The top two teams in the Western Conference at the moment are clearly the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks. Last Wednesday, the Central Division foes met in Minnesota and had the NHL all to themselves as they were the only game on that particular night. Hockey fans meanwhile received a treat. It was an excellent hockey game and the Blackhawks won on an overtime winner from captain Jonathan Toews in a 4-3 Chicago win.
Chicago has now won five in a row after hammering the Edmonton Oilers 5-1 on Saturday. On back-to-back nights, the Blackhawks outscored their opponents 10-3 as they also beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-2 on Friday. One Blackhawks player that is playing really well as of late is Richard Panik. The native of Martin, Slovakia has three goals and two assists for five points in his last three games and is now reaping the benefits of playing with Toews and Patrick Kane on the Blackhawks’ power play.
Panik is also enjoying a career season. He is in his fifth year, and already has career highs in goals (14), assists (13), points (27), hits (115), and shots on goal (96).
Meanwhile in Minnesota, one of the hottest players in hockey is Jason Pominville. This past week the Wild right winger had eight points (two goals and six assists) which led the NHL. On February 7, he contributed to all four of the Wild’s goals in a 4-2 win over the Jets. Even though he is only seventh in Wild scoring with 35 points, he should pick up the pace and could be close to a very respectable 50 points by season’s end if he continues to produce offensively while playing with sniper Zach Parise.
The reason why Pominville should not be owned in fantasy leagues however is because of his low penalty minutes totals. Even though he has a point in each of the last five games, Pominville only has taken four penalty minutes in 2016-17.
Another player who is having a breakout season and should be owned in all fantasy leagues is Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators. Arvidsson had 19 shots on goal this past week (fourth most in the NHL) and is the surprise Predators leader this season in goals with 18 and shots on goal with 175.
This week avoid taking Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens as they only play once each. Teams that play four times are the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets. From a player perspective, you cannot go wrong with Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel of the Penguins, and Mitch Marner of the Maple Leafs who has put himself into the Calder Trophy conversation. Marner now has 15 goals and 32 assists for 47 points this season. He leads Toronto in assists and points, and has three more points than Auston Matthews.