It was a melancholy evening across the NHL. I'm sure you've heard by now about Rich Peverley's cardiac arrhythmia. He collapsed in the first period, was attended to by doctors and rushed to the hospital. The game between the Dallas Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets was postponed (no date as of press time). I'm guessing the league will preserve what happened in the first period and start the next game from when play stopped, but I'm not sure - maybe they start over? Anyway, here's wishing Rich Peverley a speedy and full recovery.
Jonathan Bernier is playing tremendous hockey. His 43-save win over the Ducks last night - in Anaheim - was an exclamation point on a long run. Starting all but one game since January 25, the former King has a record of 8-2-1 over that stretch. The Leafs continue to be outshot, and they continue to win hockey games, thanks in large part to Bernier. You have to feel for James Reimer owners right now - his leash seems to be much shorter.
Eddie Lack and the Canucks took a 3-0 lead into the third period and somehow transformed it into a 7-4 loss. To the Islanders. In Lack's defence (because he clearly had none in front of him), three of the goals came on the powerplay, and one was an empty-netter. Since the Luongo trade, Lack has been beaten 12 times in three games, which can't be good for his confidence. The #1 goalie job carries with it a very different set of expectations and pressures. I'd expect to see Jacob Markstrom get his first start sometime soon, but I'm not sure - John Tortorella's goaltending decisions have been known to defy both logic and popular sentiment.
The Islanders had a lot of powerplay time and it was interesting to see how they divvied it up. Kyle Okposo rightfully led the way with 9:09 (he picked up three assists); Ryan Strome only had 2:39, and 13:55 overall. On defence it was mostly Lubomir Visnovsky and Travis Hamonic (really? Hamonic?), but rookie Calvin de Haan saw 4:33 with the man advantage. Poor Matt Donovan only got 1:46. I was high on him at the beginning of the year, but given that the powerplay is the one thing Matt Donovan is supposed to be good at, I'm knocking him down (actually, off) next year's draft list.
Marian Gaborik is pointless in three games as a King, but on the bright side, the Kings have scored 10 goals over those three games. If nothing else, he gives the team more options and forces opposition coaches to make difficult decisions about when to deploy the shut-down line, which should boost the offence as a whole. He was +2 tonight, so maybe he's just been unlucky.
Tyson Barrie had two assists to continue being awesome. He has seven goals and 20 points in 23 games in 2014. How many other defencemen can say that? Without looking at the data, I'm going to say probably just Erik Karlsson. [Side note: does anyone know how a website where you can see all players' stats for specific date ranges - e.g., January 1 to present, or just January and February? Let me know in the comments, I'd appreciate it.)
Steven Stamkos has now gone three games without a point since returning from his broken tibia and not finding Martin St. Louis anywhere. He checked all Marty's usual hiding places: under the bench; in the laundry basket; behind Radko Gudas - but no Marty. I wonder where Marty is? They don't know in New York, where someone named Marty showed up but certainly isn't playing like Marty. Seriously, I think Dobber, and Don Cherry, are right that Stamkos really fed off Marty and the trade hurts his fantasy value. In a few years, I think Jonathan Drouin develops into a very good player who complements (and occasionally compliments) Stamkos. Ondrej Palat had two of the Lighting's three goals and set up the other but I've gushed about the 22-year-old Czech rookie on this site before; to do so again would be unpalatable.
Ales Hemsky owners rejoice! He has found the promised land of fantasy gold, playing with Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek in Ottawa. Spezza had a goal and two assists, while Hemsky had three helpers. Sound familiar? They each had three points the other night against the Jets. Hemsky has yet to score a goal, but he's definitely making an impact. Hope you took Seagull's advice from Sunday night and tried to add him. Don't expect three points a night, but with Ottawa making a playoff push and having two scoring lines that are 2 legit 2 quit, it's not unreasonable to expect a point-per-game pace for the home stretch from Hemsky, and slightly better from Spezza.
Worth noting that rookie Seth Jones busted out of an eight-game pointless (and minus-eight) drought in a big way, scoring an assist, plus-three, and the overtime winner.
Evgeni Kuznetsov made his long-awaited NHL debut last night. Hope you didn't have overly high expectations from the get-go, as he played on the fourth line, firing two shots on goal in 10:22. He did appear to be on the second powerplay unit, so he's got that going for him, which is nice.
Under "sentences I never thought I would type," Lee Stempniak should probably be owned in all but the shallowest of pools." He got all involved with two Chris Kunitz goals, as did Sidney Crosby, as would a bucket of KFC on that line. Crosby added a powerplay goal. Stempniak even had a little bit of powerplay time. Former Pascal Dupuis owners, you know what to do.