Both the Devils’ Kyle Palmieri and Rangers’ Kevin Klein wore face shields during their extended fight Sunday afternoon. In lieu of removing fighting from the NHL, a rule forcing fighters to remove their helmets before throwing punches seems like it would keep players from breaking hands and provide better fights for the fans.
David Krejci is having a tremendous bounce back season. He’s got four goals and nine points through five games, including five points on the power play. With recent headlines suggesting Boston could move veterans like Zdeno Chara at some point, I checked into Krejci’s contract. At 29, he’s signed for five more years at $7.25 mill AAV, which would put him at 34 years of age by the end of his deal. It’d be surprising to see him earn the rest of his $36 million-plus due after this year, especially considering he’ll be on the wrong side of 30, but that’s the going rate for players of his ilk. Given his injury concerns, too, that contract is questionable. It is good to see fantasy owners rewarded for gambling on Krejci coming into the season.
It was good to see Kings goalie Jonathan Quick get his first win Friday. He stopped 25 of 26 Minnesota shots, allowing only a power-play goal to the Wild. I think Quick made the Daily Puck’s cold list four of five days during Week 1. If anything, Los Angeles’ offense deserves cold list merit. Tyler Toffoli leads the team with two goals in four games but there are plenty of players underachieving in LA, including Anze Kopitar (one goal), Marian Gaborik (no points), Drew Doughty (one point) and Jake Muzzin (no points).
Fantasy owners might want to take extra time scouring the Rangers as they are the only team with four games in Week 3. Oscar Lindberg kept up his impressive start, setting up Derek Stepan on a breakaway. Lindberg skated only 12 minutes and 30 seconds Sunday – second fewest among NYR players – but he continues to make the most of his ice time. It will likely take an injury or a slump to get him bumped up but four goals and an assist in six games ain’t bad. The chance he breaks 50 points is somewhere between slim and none, but then again, you can say that about almost any NYR. Lindberg’s a great example of riding a hot start for a couple weeks or months and then jettisoning him for a new flavor of the month.
Congratulations go out to Devils coach John Hynes, who earned his first NHL victory Sunday.
Sergei Bobrovsky is on pace for a Matt Garza type season. Garza went 6-14 with a 5.63 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in 148.2 IP. Bobrovsky so much as admitted he’s lost confidence right now. I wish I could lace up the skates and flick some wristers past him – my game could use a decades-long boost of confidence. But I digress. Bob will be back. At some point Columbus will figure out how to work with its subpar blue line and the Blue Jackets turn things around. John Tortorella called the team “fragile” Sunday and it’s hard to disagree with the easy-to-disagree with Torts. From a fantasy perspective, Bob is the goalie most likely to be dropped, only to go on an 11-2 run in January or February.
San Jose squares off against the Rangers on Monday. The team lost Logan Couture for the next month plus after he broke an ankle during practice then promptly went out and got smoked by the Islanders. It seems like fantasy owners have been waiting on Couture forever to reach the NHL stardom many predicted. That wait is now 4-6 weeks longer. Tomas Hertl, who had a great rookie spurt before suffering a sophomore slump, is set to pick up some of the slack with Couture sidelined.
The Penguins have won two straight but the power play is still looking for its first goal after 17 chances and 27:29 of ice time. Embattled coach Mike Johnston promised change following Saturday’s tilt but didn’t try anything new during Sunday’s practice. The bottom line is that both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin like to play the same position along the right half-boards. For as good as Kris Letang is, he’s not a good point man, either. In the end, Pittsburgh’s best approach on the man advantage going forward is to get a cheap goal, gain some confidence and watch things turn around.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid
San Jose Sharks (Martin Jones) at New York Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist), 7:00 PM
Injury News For Teams Playing Monday
San Jose Sharks
Raffi Torres, LW - Torres won't appeal his 41-game suspension, Bob McKenzie of TSN reports. (10/7/2015)
Paul Martin, D - Martin (lower body) will not play Saturday against the Islanders, Curtis Pashelka of the Bay Area News Group reports. (10/17/2015)
Logan Couture, C - Couture, who is expected to be out 4-to-6 weeks, will undergo surgery Saturday to repair his fractured right fibula at the ankle, Curtis Pashelka of the San Jose Mercury News reports. (10/17/2015)
Joonas Donskoi, RW - Donskoi has been dealing with a lower-body injury that will keep out of Friday's matchup against the Devils, Curtis Pashelka of the San Jose Mercury News reports. (10/16/2015)
New York Rangers
Mackenzie Skapski, G - Skapski was reassigned to Hartford of the AHL on Wednesday, Andrew Gross of The Record reports. (9/24/2015)
James Neal: The 28-year-old winger will be hard pressed to touch 40 goals again but he’s off to a hot start with three goals (two on the power play) and an assist in five games. The Predators have a fairly favorable Week 3 schedule with home games against Tampa Bay, Anaheim and Pittsburgh, making it likely Neal – along with other Preds like Roman Josi and Filip Forsberg – add to their point totals.
Ryan O’Reilly: O’Reilly has clicked with the Sabres lately, picking up three points in his last three games. It’s usually difficult recommending Buffalo players but the team has a decent three-game home slate in Week 3 with Toronto, Montreal, and New Jersey on tap. The former Colorado center is off to a good start and figures to add to his totals in the coming week.
Valerie Nichushkin: The big winger has served as a healthy scratch two times and is still looking for his first point after playing in three other games. Nichushkin was a trendy fantasy pick in the preseason but for now he needs to find his game. He scored 34 points as an 18-year-old rookie before skating in just eight games last year due to hip problems. Of course, his ceiling is tremendous, so if an antsy fantasy owner dumps the Russian or makes him available in keeper leagues, consider making a move for Nichushkin.
Christian Ehrhoff: The Los Angeles blueliner entered Sunday with no points and a minus-5 rating in his first four games. It’s possible that he improves with the team and as he re-acclimates himself to Western Conference play, but if his time in Pittsburgh is any indication of what he’s got left in his tank, it wouldn’t be wise for fantasy owners to hold their breath. Ehrhoff scored 14 points in 49 games last season, including only two points on the man advantage. At 33, his game doesn’t come close to the one he showed during his two years in Vancouver.
Eric Staal: There are times when an old, tired fantasy name like Eric Staal turns out to be more helpful than a trendy youngster who fades from the limelight after a hot start. With two goals and four points in five games, the 30-year-old is off to a good start. He’s looking for more money than the Canes (or any team in its right mind) want to pay and is out to prove that his 54-point season in 77 games last year was a fluke. There’s also a chance he gets traded at the deadline to a playoff contender with more skilled linemates. Staal’s hunger in 2015-16 could help feed fantasy owners willing to give the 12th year veteran another look.