Sunday represented a memorable - and in one awful case, harrowing - way to end the weekend.
For those who haven’t heard, former NHL defenseman Steve Montador died on Sunday morning. He wasn’t that far removed from his hockey career at 35, and the cause of his death is unclear. Whatever happened, it’s a very sad end for a player who was a part of a memorable Calgary Flames 2004 Stanley Cup Final run, among other on-ice accomplishments. Here’s hoping that his family can cope and is taken care of.
In less serious but more fantasy-related news, the Nashville Predators really threw down the gauntlet in trading for Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli in exchange for Olli Jokinen and futures. (I’m ignoring the prospect/pick aspect since it’s not really relevant to fantasy owners).
Santorelli’s a nice scrapper and Jokinen was useful not that long ago, but Franson is clearly the most interesting piece.
I wonder how Peter Laviolette will integrate him into a defensive scoring attack that already seemed quite potent with Shea Weber, Roman Josi and Seth Jones. My guess is Franson pairs up with Jones and gets second power-play opportunities, but we’ll see. As always, I’d recommend keeping an eye on Rotoworld NHL for more updates and insight.
Anyway, here are recaps of Sunday’s games.
FLYERS 2, SABRES 1
-- The most important fantasy note is that Michael Raffl returned after being sidelined since Jan. 20 with an illness. He returned to Claude Giroux's wing alongside Jakub Voracek, which obviously has some pretty significant implications for fringe-level forwards.
The 26-year-old scored a blooper of a goal on Sunday, giving him 13 and just three assists for 16 points in 41 games. Honestly, I'm not sure how much one should expect from the Austrian winger, but maybe he can produce some nice offense and help Giroux and Voracek jump out of their mini-funks.
-- Michael Del Zotto's a pretty nice option in Daily Fantasy formats, as his 19 points in 44 games is respectable enough in his price range.
-- Braydon Coburn returned to action but only played 11:27.
-- Brayden Schenn's the loser of the Raffl shake-up, as he goes between R.J. Umberger and Ryan White it seems. Sean Couturier forms an intriguing line with Wayne Simmonds and Matt Read (which paid dividends on Sunday).
-- In his Sabres debut, Zach Bogosian logged 24:49 of ice time and delivered 11 hits. He didn't get a point or even a SOG, so it's an interesting yet incomplete debut.
-- Have to hand it to Michal Neuvirth for a solid output, but I wouldn't bother with him. Ray Emery did what he had to, making 21 out of 22 saves for his 10th win of 2014-15.
BLACKHAWKS 2, PENGUINS 1 (SO)
-- You never know when a game will be stunted by the sleepy Sunday afternoon factor. It felt that way to some extent in this one, although the two teams did combine for 69 shots, so it's not like it was one of those under-50 snoozers.
-- Perhaps it just came down to the goalies being good enough to sap a lot of the passion out of the proceedings?
Corey Crawford improved to 23-12-3 by stopping 36 out of 37 shots. Aside from one five-goal OT loss that was still solid in some ways, Crawford's been hot in the last five games. Even with those five, he's only allowed 10 goals in that span.
Marc-Andre Fleury's been even better lately. He's on a four-game point streak (3-0-1) in which he's only allowed two goals, with just one coming in regulation. Fleury haters always seem to circulate at convenient times - like a fellow employee who cares about your birthday when there's cake involved - but he's been shutting them up frequently this season.
I get why he receives some criticism, even if it goes way overboard. Still, fantasy owners don't have the same axe to grind with "The Flower."
-- Monster game from Beau Bennett, who generated an assist, threw two hits and fired nine SOG.
-- Blake Comeau looked good, even without scoring a point. He generated three SOG and six hits and generally looked competent enough to exploit the opportunities Evgeni Malkin will set up for him. Or at least some of them.
-- It's now three games back for Kris Versteeg, who has a goal in that time.
CAPITALS 5, DUCKS 3
-- I mentioned this in a previous Dose, but it's remarkable how good Alex Ovechkin has been in the end of back-to-back sets. It's almost as if the previous nights' games warm him up.
