It's a great time to be a hockey fan. The National Hockey League continues to march on during the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, so it's like there is double hockey. You get pucks from the NHL during the afternoon and evening on the weekends, and there is live hockey during the overnight from South Korea. The Team USA women opened Group A play with a 3-1 victory against Finland in a tough match. The men will kick off their play on Wednesday at 7:10 a.m. ET against Slovenia. While the NHL has its players staying home, fans will recognize names like Mark Arcobello, Brian Gionta, Bobby Sanguinetti and James Wisniewski, among others. It's a team reminiscent of days gone by when it was amateurs and no-names taking on the world.
If you're a fan of fantasy hockey, and if you're reading this it is a good bet you are, how nice is it not to have a break for several weeks. At first the lack of NHL players seemed like a bad idea, but now you could conceivably watch hockey 24/7 for a few weeks. That's pretty enticing. Let's get started!
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Saturday's Fantasy Five
Back on Feb. 7, 1976, it was Darryl Sittler scoring six goals with four assists to set an NHL record with 10 points in a game to pace the Maple Leafs to an 11-4 victory against the Boston Bruins at Maple Leaf Gardens. While Saturday's production by Mitchell Marner wasn't nearly as prolific, a five-point game in this day and age is nothing to sneeze at. Marner lit the lamp twice while adding three assists with a plus-3 rating and two hits as the Leafs doubled up the visiting Ottawa Senators by a 6-3 score at Air Canada Centre. It's almost unfathomable that he would have had to double his production to equal Sittler's 10-point game. Fantasy owners are pretty pleased with the five-point effort, which was the most on Saturday.
The Chicago Blackhawks are scuffling hard and Devan Dubnyk was more than happy to add to their woes. He was tested frequently by the flagging offense of Chicago, turning aside all 44 shots he faced for his fourth shutout of the season and the 28th of his career. The save total was a season high, as Minnesota moved to 9-0-3 over its past 12 home games. Oddly enough, it was the first time the Blackhawks have been shut out since Nov. 4, which also was at Minnesota. It is the third time they've come away with no goals in a game, twice against the Wild in St. Paul.
A big part of the offense for the Wild came from Charlie Coyle, who came alive and paced the home side with two of its three goals in the 3-0 win. Coyle has managed just four goals over his first 33 games, so not many saw this offensive explosion coming. However, since joining the third line with Matt Cullen and Zach Parise, he has picked up the pace by lighting the lamp for times across the past six outings. Coyle also added a plus-2 rating with two blocked shots and a hit. If you're looking for some offense, Coyle has a little short-term fantasy appeal while running hot. He's also a tremendous mid-tier DFS play for his offense lately.
Joe Pavelski rolled up two goals with two assists, a plus-2 rating, six shots on goal, two blocked shots and a hit in a very, very busy evening against the visiting Edmonton Oilers. The veteran center had scored 10 goals over his first 53 games, but he is making up for lost time with two goals in each of his past two outings, totaling four goals with six points and a plus-3 rating. If he keeps rolling along, the buy-low window on Pavelski is going to slam shut if it hasn't already done so. He'll look to keep it going on Sunday at Anaheim. Oddly enough, he has 11 goals with 28 points and a plus-5 rating in 26 games at SAP Center in San Jose, and just three goals with 14 points and a minus-13 rating across 29 games on the road.
All-Star Andrei Vasilevskiy didn't post a shutout, and he didn't even come close, but he was able to cool off the red-hot Los Angeles Kings while facing quite a bit of galvanized rubber. The Kings peppered Vasilevskiy with 47 shots, and he stopped 44, including 18 shots in the opening period and 20 shots in the final period. He was tagged for two goals in the final 20 minutes, but luckily the offense built up a 4-1 lead and he was able to cruise to his 33rd victory of the season. In fact, he is 33-10-2 with a 2.29 goals-against average while posting an impressive .929 save percentage in 46 appearances. He has been nearly untouchable at Amalie Arena in Tampa, going 18-3-1 in 22 starts and 23 appearances, although he has a 2.08 GAA on the road as opposed to a 2.50 GAA at home.
Fantasy Game of the Night
It was last on the schedule, but certainly not least. Fantasy owners will all pretty pleased with their players in the Edmonton Oilers-San Jose Sharks battle. The Sharks fired out to a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes, before the Oilers knotted things up 3-3 heading to the third. That's when the Sharks outscored the Oil 3-1 to win by a pair of goals. The difference was Joakim Ryan, who notched his first two NHL goals. One of the goals was the tiebreaker with 2:27 remaining in regulation, beating Al Montoya. The goals came in his 45th game in the NHL, and now he has his first two-goal game, too. The rearguard also added three blocked shots in 19:12 of ice time. Kevin Labanc picked up a helper, snapping a three-game skid. He still has three goals with eight assists over the past 12 outings to make him a fantasy option in deeper pools. Barclay Goodrow scored a goal, giving him two points in the past three games, and he was a very impressive 6-for-6 in the faceoff circle, too. Melker Karlsson also had a strong all-around game, picking up an assist with a plus-1 rating, three blocked shots and two hits over 15:04 or ice time.
For the losing side, Montoya didn't do fantasy owners any favors with just 24 saves on 29 shots in the loss. But Zack Kassian rewarded his small percentage of fantasy owners with a pair of markers, a plus-1 rating and two hits over 13:50 of ice time. Fantasy stud Leon Draisaitl stayed hot with a goal, an assist and four shots on net, while going 7-of-15 in the faceoff circle. Yohann Auvitu will turn some fantasy owners' heads after posting an assist with a plus-1 rating, two blocked shots and three hits. Veteran Michael Cammalleri picked up two helpers and a hit in 15:39 of ice time, while Jujhar Khaira didn't score, but he was able to dish out four hits.
Quick Hits: Scott Wilson was a thorn in the side of the Bruins at TD Garden, posting a goal, an assist, a plus-2 rating and a hit in Buffalo's 4-2 win. He snapped a four-game point drought with the outburst. … Chad Johnson stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced to cool off Tuukka Rask and the B's for a rare win, especially on the road. … Patrick Marleau was good for a goal, two assists and a plus-3 rating in the win against the Sens. The veteran entered the game with just two goals and no helpers over his past 16 games dating back to New Year's Eve. … Nazem Kadri picked up a goal, an assist and a plus-3 rating in the win. He has been hot, posting four goals with 10 points over his past eight outings. … In a losing effort, Artturi Lehkonen posted two assists with a plus-1 rating, a minor penalty and three hits. Jeff Petry picked up an assist with a plus-1 rating and four blocked shots for his second big game in as many Saturdays. … Artemi Panarin and Oliver Bjorkstrand each struck for a goal and an assist, as the Blue Jackets got well against the Devils after an ugly losing skid. … Sergei Bobrovsky finally got off the schneid with a win, stopping 34 of the 35 shots he faced for a win. He also chipped in with an assist. … Brock McGinn lit the lamp twice as the Hurricanes cooled off the Avalanche by a 3-1 score at PNC Arena in Raleigh. He had help from Elias Lindholm, who chipped in with two assists and a plus-2 rating. … Cam Ward was given just enough offensive support, and he did the rest. He allowed just one goal on 30 shots to topple Colorado. … Brian Elliott was forced of Saturday's start at Arizona due to a lower-body injury. He was injured during the shootout, thrusting Michal Neuvirth into action in a tough spot. He exceled, stopping five shootout attempts for the win. An update on Elliott's condition will be available Sunday. … Speaking of injuries, Jack Eichel also suffered an LBI in Saturday's game at Boston after falling awkwardly.