James O'Brien

Hockey Daily Dose

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Dose: Get Carter, Get OT goals

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Say what you will about how the NHL structures its playoff format and how standings points are generated - I usually grumble something inaudible about three points these days - the NHL does seem like it will benefit from some really fun playoff races to close out 2016-17.

The expansion draft adds a level of uncertainty to the trade market, too, so that should be fun. I guess.

With the NFL playoffs really starting to wind down, and the winter in full cruel form, it’s time to buckle down. And win your fantasy hockey leagues. Huzzah.

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-- Brad Marchand celebrated his 500th game by scoring five points: two goals and three assists. That leaves him awfully close to a point-per-game this season, with 43 in 46 contests. If you isolate your view to the last two seasons (77 GP in 2015-16 plus these 46 games in 2016-17), Marchand has 104 in his past 123 games.

Considering the fact that he still piles up penalties (42 this season, 476 PIM in those 500 GP), his increased scoring rate makes him a premier power forward in fantasy. It's been a remarkable run, and since he lines up more often than not with Patrice Bergeron, it's no surprise that he has a great career +147 mark.

-- Marchand also regularly skates with David Pastrnak, at least when the young forward is healthy enough/not suspended. Pastrnak contributed two assists on Saturday, giving him six in his last five contests. He last scored a goal when he collected 1G, 1A against the Penguins on Dec. 14, but at least he's generating points again (he went seven games without a point at all before getting it back together lately).

-- Torey Krug is on one heck of a hot streak in his own right.

He now has a goal in three straight games. Krug collected an assist on Saturday and had another helper on Jan. 10, so he has five points in his past three games. Those three goals account for all but one of his four goals from this season.

Normally I'd say that a talented defenseman would bump up a 3.1 shooting percentage, even noting that blueliners score at a lower rate than forwards. Krug's 4.4 career shooting percentage doesn't inspire a ton of confidence that his numbers will skyrocket, though.

-- Nice to see Tuukka Rask in there (and getting a win) after that injury scare earlier this week. The gulf between Rask and every other Bruins goalie is enormous.


-- The Montreal Canadiens fired off three goals in just over a minute in the third period to win this game, with goals by Alexei Emelin, Max Pacioretty and Paul Byron.

This marks the 20th goal of the season for Patches, who came into this season with a three-season 30+ goal streak. And, really, you could probably call it a four-season streak since he had 33 in 2011-12 and 15 in 44 games from that abomination of a lockout-shortened campaign in 2012-13.

(Seriously, how many streaks/good vibes/unicorn horns did that wildly unnecessary lockout ruin? Please please please don't do it again, league that makes lockouts standard operating procedure ...)

-- Alex Galchenyuk scored a goal on one SOG and played 24 shifts (16:37 TOI) in his first game back since Dec. 4. The Habs sure seem legit considering how well they handled a challenging road schedule and some tough injury losses, with Galchenyuk being one of the most noteworthy losses.

-- Antti Raanta left the game in the first period thanks to a lower-body injury, and Henrik Lundqvist ended up absorbing all five Habs goals. Not sure how bad the injury is for Raanta, one of the league's most impressive backups as of late.


-- Jeff Carter continues to be an overtime menace for the Kings, as this was his third OTGWG of 2016-17. It also marks his eighth GWG of 2016-17, a significant chunk of his impressive 23 goals. He's close to a point-per-game overall, collecting 40 in 43.

Remarkably, he has a four-game point streak going even though he didn't generate a SOG against Dallas on Jan. 9 (one assist) and didn't generate one against the Blues on Jan. 12 either (two assists). In that span, he has two goals and five assists.

-- For the first time since 2008-09 (and only the third time in his journeyman career), Peter Budaj crossed the 20-win barrier. He has a solid shot of setting a new career-best for wins (he generated 31 in 2006-07) and this already probably qualifies as his best all-around season. Four shutouts are a career-high, and his .917 save percentage is comfortably stronger than his career average of .904.

-- While the Predators are in Los Angeles' rearview mirror, both the Kings and Preds seem like they're in a good position to eventually pass the Flames. It's a pretty tight race for those two wild card spots, though, so that lost point hurts a Jets team that is in some danger of falling too far behind and becoming trade deadline sellers.


-- Curtis McElhinney was thrown right into the fire for his Maple Leafs debut. He needed to make 35 out of 37 saves to win in his first appearance for Toronto. The 33-year-old has a .928 save percentage in his sparse eight appearances (six starts, 3-1-2 record) in 2016-17, showing that he's doing everything he can to justify playing time. Could be a nice pickup for the Buds, although his career .905 save percentage implies that management should at least keep an eye out for other options in the event that he flops.

