That was quite the smackdown that the Bruins laid on the Penguins last night. Eight goals! Including a hat-trick for David Krejci.
Krejci has quietly been good when healthy, he just has not been able to stay healthy. He has 33 points in 44 games, a 60-point pace, which is near the high end of the best you can do with only secondary PP usage. The addition of Rick Nash doesn’t necessarily boost Krejci, but it certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Speaking of Nash, the big winger is up to two goals, three points and 15 SOG in three games with the Bruins. I figured this would be an upgrade, but my whole Nash won’t click on the top power play take is aging poorly. He has skated on the top unit in all three games and scored a PP goal last night. Meanwhile, Danton Heinen, the guy I figured would grab top unit duties without Ryan Spooner was a healthy scratch in favour of Brian Gionta.
Heinen is a rookie and has struggled with just one point in the last nine games. Is this just a wakeup call or the start of something worse? I suspect the former, but the rookie has clearly cooled off. Also, Gionta notched two assists…
Riley Nash has four points in two games filling in for Patrice Bergeron on the top line. If you’re in a pinch or a really deep league, there’s use here. He’s getting you exposure to Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, albeit only at even strength.
I don’t this result makes you reconsider the Casey DeSmith/Tristan Jarry combo. They can be useful while Matt Murray is out. Considering it’s a concussion these two could roll for the entirety of the fantasy playoffs. What you cannot do is use these guys in unfavourable matchups, like the Bruins. At this stage of the season you are looking to avoid Tampa Bay, Vegas, Winnipeg, Boston, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Nashville. Those are seven of the top eight in goals per game. The Islanders are the other team in that top eight, they’ve been in a funk since the All-Star break.
The million-dollar question is which guy the Penguins roll with. I’m in the Tristan Jarry camp, but this is really a win-and-you’re-in situation. I suspect after last night’s debacle that DeSmith will get a break. Jarry gets the next one against the Islanders on Saturday. From there? Win and you’re in.
Jordan Staal notched an assist in his return to the lineup after the passing of his daughter. I cannot even imagine.
Justin Williams ended a five-game scoreless drought with a three-point night. He is quietly putting together a 50-point/190-SOG season. He’s also contributing healthy PIM totals. Williams is only owned in 18% of Yahoo leagues, but I’d bet he’d help teams in closer to 50% of leagues. The question is whether or not he hits the baselines of productivity to be worth rostering nightly versus picking up a flavour of the week each week. His shot volume might be enough to nudge him over, depending on where the line is in your league. He grades as roughly the 45th best RW in standard leagues with his production thus far.
I’m inclined to chase players on hotter streaks with a juicier schedule for the head-to-head playoffs. Carolina only has nine games, and not a lot of “off nights”. Not too keen on Carolina guys even if Williams has been a sneaky good option.
Roberto Luongo moves to 5-1-0 since returning from injury and is helping to power a late charge for the Panthers. This team is horrific defensively, mostly because they have no depth, but an elite goalie with some star scorers can make a lot of noise.
Two goals for Aleksander Barkov who has 14 points in the last nine games. More importantly, he has been healthy (knock on wood). Availability is the best ability. It’s nice to finally see it from this star.
Evgenii Dadonov is clicking with Barkov once again, boasting 12 points in the last nine games. While his season-long numbers don’t quite best Williams’, Dadonov is by far the juicier option. He’s on a hot streak, next to a superstar, on a surging team that plays 10 games in the next three weeks. Mind you, Florida’s “off night” schedule is also not favourable, but if you can fit him in there aren’t many RWers putting up better numbers than Dadonov.
Crazy finish to the Stars-Lightning game with Dallas rallying from two down in the third to force overtime, only for Cory Conacher to end it with this crazy goal:
Note how he tips in his own rebound just above Ben Bishop’s shoulder. Was that intentional? I doubt it, but I can’t put it past him. Athletes pulling off crazy feats is why we tune in.
Still no Nikita Kucherov for Tampa Bay. They are being cautious with this and I fully endorse it. Just be back for next week. That said, we can’t really get a grasp for the Lightning lines while he is out.
The Sharks hung six on JF Berube, the goaltender who was famously too good to put on waivers but too bad to actually play for the Islanders. Poor guy.
All four lines got in on the action for the Sharks so let’s take a peak at them courtesy of FrozenPool:
#1 28.9% DONSKOI,JOONAS – KANE,EVANDER – PAVELSKI,JOE
#2 22% BOEDKER,MIKKEL – COUTURE,LOGAN – HERTL,TOMAS
#3 20.2% LABANC,KEVIN – MEIER,TIMO – TIERNEY,CHRIS
#4 18.5% GOODROW,BARCLAY – KARLSSON,MELKER – SORENSEN,MARCUS
Timo Meier had been flashing some intriguing potential alongside Joe Pavelski but has been bumped back to the third line with the arrival of Evander Kane. That’s clearly a demotion, specifically with regard to ice time, however it comes with the bonus of being reunited with Kevin Labanc, the best playmaker on the team. Meier has three goals in the last four games and can provide excellent shot volume. He’s an intriguing flyer in deeper settings.
More exciting is how Kane appears to have been reinvigorated by his most to the West coast. It’s early but Kane has three points in two games, skating top line and top PP minutes with the Sharks. San Jose was the rare contender who could actually use Kane in a role as sizeable as he played in Buffalo and they provide the boost of an improved supporting cast.
Since their bye week Marc-Edouard Vlasic has 17 points in 25 games, a wild run of productivity for a defenseman who isn’t even used on the top PP unit. We saw Vlasic do this for the Sharks a couple of years ago so it wouldn’t be unheard of for him to continue this pace until season’s end.
Maroon skated 13:16 on the fourth line with Brian Boyle and Blake Coleman. Not a great spot, but he did displace Boyle as the net-front guy on the Devils’ top PP unit. Boyle had been successful there earlier but has two points since Christmas.
Will Maroon stick as the net-front guy? It will likely depend on productivity however he’s going to get no competition from Boyle. Looks like he’s the de facto top option. PP time is the only way he’s maintaining his Edmonton scoring pace because that’s the only time he’ll get exposure to Taylor Hall.
Cory Schneider made his return for the Devils. Not the best stopping 29 of 32 but it was a long layoff. He is definitely an upgrade over Keith Kinkaid even if the backup had won five of his last six games.
Notable, Oilers down by 2 with 3:10 left, chance to pull goalie and try and get one. McLellan chose not to, said they weren’t winning many face offs, that they’d given up some empty netters lately and the losses felt worse.— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) March 2, 2018
Fallin’ for Dahlin!
We now have it from the horse’s mouth, Eeli Tolvanen intends to sign with the Predators once his KHL season is over. Their regular season just ended. His team, Jokerit, is a #3 seed in the playoffs.
Read more about Tolvanen and other prospects in Cam Robinson’s latest prospect ramblings.
Check out this HBO Real Sports piece on concussions/CTE in the NHL:
Check out Ian Gooding’s latest Finding Fantasy Value piece.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.
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