Bergeron and Kovalchuk Return, Shutouts From Backup Goalies, plus more…
In his return to the Bruins’ lineup after being sidelined for the past month, Patrice Bergeron scored two goals and added two assists in the Bruins’ 5-2 win over Nashville. Usual suspects Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak were also able to take advantage of Bergeron’s return, collecting a goal and two assists each. Bergeron’s 1.5 PTS/GP average (30 points in 20 games) has only been exceeded by three players who have played at least as many games, so get him back into your lineup ASAP.
David Krejci was able to take advantage of top-line duty while Bergeron was out, scoring 14 points (5g-9a) in 16 games. Krejci saw his eight-game point streak snapped as well, although he was able to retain Pastrnak as a linemate to start this game (along with Joakim Nordstrom). Keep an eye on the line combinations going forward, as they may not be as troublesome for Krejci as you think.
Jaroslav Halak has posted three consecutive wins this week, allowing just three goals over that span. He seems rejuvenated with the move to Boston, continuing to make life difficult for Tuukka Rask owners. Rask is confirmed to start on Sunday in Carolina, according to Goalie Post.
The Blue Jackets’ top line continues to do damage to opponents. Cam Atkinson scored two goals, while Artemi Panarin recorded three points each in the Jackets’ 4-3 win over Philadelphia. Dobber favorite Atkinson now has 22 goals, which places him just two shy of his total from all of last season. If you compared his second-half production (18 goals in 33 games) to his first-half production (six goals in 32 games) last season, you would have noticed and possibly targeted him.
It was inevitable, but Carter Hart had his first rough start, allowing four goals on 19 shots.
With his game-tying goal late in the third period, Phillip Danault recorded his first career hat trick. Danault had only scored two goals all season prior to Saturday, so his three goals on Saturday likely didn’t help many fantasy owners. Danault has some linemates that are having strong seasons in Brendan Gallagher (15 goals) and Tomas Tatar (12 goals), so expect him to mainly contribute assists at the center position going forward. Gallagher and Tatar each contributed two assists on Saturday.
With two goals on Saturday, Brandon Pirri now has three goals in two games played. That gives him the highest goals per games played total in the league. Go add him now! (I’m kidding – well, sort of). Pirri has had some fairly strong linemates in Paul Stastny and Reilly Smith, but he has to find a way to stick around in the NHL. That could all depend on how long Max Pacioretty is out. Pirri has scored at a torrid pace in the AHL (41 points in just 28 games) and was close to a point-per-game player there last season. Something that could also help Pirri’s cause: he and Smith played together in the Toronto minor hockey system.
Like Danault, Mitch Marner isn’t necessarily known for goals. Also like Danault, Marner scored three points on Saturday. Marner was believed to have a hat trick at one point, but his first goal was later credited to Andreas Johnsson. Marner has two consecutive three-point games and is also on a four-game goal streak. Marner is currently in the top 10 in scoring and the top 5 in assists.
By the way, Johnsson also posted three points (1g-2a). I mentioned recently that he was moved up to the Marner/Tavares line, so he’s just starting to benefit from the opportunity. He had been held without a point in his previous five games prior to Saturday. He’s worth taking a flier on in deeper leagues.
Unfortunately, the Leafs will be without Tyler Ennis for a while, as his ankle was broken in this game. Ennis has scored seven goals while playing in the Leafs’ bottom six.
Since finally signing his contract, William Nylander has yet to score a goal and has just two assists in eight games. Those two assists came in one game, and he’s been without a point in five games since. You probably shouldn’t be surprised, as it does take a while to get up to game speed. You should probably also be patient.
When Ilya Kovalchuk went onto IR nearly a month ago, his fantasy value had sunk to an all-time low. His Kings’ career had not worked out as expected, having been held without a point in 11 games with incredibly low icetime under new coach Willie Desjardins. Yet Kovy returned to the Kings’ lineup on Saturday and proceeded to score two goals, including the overtime winner.
Despite the two goals, those issues may still end up mattering for Kovalchuk. He played a total of 13:42 in this game, on a line with recent waiver-wire pickup Brendan Leipsic and checking line veteran Nate Thompson. Kovalchuk is already 42 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, and I have trouble recommending that you do your part to increase that number.
Erik Karlsson will have a hearing with the Department of Player Safety after this hit on Austin Wagner.
