Atkinson Scratched, Marner Breaks Point Slump, plus much more…
Let’s start with the early game. The good news for Jaden Schwartz owners: he scored a goal in the first period of Saturday’s matinee game. The bad news: he was forced to leave the game later in the period after blocking a shot with his ankle.
UPDATE: The news isn't good for Schwartz owners. Ivan Barbashev has been recalled as a result.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) December 10, 2017
I'm guessing this is a fractured ankle, given the similarity in injury and timeline to Bo Horvat's injury. The Blues' lines are basically in a state of flux right now, so it's difficult to get a read on who might actually benefit. Vladimir Sobotka is a decent waiver-wire pickup in deeper formats, although he has already been used as a top-6 forward for much of the season.
Jimmy Howard was pulled after two periods after allowing four goals on ten shots to the Blues. You probably want to use Howard at your own risk, as he is 1-4-3 with a 4.64 goals-against average and .836 save percentage in his past nine games. As well, we might start to see Petr Mrazek factor into the Wings’ goaltending situation more than he has. Howard has played over twice as many games (24) as Mrazek has (10) this season.
Tyler Bozak entered Saturday’s game with just four goals in 28 games. But he finished the game with his first three-point game of the season, scoring two goals and adding an assist. If you are kicking yourself for not starting Bozak in a daily format, keep in mind that he had not scored a goal in 13 games.
Talk about an instant buy-low opportunity for me. I picked up Mitch Marner off waivers in one of my leagues, and he rewarded me with three assists. Considering that this is my shallowest league, I can kind of see why he was dropped, as he has scored just two goals all season and no points in his last seven games. Of course, before adding him I looked at the shots on goal total (56) along with the goals. As best as I could do math in my head, I determined that his shooting percentage was below 5 percent (3.4 percent now that I’ve had a chance to look it up). So that has nowhere to go but up. He’s 84 percent owned in Yahoo leagues as I write this.
Auston Matthews was clutching his head after taking a hit during the third period. I’m shocked that the Toronto sports media provided little speculation about his condition after the game, considering that the Leafs play again on Sunday.
Do any of you who follow the Leafs closely know why William Nylander played only 8:39 in this game? I was mainly channel surfing during the early games. Three games at the same time on HNIC.
Tristan Jarry was pulled at the end of the first period after allowing three goals on 16 shots. Maybe he couldn’t make the big save, but the Penguins’ issues of less-than-stellar 5-on-5 play seems to be surfacing. Jarry has seen action in seven consecutive games, so as much as you’ll want to start him whenever possible, remember that this is a lot happening very quickly for a 22-year-old goalie who expected to spend the season in the AHL.
Moving Tyler Johnson up to a line with Steven Stamkos and Vladislav Namestnikov has helped revive his fantasy stock, although Johnson was moved again on Saturday to a line with Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point. TJ recorded another two assists to extend his point streak to four and give him points in six of his last seven games, although the assist was on the power play on Yanni Gourde’s goal. By the way, Gourde has a four-game point streak of his own.
Full disclosure: Perhaps my worst keeper decision was choosing Johnson over Nikita Kucherov when the two were in a virtual dead heat in fantasy value (after the 2014-15 season). But I doubt anyone at the time knew he would be top-of-the-scoring-race good. If you did, maybe you should be giving me fantasy hockey advice.
I was disappointed that the Jets/Lightning overtime lasted only 36 seconds, since 3-on-3 OT was made for those two teams. But that doesn’t take away from the winning goal by Brayden Point, who finished with two points in this game.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 10, 2017
Dustin Byfuglien left this game in the third period with a lower-body injury. The Jets’ next game is at home on Monday, which makes for a difficult decision if you need to set your weekly roster by Sunday night.
On the Hot Stove, Nick Kypreos mentioned Michael Hutchinson as a possibility for teams that need a goalie right now (Edmonton, Florida). Hutchinson has a 9-1-0 record with a 1.73 GAA for the Manitoba Moose of the AHL this season. If you play in one of those super deep leagues where most backups, let alone starters, are on someone’s roster, Hutch might be a goalie to secure.
Historically, Carey Price has been money on Saturday night, but he was pulled early in the second period after allowing four goals on 14 shots. As subpar as the season stats might be, his numbers since returning from injury are 5-2-1 with a 2.30 GAA and .928 SV%. Timing is everything, so you might still be able to buy low after the awful start.
Jujhar Khaira led the Oilers’ charge with two goals. He has quietly produced for the Oilers (five goals and nine points in 16 games). But he’s probably not at the point where you should be adding him, as his shooting accuracy is cruising at a very high 20 percent. The fact that he receives virtually no power-play time isn’t going to help his cause either.
