A light Friday night of games, so let’s cover the highlights…
Matt Duchene returned to the Senators’ lineup and didn’t waste any time contributing, scoring both of the team’s goals in the 5-2 loss to New Jersey. Duchene had missed the previous six games with a groin injury, yet skated nearly 20 minutes along with his usual spot on the first-unit power play. On a contract year, Duchene is on pace for a career season. Don’t waste any time in getting him back into your lineup, as the Sens are back at it on Saturday against Washington.
The scoring of reigning Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall overshadowed Duchene’s return. Hall scored two goals and added two assists with a plus-3 and six shots on goal to power the Devils to a victory. Hall’s linemates were also able to get in on the action. Kyle Palmieri added a goal and two assists of his own, while Nico Hischier chipped in a goal and an assist. All were a plus-3.
Hall was the runaway winner of his team’s scoring race last season, but this season he has brought Palmieri along with him. Both Devils’ forwards are hot at the moment: Hall with 18 points in his last 13 games, and Palmieri with 11 points in his last eight games. Hall’s four-point game was his second of the season. One concern for Hall owners: His goal total. After lighting the lamp 39 times last season, Hall has scored just 11 this season, which would put him on pace for 27 this season. This goal total was actually his career high prior to last season.
Here’s one of Hall’s goals, which occurred on a sequence that was nearly a Senators goal just seconds earlier:
Here’s another angle of the Sami Vatanen save that began the sequence:
— Bruce Bennett (@Bruce_Bennett) December 22, 2018
Tom Wilson scored a third-period goal to seal a 2-1 victory for the Capitals over the Sabres. The goal was Wilson’s 10th of the season, scored in just his 15th game. Auston Matthews, Alex Ovechkin, and Jeff Skinner are the only players with as many games played as Wilson with a higher goals-per-games-played pace. Wilson has had some good luck in the shooting percentage department (27.8%), so some regression should be expected. Wilson has helped his cause, though, taking nearly a full shot more per game than he did last season. If your league counts penalty minutes or hits, though, he’s only a sell high if you’d otherwise be fine in those categories.
No goals or points for Ovechkin for the second consecutive game, so he’s still “stuck” on 29 goals.
Braden Holtby stopped 36 of 37 shots to earn the win for the Caps. The 2018-19 season has been tough on goalies, and Holtby hasn’t been immune, as his ratios (2.79 GAA, .914 SV%) still sit around the league average among qualified goalies. Holtby went out of the crease – and I mean way out – in this sequence late in the second period.
Lawrence Pilut returned to the Sabres’ lineup on Friday, though he was held without a point in 17 minutes of icetime. If you don’t know much about Pilut, you can check out this week’s The Journey article for more. It’ll be on the site later today.
In the final game of the evening, Collin Delia stopped 35 of 36 shots in the Blackhawks’ 2-1 win over Colorado. Delia was making his season debut and his third NHL start overall. The Hawks were playing their second game of back-to-backs, with Cam Ward also earning a win on Thursday against Dallas. Delia has posted decent numbers in the AHL, so he could very easily push Ward for starts.
This appears to be the Blackhawks’ goaltending tandem for the foreseeable future, as there is speculation that Corey Crawford (concussion) may not be back at all this season.
.@TheFourthPeriod – "I suspect Corey Crawford will be done for the season. We will get some official news on that front, soon. There is some talk in Chicago that they will shut him down."
— Sportsnet 650 (@Sportsnet650) December 21, 2018
After stopping 35 shots in a win over Montreal on Wednesday, Philipp Grubauer was given the nod again on Friday. He managed to stop 26 of 28 shots he faced, but could not earn the victory this time. Semyon Varlamov is expected to be between the pipes on Saturday in Arizona (Goalie Post). Varlamov has struggled of late, allowing at least three goals in each of his last five games. After a strong start (1.62 GAA, .950 SV%), Varly has struggled in November and December (3.46 GAA, .891 SV%), so a matchup against one of the league’s weakest offenses might be what the doctor ordered. If Varlamov can’t shake his struggles against the Coyotes, then expect to see lots of Grubauer at least in the short term.
Jaroslav Halak (BOS) vs. NSH
Mike Smith (CGY) vs. STL
Pheonix Copley (WSH) @ OTT
Adin Hill (ARI) vs. COL
Ben Bishop (DAL) @ MIN
Since Shea Weber’s return to the lineup 12 games ago, Jeff Petry has scored 10 points (5g-5a). Petry had grabbed the PP1 role when Weber was injured last season, yet the assumption was that Petry’s production would fall off once Weber returned. So should we expect the now over-30 Petry to be a 40-plus point defenseman going forward, or will he have trouble cracking 30 as he did prior to last season? In other words, should you attempt to sell high if you’ve been riding Petry’s success?
In spite of Weber’s return, Petry has maintained his spot on the first-unit power play, with the Canadiens opting to use two defensemen and three forwards instead of the 4F-1D model that many teams use. Petry’s two most recent points (both assists) over his last two games have been with the man advantage, so he’s still finding ways to contribute.
Having said that, I don’t see this arrangement lasting for long. Overall, the Habs’ power play success rate is the third-worst in the NHL (12.9%), and it has actually gotten worse since Weber’s return (8.1% since November 27). Weber and his shot likely won’t be bumped to the second unit, so Petry could easily be the odd man out on the first unit at some point. Yet it’s worth mentioning that only Jonathan Drouin and Max Domi have at least as many power-play points as Petry, and no one else has more than four power-play points over 36 games. So it’s not as though there are instantly deserving options waiting in the wings.
Of course, a “sell high” is always relative. Since Petry has already reached 27 points in less than half a season, 40 points seems like a lock unless he is injured. He could easily be sold to a team desperate to upgrade its blueline that would view him as someone who will reach the 60+ points that he is currently on pace for. But if you can’t find the right deal, I don’t think Petry’s production will necessarily fall off a cliff, but some dropoff should be expected.
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.