Nikita Kucherov will need to hold their breath for a bit, as he left Saturday’s game after blocking a John Carlson shot in his leg. Lightning coach Jon Cooper didn’t provide an update after the game. Should Kucherov miss any time, keep an eye on the even-strength and power-play line combinations, as someone could be up for a spike in value.
The other Florida-based team lost its own key scorer as well. Aleksander Barkov left his Saturday game with just over a minute left after sliding into the boards. However, Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said after the game that Barkov would be fine. The Panthers next play on Monday, so we’ll have to wait and see whether that is the case.
Meanwhile, Tyson Barrie seemed to avoid a major injury after leaving Saturday’s game in the first period, as x-ray results were negative. However, Barrie’s status for next week is unknown after he blocked a shot. Barrie had been paired with Morgan Rielly at even strength, with Travis Dermott taking over beside Rielly after Barrie left the game. Also related: Justin Holl logged 26:10, which was by far a season high for him.
As expected, Taylor Hall was a healthy scratch again on Saturday. Yet according to Elliotte Friedman, Hall went home with the Devils after their win in Arizona to finish their road trip. The Devils don’t play against until Wednesday, which gives them plenty of time to consummate a trade. If they can’t, then maybe Hall hasn’t played his last game with the Devils after all. Maybe a bit awkward, but I don’t see how they don’t trade him by the deadline, if not by Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Devils finally won their first game in six tries for Alain Nasreddine, a 2-1 win over the Coyotes. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 31 of 32 shots he faced, his first win over his last seven games. The Devils’ lack of success (until now) under Nasreddine hasn’t been Blackwood’s fault, as he has a .941 SV% since the coaching change. Yet with Hall expected to be traded soon and other players also a possibility, don’t expect the Devils to pile on the wins for Blackwood.
Another new coach earned his first win. In his second game as Sharks coach, Bob Boughner led his team to a 4-2 win over the Canucks, snapping a six-game losing streak. The Canucks outshot the Sharks 35-27 and seemed to carry much of the play during the second half of the game. Yet Aaron Dell (who I was wrong about on Saturday) provided the Sharks with much-needed solid goaltending in making 33 saves.
The 30-year-old Dell is by no means the long-term solution, and the “follow the money” theory clearly points to Martin Jones. Yet it sounds like Boughner could reward Dell’s strong start with the nod in the Sharks’ next game on Tuesday against Arizona.
Boughner basically says it's Dell's net for now, Jones will work a few days with Nabokov
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) December 15, 2019
The Sharks have Jones under contract for four more seasons after this one, so they need to do everything possible to work with Jones to improve results that are clearly not up to par.
Evander Kane has been a slumping Shark, as he entered Saturday’s game with just one goal over his last 14 games. He managed to bump that slump with a goal and an assist while taking six shots on goal. The shots, hits, and penalty minutes are reasons to continue to use Kane in your multicategory league lineup, even when he’s not scoring.
Anthony Duclair continues to fire the puck into the net. The Ottawa forward completed a hat trick with the game-winner in overtime to give the Senators a 4-3 win over Columbus. Remember the comments that John Tortorella made about Duclair while he was in Columbus? Well, the Blue Jackets might be regretting letting Duclair get away in the Ryan Dzingel trade (Fantasy Take) during their load up for their playoff run last season, as he has 26 goals and 39 points in 54 games since the trade from Columbus to Ottawa. In addition, Duclair currently leads the NHL with eight goals since December 1. Yeah, it looks like Duclair can play hockey.
Here’s a summary of his career so far, and he’s still only 24 years of age:
The guy is still only 24 and on his fifth NHL team, and he could get dealt AGAIN. There’s probably a lesson in development here. He always had it, he just needed the right situation.
— Steve "Dangle" Glynn (@Steve_Dangle) December 14, 2019
With a goal on Saturday, Connor Brown now has five points in his last five games. Like Duclair, Brown is another example of a player who will thrive when he receives better opportunities on a team with less scoring depth. Brown is currently on pace for 50 points and is averaging 20 minutes per game with the Sens.
