Ramblings: Thompson Hat Trick, Tarasenko Out, Kempe Keeps Scoring (Feb 20)

Ian Gooding

2022-02-20

You might not have projected it before the season, but Buffalo's top line of Tage ThompsonJeff SkinnerAlex Tuch is fantasy relevant. Yes, all three players. Tuch has scored at a point per game since he arrived. Skinner is already 20 points ahead of his production from all of last season. Then there's Thompson, who sent the hats flying in Buffalo on Saturday with three goals to give him 19 on the year. That means he's on pace for 32 goals and 63 points. It's easy to dunk on the Ryan O'Reilly trade from a Buffalo standpoint, but you may recall that Thompson was a piece in that trade. O'Reilly may have won a Stanley Cup after he left, but he's only reached 63 points twice in his career.

The improvement in overall scoring for the Sabres is more modest than significant (2.65 GF/GP compared to 2.39 GF/GP last season), but it has had an impact elsewhere in the lineup. With an assist on Saturday afternoon, Rasmus Dahlin has 11 points in his last 12 games. Dahlin is already nine points ahead of his total from all of last season. Last season was a shortened one, so it's only in eight fewer games. Still, you don't have to make that awkward decision on whether to drop Dahlin from your single-season lineup.

Since Jay Woodcroft took over as coach, the Oilers are now 5-0. Could they have a Bruce Boudreau-to-the-Canucks undefeated run in them? If you think that's a reason to start Mike Smith or Mikko Koskinen, you won't like what I'm about to say. The Oilers face the Wild on the second of a back-to-back today (Sunday), where Smith should get the start (Koskinen played and won Saturday). Then the Oilers go on this season's version of the road trip through hell – the old Southeast Division tour through Tampa Bay, Florida, and Carolina. It gets a lot easier the following week with stops in Philadelphia and Chicago before returning home to face Montreal.

Vladimir Tarasenko missed Saturday's game with an undisclosed injury. That meant that the slumping Jordan Kyrou (1 PT in previous 5 GP) moved up to the Blues' de facto top line with Robert Thomas and Pavel Buchnevich. Kyrou wasted little time making an impression, earning a clever assist on this goal from Buchnevich.