It was a very busy day in the National Hockey League on Saturday, as 26 of the 31 were in action. Despite the large number of fantasy players milling about, we didn't have hat tricks or shutouts on the card. However, there were some memorable fantasy performances, including a few from some unlikely sources. It has been a strange season at the rink, as we have two teams in last place in the Central Division and Metropolitan Division, yet they each are four games over .500. In fact, just 10 points separate first and last place in the Metro, and just 12 points separate the Central. Let's get started!
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Saturday's Fantasy Five
David Pastrnak lit the lamp twice while posting an assist and a plus-3 rating with eight shots on goal. He also picked up a blocked shot across 16:35 of ice time. Pastrnak was able to reach 20 goals for the second consecutive season, and he now has 114 points (54 G, 60 A) during the span. He might not be talked about by the casual fan, but the left winger from the Czech Republic is certainly well known in fantasy circles. Although he didn't strike on the power play Saturday, he has rolled up 16 goals and 22 assists on the man advantage across his past 120 NHL games. He has quickly risen to must-start fantasy status in most pools, at 21 years old he is a great dynasty option.
Ryan Pulock entered Saturday's game with just five goals and 13 points across his first 49 NHL games. Perhaps his performance against the Blackhawks in Chicago will jump-start his offense and get him going. The Manitoba native struck for a goal and four assists, including two helpers on a pair of power play goals from Anthony Beauvillier. The Islanders scored a total of seven goals on Saturday, with Beauvillier, Pulock, Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson and John Tavares each going for two or more points. As far as Pulock is concerned, he's only worth a look in the very deepest of fantasy pools. He might be a solid low-cost punt option in DFS on Monday in Arizona in another favorable matchup.
Antti Raanta and the Coyotes were the biggest underdogs on the board, but someone forgot to tell the visitors. He allowed two goals on 27 shots in St. Louis, a place which has been a house of horrors over the years for the Coyotes. Overall he is just 7-12-5 with a 2.61 goals-against average (GAA), but he has a solid .917 save percentage and lately he has been giving the young Arizona club a chance to win every night out. Raanta has coughed up two or fewer goals in each of his past three games, and he hasn't lost in regulation during the span (1-0-0-2). He has allowed three or fewer goals in 14 of his past 16 appearances, too, while going 3-2-0-3 across the past eight appearances. Despite the fact Arizona ranks 30th in the NHL in goal differential, Raanta has re-emerged as a solid No. 2 in deeper pools.
Jesse Puljujarvi is not only an outstanding option if you're playing Scrabble, but he was a fantastic fantasy option on Saturday, too. He potted his ninth goal of the season while adding two assists, a plus-3 rating, six shots on goal and a minor penalty with two hits over 13:29 of ice time. It was a surprising stat line considering the fact he entered with eight consecutive scoreless contests since Dec. 29, when he had his most recent multi-point outing. He also notched the third goal of the game, standing up as the game-winning tally. It was his second game-winning marker since Dec. 16. Despite the big game, he remains useful only in the deepest of fantasy pools and as a low-cost punt option in DFS.
John Klingberg erupted for three assists, a plus-4 rating, two blocked shots and a hit in Saturday's 7-1 victory in Buffalo. He remains the leader among NHL defensemen in scoring. The Stars will always be hated since they're the team which won a controversial Stanley Cup Finals against the Sabres in 1999. Unlike, Brett Hull, Klingberg's skate was never in the crease, and this game was never close. Esa Lindell joined Klingberg with a plus-4 rating, finishing with a goal and two assists, while Radek Faksa was good for a goal, an assist and a plus-2 rating, and Mattias Janmark was good for two goals, an assist and a plus-2 rating. The Stars chased Robin Lehner after goals on 19 shots midway through the second. Klingberg has been red hot over the past month, going for two goals, 17 assists and a plus-10 rating across his past 14 outings.
