Morning Thoughts: Penguins Pulverize Wings

Phil Kessel
Thoughts on Laurent Brossoit, Zach Parise, Phil Kessel and more.

The Pittsburgh Penguins hammered the Detroit Red Wings 7-2 in last night’s game. Petr Mrazek started for the Red Wings but was taken out of the game a little after the 30-minute mark in favor of Jimmy Howard. Mrazek allowed four goals on 27 shots for an .852 save percentage as Howard jumped into the crease to take over. However, Howard didn’t fare much better considering he gave up three goals on 14 shots for an even worse .786 save percentage. Marc-Andre Fleury received the win for the Penguins and made 21 out of 23 saves, amounting to a .913 save percentage.

What a night for the Penguins? I’m sure Pittsburgh fantasy owners were very happy to see so many goals scored with nine different Penguins registering at least a point and five Pittsburgh players having multi-point games. Nick Bonino and Phil Kessel had monster games with both of them tallying a goal and four assists for five points each. Kessel was going through a bit of a slump entering into the game; he had only scored a goal and an assist in his previous six games. Technically he now has seven points in his past seven games but that’s kind of cheating since he’s only scored in two of the games. Hopefully you had Kessel in your lineup if you own him on your fantasy team (or that you weren’t versing him if he’s not on your team). Surprisingly, Sidney Crosby only had one point while Kris Letang and Carl Hagelin only had two points.

The Minnesota Wild shutout the Colorado Avalanche in a crucial game for both teams. Semyon Varlamov put up a valiant effort, managing to stop 31 out of 34 shots, but was unable to get the victory. Devan Dubnyk earned the shutout and stopped all of the Avalanche’s 29 shots.

Zach Parise scored two goals for the Wild and got the game-winning goal for his 23rd and 24th goals of the year. Parise has been on fire lately as he now has five goals and two assists in the past three games. Parise has been great this week but was having trouble scoring before this recent outburst. In the 30 games before his hat-trick a few days ago, Parise had only scored three goals and 12 assists! Ever since Parise signed a massive contract with the Wild in free agency, he has never been able to reach the point totals he hit with the New Jersey Devils. When he was with the Devils, Parise scored a total of 251 points in 258 games in his final four seasons while with the Wild, Parise has only tallied 205 points in 254 games. There isn’t much denying that Parise has declined a little since his years in New Jersey but Parise is still providing value. He may not be the 70+ scorer he was but I’d say he’s still good for 60-65 points a season. I’d just be careful owning him because of the injury risk that comes with drafting him.

The Dallas Stars defeated the San Jose Sharks 4-2. Antti Niemi stood tall as he stopped 34 of the 36 shots he faced for a .944 save percentage and was one of the best players for Dallas. Martin Jones only faced 16 shots in the match but allowed three goals for an .813 save percentage.

Antti Niemi may have had a really good game but I wonder just how many people started him. Niemi is a decent goalie but this has been a really terrible year for him in Dallas. When he was with the San Jose Sharks, at least he kept an average save percentage above .915. In the 45 games he’s played in for Dallas, Niemi has a 2.74 GAA and a .903 save percentage. Not to mention, this is first win since February 23rd and the first game where he’s posted a save percentage above .910 since February 15th. The only reason he’s still getting starts is because his only competition, Kari Lehtonen, has been equally terrible with a .905 save percentage through 40 games. It may sound like I’m being harsh but if there’s one flaw with the Stars this season, it’s their goaltending. They’re paying Niemi and Lehtonen a combined $10.4 million to be tied for 29th in the league in save percentage. And to think; both of their contracts last for two more years!

The Winnipeg Jets were officially eliminated from the playoffs as the Buffalo Sabres came back to win 3-2. The Jets started the game well, scoring the first two goals in the opening minutes of the period to gather a 2-0 lead. However, the Sabres would score the next three goals to secure the victory and mathematically eliminate the Jets’ chances at a playoff spot. Chad Johnson surrendered two goals on only 19 shots but got the victory while Michael Hutchinson took the loss, maintaining an .897 save percentage throughout the game.

Nikolaj Ehlers scored the first goal of the game for his 14th of the year and his first goal since February 11th (that might be because he’s been injured for the past three weeks with an eye injury though). In all serious, I like Ehlers a lot and think he has a lot of potential. Picked ninth overall by the Jets in the 2014 NHL draft, Ehlers is considered to be one of the Jets’ strongest prospects and has had a successful rookie season this year. In 65 games, Ehlers has scored 14 goals and 18 assists for 32 points, a 40-point pace over a full 82-game schedule. Since returning from his injury two games ago, Ehlers has been skating on the top line with the red-hot Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele and should continue to produce well. Ehlers oozes offensive potential and could provide excellent value for fantasy hockey owners if he continues playing on the first line.

