Two of the top squads in the league battled on Tuesday when Calgary visited Tampa Bay. As per usual, the Kucherov-train would not be slowed. A goal and three helpers from the Russian phenom pushed the Bolts past the Flames 6-3.
Nikita Kucherov is up to 88 points in just 57 games. He’s clicking away at a 1.54 point-per-game pace. No one has achieved that feat in a full season since Joe Thornton threw down a 125 pointer in 2005-06.
Kuch is a monster.
Brayden Point chipped in with a goal and two helpers to propel his season total to 72 points in 56 games. Thank goodness Tampa is in a no-tax state. That’s the only reason the Bolts will keep him at a reasonable number as an RFA this summer.
A couple of shutouts were sprinkled amongst the early games on Tuesday evening. The Stars blanked the Panthers 3-0 on the back of a two-goal performance by Tyler Seguin.
It was Anton Khudobin who stopped 30 on the evening. The Stars backup has played admirably this season and while Ben Bishop has been on the shelf of late. Bishop appears to be close as he’s been practicing hard for three straight days.
Sergei Bobrovsky and Blue Jackets shutout were also on the fun end of a 3-0 victory, this time against the Caps. That’s four straight wins for the two-time Vezina winner. His owners have desperately needed this run.
As does Columbus if they hope to pull a ransom out of some team at the deadline.
CBJ continued to roll out a four-forward top power-play unit with Nick Foligno living in the net front. That has blasted Seth Jones to the second unit that is lucky to get the final 10 seconds of a man-advantage. It hasn’t slowed the 24-year-old down one iota though.
Jones tallied an even-strength assist in the victory to extend his point streak to four games and four points. He’s on pace to match his 57 points from a season ago despite seeing his PPTOI dip from three minutes a night during the first dozen games to under a minute the past month.
Jones is a horse and has proven capable of generating at five-on-five, but as Artemi Panarin's departure date looms, it’ll be difficult to bet on too many Blue Jackets that don’t see prime deployment.
On the bright side, perhaps Panarin leaving will facilitate Jones’ return to the top unit.
The Canucks had hoped they wouldn’t need to give up a draft pick to patch up their current goaltending situation. After trading Anders Nilsson, and losing Mike McKenna to the wire, the team had Jacob Markstrom, Thatcher Demko and…. well, that’s it for goaltenders on NHL deals.
When Demko went down with a sprained knee, the team was forced to recall 19-year-old, Michael DiPietro from the Ottawa 67s on an emergency basis. They then decided that Markstrom needed a rest and tossed DiPietro to the wolves – in this case, the San Jose Sharks.
The 2017 Memorial Cup Champion allowed seven goals on 24 shots and was hung out to dry by his skaters on more than a few occasions.
Tuesday saw the team rectify the matter by sending a 2020 7th round pick to the New York Rangers in exchange for Marek Mazanec. The 27-year-old has been… a warm body in the AHL this year. Posting a 0.903 save percentage in 20 games.
The team is rushing to get immigration papers filed to have the former Predator in Anaheim to start on Wednesday.
The Leafs defeated the listless Avalanche 5-2. Toronto scored three second period goals in just 109 seconds to bust this one open. Nazem Kadri scored two. Auston Matthews added a goal and two helpers and Freddie Andersen stopped 34 of 36.
William Nylander recorded an assist and five shots in just 13 minutes of ice.
That’s lucky number eight in the L column for the Avs. Things are spiralling quickly. They find themselves four points out of the second wildcard spot and tied with the Blackhawks.
The Jets scored two third period goals to defeat the Rangers 4-3 on Tuesday. Mika Zibanejad kept his torrid goal-scoring pace with two markers in this one. He has 13 goals in his last 11 games and 25 on the season – two shy of his career-high mark set last season. The shooting percentage (15.2%) is due for a slight dip, but his metrics appear stable.
The 25-year-old looks every bit the part of number one centre on Broadway. Will people believe it heading into drafts next season? I’m guessing no.
