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The Buzzer: Hall of a night

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Players of the Night:

Taylor Hall: There are some great choices from Tuesday, but when you consider overall output and the importance of such production, Hall is up there. He extended his current point streak to nine games with a splendid two-goal, two-assist performance, greatly improving the Devils’ chances of making the playoffs.

Will Butcher was impressive in his own right, collecting two goals.

Also great scorers for teams in the hunt: Artemi Panarin scored one goal and two assists for the Columbus Blue Jackets, playing an integral role in their comeback win against Detroit. (Seth Jones also collected three assists). It’s only taken Panarin one season to set quite the milestone for the Blue Jackets franchise.

William Karlsson continues his sensational season for the Golden Knights, generating a goal and two assists of his own. He now has 43 goals and 78 points in 2017-18, and is heating up toward the postseason with an absurd 12 points in his last five contests.

Finally, Kyle Connor continues his fantastic work as a rookie for the Jets. Like Karlsson and Panarin, Connor collected a goal and two helpers, pushing his season total to 30. Maybe he can at least grab a slice of Patrik Laine‘s limelight?

Goalies impress: With 33 saves, Andrei Vasilevskiy collected his eighth shutout of 2017-18, tying Pekka Rinne for the NHL lead. Read more about his win with the Lightning here.

Roberto Luongo stopped 45 of 46 shots to keep Florida’s slim hopes alive tonight. Of course, some believe that he actually allowed two goals. That’s a whole thing. Finally, Antti Raanta continues his great work in “garbage time,” making 42 saves in Arizona’s win against Calgary.

(One guy who’s still absorbing being in “garbage time” who had a strong night was Jamie Benn. He generated a hat trick in the Stars’ rally against the Sharks.)

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

Highlights

A day after the Sedins announced their retirement, they received a great ovation from Canucks fans. This is their second-to-last home game in Vancouver.

No surprise that other teams tip their caps to the Sedins.

Max Domi seems to be improving lately, and his mind games are on point.

Scores

Devils 5, Rangers 2
Islanders 5, Flyers 4
Blue Jackets 5, Red Wings 4 (OT)
Jets 5, Canadiens 4 (OT)
Lightning 4, Bruins 0
Panthers 2, Predators 1
Coyotes 4, Flames 1
Golden Knights 5, Canucks 4 (SO)
Stars 4, Sharks 2

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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Buzzer: Blue Jackets make it 8 in a row; Rinne continues Vezina push

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Players of the Night

Cam Atkinson and Thomas Vanek, Columbus Blue Jackets: The Columbus Blue Jackets are one of the hottest teams in the NHL right now and extended their current winning streak to eight games in a row on Monday night with a thrilling come-from-behind win against the Boston Bruins, overcoming a 3-1 deficit to win 5-4 in overtime. It was Cam Atkinson that scored the winner in overtime to get them the win.

Meanwhile, Thomas Vanek had a big night for the Blue Jackets with a goal and an assist in the win.

Columbus is now just two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second spot in the Metropolitan Division and just four points back of the Washington Capitals for first place.

The Blue Jackets go for their ninth consecutive win on Tuesday night when they visit the New York Rangers.

Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators: For the longest time it seemed like Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy was going to run away with the Vezina Trophy this season, but right now it is looking like it might be becoming Pekka Rinne’s to lose. He recorded his league-leading eighth shutout of the season on Monday night by stopping all 35 shots he faced in a 4-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres. He is now 40-9-4 on the season and has a .931 save percentage that is tops among all goalies that have appeared in at least 40 games.

He has been especially dominant since Jan. 1. Since the start of the new calendar year Rinne is 21-2-1 with a .939 save percentage that is also tops in the league. During that stretch only two goalies that have appeared in at least 20 games since then have a save percentage higher than .930.

Ryan Donato, Boston Bruins: His team ended up losing in overtime, but we have to give him some credit for scoring a goal in his NHL debut and adding two more assists. He also finished with six shots on goal, the second highest total in the game behind only the eight that his teammate, Brad Marchand, recorded. You can watch his first goal here.

Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers: After dropping some recent games to teams out of playoff contention the Florida Panthers needed to come through on Monday night against the Montreal Canadiens to keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race. They did that with a 2-0 win that saw Roberto Luongo record his third shutout of the season by stopping all 28 shots he faced. It was also the 76th shutout of his career.

Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings: Jeff Carter continued his strong play since returning to the lineup with a pair of goals, including the game-winner in overtime, to help lift the Kings to a huge win over the Minnesota Wild. Read about it here.

Max Domi and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes: The Arizona Coyotes are playing much better over the past few weeks and playing spoiler. They picked up another win on Monday night with a 5-2 victory over the Calgary Flames thanks to a pair of goals from teammates Max Domi and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Ekman-Larsson ended up getting the game-winning goal late in the third period. It was also the 100th goal of his career.

The Canadiens are officially eliminated, and the Flames are in trouble

Not that the Montreal Canadiens were going to make the playoffs at this point, but it became official on Monday night with their 2-0 loss to the Florida Panthers that they were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

It was also a brutal night for the Calgary Flames as they lost to the Arizona Coyotes (who continue their improved play late in the season) and continued their late season slide. They remain six points out of a wild card spot with three teams ahead of them. With only eight games remaining on their schedule, while every team ahead of them still has games in hand, it is looking like their playoff hopes are disappearing.

Highlight of the Night

Aaron Ekblad had a big night for the Florida Panthers, getting into a fight in the first period and then scoring this slick goal to give them a 1-0 lead.

That is Ekblad’s 15th goal of the season.

Factoid of the Night

More Pekka Rinne information! His 40th win of the season puts him into some pretty elite company among all-time goaltenders. Yes, he played in the shootout era and certainly benefitted from that but it is still an impressive number, even in the shootout era.

Scores

Columbus Blue Jackets 5, Boston Bruins 4

Nashville Predators 4, Buffalo Sabres 0

Florida Panthers 2, Montreal Canadiens 0

Los Angeles Kings 4, Minnesota Wild 3

Arizona Coyotes 5, Calgary Flames 2

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Trades fantasy hockey owners should root for

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Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

Trades can really liven things up for a sport, so here’s hoping that the intriguing Michael Grabner to Devils move is the catalyst for a memorable stretch of swaps.

While there’s always the risk that a player will struggle to get acclimated to a new city and new teammates, trades can also provide a boost in fantasy hockey. As we wait for more deals to trickle in, it might be fun to picture changes of scenery. Here are some moves fantasy owners should root for.

[More on the Grabner trade.]

Elephants trotting around the room

Look, asking the Senators to trade Erik Karlsson is asking a lot.

It could be quite a late-season boon for owners who’ve been burned a bit by a season that’s not up to his honestly ridiculous standards. Complaining about a defenseman generating 42 points in 55 games is silly, but considering that Karlsson often goes in the first or second round, and fantasy sports are kind of silly by nature, well …

Anyway, a move to a contender could really help him. Maybe he’d enjoy short-term puck luck (his shooting percentage this season is 3.4 percent, half of his career average of 6.8). Considering his puck dispersal skills, setting up teammates who are likely more skilled and more motivated at this point in the season could really be electric.

Max Pacioretty also stands as interesting.

With a 7.7 shooting percentage, “Patches” is also lacking when it comes to lucky bounces. More than that, it has to be a drain on him to lose so often, particularly in a hockey-obsessed market like Montreal. Being “one of the guys” on a contender could really do him good.

Also, it’s been noted, yet it must be said: Pacioretty’s really never played with a great center. Imagine what he could accomplish with a legitimate No. 1? With his contract expiring after 2018-19, the motivation should be there, too.

Some others worth noting in this category:

  • Evander Kane has dealt with injuries and the frustrating knowledge that he’s never suited up in a playoff game in his career. With an expiring contract at age 26, you could argue that Kane has the most on the line of just about any of the most realistic trade targets in the NHL.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, yet with comparable sniping skills, you have Rick Nash. Much like Pacioretty, Nash is getting his goals now after a prolonged slump. While Kane has never tasted playoff play, Nash surely would like to show that he’s more “clutch” than his critics believe.
  • Mike Green got roasted a bit in this PHT roundtable, but that’s based on real-life play. From a fantasy perspective, Green could be fascinating. That said, he plays a huge role in Detroit, and might actually see a downgrade if traded. So maybe he’s a coin flip?
  • Ryan McDonagh and Oliver Ekman-Larsson are both defensemen who will likely be affected by what happens with Karlsson, as they do too see contracts expire after 2018-19. McDonagh seems more likely to move than OEL, yet both could really thrive on better/more driven teams down the stretch.

