Goalie fight! Goalie fight! Goalie fight! In the battle of Alberta! It’s ex-Flames goalie Mike Smith versus ex-Oilers goalie Cam Talbot! The way they’ve switched sides, you’d think this was WWE or something. Here’s the entire sequence, which included a Matthew Tkachuk/Ethan Bear tilt.
Both goalies were ejected from the game after this fight, which occurred late in the second period. Talbot racked up 21 penalty minutes, while Smith earned 17. Shoutout if your league awards points for goalie PIMs. A possible ejection might explain why we see so few goalie fights, not to mention the risk of injury and importance of the goalie position to teams. But damn, they are entertaining.
These two teams next play again on April 4, the last day of the regular season. As much as the Battle of Alberta might once again be the most heated rivalry in the league (it’s been a long time coming), this game could also very well have playoff implications. Game of the year potential here. Yet even if that game turns out to be meaningless, we’ve gotten our money’s worth with the Battle of Alberta after 25 years of mostly vanilla matchups. It’s hard to believe these two teams haven’t met in the playoffs since 1991, but these two rivals haven’t really both been good at the same time since then. Maybe it finally happens this season. Wouldn't that be something.
In an 8-3 game, there were obviously fireworks on the scoresheet as well (hope you bet the over like Flip told you to). Connor McDavid scored a pair of goals, while Art Ross leader Leon Draisaitl recorded four assists to go with a plus-4 rating. Sometimes it’s better to mention which Oilers didn’t record a point in this game. There were four, the most notable being Adam Larsson, so there were no missed opportunities if you own any Oilers.
As you’d expect, Tkachuk was right in the middle of things. He scored his 17th goal of the season while earning himself 15 minutes in penalties (a fighting major and a game misconduct). He’s racked up 22 PIM in the two games against Edmonton this week. What if I told you that he’s not even his own family in penalty minutes this season? Yep, Brady Tkachuk has 62 PIM, while Matthew has “just” 56 PIM.
It hasn’t been the strongest season for Carey Price, but he’s been playing like the Price of old recently. Priced stopped all 29 shots he faced in the Canadiens’ 4-0 win over a high-scoring Florida team. Price now has back-to-back wins and wins in six of his last seven games. He’s also posted six quality starts over those seven games to go with a 1.46 GAA and .955 SV% over that span.
Jeff Petry entered Saturday’s game with just one point in his last five games, but he assisted on all four Montreal goals with a plus-3. This was Petry’s first four-point game of his career. He’s currently on pace for 51 points.
Max Domi was held without a goal and point on Saturday, which means that he has not scored a goal in his last 13 games. Note his quarter-by-quarter stats:
Q1: 20 GP, 4 G, 9 A, 13 PTS
Q2: 23 GP, 8 G, 11 A, 19 PTS
Q3: 10 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 PTS
Earlier in the day, the Canadiens sent Jesperi Kotkaniemi to the AHL. In his second season, KK hasn’t been scoring with just eight points (including just two assists) in 26 games averaging 13 minutes. The Habs have been a state of flux with various injuries to the forward lines, so a move to the AHL for development purposes can’t hurt. Kotkaniemi shouldn’t have even been an option in single-season leagues before the demotion.
Would now be a good time to remind Montreal fans that Kotkaniemi was drafted a few picks ahead of Quinn Hughes? I know, there’s lots of career ahead of both players, so it’s too early for an overall judgment. Still, Hughes added to his amazing rookie season on Saturday, scoring twice against the Islanders, including the overtime winner.
Those two goals moved Hughes ahead of Cale Makar as the rookie scoring leader. Because of Victor Olofsson’s injury, this rookie scoring race could be a two-horse battle between defensemen Hughes and Makar. Hughes now has two points with a plus-5 in back-to-back games, and his 38 points places him in the top 10 in overall scoring for defensemen. His presence is a major factor in why the Canucks look like a different team this season (won 14 of their last 17 games, including five consecutive wins). In fact, in the Canucks’ 50-year history (technically 49 years, but that’s another discussion), they’ve never once had a puck-moving defenseman with the upside of Hughes.
Aleksander Barkov left Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury. For what it’s worth, Joel Quenneville stated following the game that Barkov’s injury did not appear to be serious. I'll let the doctor weigh in, though.
