Ramblings: Zibanejad High Five, Saros Strong, The Latest Injuries (Mar 6)
If you are a Mika Zibanejad owner and you're in an important time of your season, you sure hit the jackpot on Thursday. Zibanejad scored five goals, including the overtime winner, while firing eight shots on goal in the 6-5 win for the Rangers over the Capitals.
To give you an idea of how rarely this happens, a five-goal game has only occurred seven times in the last 25 years. The last player to do it was Patrik Laine in November 2018, and before that Johan Franzen in 2011.
In fact, the below tweet might give you an idea of how infrequently it happens.
To explain, the following is a giveaway from a Canadian grocery store chain if a player from the local NHL team scores five goals.
About Zibanejad himself, he's now up to 38 goals in just 54 games, including 20 goals in his last 19 games. In terms of goals per 60 this season, only David Pastrnak, Alex Ovechkin, and Auston Matthews have more, and it's not by a huge margin. If Zibanejad hadn't missed nearly a month from late October to late November, we may be discussing him as a potential 50-goal scorer as we are the other three. He's also in the top 10 in terms of points per game (71 points in 54 games), so this is a player who at 26 years of age is knocking on the door of becoming an elite fantasy option.
By the way, I believe one of my first fantasy takes for Dobber Hockey was Ottawa trading Zibanejad to New York for Derick Brassard. I knew at the time the Rangers could easily get the better of the deal, but I had no idea it would be that one-sided. The exchange of picks even favored the Rangers. I know it's easy to pile on the Ottawa Senators, but wow.
Back to this barnburner of a Rangers/Capitals game. Zibanejad's fourth goal came with less than two minutes left to give the Rangers the lead. Not to be outdone, Alex Ovechkin scored his second of the game with less than a minute to play to send the game to overtime. Ovie's two-goal game gives him 47 on the season, tying him with Pastrnak for the league lead, with Matthews trailing by only a goal.
Tony DeAngelo also cashed in with a goal, two assists, and six shots on goal. In just his second full NHL season, DeAngelo has now cracked 50 points. You probably didn't project this at the start of the season, but only three defensemen (John Carlson, Roman Josi, Victor Hedman) have more points than DeAngelo. He was one of those players who was projected to be either a boom or a bust with no middle ground. You might have had to be super patient to keep him on your keeper team since Tampa Bay drafted him in 2014, but he's finally delivering on that promise.
Overshadowed (perhaps unfairly) by the Zibanejad five-spot on Thursday was the Predators' 2-0 home win over Dallas. As you may have heard, Nashville was ravaged by tornadoes earlier this week, with at least 24 people killed. Best wishes to those affected.
Not that this matters nearly as much, but the Predators entered Thursday's game on a three-game losing streak. Juuse Saros was able to provide the Preds with something that hasn't happened as often this season as previous ones, which was a strong goaltending effort. Saros stopped all 33 shots he faced to earn his third shutout of the season.
Saros seems to have taken over as the Preds' de facto starting goalie, with Pekka Rinne having played just once over Nashville's last six games. That game was the eight-goal disaster against Edmonton on Monday, so it might be a while before Rinne starts again. The Preds next play back-to-backs next weekend (on March 14 and 15), so Rinne owners in an important fantasy playoff battle may want to consider other options. Saros, meanwhile, has a 9-4-0 record with a 2.31 GAA and .931 SV% since the end of January.
It wouldn't be a daily Ramblings in the year 2020 without another new injury. This time it's Will Butcher, who will miss the rest of the regular season to repair ruptured thumb ligaments. Unfortunately for fantasy teams, this might be the time of year where non-playoff teams might decide to give hobbling players an early start on their offseason surgery and rehabilitation. Butcher should be ready for the 2020-21 season.
Are you lamenting the injury situation on your favorite team? Don't look for a Carolina Hurricanes fan to be your shoulder to cry on. Already missing their top two goalies and Dougie Hamilton, the Canes announced that Brett Pesce will miss the rest of the season after shoulder surgery, while Sami Vatanen had a setback in his return from a lower-body injury. In spite of that, Jake Gardiner played just 15 minutes on Thursday. Joel Edmundson (23:26) trailed only Jaccob Slavin in icetime.
In spite of now winning eight games in the row, the Flyers also have their own injury issues. James van Riemsdyk is expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks with a broken finger as a result of blocking a shot. This should effectively make JVR droppable in single-season leagues where every game matters from this point forward, although there's still a chance he could return before the end of the regular season.
Of the Flyers' eight consecutive wins, Carter Hart has won six in a row. How about this for a home/road split: Hart is 19-2-2 with a 1.64 GAA and .942 SV% at the Wells Fargo Center. Away from Philly, he's a much more abysmal 4-10-1 with a 3.81 GAA and .857 SV%. Even though the Flyers are on a heater right now, only one of those last six wins has been on the road. Something to think about if you're in a daily league or need to choose goalies.
Ivan Provorov has been coming through for fantasy teams recently. With a goal on Thursday, Provorov now has goals in back-to-back games and points in four consecutive games. He's also a plus-11 over his last 11 games.
The coaching change seems to be working in Minnesota, as Dean Evason is 7-3-0 since taking over from Bruce Boudreau. Suddenly, they're in a wild card spot. Those who had added Alex Stalock from the waiver wire know this, as Stalock has won six of his last seven games while posting a 1.88 GAA and .933 SV% over the past month. Career backup Stalock isn't the most appealing name in fantasy, but it's all about who is getting the job done. Stalock's run has made Devan Dubnyk irrelevant, as Dubnyk has won only two games since the start of February.
Kevin Fiala's streak of five consecutive multipoint games ended on Thursday, but his point streak remains alive at six games. There was a Fiala stat mentioned above regarding goals after the All-Star break, so it's also worth mentioning that only five players have more points than Fiala (24) since the All-Star break. That's 24 points in his last 17 games. He's clearly having a breakout year while injecting life into a Wild team that appeared to be headed in the wrong direction.
It didn't sound like Toronto fans who stayed up to watch the Leafs play the Kings in LA were entertained in a game that had no goals in regulation or overtime. Eventually it was Jonathan Quick who earned the win and shutout, with Frederik Andersen only earning a shutout.
It hasn't been a great season for Quick fantasy-wise, but he might be worth a look again (27 percent owned in Yahoo leagues) even with the Kings stuck at the bottom of the standings. Over his last three games, Quick has allowed just two goals. One downside is that those starts aren't coming as frequently as they used to, as Calvin Petersen has allowed only a goal in each of his last two starts. Goaltending competition in LA? Hey, it's the fantasy playoffs. Whatever works.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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