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This week’s article consists of Matthews on fireplace, a Blue settling in properly together with his new staff, a effective possibility in Hockeytown, the return of the Devils’ captain, and several other scuffling veterans.
FIRST LINERS (RISERS)
Auston Matthews, C, TOR
Matthews continued his assault on NHL goalies Saturday, scoring twice whereas including an help. In 19 video games, Matthews has 18 objectives and 11 assists whereas taking pictures 23.1 p.c, regardless of seeing his level streak finish at 16 on Monday. He leads the league in objectives, and at this tempo — which will likely be tough to proceed — he might notch his first 50-goal marketing campaign, which might tackle much more which means in a 56-game season. Toronto is loaded, and Matthews appears to be like just like the chief of the band.
Logan Couture, C, SJ
San Jose is a large number however at the very least its captain is producing. Couture scored twice Saturday and added a marker Monday, growing his season mark to 10 objectives, eight of which have come within the final 11 video games. Add six assists and a plus-minus in constructive territory on a awful staff and you’ve got a really productive participant. Couture is seeing nearly 20 minutes of ice time a sport, together with three minutes on the man-advantage, boding properly for future success. After posting simply 39 factors final season, Couture appears to be like to be extra just like the participant who was good the 2 earlier campaigns earlier than final 12 months’s decline.
Nino Niederreiter, LW, CAR
I debated a number of Hurricanes earlier than touchdown on Niederreiter this week. Scoring twice with an help Friday adopted by one other helper Saturday actually aided that call. After scoring solely 11 objectives in 67 video games final season, Niederreiter has come out firing in 2020-21. The 28-year-old has already lit the lamp 9 instances on 51 pictures in 17 video games, although his two helpers give him simply three this 12 months. Search for the goal-scoring to presumably decline barely, with regression to the imply in taking pictures share offset by an increase in apples.
Mike Hoffman, LW, STL
Hoffman tallied at the very least 59 factors in every of the final 5 seasons. With simply 56 video games this 12 months, do not count on him to hit that complete once more, although his prorated manufacturing ought to allow him to fall proper again in that vary. Hoffman anticipated a number of multi-year affords this previous offseason as a free agent. When none have been forthcoming, he signed a PTO with the Blues that turned a one-year, $4 million contract. His pair of apples Saturday gave the veteran winger eight helpers to go together with his six objectives in 17 video games on the season with 12 of these factors coming within the final 11 contests.
Keith Yandle, D, FLA
I convey you approach, approach again to a month or so in the past when Yandle’s consecutive video games streak was in danger as coach Joel Quenneville was contemplating making the blueliner a wholesome scratch. Quick ahead 17 video games and the veteran D-man is proving he can nonetheless be an offensive asset with three objectives and 13 factors. Of these factors, 9 have come on the power-play the place Yandle mans the first-line level and is surrounded by numerous offensive expertise. Benefit from the manufacturing, which could sluggish barely, although Yandle ought to proceed to attain as a stable second D-man, at a minimal, in your lineup.
Neal Pionk, D, WPG
Pionk is proving final 12 months’s breakout marketing campaign in Winnipeg was no fluke. His aim Sunday gave the 25-year-old blueliner 15 factors, 30 pictures on web, a plus-3 score, 43 hits, and 22 blocked pictures by 18 appearances. Pionk came to visit to the Jets from the Rangers together with a first-round decide for Jacob Trouba. Thus far, Winnipeg has gotten the higher finish of that commerce, although its usages are vastly totally different. However from a greenback value to manufacturing comparability, Pionk has a big edge on Trouba, who had seen his function change as a Blueshirt as in comparison with his utilization as a Jet.
Igor Shesterkin, G, NYR
The Czar, as he’s known as by some in New York, was anticipated to open the season because the clear No. 1 netminder for the Blueshirts, changing Henrik Lundqvist. Coach David Quinn opted to rotate Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev to begin the season, however currently, the Russian goalie has began to take management between the pipes. Shesterkin allowed one aim on 27 pictures to earn the win Saturday and is now 4-5-1 on the season. However the 25-year-old is 3-3-0 in February with an impressive 1.87 GAA and .940 save share on the month.
Chris Driedger, G, FLA
I typically do not spotlight two gamers from the identical staff within the column, however I’m making an exception this week. Sergei Bobrovsky is “the No. 1 goalie” for the Panthers, however like final season, he’s being outplayed by Driedger. Along with his victory and effective performances Friday and Monday, Driedger is now 7-1-1 on the season with a 2.34 GAA and a .926 save share, and he is making a severe push to displace Bobrovsky on the high of Florida’s depth chart in web. The Panthers normally are on a roll, so do not count on a swap to happen, however we might see near a 50-50 break up between the pipes.
Others embrace: Mitch Marner, Nicklas Backstrom, Connor McDavid, Sean Couturier, Evgeni Malkin, Sebastian Aho, Joe Thornton, Aleksander Barkov, Alex Iafallo, Brock McGinn, Cam Atkinson, Drake Batherson, Dustin Brown, Conor Garland, Mikko Rantanen, Pavel Buchnevich, Jesse Puljujarvi, Andreas Johnsson, David Pastrnak, Blake Wheeler, Patric Hornqvist, Kevin Fiala, Sam Reinhart, Jordan Kyrou, Kyle Palmieri, Anthony Duclair, Mats Zuccarello, Rasmus Andersson, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Aaron Ekblad, Morgan Rielly, MacKenzie Weegar, Drew Doughty, Kris Letang, Jake Gardiner, Tyler Myers, Mike Smith, James Reimer, Tristan Jarry, and MacKenzie Blackwood.