-- With two goals, Nazem Kadri extended his point streak to five games. He has a tally in all but one of those contests and also has two assists, giving him seven points during that torrid streak.

With 18 goals in 2016-17, just two goals shy of tying his career-high for goals at 20 from 2013-14. While his shooting percentage is a touch high at 14.1, he's firing a little more than three SOG per game (128 in 41 GP), so it seems likely that the good times will keep rolling for the talented, oft-understood forward.

-- Dion Phaneuf is a big bummer these days, but he's on a solid goal pace if nothing else. With six goals, he's in a position to possibly hit double digits in tallies for the first time since he scored 12 goals in 2011-12. It's easy to forget that he began his career with 20 goals and had at least 10 during every season with the Flames, even the trade-abbreviated one from 2009-10 (10 goals in 55 games with Calgary, two in 26 with Toronto).


-- Andreas Athanasiou might just be figuring out how to translate his blazing speed to production. He has four goals and three assists for seven points in his last five games for Detroit.

-- With a goal and an assist, Thomas Vanek is on an even hotter streak for the Red Wings; the frequently-slammed winger has a five game points streak: 4G, 4A. Pretty remarkable that he has 29 points in 32 games so far this season. As poorly as Ken Holland has been doing lately, this was a nice low-risk, medium-reward gamble.

-- Keep an eye open for Kris Letang updates. Seems like he might be dealing with an injury.

-- What's eating Dylan Larkin? He only logged 12:32 TOI and has a mere assist in his last five games. He hasn't even generated a SOG in his last two contests, suffering a -5 rating and only firing four SOG in a five-game span. That's ... yeah, not good.

-- Anthony Mantha seems like a quick study at the NHL level. He generated two assists in this one, giving him two goals and four assists for six points during a five-game span.


-- Cody McLeod made a nice first impression with the Predators against his former team in the Avs, scoring Nashville's first goal of the contest (starting a wave of three straight goals for the Preds). No, I wouldn't be too excited about McLeod ... but good for him.

He did get in a fight, so if you happened to grab him in certain formats just for the day, then he rewarded you handsomely.

-- Rene Bourque was ejected for boarding Viktor Arvidsson, a Preds player who had been dealing with some injury issues. Luckily for Nashville, Arvidsson returned to the game, so there's a solid chance he's OK. He's an under-the-radar quality forward for Nashville. Someone named Ron Zolkower says he has the "heart of a lion and built like an armadillo." /tips cap

-- With this three-game winning streak, the Predators are just a breath (or point, if you want to be a stickler) behind the Kings for the second wild card spot in the West. If I were them, I'd continue relying on the combination of Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros as they've been doing lately.

Speaking of Rinne, he's won three of four games and now has an encouragingly nice .920 save percentage. If he's "back," then Nashville could be a scary underdog threat in the playoffs, assuming P.K. Subban hopefully can get healthy.


-- The Blue Jackets have dropped four of their last six games, with no charity points in those defeats. I'd guess that they'll get a bump soon, as they begin a three-game homestand on Tuesday.

Actually, that run stands as an intriguing barometer; they host the Hurricanes on Tuesday and Saturday while also hosting the Senators on Thursday. Those teams have been feisty lately, so it could be an interesting test for both Columbus and the Blue Jackets' opponents.

The Blue Jackets then head out on a five-game road trip (and play six of seven away from home) beginning on Jan. 22, so there could be some turbulence ahead for Torts' cohorts.

-- Cam Atkinson: still providing a steady diet of goals. He generated his 21st of the season, giving him a very unexpected 41 points in 42 games. He's already basically equaled his work from the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, while 2015-16 is in danger of being left in the wind: he scored 27 goals and 53 points last season, both career-highs.

-- It's easy to forget that Seth Jones is still just 22. He collected two assists here, giving him 20 points in just 36 games.

-- Jaromir Jagr collected his eighth goal of the season, giving him 27 points in 45 games. He's also been in the box a bit more than usual, as he's had 36 PIM in 45 games so far this season.


-- John Tavares scored two goals in this one, so don't blame him (you shouldn't anyway, seriously). Allow me to float a theory: Tavares has extra motivation to score goals so he can send cries from help. That's not a celebration, he's actually doing code for "S.O.S."