Tough to see much here with Barkov. Biggest worry is for a meniscal injury or torn ACL with that left knee twist
Although I’ll admit there’s also an equally good chance that it’s nothing too serious and perhaps the same lingering issue which kept him out earlier in the season https://t.co/1065txCjMg
— Dr. Harjas Grewal (@Harjas_Grewal) February 1, 2020
The Panthers’ next game is on Monday against Toronto, so we’ll have to wait and see whether this is something that causes him to miss time.
Ilya Samsonov is being given a second consecutive start, this one in today’s early game on NBC against Pittsburgh. The Capitals expert that I know has told me that Samsonov has generally received the easier starts compared to Braden Holtby. Now that he is being given this important start against the Capitals’ main rival, Todd Reirden has to be at least considering him to be a potential playoff starter. Still, remember that contract and Stanley Cup record carry a lot of weight, and goaltending situations are constantly changing.
This isn’t really good news, if you’ve been hanging on to Dustin Byfuglien all season.
There is word tonight we are getting closer to clarification on Dustin Byfuglien's status for this season. Word is he has yet to resume skating, and "most likely" outcome is he doesn't play this year and his future is re-visited in the summer. (1/2)
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) February 2, 2020
Friedman’s second tweet explained that once Byfuglien advises the team of his plans, the Jets may be able to use his $7.6 million cap hit. The way the Jets have been freefalling in the standings recently, this can’t wait much longer. Fantasy owners probably shouldn’t count on Big Buff returning at all this season, although the door doesn’t appear to have completely closed. Next season is far from certain as well, as he could very well retire at that point.
In the here and now for Winnipeg, Jack Roslovic scored two goals and added an assist to lead the Jets to an important 5-2 win over St. Louis. Roslovic had not recorded a point in his previous four games. The former first-round pick now has double-digit goals (11) for the first time in his career.
Chris Kreider left Saturday’s game with what could be a head injury. See clip below:
Kreider's off to the locker room after Zibanejad's knee catches Kreider's head & he collides into the boards. pic.twitter.com/F1qU3V7Fcl
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) February 2, 2020
Kreider missing a significant length of time could affect the Rangers’ trade deadline plans. In fact, Kreider is at the top of TSN’s Trade Bait board.
Goaltending-wise for the Rangers, on Friday Igor Shesterkin earned the win against the Wings. On Saturday it was Henrik Lundqvist’s turn, stopping all 33 shots he faced to pick up a shutout win. King Henrik had last started on January 11 and before that on January 2, so he appears to be the third goalie at the moment as the Rangers find out what they have with top prospect Shesterkin and give Alexandar Georgiev some showcase starts in an attempt to trade him.
Kasperi Kapanen was a late scratch from Saturday’s game. As it turned out, he had been scratched for “internal accountability”, according to Elliotte Friedman. Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe plans to provide an update on Monday.
Torey Krug exploded for two goals and two assists in the Bruins’ 6-1 win over Minnesota. Krug was long overdue for a goal, as he had not scored one since December 19 – a span of 13 games. Even with the lack of goals, Krug is still a top-10 scorer among defensemen, in spite of missing eight games this season.
I should have taken my own advice. But maybe you did. Curtis McElhinney earned a 30-save shutout against the Sharks on Saturday. McElhinney has been one of the better non-starting goalies in the league the last few years, yet he probably won’t start more than once a week because of the presence of Andrei Vasilevskiy. Yet over his last six games, McElhinney has allowed just 11 goals (1.88 GAA, .928 SV%). Don’t hesitate to add him for a spot start the next time you see his name up at Goalie Post. The Lightning are back to last season’s form, so he’s a strong bet to earn a win.
There were some other backups with strong starts on Saturday, which included the following:
Ryan Miller – 46 SV, 47 SA, W
Michael Hutchinson – 24 SV, 25 SA, W
Saad himself has four goals in his past four games, no doubt helped out by Kane. In addition, Saad has taken five shots in each of his past two games. He’s a hot-and-cold player who has left his owners extremely frustrated in the past, yet now seems to be a good time to own him or pick him up. Just beware: Zero power-play time over his last four games. Yet as long as he’s lining up with Kane at even strength, he’s bound to get something.
I’ve been concerned about Antti Raanta recently, as he has not won in his past four starts. But in spite of not earning a win on Saturday, he had a helluva game (42 SV, 44 SA) and he made a helluva save here.
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) February 2, 2020
My Groundhog Day wish to you: If anything happens on repeat, hopefully it’s in a good way. And if you’ve had enough of winter, hopefully the groundhog doesn’t see its shadow.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.