Robby Fabbri, LW, DET
Crew bias and harm historical past are what lands Fabbri right here. A 2014 first-round decide by the Blues, Fabbri spent copious time on the injured checklist earlier than he landed in Detroit final season, the place he notched 32 factors in 61 appearances final season, his finest effort since his rookie 12 months. Now seeing most of his staff at heart, behind Dylan Larkin, Fabbri added a pair of assists Friday and now has a decent 4 objectives and 7 factors in 12 contests for the Winged Wheel. Search for him to stay in his present function and on the primary unit energy play for the Pink Wings.
TRAINING ROOM (INJURIES)
Nico Hischier, C, NJ
The Devils welcomed again their second-line heart Saturday when Hischier returned. Hischier missed the primary 11 video games of the season resulting from a leg harm that was adopted by a stint within the league’s COVID-19 protocol. The 22-year-old was named New Jersey’s captain simply earlier than he made his season debut. Hischier recorded 36 factors in 58 video games final 12 months, the second straight season his manufacturing fell after recording 52 factors as a rookie in 2017-18 when he was chosen first total in that 12 months’s draft.
Others embrace: Teuvo Teravainen (two power-play assists Friday, however will miss at the very least just a few video games with an higher physique harm), David Krejci (decrease physique, missed Sunday’s out of doors sport towards the Flyers at Lake Tahoe), Ryan Johansen (higher physique, missed his seventh straight sport Saturday), Pierre-Luc Dubois (decrease physique, harm suffered throughout observe Feb. 12, activated and scored twice Sunday), Jaden Schwartz (decrease physique, sat out a fourth straight sport Saturday), Kaapo Kakko (COVID-19 protocol, dominated out Saturday), Colton Parayko (undisclosed, missed second straight sport Saturday), Jacob Trouba (damaged thumb, will miss 4-6 weeks), Zach Werenski (decrease physique, missed three video games, activated from injured reserve, however aggravated harm final week and sidelined since, taking part in in simply one in every of Columbus’ final seven contests), Rasmus Ristolainen (off COVID protocol, however coping with vital aftereffects from the virus, will likely be sidelined just a few weeks), Jacob Markstrom (higher physique, missed Monday’s sport) and Elvis Merzlikins (arm/shoulder, injured within the third interval Saturday, week-to-week).
FOURTH LINERS/PRESS BOXERS (FALLERS)
Adam Henrique, C, ANA
For years, Henrique was as fixed as a Timex. From 2011-12 to 2019-20, in each season Henrique performed at the very least 71 video games, which was yearly however strike-shortened 2012-13, he posted at the very least 43 factors. This 12 months, Henrique had endured an especially sluggish begin with simply 4 factors by the primary 16 video games, touchdown the veteran heart on waivers. The 31-year-old carries a $5.825 million AAV wage cap hit by the 2023-24 season, so it was not a shock that he was not scooped up, however inserting up on waivers did lead to Trevor Zegras getting promoted and extra ice time for Sam Metal, presumably.
Patrick Marleau, LW, SJ
Marleau had a decently productive 12 months his first season in Toronto in 2017-18, notching 27 objectives for the second straight marketing campaign whereas including 20 assists. His decline began the next 12 months and he cratered final season with simply 22 factors in 66 video games. Who says you may’t go residence once more, as Marleau signed up for his third stint by the Bay this offseason. However this 12 months just isn’t going significantly properly, as Marleau notched his first aim of the season in sport No. 16 on Saturday to go together with his three assists. The venerable 41-year-old is strictly a task participant at this stage of his terrific profession.
Thomas Greiss, G, DET
Greiss went from taking part in within the Islanders’ system that was closely targeted on sturdy defensive play underneath Barry Trotz to a Detroit staff that’s rebuilding. We knew that transition wouldn’t go properly, but it surely has been even worse than anticipated. After getting chased Friday, Greiss was saddled together with his league-leading tenth lack of the season. He now has a 1-10-3 report together with a subpar 3.16 goals-against common and .891 save share by 14 appearances. If there’s a silver lining, Jonathan Bernier is again, permitting Greiss to not be between the pipes every sport.
Others embrace: Mikael Granlund, Brett Howden, Carl Soderberg, Kieffer Bellows, Reilly Smith, Jeff Skinner, Nikita Gusev, Nate Schmidt, and Matt Murray.
Duncan Keith, D, CHI
Your window to commerce Keith at high worth probably ended three weeks in the past, however possibly his title recognition nonetheless has some inventory in your league. Keith got here out blazing, notching 5 assists his first 5 video games of the season, all of which really got here in contests 3-5 after going scoreless the primary two video games of the 12 months. Since then, Keith has one measly, lonely level in his final 13 video games, together with 11 consecutive video games with out hitting the scoresheet. Keith will nonetheless log main minutes, together with on the facility play, however his days as a productive D-man seem long gone.