Special to Yahoo Sports
This week’s article includes a hot Backstrom, Zucker on a roll, a former No. 1 pick helping in Colorado, Helly hot in the ‘Peg, JvR possibly done for the season, and Rinne riding the pine.
First Liners (Risers)
Backstrom looks like he will fall well shy of scoring 70 points as he had done the last six seasons, impacted by the eight games he missed from late November into early December. But that doesn’t mean he is having an unsuccessful campaign. Backstrom’s goal Saturday was the first time he lit the lamp since Feb. 13, ending a 10-game drought, but he has still been productive lately with nine points in his last nine contests. This season, the 32-year-old has 12 goals and 54 points through 61 games.
Pearson set a career-high in points with 45 by tallying an empty-net goal Friday. That marker was Pearson’s fourth in his last seven games. Pearson is now up to 21 goals this season, leaving him three shy of the 24 he tallied in 2016-17 with the Kings. He is skating on the top line and second power-play unit in Vancouver, which should enable him to remain productive down the stretch.
Tkachuk is unlikely to match the 77 points he tallied last year but he is still having a solid season. His three assists Friday and goal Sunday moved Tkachuk up to 61 points (23 goals, 38 helpers) in 69 games. He’s added 188 shots, 122 hits, and 74 PIM this year continuing his well-rounded stat line. Tkachuk, taken sixth overall in 2016, signed a three-year, $21 million bridge-deal with the Flames last September, a deal that looks like a bargain for Calgary now.
Jason Zucker, LW, Pittsburgh Penguins
Zucker was acquired from the Wild to give Sidney Crosby a running mate. That deal has brought dividends, as Zucker has racked up six goals and five assists the last 12 games. While Zucker might not stay hot enough to match his career-best campaign from 2017-18 (33 goals, 64 points), the 28 year old figures to be very productive down the stretch while skating on the top line in Pittsburgh.
Johnson has helped make up for the absence of Cale Makar. He notched a goal and assist Friday, then added a helper Sunday, giving the 2006 No.1 overall pick six of his 16 points this season in the last six games. Johnson has 113 blocked shots, 96 shots on net and 94 hits in 57 appearances. His point output is a surprise, as his value is normally in the ancillary categories, but Johnson’s fantasy managers won’t complain that he is producing in a more standard way.
Anthony DeAngelo, D, New York Rangers
DeAngelo’s breakthrough campaign continued Thursday, as he notched a goal and two assists in New York’s 6-5 overtime win over Washington. Those three points gave the 2014 first-round pick — 19th overall — 15 goals and 38 assists in 66 games, 19 points coming on the power play. Signed to a one-year, $925K deal as an RFA with no arbitration rights last offseason, DeAngelo is set for a major pay raise, as he now has arb rights.
Connor Hellebuyck, G, Winnipeg Jets
Hellebuyck notched his second shutout in four starts, stopping 29 shots Friday. That whitewash was Helly’s league-high sixth of the season. With the wins Friday and Monday, Hellebuyck is 30-21-5 with a 2.58 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. Winnipeg is hanging in the playoff race thanks substantially to the efforts of Hellebuyck, who has rebounded more than nicely from his 2018-19 struggles after his brilliant 2017-18 brilliant campaign.
Corey Crawford, G, Chicago Blackhawks
When evaluating Crawford, don’t focus on his numbers overall but his performance since the trade deadline. Crawford has started every game since Chicago traded Robin Lehner, a situation that should continue, for the most part, the rest of the season. He is 4-3 with a 2.74 goals-against average and .917 save percentage, numbers skewed by a six-goals against effort Feb. 25 against the Blues. Roll Crawford out there with confidence.
Others include: Mika Zibanejad, Alex Killorn, Elias Pettersson, Mikael Backlund, Brock Nelson, Nathan MacKinnon, Evgeni Malkin, Phillip Danault, Robert Thomas, Jonathan Toews, Andrei Svechnikov, Travis Konecny, Blake Wheeler. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Brayden Schenn, Patrick Kane, J.T. Miller, Kyle Connor, Tyler Toffoli, Kevin Fiala, Nikolaj Ehlers, Gabriel Landeskog, Jesper Bratt, Jaden Schwartz, Artemi Panarin, Neal Pionk, John Klingberg, Ryan Suter, Ivan Provorov, Darnell Nurse, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, John Carlson, Carter Hart, Juuse Saros, Cam Talbot, Mike Smith and Cory Schneider.
