The Islanders staged a late comeback to beat the Penguins 4-3 last night and once again Frans Nielsen posted some solid numbers. Nielsen had a goal and two assists, and now has seven points in his last three contests.
We had a Thomas Hickey sighting as well. The young blueliner picked up his first point of the season and finished as a plus-3. Hickey got over 19 minutes, which was the second highest ice-time he has received so far in 2013-14, and he might be the recipient of some more opportunities since the Islanders defense corps is so banged up.
Evgeni Nabokov had a bounceback game after two rough starts in a row, stopping 39 of 42 shots.
Kris Letang made his season debut and he certainly didn’t get eased into things. Letang led the team with over 25 minutes and eight of those came on the power play. He also picked up three shots.
Someone who may suffer from Letang’s return is Matt Niskanen. He did pick up two assists on Friday, but he only saw 16:34 of ice-time after averaging around 20 minutes so far on the year. Niskanen’s power play time will likely be cut going forward as well with Letang back.
Chris Kunitz continues to be extremely valuable picking up nine shots and three hits against the Isles.
Toronto took it on the chin in Columbus Friday night and it didn’t help that Joffrey Lupul had to miss the game because of a bruised foot he suffered after being hit with a shot at practice. Once again, the Leafs shot blocking ability during practices is unparalleled.
Phil Kessel scored again and had five shots. He’s now got four goals in his last two contests, although he made a brutal mistake on the Jackets’ third goal that isn’t fantasy relevant, but worth pointing out. With the Leafs on a 4-on-3 man advantage, Kessel broke his stick and floated to the bench to retrieve a new one. Meanwhile Columbus capitalized on a 2-on-1 to make it 3-1. Unreal.
David Clarkson made his debut with the Leafs after serving his suspension. He had a couple of scoring chances and four shots, but looked rusty. It’s going to take him a few games to get to full speed.
Jack Johnson didn’t record a point, but he was plus-3 on the night. That’s an encouraging sign since he was minus-7 going into the game.
Nick Foligno and Brandon Dubinsky both picked up a goal and a helper. Foligno’s night snapped a three-game pointless streak and Dubinsky now has four points in his last two games.
Ryan Johansen scored again, albeit into an empty net, but he’s up to five points in his last five contests and might be worth a look.
It was a decent day for Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen as he received a two-year contract extension and then picked up the win in his first NHL start over Ottawa. That news is significant because Anaheim is deep between the pipes and could be looking to move someone now. Jonas Hiller might be the most likely candidate if someone is looking for a rental because he is a UFA at the end of the year.
Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf each had two points after been held of the scoresheet in their previous two games.
Tough break for Mathieu Perreault owners as he left the game with what looked to be a hand/wrist injury. No word yet on how long he will be out, but Perreault was having a real good start to the campaign.
Teemu Selanne was a healthy scratch, but only because it was the second of a back-to-back for Anaheim. They plan to do that with Selanne in those situations all year, so take note if you have him.
Mika Zibanejad picked up a goal for the Sens in 13 minutes of action. He has two points in two games since being recalled from the AHL. The guy is an NHL player and if Ottawa was smart they would use him that way for the rest of the year.
Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson, and Milan Michalek were a combined minus-6. Yikes.
The Sabres beat the Panthers in a game they had no business winning, thanks to Jhonas Enroth. He stopped 44-of-45 shots to preserve a 3-1 victory. If the Sabres do deal Ryan Miller eventually, Enroth wouldn’t be the worst guy to fall back on.
Cody Hodgson picked up an empty-netter and now has goals in three straight games.
Rasmus Ristolainen picked up his first-career NHL goal on Friday and teammate Cody McCormick got into a scuffle trying to retrieve the puck. Only in the NHL.
Tomas Fleischmann and Kris Versteeg combined for a whopping 12 shots for Florida, but they balanced that out by both going minus-3.
Brad Boyes appears to be getting buried on the Panthers depth chart. He played only 11 minutes, which was a season low, and less than one of those came on the man advantage.
Alex Steen scored again and added an assist as well in a 3-2 loss to Vancouver. He’s up to eight tallies now and there has only been one game this year where he hasn’t scored.
Kevin Shattenkirk looked interested last night and picked up two assists. That snapped a three game pointless run for the Blues D-man.
