Claude Giroux is back, baby! Four points, all in the third period, including the game-tying goal and the game-winner: a mind-blowing, falling-down, no-look, roof-daddy backhander you just have to see to believe.
Do you remember the last time Giroux had four or more points? It was in the playoffs of 2012 (when he went off for six in game two against the Pens). He's now up to 30 in 35 on the season, and that's closer to what we expect from G-Roo. 80 points is certainly attainable.
Jakub Voracek had 1+2=3 and give him 10 in his last six, a nice rebound after seven straight games of bounced 'ceks, returned for non-sufficient skillz.
Get your Raffl ticket now before they're all gone. Michael Raffl had an assist and now has eight points in his last eight outings, roughly corresponding to his placement on a line with Giroux and Voracek. ("Now I'm on a line with Claude Giroux"... anybody?) Raffl is a 25 year-old who comes to us from Austria via Sweden. Other than that, not much I can tell you.
Remember when Jack Johnson had two points on the first night of the season and then had three more over the next 29? Well he has three more in his last six, and oh, guess who has missed all of those games? You Wis-u-niewski'ed the answer, but you don't. Or maybe you do. (Credit to my buddy Stefan for that one).
A lot of games last night so this update is going to focus on the multi-point efforts and trends, and gloss over the small stuff.
Pesky Boston Bruin Brad Marchand pocketed a pair of goals on five shots in a losing effort against the lowly Buffalo Sabres. Marcus Foligno had a Gordie Howe hat-trick: a goal, an assist and a bout of fisticuffs. Brian Flynn also had a goal and an assist. Before tonight I had no idea who Brian Flynn was, and I intend to keep it that way.
Ryan Miller has back-to-back wins and decent peripherals; he's a buy-low-candidate in a keeper league if there ever was one.
Martin Hanzal had the lone goal for the Phoenix Coyotes, who are struggling without captain Shane Doan. The leafs beat them in the shootout after a regulation goal from Troy Bodie, another player I'm not wiling to learn anything about because that space in my brain is already occupied by TJ Brodie, TJ Brennan, Tyson Barrie and Ty Rattie.
At one point in the Tampa Bay Lightning - Nashville Predators game, Alex Killorn stopped, his defender dropped, and Killorn opened up shop. The goal shop that is. Sellin' high-grade, top-shelf goals. Limited quantities though - specifically, one. Setting up little goal shop franchises of their own were Martin St. Louis (on the powerplay), Teddy Purcell, and Richard Panik. Killorn added an assist.
Craig Smith scored two goals. Thirty days ago he did the same thing, with no goals in between. That's the kind of reliability and consistency fantasy owners love. Matt Cullen assisted on both goals and if you're wondering which Nashville Predator forward you should own in your fantasy pool, the correct answer is none. It is a trick question.
I'm three-for-three on doing these updates after Pittsburgh Penguins games and each time Olli Maatta gives me a reason to gush about him. Tonight he had a goal, an assist, four shots and again was second on the team in ice time. I pity anyone who drafted Simon Despres in their keeper league instead of this guy. Only a Maatta of time before he's dominating the league. Headline writers at NHL.com are going to love his virtually limitless pun potential, but I'll try to get them all here first.
Two goals for Chris Kunitz and I caught myself today saying something I never thought I'd say: Kunitz should probably be on team Canada. Sidney Crosby continued to ride Kunitz's coattails with two helpers and he'll probably go to Sochi just because he's one of those rare players who can elevate his game to Kuntiz's level. Okay that was a joke but seriously, Kunitz for Sochi.
Dany Heatley and Jason Pominville scored for the Minnesota Wild. James Neal returned from suspension and let Keith Ballard know by punching him in face, earning seven PIMS and an assist (the assist was unrelated to the face-punching).
Mike Cammalleri had two assists. Yay.
Oblivious to the calendar and the hour glass, Daniel Alfredsson was in on all three Detroit Red Wings' goals, scoring two. Pavel Datsyuk had three helpers and Niklas Kronwall had two. You have to wonder if Alfie is what the Ottawa Senators are missing right now.
Speaking of the Sens, captain Jason Spezza scored a razzle-dazzle goal, but even with Chris Neil's tally it wasn't enough as they fell to the streaking Florida Panthers, 4-2. Aleksander Barkov, Tom Gilbert, Tomas Kopecky and Jimmy Hayes bulged the twine for the big cats. Here's that Spezza goal:
Alexander Steen put two past Carey Price, one short-handed; Chris Stewart and Jaden Schwartz also scored; T.J. Oshie had two assists. Have to wonder how many goals Steen would have scored today had he not been totally demotivated by earlier signing his new contract. He was clearly coasting out there.
Chris Higgins has more goals than Jamie Benn, a fact I only became aware of when I looked at the box score tonight. They each scored, as did Valeri Nichushkin and sneaky Colton Sceviour. Erik Cole had a goal and two assists; Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley each set up two.
Higgins has 22 points and Mike Santorelli has 26. As long as they are Ryan Kesler's linemates and Ryan Kesler is healthy (I actually knocked on wood just now; you should too), they should maintain this pace.
Matt Duchene had a goal, two assists and six shots. In late November, he missed three games with an oblique injury and it looks like it took him a while to fully recover. But four of his last five games have been multi-point outings (against weaker competition, mind you). Crazy that he still just 22.
Tyson Barrie scored on the powerplay, extending his streak to three games, and played almost four minutes with the advantage, a good sign for fantasy owners who drafted Barrie expecting him to quarterback the powerplay rather than Andre Benoit. I understand he was in Patrick Roy's doghouse earlier in the year (not literally, Barrie has an apartment) but it looks like he's played his way into Roy's good books (not literally, Roy owns zero books). Consider adding him if he's available in your fantasy league.
Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each had a goal and an assist and if they are available in your fantasy league you are probably in a fantasy football league and came here by mistake. Congratulations on reading this far.
I feel like I neglected goalies, so quickly, winners (there were no shutouts): Steve Mason, Scott Clemmensen, Jonas Gustavsson, Anders Lindback, Ryan Miller, James Reimer, Jeff Zatkoff, Jaroslav Halak, Kari Lehtonen, Semyon Varlamov, Martin Jones. Losers: everyone else, including goalies who had the night off. You lose 100% of the games you don't play.