first rookie defenseman since Brian Leetch in 1988-89 to reach that total. Leetch won the Calder Trophy that season. Will Makar do the same? Right now he’s the points leader among rookies by a healthy margin (eight points, to be exact), and he’s a defenseman. In a game that featured two rookie standout blueliners (Quinn Hughes the other), Makar definitely stood out more. The Avalanche probably aren’t worried that Tyson Barrie is no longer around. He and Bowen Byram will form one impressive duo one day.
The Avalanche might be without Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, and their top two goalies, but they still have Makar and Nathan MacKinnon. The latter scored two goals, including the overtime winner, and added an assist. That’s the third time in his past five games that he has reached at least three points. His OT winner looked like a McDavid goal.
With two goals on Saturday, Adam Gaudette has eight points in as many games since being recalled from the AHL. Even when both Jay Beagle and Brandon Sutter return, he should be able to stay with the big club for good, especially with the strong training camp he had. Because this also matters, Gaudette needs to play just nine more NHL games before he is waiver exempt. Long term, he projects to be the Canucks’ third-line center and would likely have to be moved to the wing to move into the top 6.
There’s been another setback for the fifth overall pick in 2016. Olli Juolevi will be sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury. Everyone up to pick 17 in that draft has played at least one NHL game, with the exception of Juolevi. He is still only 21, but he keeps getting pushed further and further back with these injuries. The Canucks could’ve had Matthew Tkachuk…
Anthony Beauvillier scored two goals on Saturday, which gives him two goals in back-to-back games. This after Beauvillier had not scored a goal in his previous 13 games. Shooting the puck has helped, as he has now taken five shots in back-to-back games, a higher number than he took in any previous game this season. With Beauvillier trending in the right direction, it’s a good time to mention that he’s only 4 percent owned in Yahoo leagues.
Beauvillier has also helped make Derick Brassard relevant again, even if only for the short term. Brassard has recorded six points (1g-5a) over his last three games.
Derek Grant recorded his first career hat trick in the Ducks’ 4-1 win over St. Louis. Grant had not recorded a point in his previous six games and is just 1 percent owned in Yahoo leagues. He is not on a scoring line (Nicolas Deslauriers and Carter Rowney are his regular linemates), so file this one under that helps almost no one.
Alex Nylander has spent much of the season on a “scoring” line with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad. On Saturday it paid off, as he scored two goals in a 7-2 romp over Nashville. The goals were his first in 15 games, so you may need to exercise patience if you own him in a keeper league. It’s also worth mentioning that his power-play time has been relatively minimal so far.
I’ll just borrow Dobber’s tweet here because I don't think he recommends giving up on Erik Gustafsson quite yet.
Pekka Rinne was chased from the net for the second time in three games. He’s been struggling recently in allowing 13 goals over those three games – all losses. Rinne will probably figure things out, but it’s worth monitoring in case the struggles continue.
If you targeted Kevin Labanc as a super sleeper, you’ve probably either moved him to your bench or dropped him entirely by now. So his three-point effort with six shots on Saturday probably caught you by surprise, as he had not recorded a point in his previous five games or a goal in his eight games. Playing on a line with Logan Couture and Evander Kane could be another reason for you to reactivate him.
If you need a win without any regard to your ratios, look to Martin Jones. The Sharks’ goalie has now won six consecutive games, although he has done so with a 2.77 GAA and an .890 SV%. Empty calories for your fantasy team.
Andreas Athanasiou now has four goals in his last four games (two on Saturday) after scoring just once over his first 16 games. Newly acquired Robby Fabbri assisted on both of AA’s goals, which gives him six points in five games in a Red Wings’ uniform. This might be an under-the-radar duo to keep an eye on, especially since they’re each owned in approximately 15 percent of Yahoo leagues.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.