Ramblings: Donato Digging Minny, Crosby Not Done (March 3)

by Ian Gooding on March 3, 2019
  • Hockey Rambling
  • Ramblings: Donato Digging Minny, Crosby Not Done (March 3)


Jake Guentzel can give much of the credit for his breakout regular season to Sidney Crosby. About 95 percent of Guentzel’s even-strength minutes have been with Sid the Kid on his line. The two linemates each earned four points (Guentzel 2g-2a, Crosby 1g-3a) in the Penguins’ 5-1 win over Montreal. Recent acquisition Jared McCann was the third man on this line, scoring a goal and adding an assist of his own. McCann has four points in his last three games, and he might be a player to watch if he can stick on this line.

Crosby has scored goals and multiple points in four consecutive games, and he has scored at a two-point-per-game pace dating back to February 9 (22 points in 11 games). In case you think Crosby is on the decline, this recent run puts him on pace for over 100 points. Point inflation has been affecting many players, but it’s still worth mentioning that with all his accomplishments, Crosby has not reached 100 points since the 2013-14 season and only once after the 2009-10 season. He’s also fifth in NHL scoring with 83 points (29g-54a).

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Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each recorded three points in the Oilers’ 4-0 win over the Blue Jackets. Draisaitl’s goal was his 40th of the season, which makes him the third player (after Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane) to reach that mark. Draisaitl also has 16 goals in his last 17 games, and he is on a 10-game point streak in which he has scored 15 points (8g-7a). The Oilers have missed on many players over the past 10+ years, but Draisaitl is not one of them.

The Oilers have tried numerous forwards with the McDavid/Draisaitl combination, but to no avail. At the moment it’s Zack Kassian’s turn, and at least there seems to be a spark. Kassian has now scored in back-to-back games and over his last 21 games has 13 points, including eight goals. At age 28 Kassian isn’t going to be much more than what we’ve already seen, but he’s been providing a little bit of value in “bangers and mash” leagues. Kassian’s 82 PIM places him in the top 10 in that category, while his 154 hits places him just outside the top 30. This is the time of year for roto leaguers to make ground in certain categories, and Kassian might be a sneaky option that won’t hurt your scoring too much.  

Mikko Koskinen recorded the 30-save shutout in this game. Koskinen has started each of the last 10 games for the Oilers, meaning that newly acquired Anthony Stolarz has yet to start a game as an Oiler. Stolarz has appeared in just one game, which was in a relief appearance. As long as the Oilers still believe that they are still in the playoff race, expect their newly signed goalie to start every game.

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Dustin Brown scored two goals in the Kings’ 6-3 win over Chicago on Saturday afternoon. Brown is now up to 16 goals and 37 points, which is nowhere near his 61-point comeback season last season. To a lesser extent, his downturn reflects that of teammate Anze Kopitar’s. And like Kopitar, hopefully you looked further back than last season’s numbers and didn’t draft him with the expectation that he would repeat last season’s numbers. 

Jeff Carter recorded two assists on Saturday. This isn’t usually big news, but Carter had been held without a point in his previous nine games and is still without a goal in his previous 12 games. I was hoping that Carter would have been traded out of LA at the deadline to a better situation, but rumor was that he was threatening to retire if he was traded. It’s still possible that Carter could rebound to some degree next season, but there are a ton of other better options at center if you are pushing to win this season.

When I talk about “a better situation”, I mean that only the Ducks have a lower goals-for total than the Kings this season. Also, the Kings’ win on Saturday was their first win in 11 games, so these are lean times in LA.   

In a losing cause, Brendan Perlini scored two goals. He had been held without a point in his previous 12 games, so it’s unlikely many fantasy leaguers were affected.

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Tuukka Rask made 20 saves to backstop the Bruins to a 1-0 win over New Jersey. Rask has not been tagged with a regulation loss since before Christmas, having gone 14-0-3 with a 1.88 GAA and .933 SV% during that span. The Bruins were Flip Livingstone’s gold game pick in his Saturday game picks, so hopefully you were able to take advantage.

