This will be my first The Wild West column after doing the Frozen Tools Forensic column for almost a year and I’m pretty excited to get going. Inspired by the original Wild West writer Ryan Ma, I’d like to focus on weekly happenings in and around the Western Conference of the NHL and look at each team and players or trends that might interest people in their fantasy pools.
Weekly Western Leaders
Goals – 5 – Dominik Kubalik – Chicago
Assists – 4 – Connor McDavid – Edmonton, Leon Draisaitl, – Edmonton, Ryan Getzlaf – Anaheim, Jonathan Toews – Chicago, Patrick Kane – Chicago, Erik Karlsson – San Jose, Brayden Schenn– St. Louis, Blake Wheeler – Winnipeg
Points – 6 – Connor McDavid – Edmonton
Shots on Goal – 22 – Max Pacioretty – Vegas
PIM – 17 – Nazem Kadri – Colorado
Best plus/minus – plus 4 – Dominik Kubalik – Chicago, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Edmonton, Alexander Steen – St. Louis, Tomas Hertl – San Jose, Oscar Klefbom – Edmonton, Milan Lucic – Calgary , Vince Dunn – St. Louis
Worst plus/minus – minus 4 – Barclay Goodrow – San Jose, Duncan Keith – Chicago, Jay Beagle – Vancouver, Jeff Carter – Los Angeles, Brad Richardson – Arizona, Stefan Noesen – San Jose, Brayden McNabb – Vegas
Hits – 17 – James Neal – Edmonton
Blocked shots – 17 – Mark Giordano – Calgary
FOW – 49 – Jonathan Toews – Chicago
FOL – 40 – Barclay Goodrow – San Jose
Giveaways – 9 – Ethan Bear – Edmonton
Takeaways – 9 – Mark Stone – Vegas
5 on 5 SH% (min 3 GP) – 14.0 Yakov Trenin – Nashville
CF% high (min 3 GP) – 62.2 – Daniel Sprong – Anaheim
CF% low (min 3 GP) – 37.3 Jay Beagle – Vancouver
Highest PDO (min 3 GP) – 113.0 – Niko Mikkola – St. Louis –
Lowest PDO (min 3 GP) – 91.2 – Mark Jankowski – Calgary
Save percentage (min 2 GP) – 96.0 – Jack Campbell – Los Angeles
Quality starts – 3 – Jordan Binnington – St. Louis
Anaheim only managed one victory in four games, this past week, with John Gibson getting the lone win in three starts. Ryan Getzlaf led the team with five points, while Cam Fowler put up a goal and two assists to lead the defence. Ondrej Kase had two goals, which might give hope for him to turn his season around as they were only his fourth and fifth goal of the season in 39 games. Adam Henrique also had two goals while posting a team high 21 shots (with 112 shots after 45 games he’s well on the pace to break his career high of 151). The Ducks lost Jakob Silfverberg and Max Jones to injury and they are both day-to-day. Troy Terry played his first game in the AHL after breaking his kneecap (on Dec. 17th) and had one assist.
Adin Hill was forced to dress in two games this past week, as Darcy Kuemper (after All-Star break) and Antti Raanta (day to day) are both battling injury. Arizona managed three points out of six as Hill played well in a shootout loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday night. 20-year old AHL rookie and Coyote 4th round pick in 2018 Ivan Prosvetov was the backup. The Coyotes only managed five goals in the three games this past week, Oliver Ekman-Larsson putting up a goal and two assists. Phil Kessel had three assists and Taylor Hall had a goal an assist, while leading the team with 12 SOG. Clayton Keller, Nick Schmaltz and Alex Goligoski were all held off the scoresheet. Christian Fischer was back in the lineup on Sunday after being a healthy scratch on Friday, but only played 6:37. His days in Arizona must be numbered.
