The Dallas Stars (of the Central Division, obviously) and Phoenix Coyotes played big games on Monday night, but with both teams closing off back-to-backs against high-end opponents on Tuesday as well (the Stars take on the Chicago Blackhawks while the ‘Yotes face the Pittsburgh Penguins respectively), I figure it’s probably best to hold off on the Pacific Division schedule breakdown until tomorrow.
Don’t worry, there’s plenty to talk about in the Tuesday edition of the Dose, anyway.
I’ll get to the other noteworthy injury in a moment, but yesterday brought about what sounds like bad news for the battling Vancouver Canucks; word is that Henrik Sedin could miss about two weeks with his lower-body injury. Looking at Vancouver’s schedule - they only have nine games left - it’s not unthinkable that Sedin could miss the rest of the regular season.
As rough of a season as it has been for both Sedin twins, I’d hesitate to outright drop him right away, especially if you’ve put up with those rough patches this season. That said, the dry spell(s) could easily justify such a move if you feel strongly about it.
OK, with the Sedin note out of the way, let’s get to some game summaries.
NY RANGERS 4, PHOENIX 3 (OT)
-- It’s unclear how severe Mike Smith’s lower-body injury might be, but the early word isn’t very positive. Not good … at least for Smith owners. It's been an up-and-down season for Smith, who received a non-decision on Monday, keeping his record at 27-21-10 with a .915 save percentage and 2.64 GAA.
-- If you're desperate for goaltending, you may just want to strike with Thomas Greiss now and see what happens. Granted, he's been struggling a little lately with three straight losses, defeats in four of five, but he also has three shutouts in his last seven games. Greiss is only owned in four percent of Yahoo leagues right now, but that could change, especially if he shuts down the Pens tonight (assuming the Coyotes go back to him, which I think they will).
-- Ryan McDonagh collected one goal and two assists on Tuesday, breaking the 40-point barrier (now at 42) for the first time in his young career. His talent in reality as a defenseman has been well-documented for some time, but I'd argue this is his breakthrough moment from a fantasy standpoint. He's currently on a four-game point streak (two goals, four assists).
-- It's a compliment to Derick Brassard that he has the same amount of goals (17) as Brad Richards does this season, but the Rangers have to hope that Richards' first goal since March 2 is a sign of better things to come. I can't help but wonder if the 33-year-old will find himself as a compliance buyout, although those odds probably would have been even higher if Torts was still in town.
DALLAS 2, WINNIPEG 1
-- All three of the goals in this game came on the power play.
-- It’s tempting to recommend “The Wizard” Ray Whitney, but I don’t think he’s getting the proper amount of opportunities to be a regular contributor. With a point in two consecutive games, he’s at least showing signs of the old savvy playmaker, though.
-- Tyler Seguin stretched his point streak to nine games (seven goals, nine assists) and now has 32 goals, 42 assists and 74 points (all career-highs) on the season. Jamie Benn hasn't been far behind (two assists last night) as he now has 30 goals, 39 assists and 69 points, also career-highs.
-- Speaking of career-highs, Bryan Little set new high marks in assists (35) and points (57) this season. Even with a two-game goal streak going, I doubt he'll best his peak of 31 goals as he's currently at 22, but he could improve upon his second-best mark of 24.
-- With two one-goal wins, it looks like Kari Lehtonen's back on track. It'll be interesting to see if the Dallas Stars give him a back-to-back start or if they turn to Tim Thomas in Tuesday's big game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
OTTAWA 4, TAMPA BAY 3 (SO)
-- With 11 games left this season, it's conceivable that Erik Karlsson could match his career-high 78 points from his Norris-winning 2011-12 season. The 23-year-old has 68 points in 71 games, easily leading all defensemen in scoring. He's basically firing the same amount of SOG per game (3.23 this season, 3.22 in 2011-12), too. His 20 goals this season didn’t just set a career-high, he also set a Senators franchise record.
-- Even more amazing: Steve Stamkos has more goals (21) despite only playing in 27 games this season. In this absurdly tight-checking league with goalies increasingly dwarfing nets, 21 goals in 27 games is just ridiculous.
-- He's not setting the world on fire, but not a bad season from Kyle Turris, either. He now has 22 goals and 49 points in 71 games this season, easily setting career marks in various categories.
-- Ben Bishop saw a five-game winning streak end last night. I don't know if you can win 34 games (in just 56 games played, by the way) with much less acclaim than the big American has managed this season.
-- Speaking of quality defensemen becoming outstanding fantasy producers, Victor Hedman has 47 points in 62 games played, a 62-point pace over 82 games. He also has been solid in hits (79) and PIM (47), though mainly to a "just gravy" level.
MONTREAL 2, BOSTON 1 (SO)
-- The Montreal Canadiens still give the Boston Bruins fits to this day, as they ended the B's winning streak at 12 games.
-- I wouldn't be surprised if Loui Eriksson proves useful to the Bruins come playoff time, and no doubt injuries couldn't have helped him this season, but eight goals and 29 points in 51 games (with a bafflingly meager 96 SOG) is still disappointing. Not too happy to be justified in doubting his fantasy value earlier this season.
LOS ANGELES 3, PHILADELPHIA 2
-- Jeff Carter scored against his former team, giving him 25 goals on the season. His goal-assist ratio doesn't carry the "MLB pitcher win-loss record"-level imbalance, but he still has more goals (25) than assists (21) so far in 2013-14. Nothing wrong with that 232 SOG in 62 GP, either.
-- A bit of a letdown season for Justin Williams. Nothing wrong with 18 goals, but 38 points in 72 games isn't much more than the 33 he managed in 48 contests last season. It might make him a steal next season, though, as he'll be in a contract year in 2014-15.
-- Can't say I expected to see Dwight King score 13 goals this season.
-- Jakub Voracek's done a solid job turning his season around after a slow start. Impressive that Matt Read scored 20 goals on the same night he did.
-- Jonathan Quick has won three games in a row. Seems like he might be heating up toward the playoffs, which should give the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks more motivation to win the Pacific Division (and avoid the Kings for at least a round).
CALGARY 2, SAN JOSE 1 (S0)
-- I'll say this about the Calgary Flames: they're probably the most respectable truly awful team in the NHL this season. Bob Hartley deserves some credit; perhaps they may become dangerous after an offseason or two of enhancements.
-- Alex Stalock didn't win on Monday, yet his numbers make a strong argument for his value as a spot-starter in fantasy: 11-4-2 record, .933 save percentage and 1.85 GAA.