If you scooped up Anton Forsberg to fill in for Corey Crawford you got smacked by Brock Boeser, Sam Gagner and Thomas Vanek who combined to score all five of Vancouver’s goals. Forsberg was not and is not an option I’d run with in goal unless forced to do so out of desperation. Any goalie can go on a run, but he has been bad running his record to 1-5-3. I wonder if we hear from Jeff Glass. The Blackhawks need another option.
Vanek’s five-point night gives him 10 points in the last four games. He has a four-point game and a five-point game in that stretch. Exposure to the Brock Boes Monster has helped, but we know that Vanek can score in bunches. I doubt that he is a sustainable solution, especially with the Canucks’ upcoming schedule offering challenges. They have a seven-game road swing coming up in January. While it is broken up by their bye week, it will still be a rough stretch.
If you can find a way to get Vanek to fit into your regular lineup use him, but I suspect that with only two games between now and next Saturday, you’d get better volume from another waiver wire option.
Nazem Kadri left last night’s game and did not return. You have to figure we’re talking about a head injury considering the video evidence:
Slow mo and new angle on the Lawson Crouse hit on Nazem Kadri. This doesn't look good at all. He's not out for the second period; broadcast said that he didn't go through concussion protocol despite an elbow to the head. Crouse was not penalized. pic.twitter.com/iEJ5KfJ9Tt— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) December 29, 2017
The post-game speculation is that this may not be all that serious, with Kadri merely suffering a neck injury. He may not miss any action. Stay tuned.
Patrick Marleau awakened from quite the slumber with two goals and three points. He had previously scored two points in 10 December games. This ups his ratio a bit. Marleau benefitted from Kadri’s absence, jumping onto the top PP unit and could go on a nice little run. That being said, Kadri has yet to score in December, going 11 straight without a point so those top PP minutes are no guarantee of points.
Jakob Chychrun was Arizona’s top minute muncher last night leading the team in overall ice time (25:05). Chychrun also received 6:10 on the PP, more than Oliver Ekman-Larsson. He piled up seven SOG and recorded his third assist in the past four games. He has stumbled into modest relevance since returning from injury, but probably won’t be consistent enough to provide universal value. Put him on your watch list.
Some line juggling for the Capitals last night. By the end of the game this is what they were rolling out:
So reshuffled Caps lines this period are:— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) December 29, 2017
That third line has had some success, and Andre Burakovsky is further harmed by getting bounced to the fourth line. He skated just 8:42, a team low. He is still getting back to speed coming off injury. You should expect him to get back into the 14-minute range, but that may not be enough for fantasy relevance.
Tom Wilson managed an assist, but getting knocked down to the third line should safely push him back to the waiver wire unless of course you are in a deep multi-category league where his PIM and hit contributions keep you afloat and the scoring is just a bonus.
James Reimer is in the zone. His full-season stats are junk, but he has won four straight and has a quality start in six straight. I scooped him up as a replacement for Roberto Luongo and am no longer as afraid of using him as I was before. Mind you, this hot run has not exactly come against a murderer’s row. His winning streak is comprised of victories over Arizona, Ottawa, Philadelphia and Minnesota. But you want your guys to beat up on bad teams. He has done so effectively.
The schedule ahead for the Panthers doesn’t look to shabby. They’ve got a struggling Habs team on Saturday before heading on the road for five straight. They certainly benefit from playing in the weak Atlantic Division. Detroit is also looming in the next week.
Nick Bjugstad is flirting with fantasy relevance. He is on pace for over 200 SOG, which will always excite me. I also like that he gets you exposure to Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau on Florida’s top line. No top PP minutes, however. He has strung together a run with 10 points in the last 14 games, which is relevant in a lot of leagues.
Evgenii Dadonov’s production has taken a hit with Bjugstad riding shotgun on the top line. Dadonov has three points in seven games since returning from injury and seven in 18 games since the start of November. He has just one point from the power play in that stretch. Some of that is because the Panthers’ PP stinks. Some of it is from getting bounced in favour of a two-defenseman look. Some of it is just flat out struggles. He’s looking like waiver fodder in shallower leagues.
David Rittich continues to intrigue as the Flames’ backup. He posted great numbers in the AHL and is now doing so in the show. He took a shootout loss last night, but stopped 30 of 32. All four of his starts have been of the quality variety. Mike Smith is entrenched and playing well so Rittich is no threat at this stage, but I wonder about using him as a spot starter going forward. The Flames’ schedule is light on back-to-backs, but we could see more of Rittich if Smith starts showing signs of fatigue.
It hasn’t been a gloriously productive season for Mikael Backlund, but he has strung together a run with points in three straight games. He continues to be a force for the Flames driving the play forward, despite a heavy dose of tough matchups and defensive zone starts. His 4.93% on-ice shooting percentage suggests that he has been a bit unlucky. Backlund is on pace for 48 points, but should get to 50.
Kevin Labanc continues to be a go-to daily fantasy option for me. He has clicked on a surging Sharks PP scoring 11 points in his last eight games, including five PPP. The overall minutes aren’t exceptional as he’s averaging under 15 minutes per game, but he and Tomas Hertl are being deployed heavily in offensive situations and providing results.
