Busy US-holiday Monday for the NHL, on and off the ice. If you're in my Management League where coaches earn five points for every day suspended and you have John Tortorella, congratulations, you probably just won the pool (I pity the guy who drafted Patrick Roy and thought it was a lock after the first game). There were 14 teams in action tonight, and I turned down a 75% chance of getting action of my own to come home and write this, so we'd better make it count.
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Matt Read scored two, including one short handed. Since returning from injury on January 14, he has four points in four games, playing with Lecavalier and Couturier on the third line (if you can call it that), as well as on the powerplay, although on the second unit, which doesn't see a lot of time. With 23 in 43 he's pretty much exactly where he finished last year (24 in 42), and the year before. You know what you're getting with Matt Read, and it's not bad for a guy who wasn't drafted.
Wayne Simmonds had a goal, five shots and two hits. Did you know he's only failed to record a point in three of his last 17 games? Over that span, he's earned 22 points. Unbelievable. And he doesn't even play with Giroux (except on the powerplay).
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Brad Marchand has 6+1=7 over his last four games. Two of those six goals came last night. More importantly, he has 15 shots over those four games, which is great to see after a lethargic start. He's playing with Patrice Bergeron (2A tonight) and standout rookie Reilly Smith (1A). As long as they display this kind of chemistry, Loui Eriksson may have to continue to bide his time on the third line.
Marchand's league-leading fourth shorthanded goal was a beauty:
I crunched some numbers on the ol' abacus machine to figure out why Anze Kopitar only has 40 in 50 this year. That's not terrible, but I've always considered him to be in the echelon of point-per-game players. I think, to the surprise of nobody, the problem is Darryl Sutter. In the two seasons and 33 games prior to Sutter's arrival (he was a mid-season replacement in 2011), Kopitar put up 184 points in 190 games, or .97 ppg. Since then, he's put up 128 in 146, or .88 ppg. That's a ten percent drop. Screw you, Darryl Sutter. So what if turning Kopitar into one of the best two-way players alive won the Kings a Stanley Cup.
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In non-news, Brian Campbell continues to be the absolute worst. I don't think this is the first time I've written that sentence on FHS and it won't be the last. The Florida Panthers put up five goals against the Penguins. Campbell played 25 minutes, three on the powerplay, and put up a very Brian Campbell-ish stat line of zero points, zero shots, zero PIMs, zero +/-, and zero fans asking for his autograph. If you have him, trade him for future considerations, a backrub, a homemade coupon book, anything.
Panthers who, unlike Campbell, were not completely useless from a fantasy perspective included youngsters Jonathan Huberdeau with a goal and a helper, and Drew Shore with two goals. Jesse Winchester had three assists, but don't expect that to ever happen again.
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Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin were not split up when I checked in on this game, but man, the Dallas Stars are struggling, so I wouldn't be surprised to see it soon. In January, Dallas has been outscored 38-22, lost nine of 10, and only beaten the Oilers. Most people said the Stars won the Seguin trade; I don't think they'll regret it because they got the best player in the deal, but they gave up an awful lot to get him.
For the Nashville Predators, my boy Roman Josi had a goal and an assist, bringing his season total to 20 points in 41 games. I noted in a recent comment on this blog, as well as over at dobberhockey, that I'm looking for him to have a big second half. He's on a four game point streak which, is doubly impressive when you consider the Predators rarely go four games in which they score goals.
David Legwand's assist kept his streak alive at four games. He's playing for a contract and I think with certain players who still have something to prove, that can mean something.
Carter Hutton earned the win by stopping 35 of 36. The great thing about acquiring Devan Dubnyk is that if it works out David Poile looks good, but if Hutton keeps playing great and Dubnyk stinks, Poile can just say Dubnyk was brought in to motivate Hutton. If neither play well, at least he tried something, and nobody really expects the Predators to compete without Pekka Rinne. Plus they got rid of a stinker contract. Win-win-win-win.
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None of Alexander Steen's seven shots went in, but he had two assists. Kevin Shattenkirk and Jay Bouwmeester each scored, while Bouwmeester's partner (not romantically), Alex Pietrangelo, set up his goal.
Darren Helm had six shots but nothing to show for it. Gustav Nyquist scored the lone Detroit Red Wings goal, a powerplay marker, and skated 5:40 with the man advantage, second only to Henrik Zetterberg (who had an assist) and Niklas Kronwall.
Jaroslav Halak only faced 23 shots and stopped 22 of them. Hitchock seems to be employing a "win and you're in... until you lose or get pulled" strategy. Brian Elliott just lost, so it was Halak's turn again, and he made the most of it.
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Joe Pavelski had two goals, including a powerplay marker, and is now tied for second in goal scoring. Like, in the entire NHL. I was surprised to learn that.
Maybe Bob Hartley was onto something starting his goons against the Canucks, because Brian McGrattan set up Kevin Westgarth for his first of the season. But no, he wasn't, because they both played fewer than seven minutes. Jiri Hudler had the other goal. Referees called a total of one penalty in this affair, which must have been a bit of let-down for the Flames.
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Just when I thought I had the Toronto Maple Leafs figured out, they go on a five-game winning streak. Give each of Jake Gardiner, Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri 1+1=2. Dion Phaneuf chipped in with a helper, four PIMs, two shots and two hits. Kessel has 4+8=12 over his last six.
Both Phoenix Coyotes goals came from special teams, with Mike Ribeiro scoring on the PP and Antoine Vermette on the PK. Jack-of-all-trades Lauri Korpikoski assisted on both. Radim Vrbata took seven shots.
Jonathan Bernier stopped 39 of 41 to earn the win. I thought he really played like the anagram of his name, Reborn Ninja Heat. I mean of all the anagrams you could make of Jonathan Bernier's name, and there are a lot, that one most describes him last night. I'm going to end on that note.