He likely put many fantasy teams over the top in head-to-head formats last night, scoring two goals and two assists with a +4 rating, seven SOG and three hits. He also made Ryan Getzlaf mad, which sadly isn't a category.
-- Mike Green's 34-point pace over 48 games would translate to 58 in an 82-game season. Really, though, who would kid themselves in projecting a fully healthy campaign for the talented but fragile defenseman? I almost feel like he should have been handled in the way I once argued Yao Ming should have: just flat-out rest him a few games per month.
-- Justin Peters got his first win since Nov. 8 and his third of the 2014-15 campaign. Stating the obvious: not a ton of trust in Peters right now.
-- Corey Perry managed a goal on an impressive 10 SOG, more than the next two SOG generators combined among Ducks.
-- Keep an eye out for injury updates regarding Sami Vatanen and Matt Beleskey.
-- I'm intrigued to see how John Gibson may handle Steve Stamkos and Tyler Johnson's line as the Ducks face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday. He’s taken the interim top gig to mixed results so far.
LIGHTNING 5, SHARKS 2
-- Speaking of the Lightning, they had a nice win against San Jose on Sunday. Road games against the Sharks haven't been kind to the Bolts in recent years.
-- There was a while when the Ondrej Palat - Johnson - Nikita Kucherov line seemed like Tampa Bay's clear best, but it seems like Steve Stamkos + Ryan Callahan + the flavor of the month (I got the impression that Valtteri Filppula was on and off that line a bit last night). Stamkos is heating up, yet Palat lit the lamp to make sure that line got theirs.
Really, that debate having some merit has to frighten other teams, especially in the East.
-- Marc-Edouard Vlasic returned from his upper-body injury, though it wasn't all smiles as he sported a -2 rating alongside Brent Burns. Still, that duo could produce nice numbers if San Jose decides to load up with them more often than not.
-- Ben Bishop now has 28 wins in 45 games, lining things up very nicely to top last season's career high of 37 wins in 63 contests. His save percentage (.911) isn't as impressive as last year's .924 mark or his career .917 average, though, but the Lightning aren't complaining. At least not yet.
-- Joe Thornton's strong run (one goal, five assists in a three-game point streak ... generally strong work since 2015 rolled around) has him very close to a point-per-game with 51 in 54 this season. If you told me he'll hover around 65-70 points until he's 40, I wouldn't be flabbergasted.
Of course, if you told me he'd just up and retire after 2015-16, I wouldn't be all that shocked either. Either way, his passing genius really hasn't diminished even if he's dropped a rung or three from his super-elite days.
BLUES 2, PANTHERS 1 (SO)
-- St. Louis might have been trying to nurse a 1-0 lead in the third period, but man did Florida really pour it on in the final frame. The Panthers generated a solid shot total through two periods (18 to the Blues' 24), but really went all-out in the final frame, tripling their opponents SOGs by a count of 21-7. Overall, Florida fired 41 on Brian Elliott, yet they could only beat him once in regulation.
-- Roberto Luongo remains impressive in his own right, having allowed two goals or less in the past five games. It doesn't say much about his goal support that he's 2-1-2 in that span, though.
-- Don't blame Nick Bjugstad, however, as he scored one goal on seven SOG. He now has 20 goals in 2014-15.
-- It sounds like Sean Bergenheim's time with Florida will be over a little early. He's a fancy stat favorite, so he could be a nice complimentary part for a contender (maybe the Canadiens, Capitals, Islanders or Ducks would be interested, just to throw out the first four teams that popped into my head?).
Still, if Florida wants to make a run, you'd think they'd add instead of subtract some offense.
-- Jori Lehtera's fairly recent return to the lineup allows for some impressive forward depth in St. Louis. You essentially have to hope for the best against a frisky third line in Paul Stastny, Patrik Berglund and Dmitrij Jaskin. Naturally, these alignments may be subject to change with such a wealth of options.