If Karlsson is suspended, his fantasy owners could be without him all week, as there are no games set for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday because of the holiday break.
With a 40-save shutout of the Ducks, Linus Ullmark has now won each of his last three games. Over the last couple weeks, Ullmark has started about every third game. With the Sabres much improved from last season, Ullmark is a solid streaming option whenever he starts. His numbers (2.71 GAA, .922 SV%) aren’t that far off from Carter Hutton’s (2.58 GAA, .917 SV%), so it’s possible that we see him start even more soon.
Jeff Skinner stats in the form of rhyme, from a Carolina Hurricanes' perspective:
Roses are red
cover your eyes https://t.co/fMOnSw1O58
— Sara Civ 🐳 (@SaraCivian) December 23, 2018
All the best to Sabres’ broadcaster Rick Jeanneret, who was taken away on a stretcher to a Buffalo hospital during this game.
Another Saturday shutout: Pheonix Copley stopped all 35 shots he faced in the Capitals’ 4-0 win over Ottawa. Copley has now won four consecutive starts, although he plays less often than Ullmark. This was only Copley’s third start this month, but when you’re new to the team playing behind a goalie who just led his team to a Stanley Cup, you’re probably not going to play very often.
Craig Anderson missed this game with an upper-body injury, so Mike McKenna started in his place, allowing four goals on 33 shots.
Who says goalie numbers are suffering? There’s another shutout to report – a much-needed one for this particular goalie. Matt Murray stopped all 39 shots he faced in the Penguins’ 3-0 win over Carolina. Murray owners are well aware of his struggles dating back to last season, but what if I told you that Murray has now won three consecutive games? Casey DeSmith still has the far superior numbers, so the Pittsburgh goaltending situation should still be a timeshare, at least for now. But the three consecutive wins and shutout are very encouraging signs if you’ve been patient with Murray all this time.
Jake Guentzel scored two goals, which gives him back-to-back games with multiple points. Linemate Sidney Crosby chipped in three assists, while Bryan Rust continues to be hot. With two more assists on Saturday, Rust now has 11 points (including eight goals) over his last seven games. Rust is worth adding while he is on this line and rolling.
The Jets-Canucks game was proof that low-scoring games can be exciting, as the teams combined for over 100 shot attempts. A Mark Scheifele goal with a minute and a half left in regulation eventually decided it. Scheifele now has 11 goals and 25 points in his last 15 games, and he leads all scorers in the month of December with 19 points. Whatever way you slice it, he is an elite option in fantasy leagues.
Oh yeah, one more shutout, and also from a backup goalie. Laurent Brossoit didn’t let up, stopping all 40 shots he faced. The former Oiler has now posted five consecutive wins, although he allowed at least three goals in each of the four previous wins. It seems as though the Jets can outscore any goaltending issues on many nights. Still, when you need a win, stream a backup goalie from a strong team. This was the case for backup goalies from Buffalo, Washington, and Winnipeg tonight (Saturday night). None of these goalies are owned in more than 15 percent of Yahoo leagues.
The scoring race might be 1-2 for the Colorado snipers at the moment, but Nikita Kucherov is doing all he can to not let Rantanen and MacKinnon get away. Kucherov scored a goal and added four helpers in the Bolts’ 6-3 win over the Oilers. Kucherov has now scored multiple points in each of his last three games, and he is currently riding an eight-game point streak. Yeah, he’s kind of a good player.
Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson each scored a pair of goals. Stamkos now has goals in each of last four games and has a league-leading 12 goals during the month of December. Johnson also hasn’t had a bad December with six goals and 10 points in 11 games.
Jesse Puljujarvi started this game playing on the Connor McDavid line and recorded an assist, though he was moved off the line for the third period. Puljujarvi has now recorded points in back-to-back games. The third man on the McDavid line seems to be a revolving door, but Puljujarvi is at least worth watching because it is after all the McDavid line. But it would be a stretch to say he’s on the verge of a breakout or at least sticking on the line for more than the short term.
Since this is (probably) my last Ramblings before Christmas, I would like to take the time to wish all of you and your families a very Merry Christmas. I hope the holidays are kind to you, and that you make the most of the three days away from NHL hockey (c’mon, it won’t be so bad – at least it’s not an entire summer!)
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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