UPDATE: Jonathan Bernier is out three weeks with an MCL sprain. So his season is done.

 

If you've got masochistic tendencies now's your chance to ride James Reimer.

 

 

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The legend of Late-Season Bob continues to grow as Sergei Bobrovsky turned aside 37 shots in shutting out his former team. He is now 2-0-0 against the Flyers. His monthly splits tell a story of a March/April superstar but there probably isn’t a large enough sample to be conclusive. Still, I’m buying this Koolaid. Maybe he just winds up playing well all of next season and isn’t available for trade. But if he is, I’m jumping on him.

 

Dobber pointed out earlier in the week that Nathan Horton’s absence in the lineup opens up more opportunity for Cam Atkinson. I don’t buy it. Horton plays on a separate line and doesn’t block his power play time. The guy who really benefits is RJ Umberger who gets back on the power play and onto Ryan Johansen’s line after being scratch in three of the last six games.

 

Atkinson has points in back-to-back games though, while Umberger was held scoreless, so what do I know?

 

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Scott Hartnell was held off the board for the third straight game. He did land eight shots on goal and has 16 over the last three games so you know it’s only a matter of time.

 

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The Hurricanes got to play spoiler against Dallas scooping a 4-1 victory. That was good news for Anton Khudobin owners. He’s won back-to-back starts. This guy is going to be the backup again next season? Puh-lease.

 

If I’m the new Hurricanes GM I’m dialing up goalie needy teams like Minnesota, Winnipeg and the Islanders to see if they would swap their incumbent for Cam Ward. Not that I’m a huge believer in Khudobin as a full-time starter (he was a Decepticon on my list). That doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve to be a starter. After all, there are 30 spots available. I just don’t think he works out as an above-average starter if given the full run. But he does deserve the chance to prove me wrong.

 

The Jordan Staal/Eric Staal Freaky Friday body swap is finally over. Jordan hasn’t scored in five straight, while Eric has goals in back-to-back contests. All is right in the world.

 

I will say that if you are a believer in age curves Eric Staal turns 30 in October. That’s the magical age where the average player will see significant declines in production, at least at even strength. But let’s look at Staal’s non-power play scoring (for simplicity’s sake) year over year.

 

2003-04 – 24 points – 81 games

2005-06 – 60 points – 82 games

2006-07 – 44 points – 82 games

2007-08 – 47 points – 82 games

2008-09 – 51 points – 82 games

2009-10 – 47 points – 70 games

2010-11 – 47 points – 81 games

2011-12 – 47 points – 82 games

2012-13 – 44 points – 48 games

2013-14 – 45 points – 73 games

 

Basically, he is the model of consistency. If you are concerned about Eric’s production because of this down season you need to snap out of it. He has suffered because of reduced power play production, which can be more fickle than even strength scoring simply because so many fewer minutes are played on the power play.

 

It is entirely possible that Eric turns into a pumpkin once he hits 30 and that decade of steady scoring starts to fall off but I disagree with that notion. Buy low.

 

Chris Terry has drawn into the lineup with Jiri Tlusty and Alex Semin both out these past two games. He notched two assists last night and got some healthy power play minutes.

 

Andrej Sekera also missed the contest allowing John-Michael Liles to jump onto the top power play unit. He got a shocking three points. I thought he was done. Consider this one of his lasts gasps for air.

 

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Dallas, by the way, remains tied with Phoenix for the last playoff spot in the West, with a game in hand and the tiebreaker so they are still looking good.

 

Kari Lehtonen got chased in this one after winning five of his last six. You’d expect to see him out there in the next contest with every game meaningful the rest of the way but the Stars play four games in five nights starting Saturday. Tim Thomas has to start at least one of those you’d figure. Maybe Sunday’s game with Florida in town.

 

I’m calling this an aberration but Trevor Daley has 12 points in his last 22 games and has been skating some big minutes for the Stars of late. Not nearly enough on the power play for my liking though so I don’t think I’d act on this but desperate times call for desperate measures.

 

So if Alex Goligoski doesn’t get two points over these next six games does that make me wrong or do I get some leeway? When Goligoski was seriously struggling early on I said that he’d still reach 40 points. He’s two away. I may have been rescued by those four assists he dropped on Nashville last week but those are the ebbs and flows. I’m calling this a win, even if he comes up short one or two.

 

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It quite narrowly happened again. The Bruins just about mounted another come-from-behind win to slam the door on the Leafs. But no, they still have hope!



Hope? Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It’s got no use on the inside. You’d better get used to that idea.



Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

 

 

Which camp are you in?

 

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Jonathan Bernier injured his leg again sending James Reimer back into the fire. When he gave up the tying goal to Boston, my heart went out to him. You could practically hear all of Leaf nation reaching for their pitchforks. He hung in there though, long enough for Nazem Kadri to rescue the season.