-- Did Brock McGinn become Brock Lesnar? He's having a beastly three-game run. Saturday was the highlight, as he scored a goal and three assists. This gives him seven points in three games. He came into this stretch with five points in 24 contests.

-- Three Hurricanes enjoyed one-goal, two-assist games: Jordan Staal, Elias Lindholm and Lee Stempniak. Carolina seems like it has a legitimate chance to make opponents sweat in the playoff run.

-- Cam Ward still has some work to do, even if his .915 save percentage is a pleasant surprise for those who've kept expectations appropriately low.

Yes, he's won four in a row, but he allowed four goals on Saturday, three in two of those games and did have a strong game (36 of 38 stops) to beat Buffalo.


-- Jonathan Bernier made just his second appearance of 2017 (and his first real start since Dec. 20) and made the most of it, stopping all 26 SOG for his first shutout with Anaheim. It hasn't been the greatest start for him performance-wise (.904 save percentage when you're fighting to some extent for your career?), but he does have a 7-3-1 record.

-- Ryan Kesler scored a goal, giving him three tallies in his past four games. Very nice season from the former Selke candidate: 18G, 37P, +13, 36 PIM and one would assume plenty of elbow grease stats. He's already at 860 GP for his career at just 32 years old.

-- Pretty startling how much of an "edge" the Avalanche have on the Coyotes for the best lottery odds. No other team is really in their zip codes as far as badness goes, though. The Avalanche have a -55 goal differential while the Yotes are at -44. The only other team in the general area is the Devils with their -29 differential.


-- Minnesota fired off three goals in the first four minutes of the game and added a 4-0 tally at the 12:45 mark of the first period. Give the Stars credit for fighting back, though they got nothing to show for their efforts, which has to be an all-too-familiar feeling for the sorry Stars.

-- Maybe some signs of life from Jiri Hudler as he shakes off whatever that weird bug was? He scored his second goal with the Stars on Saturday, giving him five points in 19 games. He does have three points in his last four, though.

-- Eric Staal scored his 15th goal of 2016-17, extending his point streak to five games (4G, 5A). He continues to flirt with point-per-game status as he has 39 in 41 games this season. Pretty remarkable turnaround for a guy who looked like he had no life in his legs during that weird turn with the Rangers that we maybe should all pretend never happened.

-- The Wild managed to get the win with Darcy Kuemper in net, who has been an adventure at times for Minnesota. He's 5-2-2 despite a poor .901 save percentage. Darcy should thank the guys in front of him for the goal support.

-- Antti Niemi allowed three goals on three shots before giving way to Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 26 out of 28 shots. Just astounding stuff.


-- Carter Hutton grabbed his first shutout as a member of the Blues, needing to only stop 23 SOG. You gotta wonder if St. Louis is going to be submarined by poor goaltending, as Jake Allen is struggling and, even with that shutout, Hutton has just a .901 save percentage so far with St. Louis.

-- Joe Thornton was ejected from this game for spearing. He received a 15 minute PIM package (including game misconduct), so keep an eye out in case there's any additional punishment. I doubt it, but you never know.

-- For the first 40 games of this season, Colton Parayko had zero goals, a shocking stat considering his thunderous shot. He scored his second goal in three games on Saturday and also added an assist. He now has 20 points in 43 games this season.

People are generally excited about his defensive play, but I'd love to see him take at least a half-step forward offensively soon. Maybe the expansion draft will clear up a spot for him to rise up the Blues lineup or something?


-- Patrick Maroon scored his 18th goal of the season, already his new career-high. He's in a good spot to eclipse his career-high for points (34), as he already has 25. While I'd expect his offense to slow down quite a bit, this could be a nice step forward and he's still generating solid PIM, making him a respectable depth consideration in leagues with those rough-and-tumble stats.

-- Cam Talbot ha wins in four of his last five games, improving his overall record to 22-12-6 with a solid .918 save percentage this season. The Oilers have made life easy for him lately; Talbot faced 25 SOG on Saturday, just 19 against the Devils, 28 vs. the Sharks and 20 one other time against New Jersey.

-- Sean Monahan scored Calgary's lone goal, giving him a two-game goal streak. The most important thing to me is that he's being assertive, though. He's now generated four SOG in three straight games. My guess is that Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau will have strong second half pushes, so if you sense irritation from their fantasy owners, try to float a buy-low trade for one or both of those promising young scorers.

James O'Brien is the Hockey Daily Dose's author and has been a contributor to NBC's Pro Hockey Talk for more than four years. Follow him on Twitter.
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