Thursday’s schedule was loaded with noteworthy contests, so rather than burden you with another narrative-heavy Dose, I thought I’d go into game summary mode. *Revs up the game summary machine, which sounds a lot like a lawnmower for some reason*
LOS ANGELES 4, SAN JOSE 1
-- I’ve already discussed that it’s true Martin Jones hasn’t TOTALLY come out of nowhere, but as people on the Internet are wont to do, that notion has reached the point of overcorrection.
If you want to discredit someone’s “I dug the band before they became mainstream”-style gloating, I recommend this move: Ask them to cough up a blog post, podcast muttering or tweet that features some bold proclamation about Jones becoming an instant phenomenon before his first NHL start this season.
I’d venture a strong guess that said prognosticators will probably admit that the 23-year-old’s success really is pretty shocking once you call their bluffs.
-- After watching quite a few replays of Dustin Brown’s knee-to-knee on Tomas Hertl, I’ve strengthened my own opinion that it’s frequently difficult to gauge the maliciousness of knee-to-knee hits. There were a lot of people - Darryl Sutter included - who thought that refs made the wrong call, but c’mon; how many human beings wouldn’t whistle him considering a) the visceral, stomach-turning nature of the hit and b) Brown’s reputation for being borderline dirty.
I’m not sure what to think, really, except that I hope Tomas Hertl wasn’t injured too badly.
-- With 17 points in just 22 games, you'd think Tyler Toffoli would get a big thumbs up. His talent does, at least.
Still, I'm not so sure he's going to get the proper opportunities to be a reliable contributor. He managed two points and five SOG in just 13:19 TOI, but that's the thing; he's not getting much ice time. I think he's a player to watch for the future more than the present.
ST. LOUIS 5, MONTREAL 1
-- Well, Alexander Steen passed his first post-contract extension test with flying colors. His two goals give him 24 on the season, matching his career high. Amazingly, he's done so in exactly half the games; he scored 24 goals in 68 games in 2009-10 and has the same in 34 contests this season. That 20.7 percent shooting efficiency should slip, but maybe not enough to put much of a damper on things.
-- If there's one franchise that makes Jaroslav Halak actually seem worthy of his blessed situation, it's his former team Montreal. He beat them once more last night, stopping 25 out of 26 shots to improve his record to 17-6-2.
-- Chris Stewart continues to contribute one way or another, with goals being the benefit lately. Five of his 10 goals have come in the last five games.
PITTSBURGH 5, MINNESOTA 2
-- Chris Kunitz is on pace for 44 goals this season. While I'm still skeptical about his Team Canada worthiness - mainly because of the talent ahead of him, rather than his own failings - he's an absolute gem in fantasy. He's also a lucky man, going from playing with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf to Sidney Crosby.
-- Matt Niskanen might officially be worth at least a short-term look. He now has 15 points on the season and contributes in a variety of areas thanks to the Penguins' injury issues on the blueline. Olli Maatta is an intriguing rookie talent but I wouldn't go that extra step to grab him.
-- Not a bad return for James Neal: one assist, two shots and seven PIM.
-- Niklas Backstrom looked awful on some of those Penguins goals. It was one of those games that reminds you how lucky the Wild have been that Josh Harding has been healthy and outstanding. I wonder if this team might miss the playoffs, as they don't give themselves much of a margin of error (86 goals for, 88 goals against).
DETROIT 3, CALGARY 2 (OT)
-- Daniel Alfredsson has been struggling along with the Detroit Red Wings lately, so it's understandable - and painful - if you benched him Thursday. After only getting one measly assist in six previous games, he scored two goals (including the game-winner) and an assist to help Detroit break its six-game slump. He was probably "due," honestly, as he was putting up plenty of SOG to no avail.
-- Red Wings GM Ken Holland should seriously ponder making some kind of tweak. This isn't the Red Wings of old who seem to unearth buried treasure after buried treasure; instead, they're living off the riches they unearthed long ago. That's starting to wear thin.
-- Hopefully this is just a lull for Jiri Hudler, who has been pointless in four of his last five games (two contests without a point with a two-assist night sandwiched in between). Hard to complain with 30 points in 35 games, though.
BUFFALO 4, BOSTON 2
-- After evoking trade talk (including a flippant comment in a Dose this week), Brad Marchand showed some life with two goals last night. Personally, I've been just as disappointed that he hasn't put up great PIM/hits type stats as a super pest, so he actually might need to produce to be prominent in fantasy.
-- Ville Leino's statline is pretty hilarious (six points - all assists - and just 19 SOG in 22 GP) ... but hey, at least he's playing NHL games. I guess.
-- Maybe Ryan Miller's finally being rewarded for his hard work in a ridiculously bad situation? He's won three of his last four games and has allowed two goals or less in each of those contests. Patient Miller owners are probably just muttering, "Please let this boost his trade value enough to get out of Buffalo."
