Caufield Out for Season, Pelletier Debut, Barzal Slumping (Jan 22) – DobberHockey

The Montreal Canadiens have been swamped with injuries this season, but their most recent one is their most significant so far. The team announced that Cole Caufield will miss the rest of the regular season, as he will undergo surgery on his right shoulder. Caufield finishes the season with 26 goals in just 46 games, including 48 goals in 83 games under Martin St. Louis. That’s quite impressive this early in his career, and even more so if he’s been playing through a shoulder issue for a while.

This type of injury would be a major blow to a team with playoff aspirations. As it stands, the Habs are one of a handful of teams with semi-decent odds to win the draft lottery. On Thursday I discussed the possibility of playoff-bound teams shutting down key players in the last week or two, citing the Habs’ longtime rivals in Boston. On the other end of the scale, teams trying to increase their chances of landing Connor Bedard might consider expediting surgeries that would normally take place right after the season ends. That seems like an ethical way of tanking, as it ensures that an injury to a key asset is not made worse. For fantasy leaguers, this might also be something to consider. We may not know who these players are right now, but perhaps look out for players on bottom teams that might be playing through something.

I’ll add one more caveat to this. I’m not trying to suggest that Caufield is having surgery strictly because the Habs are trying to tank. In fact, it sounds like quite the opposite, where he probably should have had the surgery sooner. That being said, there’s absolutely no point for basement-dwelling teams to push their star players through injury.

With Caufield gone, the Habs have kind of a shell of a group of scoring lines. Recent callup Rem Pitlick was on a line with Caufield’s regular linemate Nick Suzuki. Pitlick scored the overtime winner and added an assist, giving him back-to-back games with a goal and an assist. Four of Pitlick’s five points (in 17 games) have been scored in the last two games. Pitlick in particular, who has been on the fringes of the NHL, may stand to benefit the most from Caufield’s absence. He was scoring at over a point per game in the AHL (22 PTS in 18 GP).

Mike Hoffman and Evgenii Dadonov saw time on the top unit along with Suzuki and Kirby Dach, while Mike Matheson shouldn’t have to worry about being bumped from the top power-play unit by another forward for the time being.

With two goals in Saturday’s matinee game, Victor Olofsson has a three-game goal streak and six goals in his last six games. He’s probably been on Buffalo’s top line, right? Not exactly. Most of his even-strength minutes over the past six games have been with Casey Mittelstadt and Tyson Jost. Olofsson has quietly scored 21 goals, although he has just six assists all season. The 21 goals are already a career high in just 45 games.

Peyton Krebs also scored a pair of goals on Saturday, giving him three goals in his last three games. He also had a plus-2, a fighting major, and three shots. For more on Krebs, see this week’s The Journey.

In a losing cause, Trevor Zegras scored two goals and added an assist. Zegras has nine points in his last five games and 14 points in his last 12 games. His value sags a bit in leagues that count plus/minus, though. As of Saturday afternoon, only four players have a worse plus-minus than Zegras (-24). Two of those players are Ducks: John Klingberg (-26) and Frank Vatrano (-25).

Jakob Pelletier made his Flames debut on Saturday, and it went about as you’d expect with Darryl Sutter coaching. Pelletier logged just six minutes and changed on a line with Trevor Lewis and Walker Duehr while registering a shot on goal and a hit. He’s worth investing in as far as keeper leagues go, but he can be ignored in single-season leagues while the Flames are battling for a playoff spot. Between Pelletier and Matthew Phillips, the Flames under Sutter hardly seem like the most ideal place for young prospects.

Jonathan Huberdeau snapped a two-game point slump and a five-game goal slump with an empty-net goal. Hey, they all count. I’m still hanging on, even for the long haul. But the drop of over a shot per game from last season (2.8 SOG/GP to 1.6 SOG/GP) is rather concerning. Matthew Tkachuk has been just fine with the big offseason trade, but Huberdeau hasn’t. I’m thinking 115 points is the high-water mark for Huberdeau now that he’s 29 years of age.

Over his last 11 starts, Dan Vladar has an 8-0-3 record. He’s cut into Jacob Markstrom’s workload in a way that I didn’t think was possible. His numbers have been slightly better than Markstrom’s this season, so they might be in a timeshare if not for Markstrom’s contract.

Rasmus Andersson had a monster game for the Flames, scoring a goal and adding two assists with a plus-4 and four shots while logging nearly 28 minutes. Andersson has six points over his last four games.

Sam Reinhart continues to be hot, extending his point streak to seven games. Reinhart scored a goal and added an assist on Saturday, giving him 10 points over his last seven games. The line of Reinhart – Aleksander Barkov – Anton Lundell really seems to be clicking right now. Lundell also had a goal and an assist on Saturday, giving him five points over his last four games after underwhelming production for much of the season.

