It’s a long 82-game season. Some days, we’ll reflect on a recent string of events and there will be a greater theme or message. On the other hand, there will be days like today, when we just jump into the mix and discuss each game on their own.
Luckily, Thursday had 10 games, so there is plenty to chew on.
TORONTO 4, NASHVILLE 0
-- Jonathan Bernier's 36-save shutout really puts an exclamation point on his virtual takeover of the Leafs No. 1 goalie position, pushing him to 3-1-0 with an incredible .974 save percentage and 0.85 GAA. The Predators carried much of the play, but Bernier made some high-difficulty saves look easy with his sound positioning and keen reflexes. While I think this could be a sell-high situation - the Leafs don't look very good overall - it's hard not to ignore the chance that he really might be fulfilling that first-round promise.
-- As great as Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk looked, it felt strange seeing a guy like Jay McClement receive almost as much ice time (15:04) as Nazem Kadri (16:25) and Mason Raymond (16:16). I guess Randy Carlyle's going to do his weird things (who is David Broll and why in the world is he skating with Kadri and Joffrey Lupul???) as long as their winning ways continue.
-- Is Shea Weber's heart not in it or does he just take a while to get warmed up? He's off to a pointless start in four games with a -4 rating, eight PIM and seven SOG. Kessel blew past him for JVR's rare foiling-the-puck-freezing goal and Weber just generally doesn't look like a guy labeled by many to be the best defenseman in the NHL. It's early, but they need a whole lot more out of a guy registering those kind of minutes and bringing home such bank-breaking paychecks.
-- One bright side: Pekka Rinne looked sharp at times on Thursday, even if his numbers weren’t great. Hopefully that’s a sign that his hip is no longer a big worry.
-- It’s unclear how injured Cody Franson might be from that Mike Fisher major boarding penalty hit. If I had to guess, I’d say Fisher’s supplemental discipline will be minimal because the Predators faced such a significant in-game penalty (The Leafs made a competitive 2-0 game a 4-0 laugher with that five-minute PP).
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ANAHEIM 6, NY RANGERS 0
-- Looks like Rick Nash will miss 7-10 days. Judging by how poorly the Rangers are playing right now, it would be ideal if his absence ends up brief.
-- The Rangers still have five more road games on this murderous opening trip and also have six of their next seven away. Honestly, this might be a good time to buy low on quality Rangers, as there's a perfectly reasonable chance that Alain Vigneault might straighten this situation out. Then again, the fancy stats say they've been the worst team in the league so far, so it's not like the worries are totally unfounded.
-- Jakob Silfverberg (aka the most notable guy the Anaheim Ducks received for Bobby Ryan) is off to a fantastic start with four goals and an assist for five points in four games. He has already piled up 16 SOG and seems to rotate between good and weak minutes. His resume is a little sparse (this is his sophomore season) but he's getting a decent assignment with Teemu Selanne and Mathieu Perreault, so I'd at least consider the add.
-- Perreault's a little more of a mystery. He's doing just as well points-wise (3G, 2A in four games, including a GWG) but only has six SOG, so he might be more hot-and-cold. He showed flashes of brilliance in Washington, but it's unclear if he can regularly produce. It helps that both Ducks are skating with Selanne right now, at least when the "Finnish Flash" doesn't take a siesta.
-- Dustin Penner deserves credit for producing a goal and an assist on just 8:26 of ice time, but that TOI should tell you all you need to know about adding him right now. (If it doesn't, here's the message: don't.)
-- It seems like the Ducks are rotating Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller in and out of the lineup each game, which is obviously frustrating for fantasy owners. Will Hiller's 34-save shutout get him a second game in a row?
COLORADO 2, BOSTON 0
-- My feeling remains that the Colorado Avalanche are a flawed team that will win most of their games by simply out-scoring opponents, but they've managed to grind out some skin-tight games lately. The fancy stats say they're getting pretty lucky, but perhaps that firepower might balance things out when their goaltending suffers? Jean-Sebastien Giguere might've earned a second-straight start after an impressive 39-save shutout.
-- Gabriel Landeskog didn't score a point last night, but he showed some of his versatility, collecting four PIM, four SOG, two hits and one blocked shot in 18:18 TOI. Maybe he's OK?
-- Even fantasy owners should be a little nervous about a player of Milan Lucic's value getting in fights, but it’s easier to forgive that risk since he redeemed a pointless night with 12 PIM and four hits.
-- Does Loui Eriksson miss Jamie Benn and/or brisket? He still hasn't registered a point in three games. I think his two-way style is a nice fit in Boston, but fantasy-wise, he's an all-or-nothing points guy since he's weak in peripherals. So, so far, nothing.
SAN JOSE 4, VANCOUVER 1
-- Joe Thornton fed people for two assists, but Tomas Hertl wasn't one of the goalscorers. Still a promising situation for the 17th pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, though. Much like Mikhail Grabovski (see: page 2), his previous explosive night will get some people’s hopes up too high, but they’re both in solid situations.
-- Antti Niemi has quietly built on his Vezina nominee year, starting off 4-0-0. I wonder if this is the last year fantasy owners will get a bargain on an underrated workhorse …
-- Mike Santorelli's night made me do a double take. He already has four goals (on nine shots, 44.4 percent) in five games, but the eye-popper was his ridiculous 23:42 in ice time on Thursday. It appears that he’s getting a spin with the Sedins, but I’m not sure that joy ride will last.