[Dion Phaneuf: better in fantasy than reality.]

Lightning round

OK, now onto a handful of names that might not come up much/at all, but would be a lot of fun.

  • Goalies with more fuel in the tank: Sorry, Antti Niemi, but there are better options out there for goalie rentals, even with Petr Mrazek off the market. The Coyotes might want to keep Antti Raanta around, but it would be intriguing to see what he could do for, say, the Hurricanes. Raanta’s save percentage is up to .922 this season. Since 2014-15, Raanta is tied with Carey Price and Corey Crawford for the NHL’s best save percentage at .923.

Raanta would be the gem in my eyes. Still, there are some other interesting considerations. Would the Sabres trade sneaky-good Robin Lehner? Could Jaroslav Halak help someone if the Islanders decided they’ve had enough?

  • I’ve stated that the Coyotes would likely lose if they traded Max Domi. Domi’s fantasy owners and new team could enjoy modest-to-significant gains, however.
  • This is more tangential: Jeff Carter might be nearing a return. With that in mind, the Kings might actually be a more beneficial landing pad for a player than maybe they’d seem. It sounds like they’re happy to get Tobias Rieder, though.
  • As always, root for the Oilers to trade skilled players (note: they’re saying they are leaning toward tweaks this time, for what it’s worth). You may very well see that player burn them for making such a move, possibly right away.

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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Trading Max Domi likely wouldn’t pay off for Coyotes

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It’s dangerous to speak in absolutes when it comes to trades in the NHL.

For example: while Dion Phaneuf‘s contract is onerous, that deal has been far from impossible to move. That monster’s been traded twice, and very well could be moved again before it runs out after 2020-21.

So, yes, there may be a scenario where trading Max Domi on or before Feb. 26 actually benefits the Arizona Coyotes enough to do it, but it would almost certainly be smarter to wait. You know, if he’s even worth trading at all.

(Note: The Coyotes shopping him – though not necessarily aggressively – has been reported by multiple outlets, including Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman this past weekend.)

Let’s discuss why this is a terrible time to trade Domi.

Selling low

There’s no doubt that this has been a terrible season for Domi, and honestly, the past two seasons provide some reason for concern.

During a fabulous rookie season, Domi meshed well with Anthony Duclair, scoring 18 goals and 52 points in 81 games back in 2015-16. Since then, his shooting percentage has taken a terrifying nosedive:

2015-16: 18 goals on 156 shots on goal for an 11.5 shooting percentage.
2016-17: nine goals on 108 SOG in 59 games, 8.3 shooting percentage.
So far in 2017-18: four goals on 111 SOG in 57 games, 3.6 shooting percentage.

Recent history shows that teams may come to regret trading a promising young player on an unusual cold streak.

One prescient example is Jordan Eberle, and his struggles weren’t as extreme during his final season with the Edmonton Oilers. Eberle’s shooting percentage average overall with the Oilers was 13.4 percent, yet in 2016-17, it dipped to 9.6. The postseason was where things really plummeted: Eberle managed zero goals and two assists during that 13-game run, coming up empty on 22 SOG.

That’s a distressing run, especially for a $6 million player on a team that felt it was on the verge of contention like the Oilers.

Even if the Oilers wanted to trade Eberle in his normal form, they should have waited for a most likely return to his typical work. You don’t need to dig deep to see that Eberle has been fantastic for the Islanders, while Ryan Strome has been … well, Ryan Strome for the Oilers.

That’s the risk here with Domi. Maybe he’s a guy who will struggle to score at the NHL level, but do you really want to sell when his value couldn’t sink any lower? How much of a bummer would it be to see Arizona get a possibly squalid return after a middling Anthony Duclair trade? Getting very little for two promising forwards would be a real blow, especially since the Coyotes lack much in scoring punch beyond Clayton Keller and a few others beyond that.

Especially, you know, with Arizona’s own Strome (Dylan Strome) standing as something of a puzzle.

If that wasn’t enough …

There are some ancillary factors that make a panic trade even scarier.

At least in the case of the Oilers, Eberle was a pricey consideration for a team that would eventually need to make some cap decisions. The money concern actually could put a positive spin on Domi’s struggles.

