The Pacific Division won the All-Star Game for the third time in five seasons, defeating the Atlantic Division 5-4 in the final. To reach the final, the Pacific Division defeated the Central Division 10-5 while the Atlantic Division defeated the Metropolitan Division 9-5.

Atlantic Division captain David Pastrnak was named the All-Star Game MVP with four goals in the tournament. However, Tomas Hertl might have been a better choice, as he had scored five goals over the tournament for the winning team, including four goals in the first game. Leon Draisaitl was also in the running for All-Star Game MVP, as he scored four goals in the tournament for the Pacific Division.

Due to previous family commitments, I couldn’t watch much of the All-Star Game. So the Green Day performance that I managed to catch live seemed to me to be the one All-Star Game moment that generated the most buzz. I was surprised that the f-bombs got through on Sportsnet, particularly since I believe they (and the CBC before them) had Don Cherry on a six-second delay in case something slipped. Green Day’s choice of words is common practice at a rock concert, but I don’t imagine it will go over well with Mr. Bettman and the other suits in New York City.
 


How about some highlights that the NHL wanted you to see? If you are like me and didn’t catch it or simply just want the highlights, you can watch below.
 


Then of course I have to show the mascot game highlights. Years ago, I participated in one of these (not an NHL one) for the company that I was working for at the time. If you’re inside one of those costumes playing a game, it is an absolute blast, and the fans love it!
 


 

The NHL also selected its All-Decade team during All-Star weekend. Feel free to debate the choices.

First Team: Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, Alex Ovechkin, Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty, Marc-Andre Fleury

Second Team: Evgeni Malkin, Patrice Bergeron, Steven Stamkos, Erik Karlsson, Zdeno Chara, Henrik Lundqvist

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Adam Pelech might not be a player who registers in the minds of many fantasy owners. Since he recorded just one goal and nine points in 38 games before a season-ending injury, his 1 percent ownership in Yahoo leagues is justified. Yet he was a top-pairing shutdown defenseman who was second on the Islanders in overall icetime (21:08) and the team leader in shorthanded icetime per game (2:47). He was also an expected-goals-against-per-60 leader for the Islanders over the past two seasons.

The reason I’m bringing this up is that the Islanders are 4-5-2 since Pelech has been out of the lineup. His absence has affected Semyon Varlamov in particular, who has a 3.10 GAA and .900 SV% over that span, which covers the entire month of January. Interestingly enough, Thomas Greiss has been better (1.86 GAA, .945 SV%), which is why we might see more of Greiss after the All-Star break. Varlamov also had a strong start in Colorado last season (2.32 GAA, .926 SV% over the first quarter) before fading after that (3.08 GAA, .903 SV% in quarters 2-4). So as much as Varlamov has been a reliable starter under the Islanders’ defensive umbrella, it might not be easy for him once teams return to action.

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With Morgan Rielly expected to be out of the lineup until March, is Rasmus Sandin a legitimate fantasy option in all leagues? You could certainly make an argument that the 19 year old is worth taking a flier on (just 20 percent ownership in Yahoo leagues), especially with defensemen that are not much older such as 20-year-old Quinn Hughes and 21-year-old Cale Makar not only in the lineup, but also making a significant impact.

If Sandin is going to be that midseason addition that gives your blueline an extra boost, he’ll need to contribute on the power play. He has been deployed on the second-unit power play over the last three games with no power-play time before that. He doesn’t seem likely to unseat Tyson Barrie on the first-unit power play, so those power-play points won’t necessarily come easily. That’s not the same prime opportunity that Makar and Hughes were given straight away, so that’s going to be a lot to ask for. Still, blueliners with 8/10 upside on Dobber Prospects (which amounts to 55-point upside) are worth taking a flier on in single-season leagues if you have the roster space.

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Joonas Donskoi may return to the Avalanche lineup from his concussion once they finish their bye week period a week from now. After all, he was in a full-contact jersey during the team’s last practice before the break. However, will he be worth holding onto if you need to bump another player to activate him?

There are a number of factors that suggest that he won’t be as productive once he returns. For one, Donskoi’s overall icetime was nearly three minutes higher and power-play icetime was over a minute higher when Mikko Rantanen was out of the lineup and Donskoi was playing alongside Nathan MacKinnon. Rantanen is back in the lineup, which will push Donskoi back down the lineup. Not surprisingly, Donskoi’s hot stretch (19 points in 15 games from November 7 to December 9) lines up closely to the time that Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog were out of the lineup.

As well, Donskoi’s advanced stats (16.7 SH%, 11.4 5-on-5 SH%, 1051 PDO) suggest that a regression is on the way. Add it all up and you probably shouldn’t expect any significant point-per-game stretch from Donskoi in the second half, unless the forward lines and power-play units are somehow organized directly to his advantage.

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Over the past two weeks, only two teams have allowed an average of less than two goals per game. One, not surprisingly, is the Elvis Merzlikins-led Columbus Blue Jackets. The other is the Dougie Hamilton-less Carolina Hurricanes (that’s not meant as a slight to Hamilton, in fact, it is more of the opposite given all of what Hamilton brings to the table). Over that stretch, or technically slightly before, the Canes have basically been alternating between James Reimer and Petr Mrazek.

Here’s a comparison of the two goalies since January 7:

Name                   GP          W            L              OTL        SO            GAA       SV%       QS          QS%      

JAMES REIMER   4              3              0              1              1              1.69        0.944     3             75.0

PETR MRAZEK    4              2              2              0              1              1.53        0.938     3             75.0

Given the Hurricanes’ place as a top-5 defense this season in terms of goals allowed (2.64 GA/GP), Reimer seems to be criminally underowned in Yahoo leagues (just 22 percent ownership). Sure, Reimer has been up and down throughout his career, but we’re starting to see the magnitude of how a team impacts a goalie’s numbers. If Reimer is at least in a timeshare situation, then he’s in a great spot for some sneaky great starts for your fantasy team.

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Finally, just a reminder that the following teams do not return to action until Friday or Saturday because they will be on “bye week” next week: Boston, Carolina, Chicago, Colorado, Columbus, Detroit, Florida, Minnesota, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Vegas, Winnipeg.

All of the above teams play either just one or two games next week. The rest of the teams play either three or four games next week, so you’ll want to target players from the following teams: Anaheim, Arizona, Buffalo, Calgary, Dallas, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, Ottawa, San Jose, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington.

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Happy Lunar New Year! For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.