Best Fantasy Games of the Season

Michael Finewax

It’s been a tough couple of weeks in the United States and Canada with COVID-19 running rampant. Let’s hope everyone is self-isolated and staying healthy.

The NHL is on a pause and it looks as if late May at the earliest, is when hockey and the sports world could get back on its feet, although June-July seems more likely.

There is not a lot to write about so I’m going to take a look, chronologically, at the best individual fantasy games of the season.

Anthony Mantha of the Red Wings got things started the first weekend of the season with a four-goal performance over Dallas in what would be a rare win for Detroit.

Just two nights later, James Neal made the off-season deal for Milan Lucic look like a steal off the bat as he also scored four times versus the Islanders.

In only eight nights there would be a third four-goal game as David Pastrnak of the Bruins found the back of the net four times on October 14.

Connor McDavid on October 16th had a goal and four assists against the Flyers. It would be the first of three games in which the Oilers superstar had at least five points in one night.

Carter Hutton had a 47-save shutout over the Los Angeles Kings the next night. It would be the first of three times that the Kings would be shutout despite getting at least 37 shots on goal.

Linus Ullmark gave the Sabres a second shutout with at least 40 saves as he turned aside all 41 shots in shutting out Detroit on October 25.

The Bruins were at it again on October 27 as Pastrnak had five assists while linemate Brad Marchand had a pair of goals and three assists with a five-minute major for fighting, against the Rangers in New York.

Calgary’s David Rittich got November off to a good start as he stopped 43 shots in a shutout over the Blue Jackets.

Marchand had another two-goal, three assist night on November 4, this time against the Penguins. He only managed four penalty minutes in this one.

McDavid and Leon Draisaitl teamed up on November 14 for a huge night as McDavid was in on all six goals with a hat trick (all on the power play) along with three assists for the biggest points night of the season. Draisaitl had five assists as the Oilers beat Colorado 6-2.

Jack Eichel turned in the fourth four-goal game of the season on November 16 as the Sabres beat Ottawa 4-2.

Jordan Binnington picked up the shutout on November 21 as he stopped 40 shots in a win over Calgary.

December was a quiet month for greatness in fantasy as Jacob Markstrom slammed the door on Carolina with 43 saves in a 1-0 win on December 12.

James Reimer of the Hurricanes made all 41 saves on January 11 in shutting out the Los Angeles Kings.

Artemi Panarin had his best game of the season on January 13th as he scored twice and added three assists in a 6-2 win over their cross-town rivals, the New York Islanders.

Connor Hellebuyck was brilliant the next night as he stopped 41 Vancouver shots in a 4-0 win.

Elvis Merzlikins, who less than three weeks earlier was anointed the Blue Jackets top netminder, stopped all 41 shots in a 5-0 win over New Jersey. The shutout capped off an amazing four-game stretch in which Merzlikins had three shutouts and wins in all four games while giving up only two goals on 136 shots.

Mackenzie Blackwood of the Devils made 46 saves in shutting out the Flyers 5-0. He came back two nights later and made all 37 saves in a 3-0 win over the Kings.

Markstrom returned to fantasy greatness on February 12 as he had the best fantasy night for a netminder with 49 saves in a 3-0 win over Chicago.

Cam Talbot made 44 saves the following night as Calgary went into Anaheim and beat the Ducks 6-0.

On the same night, St. Louis forward Zach Sanford (the unlikeliest of scorers on this page) scored four times but it wasn’t enough as the Vegas Golden Knights prevailed with a 6-5 overtime win.

Defenseman Jared Spurgeon had the hat trick and six shots on goal February 21 against the Oilers.

As the season turned into March, Draisaitl and McDavid teamed up again for a huge night with Draisaitl scoring four times and adding an assist while McDavid had a goal and four assists in an 8-3 win over Nashville.

And finally, the best was saved for last as Mika Zibanejad became only the fourth player this century (and 62nd all-time) to pot five goals as the Rangers defeated Washington 6-5 in overtime. Zibanejad joined Marian Gaborik (December 20, 2007), Johan Franzen (February 2, 2011) and Patrik Laine (November 24, 2018) as the only NHLers to score five times in one game in the 2000’s.

Other notable games had Erik Gudbranson picking up 29 penalty minutes on November 29 as he had a couple of minors, a major for fighting and a pair of misconducts.

Patrick Kane had 13 shots on goal against Toronto January 2.

Despite having a poor season, Pekka Rinne became only the 12th NHL goalie to score a goal when his shot found the empty net against Chicago on January 9.

And perhaps there was no bigger surprise in the sporting world when David Ayres, a Zamboni driver, was forced into a game against Toronto on February 22 as the Carolina Hurricanes lost both their goalies through injury in the game and picked up the win, stopping eight-of-10 shots. An interesting tidbit is that Ayres gave up both goals in the second period on only three shots but had either James Reimer or Petr Mrazek returned to action to start the third period and not given up a goal, Ayres still would have picked up the win.

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