Fantasy Game of the Night
While it wasn't pleasant if you has exposure to either of the goaltenders, the Islanders-Blackhawks battle was a fantasy fiesta. We touched on Pulock above, and Beauvillier posted two power-play goals. There's something about playing on the weekend for Beauvillier, as he had two goals, an assist and a plus-5 rating last Saturday at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers, and he has five goals across his past three weekend games. He has quickly emerged as a fantasy option with six goals and seven points in six January outings after just two points in 12 outings in December. Brock Nelson wired a goal, added two assist and had six shots on net. The day wasn't perfect, as he won just five of his 13 faceoff attempts, but it was a much needed performance since he entered play with no goals and two helpers across his past 17 contests dating back to Dec. 11. Bailey also stayed hot with two more helpers, giving him seven goals and 15 assists across his past 16 contests since Dec. 9.
On the Blackhawks side of the ledger, Anton Forsberg was chased early in the third period after his fifth goal on 35 shots. Jeff Glass wasn't much better, yielding two goals on 11 shots to finish the contest. These two need to be better with Corey Crawford dealing with vertigo or post-concussion syndrome and potentially done for the season. Patrick Kane did his best to try and lift his team out of the cellar, popping in two goals with an assist and a plus-2 rating, but only Erik Gustafsson joined him on the scoresheet. The marker was the first of the season for the veteran rearguard. It was a nice day if you had Ryan Hartman, as he logged 15 penalty minutes thanks to a fighting major and game misconduct in the third period due to his tussle with Ross Johnston. Brent Seabrook was shades of his former self, posting an assist, a plus-2 rating, two blocked shots and three hits.
Quick Hits: Elias Lindholm scooted up to the top scoring line for Carolina, replacing Sebastian Aho (concussion, lower body). He erupted for two power-play goals while skating on the top line with Jordan Staal and Teuvo Teravainen. It his first two-goal game in two-plus years. … Erik Karlsson struck on the power play for the Senators, but it was just his fourth goal of the season. The elite fantasy rearguard is on pace for just 61 points, which would be 10 points lower than 2016-17. … Jake Gardiner picked up three assist with five blocked shots in an overtime win in Ottawa, while Auston Matthews pumped the brakes on a four-game scoreless skid with a goal, an assist and a plus-1 rating. … Keith Kinkaid suffered an apparent right leg injury in the first period, so Ken Appleby was called upon to make his first NHL appearance. Appleby stopped all 24 shots he faced. … Travis Konecny was good for a goal, an assist and a plus-2 rating. He has rolled up three goals with nine points over his past 10 outings. … Taylor Hall was able to extend his point to seven games, posting five goals and 12 points during the impressive streak. … Martin Hanzal suffered a lower-body injury in the second period of Saturday's game in Buffalo and he did not return. … Johnny Gaudreau was scoreless to snap a seven-game point streak. He still has two goals and 13 points across his past eight outings. … Brandon Tanev (lower body) was back in the lineup after a seven-game absence. He did what he does best, delivering two hits. He has just three goals and 10 points through 40 games, but he is tied for 16th in the NHL with 120 hits, or 3.0 hits per contest. … Nathan MacKinnon picked up a goal, an assist and a plus-3 rating. He has goals in five straight outings. Mikko Rantanen also picked up a goal, an assist and a plus-3, as his hot January continues. He has five goals with 13 points and a plus-9 rating in seven January battles. … Jonathan Bernier allowed just one goal on 28 shots for another win, as Colorado has now won nine in a row. … Calle Jarnkrok was good for three assists and a plus-3 rating. It was a surprising outcome since he entered with just one helper in his first six January outings. … Kevin Fiala's surprising season continues, as he lit the lamp two more times. He also has a career-high 13 goals and 29 points, and he is on pace for 53 points after entering the year with 17 NHL points through his first 60 contests. … Torey Krug had a nice game, posting a goal, two assists, a plus-3 rating and a hit. … Devan Dubnyk did a great job holding down the high-octane Lightning, allowing two goals on 23 shots. Veteran Eric Staal contributed to Minnesota's success with two assists to give him four goals and seven points in eight January outings. … The Islanders improved to 17-0-0 when leading after two periods.