A three-day break from hockey can seem like an eternity, even if the break allowed you to enjoy some valuable time with friends and family. If so, Friday’s lengthy slate of games was a welcome sight.

Another game, another pair of goals for Patrice Bergeron. The Boston center now has two goals in each of his last three games to give him 17 goals on the season. He’s on a point-per-game pace yet again this season, and at age 34 appears to be that fine wine that is getting better with age. Bergeron wasn’t a point-per-game player during any season in his 20s, but since the 2017-18 season Bergeron has 176 points over his last 159 games.

Jaroslav Halak stopped all 26 shots he faced in earning the shutout, which is the 50th of his career.

With no Torey Krug or Charlie McAvoy on Friday, Matt Grzelcyk led the first-unit power play for the Bruins. Brandon Carlo also led all Boston defenders with 26 minutes of icetime. Both Grzelcyk and Carlo took five shots on goal. Krug will be out until at least next week, while McAvoy is day-to-day.

Jeff Skinner left Friday’s game after colliding with David Pastrnak during the third period. Following the game, the Sabres did not provide an update on his status.

*

Cale Makar returned to the Avalanche lineup on Friday, recording an assist in 23 minutes of icetime. Get the rookie defenseman back in your lineup, as he has been scoring at a near point-per-game pace (29 points in 30 games).

I guess Nazem Kadri is receiving reputation calls. He totaled 12 PIM with the minor penalty plus the game misconduct for arguing the call.
 


*

Don’t forget to preorder your Midseason Guide!

*

Lowlight of the night: Damon Severson taps the puck into his own net to give the Leafs the overtime winner.

William Nylander was credited with the goal to give him a three-point game. Nylander has been hot lately with four goals and eight points over his last five games.

Nylander’s linemate John Tavares also scored a goal and added two assists while firing seven shots on goal.

It wasn’t such a great night for the third member of that line. Ilya Mikheyev left the game in the third period after his hand was cut by a skate. Mikheyev scored earlier in the game to give him four goals over his last six games. The injury is being described as a “significant laceration,” so he could be sidelined for a while.

In spite of the loss for the Devils, linemates Kyle Palmieri, Nico Hischier, and Jesper Bratt each had a goal and two assists.

*

Joonas Korpisalo’s five-game win streak ended on Friday, as the Blue Jackets lost to the Capitals in overtime. I’ll admit that I shied away from the Columbus goaltending situation because of the uncertainty of who would replace Sergei Bobrovsky, yet Korpisalo has emerged not only as the starter but as a relatively consistent fantasy option. In fact, Korpisalo is tied with Connor Hellebuyck as the leader in games played among goalies (31 GP), and with 17 wins is a top-5 option in that category. Another example of why goalies are difficult to predict.

Following Friday’s game, Alex Ovechkin announced that he would not attend the All-Star Game. As a result, he will be suspended for one game, either the game before or the game after. The All-Star Game is scheduled for January 25, so plan accordingly.

*

Remember when James Neal exploded out of the gate and appeared to be a slam dunk for comeback player of the year? Yeah, he was a minus-3 on Thursday, which gives him a minus-24 for the season. He has just two goals in all of December as well. Hope you sold high when you had the chance.

It’s hard to believe that Friday was the first time that the Oilers and Flames have played each other this season. Yet in the first matchup of Neal and Milan Lucic against their former teams, both were held scoreless.

How rotten is it getting in Edmonton? Connor McDavid is a minus-13 over his past 16 games. Over that same span, Leon Draisaitl is a minus-25. Ouch if you're in a league that counts plus-minus! 

*

I remember Dobber mentioning a little while ago about how a player could Martin Frk his way out of the league because of poor plus/minus. Well, Frk (career minus-26 in 100 GP) is back in the NHL, and he might stick around at least for the short term. In both his season debut and Kings debut on Friday, Frk scored two third-period goals to lead the Kings to a come-from-behind overtime win over the Sharks. The onetime Red Wings prospect has been lighting it up in the AHL this season with 14 goals and 23 points in 26 games with the Ontario Reign.

Frk was placed on a line with Jeff Carter and Nikolai Prokhorkin, who both assisted on both of Frk’s goals. Carter scored the OT game-winner to give him a three-point game. Carter has been a point-per-game player (eight points in his last eight games) since around mid-December. No Kings player has more shots on goal this season than Carter, who has at least a puncher’s chance at fantasy value as long as he is firing the puck at the net.   

*

Check out these icetime numbers for these Winnipeg forwards:

Kyle Connor – 27:12 (two goals in this one)

Mark Scheifele – 27:07

Patrik Laine – 26:01

Yes, I do understand that the game went three minutes and change into overtime.

