The Rangers have been playing a lot better lately, and are 7-2-1 in their last 10. Chris Kreider has been the biggest help, especially for fantasy owners. In his last five games, Kreider has 1 goal, 2 assists, 1 PPP, 17 PIM, 13 shots, 13 hits and 2 blocks. He's a versatile power forward and is finally coming into his own. He is a must own (34% owned in Yahoo! leagues) in both standard and keeper league formats at this time.
Rick Nash also scored for the Rangers, along with Ryan Callahan and Derick Brassard. Brassard now has 8 points in his last 10 games. If you're in need of some help, he could be a solid option, just don't expect it to last too long . Not to mention, his minus-12 is hard to swallow if your league counts plus/minus. Brad Richards had a solid game, recording 2 assists, 3 shots and 1 PPP.
The Dallas Stars got most of their offense from their second unit of Cody Eakin, Antoine Roussel and Ryan Garbutt. Both Eakin and Garbutt finished with a goal and an assist while Roussel recorded an assist as well. In the deepest of leagues, this could be a unit to watch in the coming weeks if their production continues. They're an all-around group who should get you the points and the gritty stats as well.
Oh how Leafs Nation must be feeling right now. The Maple Leafs have been in a heap of trouble as of late and are 4-4-2 in their last 10, losing the past four in a row. At least fantasy owners should be happy. James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel continued their glowing partnership by finishing with a goal and an assist a piece. JVR's tally came on the powerplay, giving both them and Tyler Bozak a PPP. Nevertheless, the NHL has not been a one unit league in a very long time, and the Maple Leafs need production from their secondary players soon, for both fans and fantasy owners alike.
Cody Franson has been abysmal in his last five games, scoring no points with a rating of minus-9. His 27 hits and 10 blocks are something to brag about, I guess. Dion Phaneuf is having an equally brutal start to the new year, scoring just 2 assists back on the 1st of January. However, his 15 PIM, 15 hits and 7 blocks in that span are something for fantasy owners to enjoy. Nevertheless, both Maple Leafs' defensemen need to get back their scoring touch, or watch their fantasy and real life value diminish simultaneously.
With no Ilya Kovalchuk to ride in Toronto, David Clarkson has been a disappoint to everyone who ever believed in him. He has just 8 points and is a glorified third liner. He still has time to prove himself, but his peripherals of 49 PIMs, 99 hits and 21 blocks can only be valued so high. I'm sure no one more than Dave Nonis is hoping for a change in Clarkson. I mean, he did pay him the same money as Joffrey Lupul. Yikes.
For the Caps, the obvious best performer was none other than Alex Ovechkin, who scored his 32nd goal of the season and added an assist on Joel Ward's third period game winner. Nicklas Backstrom scored off a deflection to tie it while Mikhail Grabovski, Mike Green and Marcus Johansson recorded assists during the game.
There were two clear performers for the Jackets and they were none other than Cam Atkinson and Sergei Bobrovsky. Atkinson has enjoyed an up and down season but has been performing well since December. He notched a goal and assist last night, with his goal coming on the man advantage. However, he will need to do a bit more to standout in most standard leagues.
Sergei Bobrovsky enjoyed a well deserved 36-shot shutout and improved his record to 12-11-2. He is the reigning Vezina trophy winner and this could be a sign of things to come. This was just his second game back from injury, stopping 40 of 43 shots in his first game back. He is a must start when healthy and should continue to put up good numbers consistently.
Nothing to report for the Hurricanes. It was a brutal game for them after a very impressive performance against Toronto. I guess that doesn't mean much these days.
The Iles were able to put a speed bump in the Av's impressive season thus far with an overtime win last night. The most impressive players in the game were easily the goalies, who were able to shut down both teams' best players. It came down to gritty goals and an overtime winner by the lavishly inconsistent Michael Grabner, who now has a disappointing 7 goals and 8 assists in 42 games this season. Interestingly enough, he has 2 goals and 1 assist in his past two games. Then again, his two point performance came against the Maple Leafs, who have been giving other teams ample opportunity to turn their seasons around. Maybe this was Grabner's turnaround? Don't bank on it, though.
The best story coming out of Colorado is rookie sensation Nathan MacKinnon. He scored last night and now has 15 goals and 14 assists. He's a plus-5 player with 127 shots on goal, 10 PPP, 30 hits and 22 blocks. Needless to say, MacKinnon is now the heavy favorite to win the Calder trophy after Tomas Hertl's injury. He seems to be superstar in the making and if you currently own him in keeper leagues, congratulations on all your future success.
What is more surprising, the fact that the Oilers beat the Pens, or the fact that Sid the Kid's first goal in Edmonton came last night? With all the goals that Sidney Crosby has scored throughout his illustrious career, it is quite surprising that he has never scored against one of the most generous teams in the NHL. Well, he finally did last night and added an assist on Kris Letang's powerplay goal. Evgeni Malkin set up James Neal for the first goal of the game but the Pens could not deal with the feisty youngsters in Edmonton last night.
The best player on the ice was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. He finished the game with 2 goals, 1 assist, 2 PPG, 1 GWG and 6 shots. He was a man on a mission and helped set up Taylor Hall's only tally. Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz both added two assists, all of them on the powerplay. If this was any sign of things to come in Edmonton, it was a great night for both the team's fans and fantasy owners.
In a low scoring affair, the Canucks were able to end the Blues' seven-game winning streak with the victory. Zac Dalpe got a look with the Sedin Twins yesterday and was able to put up a goal. If he continues to spend time with the Sedins, there is a good possibility of solid production, and Dalpe could be a low-risk, high-reward-type player moving forward. Mike Santorelli continued his great season with another goal, while Garrison did much of the same with the only assist.
Alex Pietrangelo must be really excited about his team Canada selection, as he's been on a tear over the last seven days (ranked 7th in Yahoo!). He is currently riding a five-game point streak scoring 3 goals and 5 assists in the process. He has also recorded 17 shots and 4 PPP in that span. He is widely known as one of the few defenseman who can surpass 40 points with ease, and should be considered one of the best fantasy performers from the blueline.
Another performer to note is part-time fantasy legend Brian Elliot. He simply comes out of the woodwork every year around the mid-season mark and just kills it, I mean KILLS IT. He is a major reason for the Blues' seven game winning streak and has posted outstanding numbers in the process. If you were able to get your hands on him off waivers, or have held on to him from the start, your faith in the Ontario-native will continue to pay off with flying colors. Roll him as he continues to flourish in St. Louis.
Fantasy Play of the Night
There were a plethora of goals to choose from last night, absolutely amazing plays. But the one that stood out the most came from the Garden, where Chris Kreider did all the work and Rick Nash paid him back with an absolute beauty of a shot. This was the game-winning goal with less than two minutes in the third period. The best part may have been Tyler Seguin's reaction. (video courtesy of NHL.com)
Three Fantasy Stars of the Night
First Star: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - 2 G, 1 A, 2 PPP, 1 GWG, 2 PIM, 6 Shots, 1 Hit
Second Star: Sergei Bobrovsky - 1 GS, 1 W, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 SV%, 36 saves, 1 SO
Third Star: Ryan Garbutt - 1 G, 1 A, +2, 2 PIM, 4 Shots, 1 Hit, 1 Block