 

Kadri’s minutes have been cut in a big way of late. I barely even noticed him last night but with the four-on-three in overtime he got to the net and buried the winner. Does this buy him some more ice time?

 

After going invisible since January, Cody Franson now has four points in the last three games. A nice little late season boost for you? Or did his slump sewer you long before that?

I don’t see Franson back in a Leaf uniform even though they still hold his rights. He’s basically a DH and Toronto doesn’t have the kind of defense where they can afford to have one.

 

Morgan Rielly is the keeper on the Leafs blue line. I think he’ll be a really good one. He is now tops among rookie defensemen with 25 assists this season. If you are looking for a bold prediction, how about Rielly clearing 50 points next season?

 

Realistically he probably doesn’t get there for another couple of years but we’ve seen lots of young defensemen coming in and making big impacts within their first three seasons. Think about guys like Drew Doughty, Alex Pietrangelo, PK Subban, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Erik Karlsson, etc. I don’t think Rielly is as good in the all-around game as those guys but his game is for real. He also has the luxury of some serious firepower up front in Toronto locked up for a long time.

 

I’ll be conservative and say that Rielly clears 50 within next two seasons.

 

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I talked Bruins yesterday so all I’ll say is that Jarome Iginla was back in the lineup with Carl Soderberg and away for the birth of his child. I’m going to go ahead and say that keeps Soderberg’s hot streak alive.

 

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The Flames continue to play spoiler despite an endless stream of random players cycling through their lineup. It’s like they’ve reached that point in the EA Sports Be A GM Mode when the game just starts randomly generating the names of new rookies.

 

Mike Cammalleri continues to thirst for that next big contract. Two more points for him last night.

 

Curtis Glencross is rocking a hot streak I was oblivious to until last night. He scored another two goals last night and has six goals and 11 points in 12 games since returning from injury. 

 

If he could ever stay healthy he’d have one heck of a fantasy season. He’s got a career 15.1% shooting percentage. All this guy does is score greasy goals.

 

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The Lightning missed a glorious opportunity to grab a leg up for home ice advantage in round one after beating the Canadiens on Tuesday night. Classic letdown game against a team not willing to pack it in.

 

Steven Stamkos is now scoreless in his last three contests. The good news is the Leafs are coming to town next week. I seem to recall they were friendly to him last time around.

 

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Chicago hung on for a shootout victory against the visiting Wild. Corey Crawford ended a two-game slump (albeit games that came against Boston and Pittsburgh). I’m not sure how excited I’d be to own him heading into the final weeks of the season. Seems to me Chicago is reeling without Patrick Kane and now Jonathan Toews.

 

Duncan Keith, for instance, hasn’t scored in four straight. Slumps are common for defensemen but still, I’d be concerned.

 

Marian Hossa is another slumper with just two points in the last eight games.

 

But hey, Bryan Bickell returned from injury to score a goal. Looks like he’s getting back just in time to be a dark horse in your playoff pool. Lord have mercy on us all.

 

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You’ve got to hand it to Ilya Bryzgalov, he has gotten at least a point in every single start he has made since he arrived in Minnesota. Can’t ask for much better from a band-aid.

 

I’ve essentially written the Wild off as irrelevant for the rest of the season in fantasy though. If you own one of Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise or Ryan Suter you are going to play them. Jason Pominville and Matt Moulson too but only if you don’t have better options. Otherwise I have no interest and that’s after acknowledging that Charlie Coyle has seven points in the last seven games.

 

This team is uninteresting with Mikael Granlund out. He’s got a possible concussion, cousin of concussion-like symptoms.

 

At least Josh Harding is back practicing with the Wild. I doubt we see him in action again this season but it is nice see him back.

 

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Ken Hitchcock decided to ruin everyone’s fun by giving Ryan Miller the night off against the visiting Sabres. I totally get it. It was the logical move. And it happened to suck all the fun out of the game for everyone. Ol’ Buzzkillington calls that one a win/win.

 

So Brian Elliott got the start and continued his run of ungodly numbers that not a soul on Earth respects.

 

Alexander Steen missed last night’s contest with an upper-body injury. I’m calling this one a maintenance day. We’ve reached the point in the season where we’ll be seeing more and more of these.

 

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Ville Leino scored… an assist last night. Still a big goose egg in the goals column. Excellent use of funds that one is. I’d call for him to get amnestied but the Sabres need to hit the cap floor somehow. Plus if they really want to get rid of him they can always just retain half his salary in a trade like they did with all their other trades!

