It’s been a long week of NHL action … and not just for Ottawa Senators winger Bobby Ryan. With a slew of games and plenty of storylines from Thursday, I thought it would be most prudent to simply roll out game summaries.
COLUMBUS 2, PHOENIX 0
-- Nathan Horton made his Blue Jackets debut on Thursday, which caught many by surprise because he’s only owned in 27 percent of Yahoo leagues. Things began well, too, as the 28-year-old scored a goal, generated two SOG and three hits.
The Blue Jackets eased Horton into action, with 14:47 of total ice time and a nice 2:58 of power play work (both of the Blue Jackets' tallies came on the man advantage). Horton owners got the benefit of a GWG, matching his total from 43 up-and-down games with Boston last season.
Horton isn't the type who's likely to help you dominate a league, but he’s a great option on the “available in January” level. He’s a decent hit generator, solid for PIMs (543 in 592 career games). He's also a goal away from 200 in his career, and he's been a consistent contributor in that regard, with a peak of 31 goals and five other 20+ goal seasons already in his career.
-- Sergei Bobrovsky backed up Curtis McElhinney (who stopped all 34 shots), so “Bob” might be nearing a return soon.
-- Keith Yandle played like a man who is/was angry being left off of the U.S. team last night. Like the rest of the Coyotes, he didn't score a point, but he did collect five PIM and seven SOG while logging a stunning 30:37 of total ice time, including 6:04 on the PP.
OTTAWA 4, WINNIPEG 3
-- Hey, at least Ryan seemingly avoided an injury last night. It was a “sleepy” night overall, though.
-- David Poile remarked that America wasn’t looking to construct an All-Star team, but instead the team with the best chance to compete. If this was all about getting the best fantasy team together, Dustin Byfuglien would easily be in the top five overall considerations.
He generated two points, two PIM, three SOG and two hits, basically putting together the exact type of game that makes him such an unusually useful fantasy hockey defenseman. I cannot help but wonder if the U.S. might have found a creative solution to get such a rare (maybe even one-of-a-kind) player in the mix; perhaps even using him as a fourth-line forward and power-play specialist? Such progressive thinking is probably a stretch for most of the "brain trust" not named Lombardi and/or Bowman, though, I guess.
-- Craig Anderson looks like he's finally getting things together, with last night's victory marking a four-game winning streak. While he isn’t setting the world on fire, he’s still showing signs of being a go-to guy again.
CAROLINA 4, WASHINGTON 3 (OT)
-- Jeff Skinner has been quite the tear lately, with last night's hat trick (including a game-winner) giving him 19 goals on the season. After only having four goals in 15 games to start things off, he now has 15 goals in his last 15 games. It's fantastic to see the gifted forward generating as much offense as he has at the NHL level. Getting well over three SOG per game (109 in 30 games), doesn't hurt, either.
-- Anton Khudobin played in his first game since Oct. 13, improving his 2013-14 record to 3-0-0 with a .928 save percentage and 2.27 GAA. Cam Ward's only expected to miss another contest or two, so Khudobin probably won't gain much ground for the gig. Khudobin is intriguing, however.
-- Alex Ovechkin scored his 31st goal. He's just one tally behind how many he scored last season in nine fewer games. He's also only two SOG (218 vs. 220) behind what he had last season. Quite a pace for Ovi, indeed.
BOSTON 3, NASHVILLE 2 (OT)
-- Jarome Iginla is a notorious slow starter, so those who stuck with him (though it must be said that he contributed in other areas like PIMs and hits when he wasn't producing offensively, anyway) are now being rewarded for their patience. The 36-year-old is on a six-game point streak in which he's scored five goals and two assists. You really have to love his all-purpose work this season: 13 goals, 28 points, +18, 36 PIM, 114 SOG and 72 hits in 41 games. Nice.
