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Kevin Labanc
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Hockey Daily Dose

Daily Dose: Take It Labanc

by Dan Dobish

The National Hockey League saw 28 of its 31 teams on the ice Saturday, with a bevy of afternoon battles. In fact, there were more day games than evening contests in the NHL, something which is typical once we move past the bowl games of college football and playoff in the National Football League. If you're a fan of hockey, this is your time to flip on the tube at 1:00 p.m. ET and veg on the couch until 1:00 a.m. ET when the west-coast games come to a conclusion. It's awfully fun to follow your seasonal league pools and DFS teams along the way, too. Let's get started!

 

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Saturday's Fantasy Five

 

Kevin Labanc is not as well-known as his more heralded teammates, or the powerful scorers on the other bench in Edmonton. But, on Saturday night, it was Labanc's show and everyone else was watching along. He starred in the 5-2 road victory against the Oilers, posting his first-career NHL hat trick with a plus-2 rating, a blocked shot and a hit. He has four goals with six points and a plus-4 rating in four games in the month of February, and he has stepped up with five goals and 10 points across the past eight contests. As such, he has some short-term fantasy appeal in seasonal leagues, and DFS owners will want to roll with him at a mid-tier price until he starts to calm down a bit.

 

Carter Hart was a second-round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, and the hype has been building since then as a prospect in the organization's system. Ever since making his much-anticipated debut in the City of Brotherly Love, he has shown a lot of heart, pun totally intended, moving to 11-5-1 with a 2.45 goals-against average and .926 save percentage across 17 starts. He picked up his eighth consecutive win while stopping 30 shots against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. Hart is the first goaltender under 21 years old since Jocelyn Thibault in 1995 to win eight straight starts before being able to legally buy an 1860 IPA at McGillin's Old Ale House.

 

Hart was helped out by Sean Couturier in Saturday's rout of the Ducks. The center remains on fire, posting a goal, two more assists and a plus-2 rating with five shots on goal and a pair of hits. That's four straight games lighting the lamp for Couturier, giving him four goals, three assists and a plus-5 rating during the impressive four-game goal run in the month of February. He is also working on a six-game point streak, collecting four goals and nine points during the span. He'll be looking to keep things rolling on Monday night in a Keystone State battle against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a nationally-televised battle.

 

Artemi Panarin might be losing some fans in the city of Columbus, but he has gained throngs of fans in fantasy circles. The Russian forward and his representation informed the Blue Jackets that he intends to test the free agent waters in the summer, declining negotiations for the remainder of the season. The team remains in contention, so it's a conundrum for the brass. Should they trade him and get some return for his services? Or should they retain him and try to at least win their first-ever playoff series in a couple of months? Columbus has the goods to be a dangerous out in the postseason. The Florida Panthers want Panarin -- badly -- and that might still happen next season. Right now, he doesn't seem bothered in the least, despite all of the rumors, boos from some fans, etc. His focus is amazing, as he had a goal, two more assists and a plus-1 rating in Vegas on Saturday. He hasn't had back-to-back scoreless outings since a four-game drought way back from Oct. 30 through Nov. 4.

 

Patrice Bergeron and his teammates enjoyed a productive day on the home ice in a high-scoring overtime win over the Los Angeles Kings, 5-4. Fans everyone are praying that the Bruins do not follow in the footsteps of the city's Red Sox and Patriots, going on a championship run. If Bergeron keeps playing the way he is, along with Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask, they just might make the haters start wringing their hands. Bergeron has scored in three straight games, giving him four goals, two assists and a plus-5 rating, including his three-point game and plus-3 rating against L.A.

 

Fantasy Game of the Night

 

As mentioned above, the Panthers are looking for some scoring assistance. If they play like they did Saturday in a 5-4 overtime win in Washington, they might have all the talent they need in-house. Newcomer Derick Brassard scored a goal with a plus-1 rating, his first marker in a Florida sweater, while giving him three points in four games since coming over from the Pittsburgh Penguins. There's something about Washington that agrees with him, as he has two of his 10 goals in three meetings with the Caps. Mike Hoffman needed a change of scenery from Ottawa, and he is having a giant season. He potted the game-winning tally in overtime, his 25th of the season, giving him 45 points overall. Meanwhile, All-Star Keith Yandle managed a goal, an assist and a plus-1 rating with two blocked shots over his 26:29 of ice time across 34 shifts. It was just his second multi-point game in two months dating back to Dec. 8. Aaron Ekblad was able to register a pair of assists with a plus-2 rating, giving him four helpers over the past four contests. Colton Sceviour notched a goal for the second straight game, his first time lighting the lamp in back-to-back games since Oct. 15-18, 2016. It was just enough support for Roberto Luongo, who allowed four goals on 30 shots in the OT win.