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In his first game as a Leaf, Nic Petan scored his first goal of the season, which was his first goal in over a calendar year (February 23, 2018). Even though he’s now with a new team, he’s still not in a spot to produce with the Leafs’ big guns, having played just 7:45 in this game while lining up with Frederik Gauthier and Trevor Moore. It might take a trade to a team not in contention for Petan to receive the opportunity that he needs.

Mitch Marner and John Tavares each scored a goal and added two assists for the Buds in their 5-2 win over Buffalo. Tavares was welcomed back with a loud cheer from Leafs fans after taking a lot of abuse from Islanders’ fans on Thursday.

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The NHL handed out two suspensions on Saturday. Adam Lowry was suspended two games for a high stick on Filip Forsberg, while Kurtis Gabriel was suspended one game for hitting Nolan Patrick from behind.

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Since James Reimer is out of the lineup due to injury, Sam Montembeault made his NHL debut on Saturday. The rookie made 22 saves in an eventual 4-3 overtime loss to the Hurricanes. His AHL numbers (3.16 GAA, .901 SV%) aren’t serving as proof that he’s NHL ready yet, so keeper leaguers should exercise patience. If the Panthers shop for another starting goalie in the offseason, then Montembeault will be in the AHL another season or two anyway. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if the worn-down Roberto Luongo “retires” on LTIR before his contract expires.

Henrik Borgstrom scored two goals and added an assist for the Panthers, which all happened in just eight minutes of icetime. The Panthers’ prospect had been held without a point in his previous three games and without a goal in his previous 11 games. He’s also been held to less than 10 minutes in each of his last three games, so his icetime hasn’t really improved even with Derick Brassard being traded to Colorado.

From this game, why I like 3-on-3 overtime. What an incredible sequence.

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That’s now seven wins in a row for Darcy Kuemper. I’ll just reiterate what I wrote about him on Friday’s Ramblings. Somehow he’s still unowned in about half of Yahoo leagues.

For about the past two seasons, Oliver Ekman-Larsson owners at large have likely been left wanting more. Yet he’s been instrumental in the Coyotes’ current six-game winning streak. With a goal and an assist on Saturday, OEL has multiple points in back-to-back games and is now on a five-game point streak. He’s also been a plus-6 over his point streak, which is a bonus given his usual plus-minus numbers.

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Jamie Benn’s return from injury to the Stars’ lineup was a successful one. The Stars’ captain posted a hat trick in a 3-1 win over the Blues. Benn had entered this game with just two points in his last six games and just two goals in his last 12, so this should at least keep the CEO happy for the time being.

John Klingberg also chipped in a goal and two assists for the Stars.

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Ryan Donato’s fantasy value has immediately improved with a move to Minnesota. Including his third-period goal on Saturday, Donato now has at least a point in all five games he has played for the Wild, with seven points over that span. Donato had averaged just 12:30 of icetime this season in Boston, which is a number that has jumped to over 15 minutes with the Wild.

Here’s Donato’s goal in the third period. I’m as impressed with the amazing quality of the Twitter video as I am with the goal.
 


To compare, Charlie Coyle has been held without a point in his four games as a Bruin. Dating back to his time with the Wild, Coyle has now been held without a point in his last 11 games.

Although Kevin Fiala hasn’t recorded a point in his two games as a Wild, he was elevated to the Eric Staal/Jason Zucker line in this game. Fiala averaged just 15:03 in Nashville this season, but he has been on for at least 17 minutes in each of his two games with the Wild.

Just when you were losing faith in Devan Dubnyk, he has now strung together five wins in a row. Over that span he has a 1.59 GAA and a .950 SV%. It seems safe to use him again now that things have settled down for the Wild after a bad stretch.

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Finally, congratulations to Jarome Iginla on his jersey retirement. It was amazing to watch him all the way back to when he was a junior player with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, a powerhouse junior team during the early to mid-1990s that during Iginla’s time also included the likes of Shane Doan and Darcy Tucker.

Here’s the jersey retirement ceremony from Calgary on Saturday.

Of course, my favorite Iggy moment isn’t with the Calgary Flames (I’m a Canucks’ fan, you know). It’s the incredible pass to Sidney Crosby for the game-winning “golden goal” in 2010. Listen for Crosby yelling “Iggy!” You'll have to watch it on YouTube, though. The IOC won't let me embed it apparently. 

For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.