The Flyers came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat the Wild 5-4. That’s 10 wins in the last 12 for Philly. This time it was Anthony Stolarz getting the victory. James van Riemsdyk tallied two – including the game winner on a powerplay with less than five minutes to play.
The highlight of the night came off the stick of Claude Giroux who also added an assist in this one.
Clap. Clap. Boom.
Many leagues have seen their trade deadline come and pass. Others are gearing up for theirs this weekend. For those using two-week playoff matchups, just a single week remains before the post-season begins.
Now may be the last opportunity you have to grab a player who will pay dividends for you when the games matter most.
The first thing you need to do is to isolate players with favourable schedules. Using the Frozen Pool Scheduling Planner is your first stop. For instance, in weeks 20-25 (where most two-week playoff matchup leagues are scheduled), Florida and CBJ have the most games with 22.
A team like Calgary has a league-high 13 home games and 21 overall – 13 of which are against teams outside of the playoffs as of today. That’s a juicy schedule.
Meanwhile, Nashville only has eight home games and 18 overall. Only six of those games are against non-playoff squads.
The next street I like to walk is down is primary point alley. More specifically, from the last 4-6 weeks. Finding players who have been consistently driving offence – either by finishing or being the primary contributor on the assist is a great sign for potentially continued success. Goals are easy to identify, but those first assists are often squirrelled away but are juicy little nuggets.
Dating back to January 1, here are the players with the most primary assists:
Patrick Kane – 14
Steven Stamkos – 11
Jakub Voracek – 10
Ryan O’Reilly – 10
Nikita Kucherov – 10
Torey Krug – 9
Sidney Crosby – 9
Brent Burns – 9
Mats Zuccarello – 9
Connor McDavid – 9
The obvious stars are expected to drive play and will be difficult to obtain. But not enough ink is being spilled over players like Voracek and O’Reilly. O’Reilly has 20 points in 18 games in 2019, while Voracek extended his point streak to eight games tonight and has points in 14 of his last 15 games.
Both are lining up for teams trying to push a hot run into a playoff berth and could be very useful in a fantasy playoff match. Additionally, their cost of acquisition is likely lower than more high-profile talents.
Speaking of runs in 2019, the top two scorers from this calendar season met in Boston on Tuesday evening when Patty Kane and the Blackhawks hooked up with Brad Marchand and the Bruins.
Kane has been on another planet for months. After tonight he has 32 points in 16 games in 2019. He sits alone in second for NHL scoring and is just off pace to be just the sixth player in the last 20 years to record 120-plus points. With an assist on Tuesday Kane extended his point streak to 15 games and 32 points. He’s been held off the scoresheet just nine times this season and only once in back-to-back contests.
The hype around Marchand has been a touch more muted than his peer from the Windy City. But on Tuesday it was the Bs star who stole the show. After a goal and three assists in the 6-3 win, the 30-year-old has 10 goals and 28 points in 18 games since January 1, and 69 points in 56 games overall.
Over the last three seasons, Marchand’s 240 points in 204 games trials only Connor McDavid (289), Nikita Kucherov (269), Kane (246) and Sidney Crosby (243).
What an incredible asset he’s morphed into.
No David Pastrnak in this one. Or for any over the next couple of weeks as the star winger injured his thumb falling after a team event. That's some bad luck for owners and the Bruins. So far in game one, it didn't hurt his usual linemates. Danton Heinen skated in his place on L1 and David Krejci was the addition to the top power-play unit.
Heinen has the goods to be a nice streamer in this spot.
Dylan Strome grabbed an assist in the loss to extend his point streak to five games and 10 points. He has 17 points in his last 10 games and his 31 points in 33 games since the trade sits amongst the top-45 in the league over that span.
Imagine my surprise when a 21-year-old with exceptional pedigree blossoms in a new environment with more exposure to talented players and offensive situations.
Follow me on Twitter @Hockey_Robinson
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