Jaden Schwartz continues to struggle for St. Louis. He only has a single point in his last six outings, but in fairness that whole line is struggling with Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Tarasenko in the same boat.
Eddie Lack gave Roberto Luongo the night off and had his second straight decent start, stopping 22 of 24 shots.
Ryan Kesler found the back of the net twice, including the overtime winner. He has goals in three straight games and six points over that span. Kesler seems to really be benefiting from playing with the Sedins recently.
Mike Santorelli picked up two assists. Just when you think he’s headed for a drought, Santorelli seems to pull a multi-point game out of his hat this season.
Alexander Semin seems to be picking it up lately. He recorded a helper in Carolina’s loss to Colorado and now has points in three straight and five in his last five games overall.
Eric Staal saw his five-game point streak snapped on Friday.
Drayson Bowman scored his first goal and point of the season versus the Avs.
Nathan MacKinnon was held off the scoresheet Friday and is now pointless in his last four, after starting the year with seven points in his first six games. Inconsistent play just happens with the majority of rookies, even the good ones like MacKinnon.
Alex Tanguay broke out of a mini slump with a goal and an assist. He hadn’t picked up a point in his previous four contests.
If you are looking for some depth on defense and need help in the blocks department, check out Colorado’s Nate Guenin. He had five on Friday and ranks second in the NHL in that category.
How about the play of Semyon Varlamov? He’s a major reason why the Avalnache currently hold the league’s best record, as in seven starts in 2013-14 only once has he had a save percentage below .933.
Matt Duchene had two goals and a helper, and one of which was of the spectacular variety.
Alexander Ovechkin has started the campaign on a torrid pace, scoring 10 goals in his first 10 games, but it’s his shots on goal that may be more impressive. He currently leads the league with 67 and is on pace for a career high of 549. Now it’s going to be tough to maintain that pace over 82 games, but if he gets anywhere close to that he could have a historic year. In 2007-08 when Ovechkin had a career-high 65 goals, he managed to do it on just 446 shots. That’s over 100 more than he’s on pace for right now.
Ovechkin’s shooting percentage is also up at the moment, which shows the shots he is getting are not going to waste. He has a rate of 12.2 percent for his career and right now he is firing at nearly 15 percent. Whether or not he has the ability to keep up this pace for the full season is one thing, but if you’ve got Ovechkin this year you have a great shot to capture the goals and shots categories every week.
If you haven’t seen this piece from ESPN’s e60 on Minnesota center Jake Dowell and his family, you should give it a watch.
Nashville’s goalie situation is going to be in rough shape while Pekka Rinne recovers from his hip issue. At the moment the Preds have to go with Carter Hutton and Magnus Hellberg, who have just three games of NHL experience, all of which belong to Hutton. It’s tricky for Rinne owners since one guy likely isn’t going to carry the load during his absence. Sometimes you can pick up the backup to fill in for the short-term, but in this case it doesn’t make much sense, especially with the Predators sitting 26th in goals for, which means wins will be hard to come by. Nashville may want to look to add an experienced veteran to at least give them a fighting chance to stay above water until Rinne returns.
Sweden has unveiled their Olympic Jerseys and they look pretty sweet. The Swedes always have some classy uniforms.
Interesting move out of Minnesota Friday after the Josh Harding injury. The team recalled Johan Gustafsson from Iowa and not Darcy Kuemper. Gustafsson has no NHL experience and very little AHL experience, although he has looked strong in three outings for Iowa this season. Kuemper seemed to be viewed as the team’s goaltender of the future and has been called up in the past on several occasions, but he got roughed up in his one appearance this year against the Toronto Maple Leafs, giving up three goals on seven shots. Kuemper looked great last season both at the NHL and AHL levels, as he posted a .916 and .934 save percentage respectively. Niklas Backstrom will still get the bulk of the starts at the moment and this could simply be a way for the Wild to get a closer look at Gustafsson for a game or two.
The Flyers have sent forward Tye McGinn back to the AHL to make room for a returning Scott Hartnell on Saturday. Seems like a logical move until you realize McGinn is somehow their leading goal scorer at the moment. He has three goals in four games, which accounts for 23 percent of the Flyers 13 tallies on the season. McGinn hasn’t scored in his past two contests, but he was at least showing some signs of life for this Philly offense.