Sergei Bobrovsky stopped all 35 shots he faced in the Blue Jackets’ 1-0 shutout win over Arizona. Bob now leads the NHL with four shutouts.
Antti Raanta was the hard-luck loser, stopping 33 of 34 shots he faced.
It’s John Tortorella message-sending time. You may have heard that Dobber’s baby Cam Atkinson was a healthy scratch for this game. Atkinson was benched for the third period of Friday’s game and played just 9:36 total. What has Atkinson done to deserve this treatment? How about no points in his last six games and just nine points in 25 games.
Honestly think Torts should have scratched him a month ago. For once, Torts was actually patient with a guy.
Let's hope it gets Cam going https://t.co/KqQjVViAuN
— Dobber (@DobberHockey) December 9, 2017
Either that or it’s somehow the beginning of the end for Atkinson in Columbus. In Torts’ world, everything is black and white. Atkinson will be back for the next game, but this is no way means that Torts has or will regain faith in Atkinson. I’m just thinking back to the Ryan Johansen situation. Also remember that this was a coach who benched Roberto Luongo for the Heritage Classic because Eddie Lack was the hotter goalie, which turned out to be the end for Luongo in Vancouver.
I’m not saying that the Atkinson situation will play out this way, but I wouldn’t be totally surprised if it did either. But let’s assume that what I just said in the last paragraph is hyperbole for now.
Is Atkinson a great buy low? His shooting percentage is down (6.54 5on5 SH%, down from the last two seasons), and he’s missed a bit of time because of injury, so the season hasn’t really gotten off the ground. He’s shooting at roughly the same number of shots per game (3 SOG/GP), so better luck combined with the motivation to prove Torts wrong could result in much stronger second-half splits. So I’d say yes, it’s worth a shot. At the right price, of course.
With two assists, David Pastrnak extended his point streak to eight games. During that stretch he has four goals and ten points and a plus-7.
Brad Marchand received a five-minute major for a hit to the head of John Tavares. Normally we’d assume the five-minute major would be enough. But this is Marchand we’re talking about, so there could be supplemental discipline.
Mats Zuccarello scored two goals for the Rangers in their 5-2 win over the Devils. He also saved another one from going in.
MATS ZUCCARELLO GRABS THE PUCK OFF THE GOAL LINE AND KEEPS IT OUT TO KEEP THE RANGERS UP! pic.twitter.com/qQKchHKgRF
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) December 10, 2017
In the Avalanche’s 7-3 win over Florida, you were probably hoping Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, or Mikko Rantanen would have piled up the points. Instead, it was Matt Nieto who led the team in scoring with a goal and two assists. Nieto is the definition of a streaky scorer. He had not scored a goal since October 24, when he recorded a hat trick. Needless to say, fantasy owners can’t be that patient.
Matthew Tkachuk had gone 11 games without a goal and was coming off a recent one-game suspension, so he’s been receiving his fair share of criticism. In fact, the Department of Player Safety is planning to meet with him to discuss his recent suspensions and style of play. So he responded well on Saturday, scoring the game-tying goal and an empty-net goal in the Flames’ 4-2 win over Vancouver. Tkachuk is known more for his chippy play than anything, but his goal/assist ratio suggests he is much more of a passer than a shooter. In just over 100 games, Tkachuk has 19 career goals compared to 48 assists.
With no Bo Horvat, Markus Granlund was taking faceoffs on the Canucks’ first-unit power play on Saturday. Before your jaw drops to the floor, Brandon Sutter played a similar role last season. So this is nothing new.
Sven Baertschi left this game after taking a puck to the face, adding to the Canucks’ injury woes.
Aaron Dell stopped all 25 shots he faced in the Sharks’ 5-0 win over Ottawa. Dell remains one of the league’s top backups with a sub-2.00 goals-against average. He’s worth streaming for sure and is even worth a roster spot in very deep leagues.
Logan Couture scored a goal and added two assists in the win. He has nine goals in ten Saturday games, but six goals spread out through the rest of the week this season. If you play daily leagues for some weekend fun on a busy Saturday, Couture wouldn’t be a bad player to target. Otherwise, that’s a fairly useless stat.
I’m at the point where I’m now starting Jaroslav Halak over Craig Anderson on one of my teams. But Anderson can’t be totally held to blame in the Sens’ loss, as he faced 50 shots in total. But being an Anderson owner is testing your patience (didn’t someone writing for this site say the same about Matt Duchene not too long ago?) Anderson has not earned a win since November 11, which makes it nine appearances without a win.
But the light at the end of the tunnel might be Tuesday’s game against Buffalo. That’s what we have to call one of those “something’s gotta give” games. Unless, of course, Mike Condon is named the starter for that game. The Sens play another game on Wednesday against the Rangers.
For more fantasy hockey information, follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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