Honorable mention to Ryan O’Reilly, who skated “just” 24:14 for the Blues in their overtime win over the Jets. And Alex Pietrangelo, who led all defensemen with 29:14.

With three assists on Friday, Jaden Schwartz now has a five-game point streak in which he has nine points.

*

In his first game against the Islanders since leaving the team during the offseason, Robin Lehner stopped 38 of 40 shots to earn the win. Lehner has now won each of his last four consecutive starts and seems to have the upper hand over Corey Crawford in the Chicago goaltending battle.

Meanwhile, his goaltending partner from last season has hit the skids recently. Thomas Greiss has now been pulled twice in his last three starts. Greiss was pulled midway through the first period on Friday after allowing three goals on 11 shots. Usually Islanders goaltending comes through for fantasy owners, but Islanders goalies (either Greiss or Semyon Varlamov) have been dinged with a Really Bad Start three times over the team’s last five games. Something ain’t right, and I wonder if after alternating goalies all season Barry Trotz will now try riding the hot hand.  

*

Mika Zibanejad scored two power-play goals and added an assist in the Rangers’ 5-3 win over Carolina. Zibanejad has been on fire recently with seven goals and 12 points over his last seven games. Even though his shooting percentage and PDO suggest a slight slowdown, here’s a reason that it might not be.
 


The presence of Artemi Panarin on the first-unit power play and at least a part-time even-strength linemate (although not in this game) is certainly having an effect. By the way, Panarin scored a goal and added two assists of his own in this game.

*

Since Dobber likes to pull stats during the Christmas break, I decided to copy him and pull one of my own. Here is the list of shooting percentage leaders as of the holiday break (minimum 20 shots).

Name

2019-20

2018-19

Difference

 NOEL ACCIARI

24.5

6.1

18.4

ERIK HAULA

24.4

7.7

16.7

BRAYDEN SCHENN

22.4

10.7

11.7

 BRETT CONNOLLY

22.2

15.8

6.4

ADAM GAUDETTE

22.2

9.1

13.1

 ROOPE HINTZ

21.8

9.1

12.7

MATHEW BARZAL

21.3

10.1

11.2

 ERIC STAAL

21.2

10.2

11.0

MIKKO RANTANEN

21.2

16.1

5.1

JEAN-GABRIEL PAGEAU

20.5

4.8

15.7

 ANDRE BURAKOVSKY

20.3

12.0

8.3

 ZACK KASSIAN

20.3

13.5

6.8

 BRAYDEN POINT

20

21.5

-1.5

 JOONAS DONSKOI

20

12.2

7.8

 

Some thoughts:

Over his last three games, Roope Hintz has not even taken a single shot on goal. As well, he’s only taken two shots in his last five games. Not surprisingly, he has just one goal over his last 11 games. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as he’d already reached nine goals by November 1 on a slow-starting Dallas squad.

Eric Staal is currently on a run similar to Hintz’s at the start of the season, so you could try to sell high on his current total as well as his name value.

Both Andre Burakovsky and Joonas Donskoi have already cooled after similar hot stretches with one point in their last eight games. That’s something to pay attention to if you’ve been sitting on either player since October or November.

Even though Jean-Gabriel Pageau is a super-obvious sell high, he’s only two goals shy of 20 and only three behind fellow surprise Anthony Duclair for the team goal lead. Noel Acciari will cool off as well, but for now he’s no more than two goals behind any of his Florida teammates in scoring.

The most sustainable player on this list is without a doubt Brayden Point, who actually had a higher shooting percentage last season. You could actually buy a bit low on him at the moment, as he’s below last season’s scoring pace (under a point per game as opposed to being over a point per game).

On a side note, if you’re looking for every possible edge, the Lightning have played fewer games (35) than every other team. And since you’re probably now wondering which team has played the most games, the Golden Knights and Oilers have played more games (41) than any other team. So if you offer Reilly Smith for Point (almost the exact same season numbers), you’ll get six more games out of Point than Reilly. If you don’t own Reilly but instead own another Vegas top-6 forward, I say make the offer. Maybe you can’t make that exact deal (I doubt that asking for Point for Smith is accepted by any sane owner), but this games-played theory could at least get the creative juices flowing to formulate an idea or two for a potential trade.  

*

With the decade about to end, we have been posting some Top 10 articles for the best of the decade. There’s always a ton of debate with these types of articles, so have a look.

Top 10 Fantasy Wingers

Top 10 Fantasy Centers

Top 10 Fantasy Defensemen

Top 10 Fantasy Goalies

Top 10 Fantasy Underrated

Top 10 Fantasy Overrated

*

Talk to you tomorrow. For more fantasy hockey tidbits, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.