Apparently this weekend is the 40th anniversary of the release of Slap Shot, the classic hockey film starring Paul Newman. Itís a film many hockey fans love. The Hanson Brothers used it to build a career for themselves. I distinctly remember them being ďaddedĒ to the roster of my local IHL team the Detroit Vipers for a game. Naturally, they were ejected before the game even started for hassling the referee. Slap Shot is a great movie, although you have to view it through the realization that the characters arenít supposed to be likable, because they are all pretty much awful. However, it is not the most important hockey movie of my life. That would be, of course, D2: The Mighty Ducks.
D2 is, as you surely now, the iconic sequel to the motion picture The Mighty Ducks. In said sequel, much of the Ducks gang (although notably only one of the Hall brothers), are chosen to represent Team USA in the Junior Goodwill Games, with Gordon Bombay serving as the coach. They are joined by an eclectics group of players from around the United States, such as hockey-playing cowboy Dwayne Robertson and former figure skater Ken Wu. Also, of course, thereís Russ Tyler, purveyor of the knuckle puck, as portrayed by Kenan Thompson. While some hurdles have to be overcome, the group all comes together to beat mighty Iceland in the gold medal game, putting Icelandís coach Wolf ďThe DentistĒ Stansson in his place.
Is D2 a good movie? Not in the classical sense. Itís silly and nonsensical, but Iíve seen in dozens of times. I even had a novelization of the movie that I read several times over. I used to be able to recite the entire movie from memory. In 2034, when D2 is celebrating its 40th anniversary, that Iíll get excited about.
Ducks (PP: 14, PK: 5) at Kings (PP: 23, PK: 7), 4:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: John Gibson (23-15-8, 2.24, .922), Peter Budaj (27-20-3, 2.12, .917)
Key Injuries: John Gibson (lower body), Clayton Stoner (abdomen), Antoine Vermette (suspension), Matt Greene (undisclosed), Jonathan Quick (groin)
It should be noted that Gibson has been moved from being day-to-day to being on injured reserve, so the chances of him starting have grown slimmer. That would likely mean Jonathan Bernier (2.93 GAA, .900 save percentage) in net. Obviously, thatís a pretty big shift in Los Angelesí favor. Granted, the Ducks have only allowed 29.2 shots on net per game, and the Kings have scored a mere 2.42 goals per game, so perhaps we shouldnít expect a ton of goals. Meanwhile, the Kings have allowed a league-low 25.7 shots on goal per contest. The Ducks are being paced by two Ryans, Getzlaf and Kesler, although it is now Getzlaf who leads Anaheim in points. Getzlaf has 46 points to Keslerís 45, but Getzlaf has only played in 55 games. Cam Fowler has 11 power-play points, although he has none in his last 29 games. The Kings now have three players who have double-digit goals. Tyler Toffoli has 10, but heís only played in 41 games. Los Angeles only has three players who have a shooting percentage over 9.2, and one of them is Jordan Nolan. The other two are Jeff Carter and Tanner Pearson who, perhaps not coincidentally, lead the Kings in points.
Canadiens (PP: 10, PK: 22) at Maple Leafs (PP: 1, PK: 8), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Carey Price (25-16-5, 2.43, .918), Frederik Andersen (24-13-11, 2.76, .915)
Key Injuries: Connor Carrick (upper body), Joffrey Lupul (abdomen), Mitch Marner (upper body)
The Maple Leafs now have the leagueís best power play. William Nylander leads the way with 19 power-play points. Nylander has 42 points overall, so quite a bit of his production has come with the extra man. Marner has missed four straight games, but Toronto has enough depth they have been able to get by without him. Price was having his struggles, but in his last three games he has a 1.96 GAA and a .929 save percentage. Thatís a small sample size, but given Priceís career track record thatís still an encouraging sign. Meanwhile, in his last 10 games, Andersen has a 3.67 GAA and a .890 save percentage. Perhaps this shall be a high-scoring game. Shea Weber also has 19 power-play points, although he may have some issues with Torontoís penalty kill. Since returning from injury, Alex Galchenyuk only has three points and 13 shots on goal in 10 games. Alexander Radulov only has one point in his last eight games. Max Pacioretty could use some more scoring help, it would seem.
