Happy weekend! I'm covering for Ian Saturday and Sunday, so you get an extra dose of Alex this week.
The Avalanche and Blue Jackets kicked off their weekend double header yesterday, with both games being hosted in Finland. We've seen a few of these overseas games in the middle of the season before, and in the past there has always been at least one team that really struggles upon their return to North America. Even the Preds and Sharks that opened the season over in Prague, both struggled for weeks upon their return.
Maybe it's time to look to flip a hot Avs player, but it's tough to imagine the core of their team slumping much. Mikko Rantanen scored a hat-trick and added an assist in his home country, with Nathan MacKinnon matching the production with four assists. It would take a bit more than jet-lag and a routine shift to slow those two down.
If you're then looking at this as a time to buy on a struggling Blue Jacket like Elvis Merzlikins or Jakub Voracek, maybe wait another few weeks. Your window is probably bigger than you think it is.
It was good to see Patrik Laine get his second of the year in Finland. If there is one player who uses the Finland trip as a stepping stone to start off a scoring streak, it would be Laine. Having this weekend circled in your calendar could be a big distraction, and the trip home to Finland may be a great reset for the scoring winger.
Getting Laine going would also be a key factor in Johnny Gaudreau getting back close to last year's scoring pace. His goal scoring is ticking along at a very similar rate, but his assist rate is less than half of last year, putting him down at a 67-point pace, which has been his floor over the last decade. At least his owners at this point can take solace that it shouldn't get worse.
The Finnish duo for the Hurricanes connected for the first goal of the game, meaning that Teuvo Teravainen did actually get onto the scoresheet. He's been lagging behind his teammates