In the Blue Jackets loss, Alexandre Texier scored twice, giving him three goals and five points in six games this month. Texier barely receives a sniff of power-play time, which is something I’d like to see before I recommend adding him.
With Evgeni Malkin sidelined with the flu and Sidney Crosby out for a while, the Penguins top line on Saturday consisted of Jake Guentzel, Jared McCann, and Bryan Rust. Not exactly what we’re used to, but Rust in particular has been thriving with the injuries. With two goals and an assist on Saturday, Rust is now over a point per game (22 points in 19 games) over the season. Rust has also been taking a ton of shots recently with 17 shots over his last three games. Rust is still unowned in over half of Yahoo leagues. Rust has been a temporary waiver-wire add these past few seasons whenever he’s played on a scoring line, but this season you can make that permanent.
Guentzel, who is running away with the team scoring lead, recorded three assists on Saturday. Over his past five games, Guentzel has recorded nine points.
Anthony Beauvillier scored his own OT game-winner and added an assist with a plus-3 and six shots on goal on Saturday. He was able to end a three-game run without a point and a five-game run without a goal.
With a goal and an assist, Jack Eichel extended his point streak to 16 games, which is the longest in the NHL this season. Eichel has 15 goals and 29 points during this run, and he currently sits second in the league with 23 goals (only David Pastrnak has more). We’re seeing Eichel move into elite status among NHL scorers.
Speaking of Pastrnak, he scored twice on Saturday to extend his league lead in goals to 28.
James Reimer is making a case for more playing time with one of the league’s better teams. Reimer pitched a 32-save shutout in cooling off the red-hot Flames on Saturday, which over his last six starts gives him a 5-1 record with a .948 SV% and 1.67 GAA. If Rod Brind’Amour really wanted to play the splits, he’d start Reimer on the road (7-3-0, .932 SV%, 2 SO) and Mrazek at home (10-3-0, 2.29 GAA, 1 SO). Reimer was hardly a fantasy star last season in Florida with a GAA above 3.00 and a .900 SV%, so this is yet another example of how a more defensive system improves a goaltender’s fantasy value.
Warren Foegele scored two shorthanded goals for the Canes while firing six shots on goal. That gives him five points over his last five games. Playing on a line with Andrei Svechnikov and Jordan Staal will help with the even-strength production. However, Foegele is probably best left for the deepest of leagues since he receives zero power-play time on a balanced Carolina squad.
Mika Zibanejad scored 10 seconds into the game, then again in the third period on Saturday. That gives him four goals over his last two games. Since returning to the lineup in late November, Zibanejad has seven goals and 10 points in 10 games, while before the injury he had recorded 11 points in nine games. So basically, a point per game now.
Eric Staal scored pair of goals, which gives him 999 career points and back-to-back two-point games. He also has six points in his last five games.
Anthony Mantha returned to the Detroit lineup after missing the past eight games. Although he didn’t record a point in the Red Wings victory, he didn’t shy away from the rough stuff, getting into a brief fight with Jeff Petry. Mantha was at a near point-per-game pace before the injury, so make sure he is back in your lineup.
After a 12-game losing streak, the Wings have now won two in a row! With Jimmy Howard on IR, Jonathan Bernier has had to shoulder the load. If you thought this would be a nice spot to play some Habs, Bernier had other plans, stopping 42 of 43 shots in the 2-1 win. Bernier has now won back-to-back games. With the Wings still at the bottom of the standings, Bernier is a risky play if you are looking his way next week. Yet he’s likely available in your league (only 4 percent ownership in Yahoo leagues).
Robert Thomas recorded three assists on Saturday, two of which were on Tyler Bozak goals. Top prospect Thomas now has a four-game point streak. He isn’t playing alongside the Blues’ big guns at the moment, but he is one to secure in keeper leagues.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.