-- Brad Marchand seems to be getting things together lately, even beyond the GWG. Even more promising than the solid outburst of points is that he's antagonizing his way to the penalty box; he has 10 PIM in his last four GP.
-- Niklas Svedberg stopped 33 out of 35 shots to win in his NHL debut. I wouldn't bet on him being a fantasy factor ... but during this season, I wouldn't bet against it either.
ISLANDERS 3, CHICAGO 2 (OT)
-- Kyle Okposo doesn't have the same long-term track record as Bobby Ryan, but he easily would have made my imaginary U.S. team. The 25-year-old is on an eight-game point streak (six goals, seven assists) and has a point-per-game (42 in 42) overall this season.
-- Evgeni Nabokov is just 42 percent owned. While I wouldn't claim that he'll be a dramatic difference-maker, he's looking like a legitimate third option in most formats. He's won three of his last four games and has looked sharp in the process.
-- Post-trade progress reports: Thomas Vanek has 23 points in 26 games with the Isles while Kris Versteeg has 16 points in 24 contests as a member of the Blackhawks.
MONTREAL 6, DALLAS 4
-- Quite an evening for Max Pacioretty (two goals and two assists) and P.K. Subban (one tally and three helpers). Subban is robust in all kinds of areas (33 points, +13, 41 PIM and 122 SOG in 42 games) while Pacioretty is enjoying his Olympic bid (25 points, 20 PIM, 126 SOG and five GWG in 33 games).
-- Speaking of the Olympics, Tyler Seguin (41 points in 38 games played) and Jamie Benn (36 points in 40 games, a five-game point streak with four goals and three assists) continue to make their arguments for inclusion on the ice.
ST. LOUIS 5, LOS ANGELES 0
-- While one backup's luck seems to be drying up (three losses in a row for Martin Jones), his opponent Thursday night is heating up. Brian Elliott has won five games in a row and seven out of eight contests, with two shutouts during that span. Jaroslav Halak missed last night's contest with some sort of sickness, but he has something to worry about with Elliott gaining steam.
-- Nothing against T.J. Oshie, but I'm not sure he would've made my list. At least he's trying to silence his (mild) critics, especially lately, with three goals and one assist in his last trio of contests.
COLORADO 2, PHILADELPHIA 1
-- Gabriel Landeskog is on a five-game point streak of his own, with three goals and three assists. The physical Swede has 27 PIM, 112 SOG, 92 hits and 29 points on the season.
-- Steve Mason saw his five-game winning streak end, mainly because the Flyers didn't give him much support, as he allowed two goals on 31 shots.
-- To beat the dead horse, Wayne Simmonds (eight goals, four assists for 12 points in his last eight games) and Scott Hartnell (six-game point streak with two goals, five assists) remain players who are more reliable scorers as they may seem because of slow starts. Hartnell is only owned in 43 percent of leagues while Simmonds is taken in 62 percent of leagues.
SAN JOSE 5, EDMONTON 1
-- Brent Burns is on fire. He has four goals and four assists in his past five games. He's firing away in the SOG department, with 28 in that time. Impressive stuff for a man who occasionally sports an impressive beard.
-- Antti Niemi continues his quality workhorse output, as he has four wins in his last five games. He's tied with Marc-Andre Fleury for the NHL lead with 22 wins in 2013-14.
-- Assists aren't as sexy (or rare) as goals, but Joe Thornton keeps piling those helpers up. He's on a six-game streak with 10 assists. Before that, he had four assists in a three-game run with one pointless game sandwiched in between.
MINNESOTA 4, BUFFALO 1
-- Jason Pominville scored one goal (18 on the season) and five SOG. Some brought up his name among American considerations as he's competed for the country before, and while his goal-scoring is impressive, I can see the U.S. brass' argument in this case.
-- It was under strange circumstances, but Niklas Backstrom finally ended his eight-game losing streak on Thursday. It doesn't really change the fact that his 2013-14 season has been basically a full-fledged disaster ... but at least it's something?
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