TAMPA BAY 7, FLORIDA 2
-- Steve Stamkos exploded with a hat trick and an assist last night, justifying those who decided to take him first overall. Maybe he'll get a little more mainstream attention thanks to the Olympics?
-- Valtteri Filppula won't connect on 50 percent of his shots much longer, but he's been getting great ice time the last three games. He also has one impressive season (23 goals, 66 points in 2011-12) under his belt. I'd at least watch list him; you might get a little more time to evaluate him considering the whole tough-name-to-spell thing.
-- No reason to invest in a Florida Panthers goalie not named Tim Thomas (if you do at all). I’m not sure when Jacob Markstrom’s results will match the Panthers’ daydreams about what the big Swede could become.
-- Teddy Purcell’s sort of tempting as Stamkos’ and Martin St. Louis’ caddy, particularly in deep leagues.
After the jump: thoughts on Thursday’s remaining five games plus injuries.
MONTREAL 4, EDMONTON 1
-- I know he'll still be an RFA, but the Montreal Canadiens are probably going to have to pay big time for playing hardball with P.K. Subban in 2011-12. He has a hearty six points in four games, and if anything, he's had bad puck luck with just one of his whopping 16 SOG resulting in a goal. That's OK because he had three assists on Thursday alone. When you add his scoring prowess with his feistiness (306 PIM in 205 career GP), it's reasonable to argue that he’s the most valuable defenseman in fantasy.
-- Boy, Alex Galchenyuk is tempting. He has seven points in four games as he's made for a dangerous linemate alongside Lars Eller and Brendan Gallagher. One would think that trio is bound to cool off, but the pedigree is there with Galchenyuk in particular (third overall in 2012). I'd be tempted to pounce if you're low on O.
-- We should all be used to the phrase "Taylor Hall was one of the few bright spots for the Oilers” by now, shouldn’t we?
-- Surprising stats: Ales Hemsky threw four hits on Thursday and Nail Yakupov (four SOG) continues to search for his first point of the season.
PHOENIX 4, DETROIT 2
-- If you want to hang the blame on someone, it's tough to ignore Stephen Weiss' -4 rating from Thursday. I found myself perplexed this offseason when people blasted the Lightning for paying Filppula big-time money after an off-year but praised Detroit for doing the same for Weiss. I guess he's just THAT good defensively, or maybe I'm missing something else.
-- Ottawa Senators fans shouldn't miss Alf too much right now. He has just an assist in four games. I think he should snap out of it because he's getting good ice time and has 11 SOG, but he's 40, so there's the chance there's little gas left in the tank.
-- Mike Ribeiro finally got his first point (an assist) as a member of the Coyotes last night. Again, I'm not crazy about this setup for him, but he's getting the ice time to create ... so we'll see.
-- The Red Wings must miss Damien Brunner. I can't really understand why they'd let him go to make room for over-the-hill players and grinders.
CAROLINA 3, WASHINGTON 2
-- Is Anton Khudobin putting more pressure on Cam Ward? He's now 2-0-0 after a nice 30 for 32 performance.
-- Carolina's proving to be a nice new home for Nathan Gerbe. He scored a goal and added seven SOG to bump his season total to a whopping 21 in four games. It's as if the diminutive forward wants to prove the Buffalo Sabres wrong every night, which seems harsh because life is proving the Sabres wrong every night.
-- Opposing coaches might as well go into every game penciling in at least one Alex Ovechkin goal and hope that he’s satisfied with just that.
-- It’s hard not to assume that Michal Neuvirth might put a little heat on Braden Holtby if this keeps up.
-- Mikhail Grabovski's predictably cooled off, but he's still getting nice ice time and even humored us with a minor penalty last night. He’ll have ups and downs just like other guys in his tier of mid-level forwards.
COLUMBUS 4, BUFFALO 1
-- Yes, the Sabres are officially becoming a "Start all of your guys against them" team. What a mess.
-- Thomas Vanek's worth that high pick, though. His doubters were correct that his puck luck isn't matching his 2013 fortunes, but it's clear he feels that Buffalo needs him to survive; he already has 23 SOG in five games. That really helps wash down that -4 rating, especially since his four points have come in the last three games.
-- He's had a really easy schedule so far, but Sergei Bobrovsky owners must be pleased with his solid start (2-1-0, .920 save percentage, 2.27 GAA). He has some serious tests ahead with Boston, Detroit, Montreal, Washington and Vancouver on the schedule.
-- Marian Gaborik has five points in three GP and that isn't really an accident with 11 SOG. You know the drill with the Slovakian winger: he can be a genuine star when healthy. He has contract year motivation, so I'd expect a strong year from him, even if that means getting traded if the Blue Jackets slip.
-- With that in mind, Cam Atkinson's at least worth monitoring if Gaborik can bring him along for the ride.
INJURIES (full list)
James Neal won't play Friday or Saturday ... Kyle Palmieri and Matt Beleskey have upper-body injuries with Anaheim ... David Jones is week-to-week. Will this hurt Sean Monahan a bit? ... Niklas Backstrom is day-to-day with a knee injury, so Josh Harding is a decent spot starter if you're into the frequent add/drop thing ... The Senators are playing it safe with Jason Spezza's groin injury ... Tom Pyatt won't be on the ice for some time.