 

Brett Connolly was the scoring star for the home side, registering two goals with three points and a plus-2 rating, while also serving a couple of minor penalties in the sin bin. He was one of three Caps with a multi-point performance, although perhaps not the guys you usually associate with the champs. Lars Eller had a goal, an assist and a plus-2 rating with two blocked shots, while Andre Burakovsky was good for a pair of assists, a plus-1 rating and two hits, making any DFS players happy if they rolled the dice on him Saturday. Evgeny Kuznetsov also got into the scoring act, but Alex Ovechkin was limited to just one assist with three hits in his 19:01 of ice time. They needed more, as Braden Holtby yielded five goals on 31 shots in the loss.

 

Quick Hits: Anze Kopitar went for a goal, two blocked shots and two hits in Philly, giving him four goals and 10 points across the past seven outings. … Oscar Fantenberg entered Saturday's game with just one lone assist all season. He lit the lamp for his first goal since Dec. 16, 2017 on the road against the New York Islanders. … Charlie McAvoy managed his second goal of the season while chipping in with an assist, snapping a six-game scoring drought. … Dylan Larkin went for a goal, giving him three markers and five points during his four-game point streak, including two power-play goals. … Casey Mittelstadt was good for a game-winning goal, giving him a four-point scoring streak. … Marcus Foligno has a goal, an assist and a blocked shot with a major penalty, his first multi-point effort in over a year dating back to Jan. 25, 2018. … Luke Kunin has emerged as a fantasy sleeper, registering a goal, an assist and a plus-3 rating. That's a goal, four assists and a plus-5 rating during his current three-game point streak. ... Erik Johnson and Carl Soderberg each posted a goal, two assists, a plus-1 rating and two blocked shots for mirror scoring lines. Soderberg has four multi-point games across the past 12, giving him seven goals and 11 points. … Ryan Pulock was good for two more goals, giving him six points and a plus-5 rating over the past four. … Brock Nelson had two assists Saturday, giving him four helpers during his three-game point streak. … Tomas Konecny had a goal, an assist and a plus-1 rating, posting four goals and nine points during his eight-game point run. … Matt Duchene has scored in three straight games, posting four goals and five points. … Jordan Binnington can be trusted as a No. 2 backstop in most fantasy pools. He won again Saturday, moving to 9-1-1 with a 1.73 GAA and .931 save percentage. … Roman Josi had an assist for the Preds, giving him two goals and five assists with a plus-2 rating in five games in February. … Alex Galchenyuk notched his first game-winning tally of the season, collecting two goals, three points and a plus-1 in a win over Dallas. … Alex Goligoski hurt his former team, literally and figuratively, posting a goal and an assist while blocking five shots. It was his first multi-point game since Nov. 2 against Carolina. … Andreas Johnsson posted a goal with a plus-3 rating, his third straight game lighting the lamp. He has four goals, six points and a plus-7 rating during the heater. Johnny Tavares is also hot, winning it in OT at Montreal, giving him a goal and an assist in each of his past three contests. … Brendan Gallagher had a goal against the Leafs, giving him three goals and six points with a plus-7 rating during a three-game point streak. … Jared McCann is fitting in his with new team, scoring in his second straight game. … Alex Killorn had two assists and a plus-2 rating, his first multi-point game since Nov. 29. … Cam Atkinson scored two goals, including the game-winner in Vegas, giving him four goals and six points in five games since the All-Star break. … Josh Anderson tied a career best with his 19th goal, giving him goals in three in a row. … Tomas Hertl registered his 14th multi-point game of the season. … Evander Kane had a goal and an assist, and he has 13 goals and 24 points over the past 17. … Joe Thornton had two assists with a plus-1 rating in his 1,540th NHL game. He tied Shane Doan and Johnny Bucyk for the 15th-most games played in league history. … Elias Petterson notched his 50th point in just 45 games, becoming the eighth player under 20 years old to accomplish the feat since 1988-89.

 

Dan Dobish