The New York Islanders beat the Carolina Hurricanes by a score 4-3 in overtime. With their win against the Hurricanes, the Islanders gain a crucial two points in the standings and further their lead over the Philadelphia Flyers. Sitting in the first wildcard spot, the Islanders are now four points ahead of the Flyers and the Detroit Red Wings. Jean-Francois Berube started for the Islanders and held on for the win, stopping 33 of the 36 shots for a .917 save percentage. Eddie Lack settled with the loss for Carolina as he allowed four goals on 31 shots for an .871 save percentage.

I wrote a little about Berube here so I won’t get into him too much but he’s been putting up solid numbers so far. With Jaroslav Halak hurt, Berube has been getting some starts and has been doing well. In his past five starts, he has recorded three wins and has only posted a save percentage below .915 once. In the month of March, Berube has stopped 88 out of 93 shots for a .946 save percentage over three games. With Thomas Greiss giving up six goals in his last game, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Berube get the start in the Islanders’ next game.

Cal Clutterbuck notched two important goals for the Islanders to tie the game at three and to end the game during overtime. With his pair of goals, Clutterbuck now has 15 goals and 22 points on the year.

The New York Rangers were able to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 5-2 in last night’s contest. Henrik Lundqvist was given a break with Antti Raanta getting the start and registering his third straight win while stopping 24 out of 26 shots for a .923 save percentage. Mike Condon began the game for the Canadiens but didn’t return to the crease after the second period, being pulled in favor of Ben Scrivens. Condon allowed all five goals on only 19 shots while Scrivens only faced four shots in the 20 minutes he played.

Derick Brassard extended his point streak to four games with his goal and pair of assists. In 73 games this season, Brassard has 27 goals and 30 assists and six points in his last four games. Brassard has been one of the few Rangers who have been consistently excellent this year and he’s showing that last year wasn’t just a career year. I’ll be the first one to admit I was a little skeptical Brassard would hit 60 points again but he has been phenomenal for New York (Technically Brassard hasn’t hit 60 yet but he’s close enough). I was worried that Brassard was only able to reach 60 points because of the career season Rick Nash had last year but he’s been just as good this year and is proving his worth.

The Anaheim Ducks rallied back with four straight goals to defeat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 in overtime. The game began with no team scoring until, with a minute left in the first period, Mike Hoffman forced the puck past Frederik Anderson to open the scoring. After scoring two more goals in the second period, Ottawa built a commanding three-goal lead on the Ducks. However, the Ducks fought back to tie the game and force overtime, where Rickard Rakell notched his 20th goal of the year to end the match. Frederick Andersen earned the win as he stopped 29 out of 32 shots for a .906 save percentage. Craig Anderson made 35 saves out of 39 shots for an .897 save percentage.

Mike Hoffman continued his torrid pace as he opened the scoring in the first period with his 27th goal of the year, tying his totals from last season. On the year, Hoffman now has 54 points in 72 games and has already surpassed his point totals from last year. In only two years, Hoffman is quickly earning a reputation as quite the goal-scorer across the league. Over the last two seasons, Hoffman has the ninth most even-strength goals, tied with Patrick Kane and only one behind John Tavares.

The Oilers fell to the Los Angeles Kings by a score of 6-4. Laurent Brossoit was given the start but came up short as he let in five goals on 32 shots for an .844 save percentage. Jonathan Quick got the win but didn’t play much better as he only made 25 saves on 29 shots for an .862 save percentage.

Brossoit had another tough outing in what amounted to another loss for him, prolonging his losing streak to five games. In the month of March alone, Brossoit has yet to win a game and has given up 17 goals in four games. Brossoit is considered to be the best Oilers’ goalie prospect in the system so they’ll give him some time but the early results aren’t too encouraging. Brossoit was only a sixth round draft pick by the Oilers in the 2011 NHL draft but don’t let that fool you. He has a lot of potential and over here is a good read on him, written by beerleagueheroes.com.

Patrick Maroon notched a pair of goals in the third period to give him his ninth of the year and his 24th point. However, Maroon has been heating up lately as he three goals and two assists in his past two games and seven points in his last five. Since coming over to Edmonton from the Anaheim Ducks, Maroon has fit right in with 11 points in 12 games and has found a home on the second line. Not to mention, Maroon also racks up a good amount of penalty minutes and hits.

 

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @realallinhockey. Check out tomorrow’s Morning Thoughts where we cover the latest scores and action in the NHL.

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