Sean Monahan, C, Calgary Flames
Monahan went from 58 points in 2016-17 to 64 and then 82 points last season, but he hasn’t had the same level of success this season. Monahan has five goals and three assists in his last nine games. The 25-year-old center is up to 48 points — 16 on the power play — and 166 shots through 70 games. His fantasy managers have to be largely disappointed with Monahan’s output, but he is doing his best lately to salvage what has been a poor season.
Training Room (Injuries)
James van Riemsdyk, LW, Philadelphia Flyers
Van Riemsdyk broke his hand blocking a shot March 4 against the Capitals. The injury is expected to sideline the veteran winger 4-6 weeks, hurting Philly’s chances at earning first place in the Metropolitan Division, though they have continued to play well since JVR was sidelined. If van Riemsdyk does miss the remainder of the season, he will finish the year with 19 goals and 21 points in 66 games, the third consecutive campaign his production has declined.
Others include: Tomas Tatar (upper body, injured March 3, missed Thursday’s game), Brock Boeser (ribs, out since Feb. 16, practiced in a regular jersey Sunday), Ryan McDonagh (lower body, out from Feb. 6, played Sunday), Hampus Lindholm (upper body, missed sixth straight game Sunday), Morgan Rielly (foot, out since Jan. 12, could play Tuesday), Oscar Klefbom (shoulder, out since Feb. 19, returned to action Saturday), Elvis Merzlikins (concussion, returned to action with a win Sunday), Petr Mrazek (concussion, out since Feb. 22, close to returning), Sergei Bobrovsky (lower body, could play Thursday), Philipp Grubauer (lower body, out since Feb. 15, could return in mid-March) and Igor Shesterkin (fractured rib, injured Feb. 23, started in net Saturday).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Brandon Sutter, C, Vancouver Canucks
Sutter got mildly hot, notching eight points in a nine-game span to the middle of February. Since that streak, Sutter has posted just one point in his last seven games. On the season, Sutter has eight goals and nine assists in 43 games. Skating on the fourth line, don’t expect much more production from Sutter, who is in the final season of the five-year, $21.875 million contract he signed with the Canucks in July 2015.
Alex Pietrangelo, D, St. Louis Blues
Pietrangelo has not lit the lamp since Jan. 18, a span of 18 games, before he notched a marker Sunday. In that goalless stretch, the St. Louis captain had nine assists and a minus-four rating. This season, Pietrangelo has 14 goals and 36 helpers, leaving him one shy of his career-high in goals and four shy in points, the latter he set last season. Despite the lack of goals and mild decline in production recently, roll with Pietrangelo as you normally would down the stretch.
Pekka Rinne, G, Nashville Predators
Rinne has been between the pipes infrequently lately and his performance last Monday won’t help his chances. He allowed eight goals overall, including five tallies in a span of 5:13 during the third period before head coach John Hynes finally pulled him for Juuse Saros. Rinne dropped to 18-14-4 with a 3.17 GAA and a .895 save percentage in 36 starts. Saros is the clear No. 1 netminder for Nashville.
Others include: Kyle Turris, Jake DeBrusk, Alexander Radulov, Mattias Janmark, Nikita Zadorov, Ilya Samsonov, Semyon Varlamov, Tristan Jarry, and Pavel Francouz.
Time To Move On?
Sam Reinhart, LW, Buffalo Sabres
Reinhart’s point-less streak extended to eight games as he was shut out on the scoresheet again Monday. This eight-game span is the longest drought of the season for Reinhart, who previously was shut out in three straight games twice. He’s still having a fairly successful campaign with 50 points in 69 outings. He’ll need to snap the drought soon, though, if he hopes to take a run at cracking the career-high 65 points he posted last year.