It’s the first Saturday evening of the NHL season, with plenty of notable performers. So we’re starting to get into quick hits as opposed to deep dives in an attempt not to miss anyone, although I won’t hold myself to that standard.
The Sabres were powered by two goals from each of Sam Reinhart and Victor Olofsson en route to a 7-2 win over New Jersey, who was playing its second game in back-to-back nights. Olofsson’s two goals were scored on the power play, where he was able to receive first-unit power play minutes. Not only that, but he’s also skating on the top line with Reinhart and Jack Eichel. The season is very early and lines can change, but the Sabres’ rookie (23 percent owned in Yahoo leagues) deserves strong consideration as a waiver-wire pickup.
The Devils were delivered another scare in the second period, as Taylor Hall took a hard hit and had to leave the game. Hall returned for the third period, so hopefully he is okay for next week.
The Penguins were able to do a number on the Blue Jackets as well to an identical 7-2 score to the game mentioned above. Unfortunately, the victory cost them the services of Evgeni Malkin, who left the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury. The only information provided was that Malkin and Nick Bjugstad, who also left the game with an injury, are currently being re-evaluated. Here’s the play that caused the injury:
Here was the awkward play that caused Malkin to go to the locker room btw. pic.twitter.com/xkwu7evlc2
— Mike DeFabo (@MikeDeFabo) October 6, 2019
Jared McCann stepped in to center the second line once Malkin left the game. McCann finished the game with two goals and an assist, so he appears to be in a great spot should Malkin miss any time.
The Penguins reorganized their power-play units for the start of this game, moving Alex Galchenyuk onto the first unit in place of Patric Hornqvist. That didn’t seem to faze Hornqvist, who scored two even-strength goals and ended up with the most power-play time of any Pens’ forward. I’ve got Hornqvist as a RW4 on one of my teams, so I’m hoping there’s still something left in the tank.
Elvis Merzlikins was all shook up after his debut. The Jackets’ goalie was torched for seven goals and had to face 40 shots. The Jackets have now allowed 11 goals over their first two games, so their goaltending situation already seems like one to avoid.
The Leafs/Habs game was absolutely bananas, complete with the trending topic 4-1 Leafs on Twitter. Kasperi Kapanen wore the goat horns, throwing his broken stick at Jeff Petry. On the resulting penalty shot, Petry scored to tie the game at 4.
Kapanen throws his broken stick at Petry. Automatic penalty shot. pic.twitter.com/y6s582DFvQ
— Flintor (@TheFlintor) October 6, 2019
Brendan Gallagher scored one of three shorthanded goals while adding two assists and seven shots in the come-from-behind 6-5 shootout win for the Habs.
In a losing cause, Auston Matthews scored two more goals, giving him a league-leading five goals on the season. He’s scored goals in all three games for the Leafs.
Alexander Kerfoot’s goal and two assists on Saturday were his first points as a Leaf.
Mika Zibanejad is en fuego. The Rangers’ center recorded his second consecutive four-point game, this one consisting of a hat trick and an assist against his former team in Ottawa. Zibanejad should receive serious NHL Three Stars consideration on Monday, as he has already racked up four goals and four assists over his first two games (which not surprisingly leads the league). For those of you in PPG/SHG goal leagues, Zibanejad scored on the power play, shorthanded, and at even strength. With this early-season head start and a spot with newly signed Artemi Panarin, Zibanejad has a great shot to surpass his career high of 74 points set last season.
By the way, Panarin and the top line’s third man Pavel Buchnevich each had two points in this game. At just 17 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, Buchnevich is worth taking a flier on (again?) if you have the roster space because of his current situation.
Mike Hoffman continues to score goals. The Panthers’ winger recorded a hat trick of his own in the Panthers’ 4-3 win over Tampa Bay. Hoffman is already up to four goals after scoring a career high 36 goals last season. It seems as though the trade out of Ottawa was a positive career move. Any worries about him not receiving PP1 time with the Panthers should be dispelled, as Hoffman scored 17 PPG last season and already has 2 PPG this season.
It wasn’t the best night for me to bench Tyler Bertuzzi. (I was starting Jonathan Huberdeau, Jeff Skinner, and Rickard Rakell in those three spots, so you tell me if you would have done the same.) The nephew of Todd scored two goals and added two assists with a plus-4 in the Wings’ 5-3 win in Nashville. I targeted Bertuzzi because of the chemistry he formed on the top line with Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha late last season, and in the Wings’ first game of the season he has continued right where he left off. He’s already 37 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, but that number should climb even higher if he stays on the top line.
Mantha stuffed the statsheet himself on Saturday, scoring a goal and two assists with a plus-3, 4 PIM, and 5 SOG. Larkin scored a goal and an assist with a plus-4.
With another two assists on Saturday, Matt Duchene is now up to five points (all assists) in two games as a Predator.
(Sees the Bruins won 1-0 over Arizona… checks team with Tuukka Rask… dammit!) Jaroslav Halak stopped all 35 shots he faced in the Bruins’ 1-0 win over Arizona. Halak established himself as one of the league’s better backups last season, getting into 40 games. If you’re a Rask owner, you have to be cautious about the number of games that Rask will play. The load management strategy the Bruins used last season (Rask played just 46 games) helped the Bruins get all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, so I’d expect them to use a similar strategy again.
I rely on the projections in the Fantasy Guide for my own roster decisions, and I would assume that many of you will too. However, there’s nothing wrong with you believing that a player was projected either too high or too low. Opinions will vary. So by saying this, I’m going to pick on one player that I believe that Dobber (or his secret projector) has been too generous with and would rank lower. That player is Cam Talbot, who he projected to play in 53 games with 29 wins, both higher than David Rittich’s projected total.
Big Save Dave lived up to his nickname on Saturday, stopping all 34 shots he faced in the Flames’ 3-0 win over Vancouver. Rittich looked particularly strong over the third period, stopping 18 Canucks’ shots while the Flames also had to kill three penalties. I know this is one game, but at the very least I see a timeshare here. With this shutout, Rittich should have the upper hand as the Flames’ goalie to own (at least for the moment). Talbot has something to prove this season, so it will be interesting to see how he fares when he does start.
The Kings/Oilers game was hardly one that the coaches would be proud of. Fantasy owners by and large probably won’t be complaining, unless they started either Mike Smith or Jonathan Quick. In fact, this game was complete with Mike Smith doing Mike Smith things… the bad ones.
Don't think that's what Mike Smith had planned for on that play 🥴 pic.twitter.com/BzEZYyMEq9
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 6, 2019
Smith earned the win in spite of allowing five goals. Expect Mikko Koskinen to get into a game or two next week as the Oilers head out on an eastern road trip.
James Neal looked like the real deal again on Saturday. Neal scored two power-play goals from the Oilers’ first unit. After scoring just seven goals all of last season, Neal returning to 20 goals again is definitely not out of the question. Edmonton’s serious lack of depth on the wings is making him fantasy relevant again. Neal is owned in just 24 percent of Yahoo leagues.
In the Kings’ first game of the season, Anze Kopitar scored a goal and added two assists in nearly 24 minutes of icetime. After sliding from 92 points to 60 points last season, Kopitar could be due for at least a slight improvement of his own. In fact, I’m floored in how far he fell in fantasy drafts this season (ADP 155 in Yahoo leagues). As a result, I’ve added him to a couple of my teams.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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