With the battle of Alberta alive and well on Saturday night and the Flames coming out on top, they finished the week with a perfect four wins in four games. Cam Talbot had three of the starts and has wrestled the 1A away from David Rittich for the time being. Johnny Gaudreau with five points and 17 SOG and Elias Lindholm with four goals led the offense. Lindholm now has 20 goals and is on pace for 35 by season’s end. Derek Ryan is surging as well and had three points and is now on pace for a career-high 42 points. Matthew Tkachuk provided the spark against the Oilers that gave the Flames the opportunity to score the go-ahead goal by drawing a four minute minor against Zack Kassian. That won’t be the last we hear from those two, I’m sure.
The Blackhawks won two of four, but the big news this past week was rookie Dominik Kubalik scoring five times and bringing his season total to 16 goals. Playing with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews will benefit most players but he is certainly making the most of things. Adam Boqvist has come down to earth a little, the past two games as his TOI is down to just over 17 minutes per game as compared to over 20 minutes the previous five games. He still managed a goal and an assist over the four games and more importantly still has the number one power play quarterback job over Erik Gustafsson. This might escalate Gustafsson not being a Blackhawk next season. I truly thought Boqvist would need a year in the AHL and do worry that this might be too early for him in the NHL. Dylan Strome hurt his ankle and has missed the past two games but is listed as day-to-day. Kirby Dach is getting over 16 minutes per game and is on the first unit of the power play but is pointless in ten games. Robin Lehner won in his one game on Saturday as he tweaked something in the loss against the Canucks on January 2nd and hadn’t played since. Corey Crawford played three of four and managed one victory and one quality start.
The high-flying Avalanche struggled this past week with no wins in three games while managing only six goals with one being on the power play. Pavel Francouz had two of the starts over Philip Grubauer and posted the only quality start of the week. The starting goalie situation in Colorado is worth keeping an eye on in the coming weeks. Andre Burakovsky and Samuel Girard led the team with 3 points, all assists. Girard has 12 assists in his past 10 games and saw a little more time on the power play in the OT loss against Pittsburgh on Sunday night. J.T. Compher and Nathan Mackinnon both had two goals to lead the team. Mikko Rantanen and Nazem Kadri were both held scoreless in three games and NHL plus/minus leader Ryan Graves was minus two this past week. Joonas Donskoi was concussed after being hit by Ryan Lindgren of the NY Rangers on January 6th and is in concussion protocol.
Dallas only gave up three goals in three games this past week but still managed to only win two of three, as conversely they only scored six. Ben Bishop started once and posted a shutout while Anton Khudobin had two quality starts in posted on win. Khudobin has started four of the past six games and is playing well and stealing starts from Bishop, although Bishop has allowed four goals over his past three starts and has three wins to show. Dallas has a good problem in net. With the Dallas skaters, Esa Lindell and Tyler Seguin led the team with three points each, while Jamie Benn had two goals. Joe Pavelski continues to struggle with only two shots in three games while being held pointless (one goal and two assists in his past 10 games). Defencemen John Klingberg is skating and day-to-day and Stephen Johns is on a conditioning assignment in the AHL (he hasn’t played a game since 2017-2018).
Arguably the best duo in hockey continued to rack up the points with Connor McDavid (on pace for 124 points) getting six points in three games while Leon Draisaitl (on pace for 122) had five points. Other notable contributions were five points and three goals from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, three points in three games from rookie Kailer Yamamoto and two goals from Alex Chiasson who has struggled to maintain his form that had him with 22 goals last season (he now has six goals on the season). Mike Smith had two wins in both of his starts, while Mikko Koskinen took the loss in his start against Calgary on Saturday night. Zack Kassian has a hearing with the NHL on Monday and with his history of suspensions, he might be facing something over five games, although the precedent is not there.
The Kings had two wins in their four games and actually had very good goaltending with three quality starts. Jack Campbell has had the last two starts for Los Angeles and should see a larger share than he has going forward as Jonathan Quick is not the same goalie he was from three seasons ago. The skaters only managed eight goals in the four games, but this has been the story most of the year. Alex Iafallo, Anze Kopitar and Tyler Toffoli (driving his value up) all managed one goal and two assists this past week while Adrian Kempe potted two goals. Even though they managed 32 shots between them, Jeff Carter, Nikolai Prokhorkin and Drew Doughty were held pointless. Rookie Blake Lizotte was hurt with a lower body injury on January 8th and is day-to-day.
