In Rick Nash's return to the land he once called home, both teams were looking for a key win as squads start to make runs for the playoffs. Three points separate second and fourth place in the Metropolitan division and the Rangers and Blue Jackets are in the heart of that mix. Mats Zuccarello continued to be a great contributor and finished with 2 assists on the night. Anton Stralman, who is likely un-owned in most leagues, put on a solid performance with 2 assists, a plus-3 rating, 2 PIMS, 1 shot, 1 hit and 2 blocked shots. Derick Brassard has kept owners happy lately, scoring 4 points in the past two games which includes last night's game winner. If you're looking for that extra kick in your roster, he might not be a bad option if he's still available in your league. Derek Stepan also finished with a goal, while Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal finished with an assist a piece. Last but certainly not least, Henrik Lundqvist was King Lundy once again.
In one of the most important games of the year, the Blue Jackets were completely outplayed. Nick Foligno finished with an unassisted goal while the rest of the fantasy-relevant players were held off the score sheet. One player who always seems to be standing on his head, Sergei Bobrovsky played well while facing a total of 31 shots. He did not give up a single powerplay goal but was unable to get some help on the other end. Both goalies will continue to be key components for both teams', keep them rolling with the utmost confidence.
The Blackhawks and Hurricanes are at opposite ends of the spectrum. While the Hawks are battling for the top spot in the West, the Canes are trying to stay out of the cellar in the East. With how competitive the divisions have become, there is little chance the Canes will compete for a playoff spot and will likely start looking to next year soon. However, as long as the fantasy studs continue to perform, there's no reason to worry. With that said, Alexander Semin looked like his old self last night, scoring both goals for the Canes with one on the powerplay. Eric Staal assisted on both Semin's goals, and will likely continue his strong play as the season concludes.
Patrick Kane has been put on long-term injured reserve, but lucky for the Hawks, they have a similar supporting cast to Martin Scorsese's "The Departed". Patrick Sharp kicked off the scoring with a goal in the second, while Kris Versteeg followed up with another one later in the period. Andrew Shaw, Michal Handzus, Nick Leddy and Brent Seabrook all finished with an assist each. With the score 2-2 in the third, can you guess who got the game-winning goal? None other than Jonathan Toews, on an unassisted shorthanded effort. Surprise, surprise.
While most of the Bruins' squad had a solid outing last night, Dougie Hamilton was probably the best fantasy skater in this game, finishing with 2 assists, a plus-1 rating, 1 PPP, 2 shots, 1 hit and 3 blocked shots. Patrice Bergeron finished with a a goal and is now riding a three-game point streak. He has scored 4 points during that span and will be a go-to-guy for both fantasy teams and the Boston Bruins as the playoffs role around. The second goal for the Bruins came from Carl Soderberg on the powerplay with Loui Eriksson grabbing the other assist. Making another statement as the NHL's best backup goalie, Chad Johnson stopped all 31 shots for his 2nd shutout of the season, and improved his sublime record to 16-3-1. If you made a move to get this spot start, well played.
To be honest, there really isn't much to say about the Avs. In fact, I'm just adding an extra sentence here to make this paragraph seem a little longer than it really is. The best player for the Avs tonight, and probably all season, was Semyon Varlamov, who stopped 26 of 28 shots but saw his already impressive record drop to 34-14-5. In terms of peripherals, Gabriel Landeskog finished with 2 PIMs, 5 shots, 2 hits and 1 blocked shot. Even on a bad night, Captain Avalanche always finds a way to keep fantasy managers happy.
While there were some great performances in this game, the most difficult part is how irrelevant some of these players are in the fantasy realm. I mean, if you own Matt Cullen, I don't know whether to think your team is questionable, at best, or if you're just a natural fortune teller. Cullen finished the game with 1 goal and 3 assists, taking his season total from 24 to 28 points. Needless to say, it's unlikely he keeps this pace. Next in line was defensive stud Shea Weber, he might have had an even better fantasy performance with 2 goals, a plus-2 rating, 1 PPP, 3 shots, 3 hits and 4 blocked shots. With the bronze medal, Patric Hornqvist scored a goal, added 2 assists, 3 shots, 1 hit and 1 blocked shots.
On the Flames, Mark Giordano finished with 2 assists, while Mike Cammalleri contributed 2 goals and 1 assist with a team-high 6 shots. Both guys also put up a PPP each and were the best Flames on the ice last night. Mikael Backlund also had a productive night with a goal, an assist, a plus-3 rating and 5 shots. Both goalies had nights to forget . While Pekka Rinne let in 4 goals on 18 shots, Joni Ortio did even worse with4 goals on 13 shots. Ortio has already been sent back to the AHL and Rinne should regain his composure soon, at least we'd hope,
Fantasy Play of the Night
While there were plenty of plays to choose from last night, including Toews' shorthanded effort, I have to give it to Derick Brassard. Against his old team, Brassard pulled off a spectacular through-the-legs move and was able to sneak the game-winning goal by Bobrovsky.
Fantasy Three Stars of the Night
First Star - Jonathan Toews: 1 G, 1 SHP, 1 GWG, +1, 4 PIMs, 2 Shots
Second Star - Shea Weber: 2 G, 1 PPP, +2, 3 Shots, 3 Hits, 4 Blocked Shots
Third Star - Mike Cammalleri: 2 G, 1 A, 1 PPP, +2, 6 Shots