-- Speaking of trades, the Sabres nabbed Linus Omark for next to nothing. If nothing else, the former Oilers prospect should get a shot to show what he's got.
TORONTO 2, PHOENIX 1 (SO)
-- It really is pretty jarring to imagine where the Maple Leafs would be without the outright fantastic goaltending they've received. James Reimer might get a string of starts, as he appeared in consecutive games and won on Thursday, turning aside 34 out of 35 shots. Not many "backups" can claim a .928 save percentage over a nice haul of games. If I'm another NHL team, I'd needle the Buds about trading Reimer. Like, at least once a week.
-- Mike Smith gets a surprising amount of venom in the hockey stats community, but maybe that's because he receives some admittedly misguided Team Canada hype. He's a rung or three below that level, but perfectly fine in fantasy terms, especially that 14-8-6 record.
-- David Clarkson received more ice time (21:31) than Phil Kessel (20:44) last night. He delivered three SOG, six hits and three blocked shots in that time. As bad as he's been offensively, he mops up secondary stats: 45 PIM, 78 hits and a half-decent 54 SOG in 25 GP. If he can fire away a little more and produce a little better, he'll at least not be laughably bad to fantasy owners.
(Reality, on the other hand, isn't as kind.)
PHILADELPHIA 5, COLUMBUS 4
-- Jakub Voracek is basically a no-brainer right now, and still available in 30 percent of leagues. I'd wager at least some of his early season struggles were health-related. Now that his health and Claude Giroux seem back to normal, the results are resounding: six goals and four assists for 10 points during a six-game run. Get him if you still can, as some fantasy owners might still be smarting from his slow start.
-- I don't have the same excitement for Michael Raffl, but if you feel like you just need to get a piece of that first line, there are worst moves you can make.
-- Mark Streit is coming around, too. He has five points (two goals, three assists) in his last five games. He's worth a roster spot.
More game summaries after the jump.
DALLAS 4, VANCOUVER 1
-- I wouldn't bother with Erik Cole, who hasn't done much before last night's three-point outburst. I'd be far more intrigued by Valei Nichushkin.
-- Christopher Higgins continues to be a sneaky-effective producer, although he shouldn't slip under radars with his recent work. He generated three goals and four assists in a five-game point streak, had one pointless game and then added another goal last night. He generates nice SOG most nights and just generally seems to contribute one way or another each game.
-- If Tyler Seguin doesn't make Team Canada, he'll be one of the toughest omissions. He's been everything people were hoping for fantasy-wise when the Bruins couldn’t put up with him any longer. There’s little doubt in my mind that he wouldn’t be enjoying this kind of season in Boston, but I imagine this still stings for B’s fans.
FLORIDA 4, OTTAWA 2
-- The Florida Panthers are hot right now. Things seem to be clicking for 2013 second overall pick Aleksander Barkov in particular, as the big Finn has two goals and three assists for five points in his last five games.
-- This "Year of the Backup" madness has extended Scott Clemmensen, who seemed left for dead. All four of his 2013-14 season wins have come in this current winning streak. While his overall stats don't look great, he's been lights out during this run. Almost seems like a guy fighting for his NHL career, eh?
-- Maybe we shouldn't be so surprised that the Senators are struggling. Paul MacLean is a razor-sharp coach, but this team has been defying odds and riding hot goaltending for a while now. It seems like the gravity of regression has pulled them down. Maybe they just need to get a New Years party out of their system?
TAMPA BAY 4, NASHVILLE 2
-- Shea Weber's earning those megabucks lately. He has one goal and four assists in a nice four-game run.
-- Keep an eye on Roman Josi, who's logging gigantic minutes lately. He just saw a five-game point streak end last night.
-- Alex Killorn has been a respectable contributor for Tampa Bay. He doesn't dominate in any area enough to be worth adding, however.
-- Tough question: does Anders Lindback wish he was back with Nashville right now? They could probably use him.
COLORADO 4, EDMONTON 2
-- Matt Duchene has a whopping 10 points in his last five games. Where do you rank him among the NHL's best scorers at this point? If you factor in sheer entertainment value, he might flirt with the top 10.
-- Sam Gagner received 15 PIM for cross-checking Paul Stastny last night, giving him more penalty minutes in one game than he had all season before Thursday (he now has 19 after coming in with four). His numbers are still generally disappointing, especially for the people cutting his checks.
-- Maxime Talbot has eight points in 23 games with the Avalanche after scoring two in 11 games for Philly. Steve Downie had seven in 11 with Colorado and 12 in 20 for the Flyers. Downie must have really rubbed Gabriel Landeskog the wrong way (according to rumors), because that's a big dropoff. Although maybe Talbot's penalty killing/”the little things” in general make it worth it?