The Wild struggled this past week with only one point out of six. Marcus Foligno did his part with three goals in three games, but other than Ryan Suter (quietly on pace to match his career high of 55 points) with two assists, the rest of the offense sputtered. Good news for the Wild, is that Jason Zucker returned early from a broken bone (suffered December 15th) against the Canucks on Sunday. Eric Staal was held without a point. This is not a playoff team.
The Predators had two wins in their three games and finished with a 1-0 win over Winnipeg on Sunday. Jusse Saros got the start in net and kicked out all 28 shots he faced. Pekka Rinne had the other two starts in net and had one quality start that produced a win along with the first goal by a goalie in the NHL since Mike Smith in 2013. Filip Forsberg led the team with three points while surprising rookie Yakov Trenin had two points in three games. Trenin was the weekly leader in 5-on-5 SH% at 14.0 so it is highly unlikely for him to maintain his point pace as he plays more games in the NHL in his current role. Notable Predators held pointless this week were Ryan Johansen (one point in last nine games) and Rocco Grimaldi (who had a great week prior). Dante Fabbro is day-to-day and should return this week.
Aaron Dell got all three starts and played very well on his way to two wins and a save percentage of 94.2 over the three games. More importantly for the Sharks, Erik Karlsson (one goal and three assists) and Brent Burns (two goals and one assist) were the team’s top scorers this week. The bad news for the Sharks, was Logan Couture going down with a broken bone in his leg and being out for six to eight weeks.
The defending champs just keep on churning along with another perfect week under their belts. Jordan Binnington continues to defy the odds and impress with three more wins and quality starts bringing his yearly QS percentage to 69.7. Offensively, Tyler Bozak, Alexander Steen and Brayden Schenn all chipped in with four points, which is a huge contribution from the secondary scoring. Pretty much everyone contributed in the lineup and this is such a balanced team, even without Vladimir Tarasenko, there is a very good chance this team can repeat.
Florida was not kind to the Canucks as they lost both games and were outscored 14 to four. They managed to even their week up by winning in Buffalo and Minnesota. Jacob Markstrom had two wins and one QS in three starts while Thatcher Demko was left out to dry in his start facing 49 shots in a losing effort. Bo Horvat led the team with five points while he and Brock Boeser both had three goals. Tanner Pearson (61 point pace) is still going strong with four points along with J.T. Miller and Elias Pettersson. Alexander Edler was held pointless and now is off the power play entirely for the most part with Tyler Myers seeing second unit duty.
The Golden Knights dropped all three of their games this past week with Marc-Andre Fleury losing two and Malcolm Subban losing the other. Fleury has not played well recently and might be going through his roughest stretch thus far as a Golden Knight. Max Pacioretty (20goals) and Reilly Smith (18 goals) both had two goals in the three games, while Mark Stone and Paul Stastny had two points. The secondary scoring pretty much dried up from there as William Karlsson, Alex Tuch and Cody Eakin in his return to the lineup all were held scoreless. Jonathan Marchessault injured on December 31st is day-to-day and might return to the lineup this week.
The Jets won two of four games this past week with Connor Hellebuyck winning both games in his three starts and playing very well while doing so. Nikolaj Ehlers led the team with five points while Blake Wheeler had four. Andrew Copp and Mark Scheifele both had two goals. Patrick Laine had a tough week with only one assist but he did manage 12 shots on net. Sami Niku was in the lineup on Sunday night for only his fourth game this year and played a season high 21:50.
Going forward each week with the column, I am open to any suggestions and hope to be a little briefer on each team from the West and maybe only touch on a few items of interest.
Thanks for reading and if you have any comments please let me know below and/or follow me on Twitter @gampbler15.