 

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Speaking of which, Amnesty Pavelec dropped another game last night. This time to Pittsburgh so it’s tough to lob blame his way but really he’s won one game since March 1st and that came on April 1st, which can only mean it was some cruel joke to Jets fans.

 

To be fair, Pavelec wasn’t all bad during that stretch, and he did miss two weeks with an injury (to which I said, “good riddance!”) and the team hasn’t exactly played great in front of him. But you know what? I don’t think he needs excuses made for him. The Jets should move on.

 

He’s still relatively young but how long are they going to wait for the light to finally flick on for a full season? He has proven himself only capable of stretches of good play, which makes him a handy backup. Not a starter. I don’t know of any backups making nearly $4 million a year. Well at least not outside of New Jersey. Time to aim higher.

 

More hot water for Evander Kane – apparently he has been accused of assault. I think this is much ado about nothing but you are going to read into this what you want based on your preconceived impressions of him. What I will point out is that this is going to civil court as the police have already declined to lay charges.

 

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Bigger news on the Pittsburgh side where Paul Martin made his return from injury. He lepped right onto the top power play unit and scored a power play goal. He could make a saucy late-season pickup and of course he’ll have real value in your playoff pool. That is, assuming he can stay healthy.

 

Beau Bennett is finally living out every poolies dream for him. He has been back for four games now and has three points while skating alongside Sidney Crosby on the top line.

 

Bennett’s promotion has Lee Stempniak back on the third line but he actually has a three-game scoring streak on the go.

 

Whatever deal Matt Niskanen made with the Devil appears to have run its course. He has just one point in the last eight games. Martin’s return didn’t kick him off the top power play unit but Kris Letang’s will. No word yet on when Letang will be back but at least he is having fun in the press box.

 

 

 

 

 

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Had you realized that Mats Zuccarello was the Rangers’ leading scorer? I hadn’t until last night. He’s in a dead heat with Derek Stepan for the team lead. They both scored last night leaving Zuccarello up one. Amazing how this is such a successful season for Zuccarello and a disappointing one for Stepan. Expectations… they’ll getcha.

 

Stepan does have 19 points in 19 games since the Olympics though so good on him for the late season push. You definitely need to acknowledge his elevated play in your playoff pool, even though he basically vanished after being a trendy pick last year.

 

Speaking of vanishing. Martin St. Louis may have been traded to the Rangers but it’s pretty clear that he’s playing for the Purgatory Ghosts. Seriously, are the Rangers the gateway to the NHL’s afterlife? If so, why haven’t they picked up Dany Heatley’s corpse yet?

 

Ryan McDonagh missed this one after getting hurt late in Tuesday’s contest. He’ll likely miss the rest of the season but expects to be back for the playoffs. It’s a good thing because the Rangers are going nowhere without McD.

 

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A last-minute goal by Tyson Barrie saved Colorado’s bacon in this one. And they’d eventually win in the shootout, sealed by none other than Tyson Barrie. I got rather concerned when he was sent down early in the year but man has he been a nice own in the second half. He’s scored 33 points in the last 43 games. I don’t need to tell you what that prorates to over a full season. Chaching goes the cash register!

 

The Avalanche are getting a ton of mileage out of recent college free agent signing Paul Carey. He skated 2:37 last night. Guess how many goals he scored.

 

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Sean McIndoe breaks down the best possible first round matchups. I’m partial to Kings-Sharks, which he has ranked #1. Should be a blood bath. I’ll get this out now, my head says Kings but my heart says Sharks.

 

Those two actually played last night with the Sharks coming out ahead. This was one hell of a physical battle. The Sharks officially levelled 52 hits to the Kings’ 32. This game was in San Jose however so you probably can’t completely trust the scorers on this one. They tend to be biased.

 

Still, Tommy Wingels planted 10 hits all on his own. Impressive.

 

Logan Couture was buzzing all night long, landing five SOG and scoring the game winner. It’s been too few and far between for Couture in the second half but it’s not all that surprising considering he is now off the top power play unit. Couture basically fell off the second I anointed him a superstar. Sorry, folks.

 

Brent Burns is the guy who jumped onto the top power play unit. He opened the scoring for the Sharks with a power play marker.

 

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The Kings appear to have held back a bit giving Martin Jones the start. I respect the strategy. LA is passing San Jose in the standings, so why give them a fresh look at quick before they face-off in a couple of weeks?

 

Drew Doughty left last night’s contest and did not return. Doesn’t sound like it’s serious but we’ll have to wait and see. Why can’t we have nice things?

 

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Pavel Datsyuk will make his return to the Red Wings lineup tonight. Adjust accordingly.

 

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Happy belated birthday to our very own, Brendan Ross. 

 

Check out his latest prospect ramblings. Working on his birthday. What dedication!

 

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You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.

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