Right now, Domi is a pending RFA whose rookie contract is about to expire. A budget team could really benefit from offering the 12th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft serious term in exchange for a deal with a low cap hit. In such a scenario, the Coyotes could conceivably either:

A) get a top-six forward at a bargain rate, with his numbers likely to rebound

or

B) retain a young player for a reasonable cap hit, so they can wait and trade him at a more optimal time even if they’re not sold on him.

There’s also the scenario in which the Coyotes hand Domi a shorter “bridge” contract, which would open the door for Domi to prove himself or at least drive his trade value back up.

Wasted development and time

Frankly, let’s also consider Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

If the Coyotes want to use the 2018-19 season to try to convince “OEL” to re-sign (seemingly a long shot now, but a year can make a big difference), then a resurgent Domi could help. Really, would Ekman-Larsson want to see Domi turn into not-yet-developed assets, which would be the most likely return?

Even beyond OEL, it’s clear from the Coyotes’ summer of moves that they’re growing tired of “rebuild mode.” Their aggressive moves didn’t work out, but how many times do you want to go back to the starting line?

A Domi extension, especially an affordable one, could be part of the solution in Arizona.

***

Again, there’s always a chance that a contending team believes in Domi enough to give up a robust offer.

It’s more realistic to imagine a team trying to take advantage of Domi’s cold streak, which would almost certainly make for a weak return. The Coyotes are justified in “selling” to some extent during the deadline, although they don’t exactly boast a lot of veterans to auction off. Even if they eventually decide to trade Domi, now is almost certainly not the best time to do so.

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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

 

Sounds like Duclair and Coyotes were both ready for a split

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A couple of years ago the Arizona Coyotes had a pair of exciting rookies in Anthony Duclair and Max Domi that looked like they could be core building blocks well into the future.

Today, Domi has three goals in 43 games (after scoring nine in 59 games a season ago) and Duclair is now a member of the Chicago Blackhawks following the Wednesday evening trade that sent Richard Panik and Laurent Dauphin to the desert.

For Duclair, it’s a fresh start and an opportunity to rediscover the scoring touch he had during his rookie season while playing for a team that hopes to be a Stanley Cup contender this season.

If nothing else he is going to get an opportunity to play with significantly more talent surrounding him.

[Trade: Could Duclair be Blackhawks’ next great find?]

Shortly after the trade Coyotes general manager John Chayka talked about the move and made it sound as if this was something that had been in the works for quite some time.

“It’s gone back for a few years now, where the team wasn’t particularly happy with the player and the player wasn’t particularly happy with the team,” Chayka said in a conference call, before later adding that there are a lot of factors that go into a trade.

“It’s almost been two years now that I’ve been gauging the interest in Anthony. It’s a tough trade to make since he’s obviously a very talented player. For us, it was just the determination that this was the best time to move forward.”

“There are a lot of things that go into a trade. Some of them are readily apparent. You see Anthony play and his speed and skill is obvious to everyone. There are also some things that I think should stay behind closed doors.”

Obviously, he did not elaborate on what those things were. Just a couple of days before the trade it was reported that Duclair had requested a trade.

Originally acquired as part of the trade that sent defenseman Keith Yandle to the New York Rangers during the 2014-15 season, Duclair burst onto the scene the following season by scoring 20 goals in his first full season in the NHL. He followed that up with a disappointing season in 2016-17 that saw him score just five goals and add 10 assists in 58 games.

So far this season his goal production is back on track to being where it was during his rookie season. His nine goals in 33 games would put him on a 22-goal pace over 82 games.

With Duclair now on his way to Chicago it’s interesting to look back at the Yandle trade just three years later. Along with Duclair, the Coyotes also received defenseman John Moore, a second-round draft pick in 2015 and a first-round pick in 2016. Arizona later traded that second-round pick for a pair of third-rounders (Adin Hill and Jens Looke). The 2016 first-round pick was traded to Detroit as part of the agreement that sent Pavel Datsyuk’s contract to Arizona. Arizona also received Detroit’s first-round pick that season which it used to select defenseman Jakob Chychrun who has a chance to be a pretty outstanding defenseman when healthy.

After Wednesday’s trade, the Coyotes now have Chychrun, Panik, Dauphin, Hill and Looke to show for the Yandle.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.