Sam Bennett and Aaron Ekblad both left Saturday’s game with upper-body injuries. However, Paul Maurice said after the game that both might be available for Monday’s game. Something to keep an eye on, especially if you’re in a weekly league.

Alex Lyon picked up a win in his first start of the season for the Panthers. He likely won’t be the starter for long, as Spencer Knight was recently loaned to the AHL and seems to be returning soon. Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to miss at least the next three games with a lower-body injury.

Whether you’re planning a strong second-half run for your league championship or for Connor Bedard, the Midseason Guide can help you with both scenarios. If you haven’t already, order yours today!

In the Blue Jackets’ 5-3 win over San Jose, Johnny Gaudreau scored a goal and an assist. What made the goal notable was that it was his first power-play goal of the season. Over each of his previous four seasons in Calgary, Johnny Hockey has never scored fewer than 6 PPG. That being said, he has 10 power-play assists, which puts him on pace to be fairly close to his 25 power-play points from last season.

Sebastian Aho recorded his sixth career hat trick on Saturday. He has 10 points over his last seven games. Yet the most interesting stat related to anyone named Sebastian Aho is below. I know for a fact that having two Sebastian Ahos has messed with Frozen Tools. I wonder if two Elias Petterssons on the Vancouver Canucks one day will do the same.

Mathew Barzal was held without a point again on Saturday, making it seven consecutive games without a point for the Islanders center. The Islanders as a team have had problems scoring recently, having scored more than two goals just once over their past nine games. If there’s a silver lining for Barzal, it’s that he at least took six shots on Saturday. Interestingly enough, Barzal had a five-game goal streak prior to the slump. Barzal scored 6 of his 11 goals this season over those five games. It’s probably best to be patient with Barzal, although sending him to your bench isn’t the worst idea.

Speaking of scoring droughts, Mikael Granlund ended his on Saturday with a goal and an assist. Granlund had gone eight consecutive games without a point. He doesn’t normally get the goals, as he has just five this season and had 11 all of last season. But as soon as the assists dry up, Granlund provides little else to fantasy rosters since he doesn’t contribute a lot in the way of peripherals.

Could the wheels be coming off for Pheonix Copley? He’s been pulled in back-to-back games. After allowing four goals on 17 shots on Thursday, Copley lasted just 39 seconds on Saturday after allowing two goals to the Predators. Cal Petersen is posting a decent 8-5-0 record with a 2.62 GAA and .917 SV% in the AHL, so another goalie switch might be imminent if Copley continues to struggle. The Kings are really going to need better goaltending in order to stay afloat in the Western Conference, although they could probably get by with average goaltending. Even though they hold down a playoff spot, the Kings have a minus-9 goal differential and have lost three games in a row.

Nikolaj Ehlers scored a goal and added two assists in the Jets’ 5-1 win over Ottawa. All three of those points were on the power play, where Ehlers is finally after all these years on the first unit. Ehlers is delivering there, as six of his 16 points this season have been with the man advantage. Ehlers is also red hot with 13 points over his last eight games. He might be showing us his full potential, although it might be just over half a season.

In his first career start, Jaxson Stauber picked up a win after stopping 29 of 32 shots against the Blues. But he plays for the Blackhawks, so I wouldn’t get too excited. Since Alex Stalock is out with a concussion, Stauber will have to battle Petr Mrazek for starts.

With his 33-save shutout of the Coyotes, Jake Oettinger has quality starts in 10 of his last 11 games. Only Connor Hellebuyck has more quality starts than Oettinger (24 QS) this season.

Alex Ovechkin missed Saturday’s game in Vegas due to a lower-body injury. This is Ovechkin’s first missed game of the season. With Ovie out of the lineup, Tom Wilson was bumped up to the first-unit power play.

Connor McDavid has 40 goals in just 48 games this season. Over a full season, that puts him on pace for 68 goals. Could he even get to 70?

With his 24th goal of the season (and almost a 25th goal that was waived off after a goalie interference challenge), Zach Hyman is on pace for 40 goals. Yet it’s not just goals he’s scoring. Hyman chipped in three assists for a four-point night. He also has four straight multipoint games, as well as 12 points over his last five games. I know the Oilers play only two games next week, but I’d have a tough time sitting him while he’s this hot. You might have to give him the McDavid or Leon Draisaitl treatment where you’re starting him no matter what, regardless of the number of games.

Godspeed, Bruce. You deserve a whole lot better than the Canucks organization.

Follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding for more fantasy hockey.

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