Price slash – for the next 48 hours, Midseason Fantasy Hockey Guide will be $6.99. Plus every 10th customer will get Frozen Pool FREE. Get the Midseason Guide here.
Cam Atkinson notched a pair of goals to lead Columbus to a 5-1 thrashing over the Washington Capitals. Atkinson now has five goals in his last five games and also notched five shots against the Caps. The Blue Jackets have won five straight and have tallied at least three goals in each of those contests. As long as Atkinson is getting over two minutes on the power play like he did against Washington and Columbus is racking up points, he is definitely worth a pick up if he’s still sitting there in your league.
Jack Johnson is another Jacket who is feasting on this win streak. His two assists give him five in his last three outings and he hasn’t been a minus player in five straight, which is rare for Johnson. Even if he goes through rough stretches, and Johnson will, he is someone you want to hold on to. He sees major power play minutes and eventually the points will return.
He also delivered a crushing and clean hit on Jay Beagle.
Mark Letestu scored again giving him four goals in three games. He’s another player to grab in the short-term while the Jackets are rolling. He’s not getting big minutes and this pace isn’t sustainable, but take advantage of it while you can.
Ryan Johansen had a goal and an assist to extend his point streak to three games. He’s had more ups than downs this year for the first time in his career and leads the team in scoring with 36 points. Patience pays off.
Boone Jenner is someone that the Jackets are going to have to be patient with as well. He’s been somewhat of a disappointment offensively this season with 12 points in 37 games, but there are a few good signs. Jenner had a team-leading eight hits against the Caps and is now up to over 100 for the year. It’s good to see a young player not afraid to play a physical style, because that will ultimately lead to points quickly when he figures the pro game out.
Not a heck of a lot went right for Washington on this night. Other than the fact that John Carlson scored his first goal in 13 games.
Philipp Grubauer got another start but this time he was lit up to the tune of three goals on 14 shots. Adam Oates had been riding the hot hand between the pipes and that could change now after this effort.
Which brings us to Braden Holtby, who came on in relief and looked fairly sharp making 20-of-22 stops. That was his first action since January 4th and it will be crucial for poolies to see him get back into the regular rotation with the hopes of reclaiming the starting role. Holtby’s play last year and over the past two post-seasons even had some whispering that he should be given some consideration as the third goalie for the Canadian Olympic team. However, those hopes quickly vanished in 2013-14 and even though his numbers haven’t been terrible, Holtby hasn’t done enough to separate himself from the other two netminders in Washington and claim the number one job once and for all. Perhaps this decent effort earns him the next start.
The Blackhawks came away with a 4-2 victory on Friday over the Ducks in a highly anticipated matchup between the Western Conference’s two top teams.
Marian Hossa had a pair, including a shorthanded goal on a shift that he and Jonathan Toews dominated. Hossa also played 3:41 on the man advantage, which is a great sign considering his time on the power play has dropped this season to an average of just over two minutes a night.
Marcus Kruger picked up an assist and went 80% in the faceoff circle against the Ducks. He’s been great on the draws all year and can really help you if you have that as a category in your league.
I think it’s safe to say Patrick Kane is in a slump at this point. He’s only found the score sheet twice in his last nine games and put up just a single shot against Anaheim. When the shots on net start disappearing, that’s when it’s time to get concerned.
Kris Versteeg left this one with an upper-body injury and did not return for the third period.
Jonas Hiller took the loss, but I’m sure fantasy owners could forgive him considering he had won 14 straight coming in.
Kyle Palmieri scored a goal to give him points in three straight games. He’s bounced around on several lines this year in Anaheim, not playing with any one group for more than 11% of the time. However, over his last three games he’s seen a spike in his minutes with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry to nearly a 26% frequency. Keep an eye on if that continues because if it does, so will the points.
Teemu Selanne was held scoreless without a shot and played just under 13 minutes with only 31 seconds of power play time. Selanne is coming off a four-game stretch that saw him record six points over that span, easily his best run of the season. Although, he’s also gone quiet for lengthy stretches this year as well. Hopefully his effort against Chicago isn’t the start of another one.
Winnipeg Jets defenseman Grant Clitsome won’t be returning this season because of a back issue. Clitsome last played on December 17th and he has already had surgery for the injury. It’s a tough break for the Jets and poolies who took a chance on him this season, as Clitsome was well on his way to shattering his career-high in points. Jacob Trouba’s ice-time has gone up slightly since Clitsome went down and he is usually good for at least 20 minutes a night these days. He’s also a plus-4 with a goal in his last two contests, so he’s worth a look.
David Clarkson is headed for injured reserve with an elbow issue. His time in Toronto has been a disaster ever since receiving a suspension in the pre-season. He’s essentially been spending most of his time with Jay McClement and Nikolai Kulemin on the third line in what amounts to a checking role, so don’t expect big things offensively from whoever gets his minutes.
Speaking of injured reserve, with Pavel Datsyuk making a stop there earlier in the week I wonder what that means for Riley Sheahan’s outlook. He has the ability to play center and may move up the pecking order now with Datsyuk on the shelf. His minutes haven’t been great yet and his production moderate, but monitor how Mike Babcock uses him in the near future as Detroit continues to be hit by injuries.
Alex Steen will return to the St. Louis lineup on Saturday when the Blues take on the Ducks. Steen started the year on a torrid pace, so it will be interesting to see if he can pick up where he left off, or if he slows considerably. Hopefully his return will also jumpstart David Backes, who has found the score sheet in just three of nine games since Steen went down.
Katie Baker looks deeper into Ilya Kovalchuk’s decision to leave North America for the KHL in this piece.