This is the heaviest week of hockey news in quite some time and almost certainly the heaviest of the 2013-14 season. The Daily Dose has largely reflected that so far.
Hopefully you found those columns entertaining enough, but either way, it appears we’re back to normal on Thursday. That doesn’t mean things are boring, mind you. With less than a month remaining in the regular season, playoff races are only becoming spicier with added intrigue seemingly every day.
Still, nothing stands out as a huge narrative or earth-shattering consideration, so I thought I’d take a deeper look at the four games that happened on Wednesday night.
Before I do that, though, a quick bit on injuries: we’re getting to the point where the terms “season-ending injury” and “out indefinitely” might be fairly interchangeable, at least until you start to consider playoff pools. If you’re in a catbird seat as someone who’s already clinched a playoff spot or even high seeding, then it’s worth being as patient as ever with ailments. If you’re scratching and clawing each week, I’m increasingly on board with tough decisions such as dropping Michael Grabner after learning that he’s “out indefinitely.”
COLORADO 3, CHICAGO 2
-- Are the Colorado Avalanche truly for real? I’m not asking if they’re a good team in general; you don’t rise above the Chicago Blackhawks this deep into the season (an 82-game one no less) by being without talent. I wonder more from an elite team status. The fancy stats certainly don’t speak too kindly to the Avs compared to the NHL’s best teams. They’re not getting out-shot on the maybe-historic-for-a-playoff-contender level like the Toronto Maple Leafs, yet Colorado is allowing about three more shots per game than they’re firing on opposing nets. Maybe it’s a stylistic thing or maybe the Avalanche will be exposed at this point, but I imagine fantasy owners who have invested in this team aren’t really complaining a whole lot.
-- The shot disparity was pretty clear on Wednesday as Chicago generated a 39-29 shot disparity despite the loss. And that's with 13 of those SOG coming from Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O'Reilly.
-- It looks like this will easily be the best offensive season of O'Reilly's career if he can stay healthy through mid-April. With a goal (a GWG, his sixth of 2013-14) and an assist, he now has a career-high with 25 tallies and also has 53 points, just two short of his peak from 2011-12. It'll be interesting to see if the Avalanche can re-sign him, especially after things got awfully weird between him and the franchise's former regime in 2012-13.
-- Semyon Varlamov only trails Marc-Andre Fleury for the wins lead with 33 victories (MAF has 34). The only other goalie with 30+ wins so far this season is Antti Niemi, who has 32.
-- Quite a season for Brandon Saad, who now has 19 goals and 44 points in 66 games played this season. Fantasy owners haven't fallen asleep on him, either, as he's owned in 70 percent of leagues. Surely the +29 rating doesn't hurt matters.
VANCOUVER 3, WINNIPEG 2 (SO)
-- How long will it take until a win doesn’t feel like a “must” for Vancouver? The Canucks are still in the wild card picture in part because of this victory. We’ll see if that really just opens the door for more theatrics or if they might just creep back into this.
-- Ryan Kesler is expected to miss three games or more with a leg injury. If it's just those three, he'll sit out two games this week and a Monday match against the Tampa Bay Lightning while that potential return could be against the Nashville Predators in Vancouver next Wednesday. That's assuming he misses three games, though.
-- If you want a compelling example of "out of sight, out of mind" ... in this case, out of the box scores ... Alexandre Burrows scored his first two goals of the 2013-14 season last night. He went 35 games in this campaign without a single tally and has three of his pitiful eight points from this season in the last two contests. The slide of the Sedin twins is the easiest answer for this problem, but Burrows is barely taking more than two SOG per game (85 in 36 this season). It doesn't help that he has the shooting percentage of a defenseman (2.4) this season, either. Yikes.
-- Eddie Lack might not be "Batman" material but I think he could be a suitable goalie to have on your team despite allowing six goals in that dramatic loss vs. the Islanders.
CALGARY 7, ANAHEIM 2
-- There are probably a lot of "What the?" questions rolling around, but how about "Who in the world is Joni Ortio?" Well, the Finnish goalie was drafted in the sixth round (171st overall) in 2009. He's now 3-3-0 with a .907 save percentage and 2.20 GAA in his first NHL appearances as a random rookie. His numbers in other leagues are ... pretty sparse. No, I wouldn't recommend him.
-- If nothing else, Mikael Backlund is getting plenty of opportunities to shine lately, as he exceeded 24 minutes of ice time on March 8 and 10 before collecting three points in just under 20 minutes last night. He sort of has a Patrick Bateman with worse hair look going, which is a plus in my book. I'm not overly excited about him, in all honesty, but there are worse options out there too.
-- Is Jonas Hiller a little tuckered out? He's on a three-game losing streak with last night (three goals allowed on five shots) being the worst showing in this little span.
BOSTON 4, MONTREAL 1
-- The Bruins' top scoring line has had a nice season. Jarome Iginla is fitting in nicely with 20 goals, 50 points, a +25 rating, 40 PIM, 173 SOG and 117 hits. David Krejci has 56 points while also has 20 goals (48 points), 71 PIM, a +21 rating and 191 hits this season. Not bad at all.
-- Carl Soderberg is on quite the hot streak lately, with a four-game point streak (two goals, three assists). Not sure if I'd say rush to add him just yet, but the B's have to love that secondary scoring.
-- Zdeno Chara has a great chance to best his career high of 19 goals, as he already has 15 on the season. His career-best 52 points is in no danger as he only has 29 right now, though.
-- Peter Budaj is on a four-game losing streak. Montreal seems in danger of slipping into bubble battles now and I can't help but wonder when Devan Dubnyk might get some action ... and how hurt Carey Price really is.