Ramblings: Another Saros Shutout, Hedman Injured – Opportunity For Sergachev? (Mar 8)
A handful of early games allows me to get a head start, so let's start there for our Saturday recap.
Since the Ilya Kovalchuk trade, Richard Panik has been moved down to the fourth line with Garnet Hathaway and Nic Dowd. The funny thing is that move has actually helped Panik, as he is on a four-game point streak with six points (2g-4a) and a plus-5 over that span. Meanwhile, Hathaway has a three-game point streak, while Dowd has four points and a plus-5 in his last three games, including two goals and an assist on Saturday. Trades have effects on players, but sometimes not the effects that we think they will.
What about Kovalchuk, you ask? He scored a goal and added two assists with a plus-3 in Thursday's back-and-forth goalfest with the Rangers. However, as a Capital, he has a point in just one of the five other games. He was held without a point in just under 13 minutes on Saturday, although that may have had to do with the Capitals jumping out to a big lead early against the Penguins and keeping it in lockdown mode after that. Going to a team loading up for a Stanley Cup run might not help a player's fantasy value, as they might be viewed as more of an insurance/depth piece by that team.
Speaking of players traded at the deadline, Vincent Trocheck picked the right time to score his first goal as a Hurricane. Trocheck scored the overtime winner in the Canes' 3-2 win over the Islanders on Saturday. Trocheck had not recorded a point in his first four games as a member of the Hurricanes, while Rod Brind'Amour has been using him primarily as a second-unit power-play option. He had been used in a similar role in Florida, so this is probably the Trocheck we should expect going forward rather than the Trocheck of two seasons ago who scored at a near point-per-game pace (75 points in 2017-18).
As for the Trocheck goal itself, you be the judge as to whether it should have counted.
Congratulations to Sidney Crosby, who earned his second Draisaitl hat trick of the season with a goal, an assist, and a minus-1 ranking against the Capitals on Saturday.
Another game against the Dallas Stars, another shutout for Juuse Saros. This time, the Predators goalie stopped all 37 shots he faced in a 1-0 win over the Stars. I mentioned Saros in the Friday Ramblings after his Thursday shutout, but here's a little more: Saros has posted quality starts in each of his last seven starts. If you're looking at games played, that doesn't count the four saves he made in relief of Pekka Rinne when the Preds were blown out by the Oilers earlier this week. You can probably consider Saros the starting goalie at this point, although that may not be permanent considering both goalies have one more season left on their contracts after this season.
These games may not matter for the LA Kings, but don't tell that to Dustin Brown. The Kings' former captain recorded a hat trick and added an assist to go with a plus-4 and five shots on goal in what turned out to be a 7-3 win over the red-hot Wild. Brown is enjoying what might be his best stretch of the season with seven goals and 10 points over his last nine games.
Anze Kopitar assisted on two of Brown's goals and scored one of his own. The current Kings' captain also racked up an amazing plus-5. Over his last 11 games, Kopitar has 15 points (4g-11a).
For the first time in seven games, Kevin Fiala was held without a point. Worse yet, he was a minus-4 in the game against the Kings. The silver lining for fantasy owners is that he took a team-leading six shots on goal.
So, Tampa Bay and Boston look like they have a rivalry now. This is one of the more bizarre, insane scenes I've seen in an NHL game in a while. Here's Boston announcer, I mean homer Jack Edwards with the call:
In spite of the goal by Boston on this play, the Lightning won 5-3. Lots of players with five or more penalty minutes in this one. Let's hope these two teams can renew acquaintances in the playoffs.
The Lightning can credit two shorthanded goals on the same penalty kill for being the difference in the win.
The win might have come at a cost for the Bolts. Victor Hedman did not play after the first period, but Lightning coach Jon Cooper did not provide a reason after the game. As a result, Mikhail Sergachev played on the first-unit power play and logged a season high 28:20. Should Hedman miss games, Sergachev's fantasy value could skyrocket in the short term with the wealth of scoring options that Tampa Bay possesses. By providing a goal and an assist within that extended look, Sergachev may have given us a glimpse of what is possible without Hedman in the lineup. Sergachev had only recorded two points (both assists) in his previous eight games.
On Roberto Luongo jersey retirement night in Florida, Chris Driedger made yet another case for additional starts. Driedger stopped 33 of 34 shots to backstop the Panthers to a 4-1 win. With that, Driedger has quality starts in each of his last three starts. That brings his season ratios to a stellar 2.16 GAA and .936 SV% in 11 games. Gee, the Panthers could have saved a ton of money by not signing Sergei Bobrovsky. I know it's not that simple, since Driedger hasn't had the kind of workload that Bob has had. But as long as Bobrovsky is sidelined, Driedger is a spot starter worth considering.
Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac each scored twice for the Devils in their 6-4 win over the Rangers. Palmieri hadn't scored a goal in his previous five games, but the dry spell for Zajac has been much longer. Entering Saturday's game, Zajac had scored just twice in his previous 31 games.
Dakota Mermis isn't a household name, but he's recorded three points and a plus-4 in his previous two games. He's also been filling peripheral categories.
With two assists on Saturday, Pavel Buchnevich has a five-game point streak in which he has seven points (1g-6a).
Claude Giroux scored twice for the Flyers, giving him 21 goals on the season and his eighth 20-goal season. Jakub Voracek assisted on both of Giroux's goals for the Flyers, who have now won nine consecutive wins.
Carter Hart picked up the win for the Flyers, stopping 38 of 39 shots. Hart has a seven-game win streak of his own within the Flyers' nine-game win streak. Over that span, Hart has a 1.72 GAA and .942 SV%. Needless to say, he's a must-start at the moment.
Victor Olofsson picked up an assist on the Sabres' only goal, breaking a seven-game pointless slide.
The Oilers activated Oscar Klefbom from IR, and he was back in the lineup on Saturday, logging 21 minutes of icetime. He did not record a point but was a plus-3. I wonder if there's a term for that?
Mikko Koskinen was easily the first star for the Oilers, losing a shutout with about a minute to play. He faced 47 shots, including 21 in the first period alone. Goaltending was a real question mark for the Oilers entering the season, yet the Oilers are around the middle of the pack in overall goaltending with the tandem of Koskinen and Mike Smith. Neither goalie seems like one to build a franchise around, but the Oilers simply need someone to keep the roof from caving in while McDavid and Draisaitl do their thing. Right now, it's good enough for the Oilers to be first in the Pacific Division.
If your fantasy playoffs have already started and Sunday is do-or-die day, good luck to you and keep your fingers crossed. Remember that just about anyone is a fantasy option at this point, as a pickup might strictly be needs-based. My own fantasy playoffs start next week in two different leagues, although I'm fortunate enough to have a first-round bye in one of them. I have a trade deadline that ends on Sunday night, so I'm currently making a last-ditch effort to upgrade at the LW position. Good times.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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