Rough news for Chris Kreider:
NYR announce Chris Kreider has a spontaneous blood clot. Out indefinitely. Arm felt strange and got worse after 1st period, so they pulled him and sent him to the hospital.— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) December 28, 2017
The timeline for this is more likely months than weeks. As mentioned yesterday, your direct fill-in is Rick Nash.
The Rangers also recalled Vinni Lettieri who has done well with 12 goals and 21 points in 31 games at the AHL level. Presumably, Lettieri won’t fill a big role, but offers some upside in deep leagues. The DobberProspects gang had some further notes on him earlier this month.
#NHLJets practice has started-- Blake Wheeler is playing centre.— Sara Orlesky (@saraorlesky) December 28, 2017
Connor Wheeler Laine
Ehlers Little Perreault
Copp Lowry Tanev
Matthias Hendricks Armia
It does not appear that Jack Roslovic well get recalled yet.
Johnny Boychuk has been placed on IR with a lower-body injury, so he’ll miss at least a week, but will likely be out longer. The other Sebastian Aho has been recalled. I presume that Aho wasn’t recalled just to sit, but the Islanders have a lot of mouths to feed. They have carried eight defensemen all year regularly rotating Ryan Pulock, Dennis Seidenberg, Thomas Hickey and Scott Mayfield through two spots in the lineup.
Pulock stands as a direct replacement for the big shot that Boychuk provides and should lap up the secondary PP time that comes with that spot.
As for Aho, he has excelled in the AHL with 20 points in 29 games as a 21-year-old defenseman. There doesn’t seem to be much room for him at this juncture, but it’s good to know he is only an injury away from joining the Islanders. Read more about Aho here.
Some injury news out of Pittsburgh:
Coach Sullivan’s injury updates:— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 28, 2017
-Bryan Rust is longer-term with an upper body injury.
-Chad Ruhwedel is week-to-week with an upper body injury.
-Matt Murray is day-to-day but will not play tomorrow.
Looks like you’ll get some use out of Tristan Jarry this week.
This is likely just a short-term thing. Mantha is still the most talented winger that team has. He has been practicing Downer December with just two points in 10 games and no power-play points. You can understand why Mantha would get pushed down. He’ll be back in the mix soon enough, but he has done enough damage to work his way off many a fantasy roster.
"I know Toronto already made up their mind it was a goal before they shot the puck. It's just how it works in this League," Lehner said after the Sabres' (9-20-8) 3-2 overtime loss to the Islanders (20-13-4). "Everything is predetermined against us. It's not to be sulking or anything. We're not where we want to be or anything like that. It's just how it is. The Islanders are in a playoff spot, and you know, it is what it is."
I sincerely doubt that there is any conspiracy afoot. I would however love to hear more conspiracy theories from Lehner. Could they make this a weekly show?
In World Junior talk I have been absolutely smitten with Martin Necas through two games of tournament play. Check out the sauce on this cross-seam pass:
Great pass from Martin Necas sets up Filip Zadina pic.twitter.com/IUGAza5rW5— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 28, 2017
Most impressive about Necas, he makes plays at high speed, which is how players are excelling in the NHL. I still advise selling high on players after the World Juniors, but I’d be confident in Necas making an NHL impact very soon. He damn near cracked the Hurricanes’ lineup as an 18-year-old.
A couple of juicy nuggets to unpack in Elliotte Friedman’s latest 31 Thoughts:
7. Sounds like Arizona is working to find Anthony Duclair a fresh start. At 22, have to think someone takes a shot.
Duclair scored 2.0 points/60 at 5-on-5 through his first 99 games in the NHL as a 19-20 -year-old. Impressive stuff, but he has fallen off in the last two seasons with Arizona. How much can we attribute to growing pains, and a bad environment? Last season was a total write off. This season, he’s up to 1.56 points/60, which is okay. He is shooting at the highest rate of his career. I definitely think there’s potential for Duclair, but I want to see him get back to 2.0 points/60 before considering him truly intriguing.
If he can’t score at a good rate as a lower-line player, he doesn’t stand much chance of getting elevated to a spot in the lineup where he can gain relevance, so we are talking two hurdles here, not one.
8. I worry about writing this kind of sentence because things change and it blows up in my face, but it doesn’t seem like there’s an Edmonton-Ottawa match for Mike Hoffman – curious to see if a Carolina or a St. Louis looks at him.
There’s no situation more intriguing than a player on a struggling team getting top minutes potentially moving to a strong team where his minutes could decrease. Hoffman hasn’t been all that bad for Ottawa. He has been one of their more consistent scorers. The offense has dried up with no goals and just four points in the last 11 games as things have spiralled out of control, but he’s still on pace for 56 points. He is seeing career highs in minutes (18:28 per game), and PP time (3:34 per game), but is also being tasked with JG Pageau and Tom Pyatt as his most common linemates.
We have seen Hoffman excel in a secondary roll before. He could benefit moving to a better team where he sees fewer minutes but better linemates. Bottom line for Hoffman, he’s a career 11.0% shooter currently shooting 7.5%. Obviously, the Sens playing so poorly is helping to drive that down, but he should still regress towards his career rate, which would mean more goals in the second half regardless of if/where he gets moved. He should score at least 25 goals on any team with any linemates.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.
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