Flyers (PP: 9, PK: 15) at Penguins (PP: 6, PK: 21), 8:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Michal Neuvirth (10-8-1, 2.84, .888), Matt Murray (22-7-3, 2.27, .926)
Key Injuries: Travis Konecny (lower body), Nick Bonino (illness), Trevor Daley (knee), Kris Letang (upper body), Olli Maatta (hand), Bryan Rust (arm), Justin Schultz (concussion), Conor Sheary (upper body)
Itís a classic Battle of Pennsylvania, but the Penguins are looking like they could be really shorthanded defensively. Sure, theyíve traded for Ron Hainsey, but heís not really on the level of a Letang or a Schultz. Hainsey only has 14 points in 56 games this season. Of course, Pittsburgh should be OK, considering that they have Sidney Crosby who has 66 points and a league-leading 33 goals. Heís done that in a mere 53 games, too. Phil Kessel has a whopping 24 power-play points, and now he has 21 goals on the season, making him the third Penguin to cross the 20-goal mark. After a few impressive starts, Neuvirth has returned to Earth. Across his last nine games, he does have a 2.22 GAA, but itís with a .904 save percentage. Despite only have 25 points, Shayne Gostisbehere has still been involved offensively. Heís notched 131 shots on goal, and heís tallied 16 power-play points. Oh, also this game is taking place outside at Heinz Field. That could have an impact on how this game shakes out.
Capitals (PP: 5, PK: 6) at Predators (PP: 16, PK: 12), 5:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Philipp Grubauer (10-4-2, 1.98, .932), Pekka Rinne (23-15-6, 2.48, .916)
Key Injuries:) Andre Burakovsky (hand), Matt Niskanen (lower body), Brooks Orpik (undisclosed)
The Capitals have allowed the fewest goals per game in the league. Braden Holtby has been outstanding, but Grubauer has been just as good. The Predators will get no break here. You could say Filip Forsberg has been hot. Heís got six goals in his last two games.
Rangers (PP: 15, PK: 13) at Devils (PP: 19, PK: 19), 5:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist (28-14-2, 2.58, .914), Cory Schneider (19-18-8, 2.61, .914)
Key Injuries: Pavel Zacha (concussion), Kevin Klein (upper body)
The Rangers have scored 3.28 goals per game, while the Devils have allowed 2.83. This matchup bodes well for New York. Lundqvistís overall numbers might not be great, but over his last 14 games he has a 1.91 GAA and a .939 save percentage. Taylor Hall has taken 165 shots on goal in 50 games, scoring 14 goals in the process. He only has an 8.5 shooting percentage, which could certainly increase given his scoring acumen.
Islanders (PP: 25, PK: 23) at Blue Jackets (PP: 4, PK: 11), 5:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Thomas Greiss (20-11-3, 2.43, .920), Sergei Bobrovsky (31-13-3, 2.21, .925)
Key Injuries: Casey Cizikas (upper body), Cal Clutterbuck (lower body), Mikhail Grabovski (concussion), Travis Hamonic (knee)
Columbusí power play has fallen to fourth on account of the fact it ranks 29th in the month of February. Perhaps unsurprisingly, former power-play maven Sam Gagner doesnít have a goal in 26 games. There is an Islander down in the Recommended Pickup section. Despite their bad power play, New York has scored 2.98 goals per game.
Sharks (PP: 22, PK: 14) at Canucks (PP: 28, PK: 25), 10:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Martin Jones (28-15-6, 2.34, .913), Ryan Miller (16-17-3, 2.61, .917)
Key Injuries: Joonas Donskoi (upper body), Sven Baertschi (concussion), Erik Gudbranson (wrist)
In his last nine starts, Jones has a .894 save percentage. He also only has a 2.83 GAA, but that could be worse. The Sharks have helped him out by only allowing 27.6 shots on net per game. The Canucks have only averaged 2.30 goals and 27.6 shots on net per game, so perhaps this is the kind of matchup that could help Jones out.
Sabres (PP: 3, PK: 29) at Avalanche (PP: 29, PK: 26), 10:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Robin Lehner (17-17-6, 2.54, .925), Calvin Pickard (10-19-2, 2.88, .909)
Key Injuries: Johan Larsson (wrist), Sam Reinhart (illness), Rene Bourque (head), Erik Johnson (leg), Semyon Varlamov (groin), Nikita Zadorov (ankle)
You have to imagine the Sabres will be excited to see Coloradoís penalty kill, especially given how good Buffaloís power play has been. Kyle Okposo and Rasmus Ristolainen both have 20 power-play points, while Ryan OíReilly has 18 in 50 games.
Johnny Boychuk, D, NYI Ė A lot of Islanders have put slow starts behind them, but usually the focus is on forwards like Josh Bailey or Anders Lee. Donít overlook the blueliner Boychuk, though. Boychuk, who is a top-pairing defenseman for New York, has really picked up his offensive play recently. Over his last 14 games, heís tallied 46 shots on net, which is significant for a defenseman. Granted, he only has one goal on all those shots, but heís added six assists in that time as well. Additionally, he has a plus-9 rating in that time, making him plus-10 on the season. Overall, Boychuk has notched 135 shots on net in 56 games. If you are looking for a defenseman to boost your fantasy team and to give you some added shots on goal, Boychuk is a great option.