Fantasy owners who were patient enough to wait on William Nylander for two months finally received the chance to insert him in their lineup on Thursday, as the newly signed Leaf made his season debut. Unfortunately, Nylander didn’t add a single thing to fantasy lineups, posting zeros in pretty well every relevant fantasy category. As expected, Nylander lined up with Auston Matthews, and he was a part of the Leafs’ second-unit power play. In Dobber’s recent Facebook poll, I bet the under on Nylander reaching 45 points (in 54 games), although I don’t think it will be too far under.
In case you’re wondering how Kasperi Kapanen was affected, he had a better game than Nylander. Kapanen scored a goal and added an assist playing on a line with Nazem Kadri and Andreas Johnsson. In spite of the decent output from Kapanen, this bump from the Matthews line to the Kadri line is definitely a downgrade. In addition, Kapanen did not see any power-play time on Thursday, but he also hadn’t in his three previous games either.
Full disclosure: I streamed Garret Sparks for this game, as he received a juicy home matchup against the Wings. It didn’t quite work out, as Sparks allowed three first-period goals and another in the second to make the score 4-1 Detroit. The Leafs scored three third-period goals before the Wings eventually won in OT. Even when the Leafs give up a ton of shots or their goalie has a poor game, their goalie is often a strong bet to win because of their loaded offense. The Leafs give up the fifth-most shots in the NHL (33.8 SA/GP), yet they have the league’s third-best offense (3.66 GF/GP). Sparks is no Frederik Andersen, but I’ll throw him out there just about every time he starts.
A player I might have given up on too early: Gustav Nyquist. With a goal and two assists on Thursday, Nyquist now has eight points (4g-4a) over his last four games. This recent hot streak means that Nyquist is close to a point per game (26 points in 29 games). With Anthony Mantha’s injury, Nyquist was moved onto Dylan Larkin’s line on Tuesday, which has resulted in Nyquist firing 12 shots and collecting five points over those two games. With Mantha expected to be out for the next four to six weeks, Nyquist should be a great waiver-wire target (21 percent owned in Yahoo leagues).
With a goal on Thursday, NHL scoring leader Mikko Rantanen’s point streak now sits at 10 games. He has 18 points (5g-13a) over that stretch.
Carl Soderberg is also heating up. With two goals on Thursday, Soderberg has six points (4g-2a) over his last six games.
On the subject of point streaks, Cam Atkinson extended his to 12 games with an assist on Thursday. He has 20 points, including 13 goals, during the streak. Atkinson admitted that it was an off night for him, but one assist is always better than no points.
Seth Jones had a monster game, scoring two goals while logging 27 minutes. After a five-game stretch without a point, Jones has a five-game point streak where he has accrued seven points (3g-4a).
If the Penguins are truly testing the waters on a Phil Kessel trade, then on Thursday he increased his trade value. Kessel scored two goals and added two assists in the Pens’ 6-2 win over the Islanders. Kessel might not be scoring as many goals as he used to (held without a goal in his previous seven games), but his scoring is over a point per game (33 points in 27 games) for the second consecutive season. If the Pens build on their two-game win streak, then that might quiet the rumors. At least for now.
Kris Letang entered Thursday’s game with just one goal in his last 19 games. He made up for lost time on Thursday, scoring two goals. I’m happy for that, but I’m even happier that he hasn’t missed extended time due to injury.
The Ottawa Senators not only lost 5-2 to their division rivals in Montreal, but they also lost the services of two key forwards for the foreseeable future. Both Matt Duchene and Bobby Ryan left this game due to injury. Duchene’s injury is particularly troubling, as he leads the Senators with 34 points in 28 games. Assuming Duchene is out long term (and as a Duchene owner I naturally fear the worst), Colin White could be leaned on more heavily. White has already been skating with Mark Stone and Brady Tkachuk and recorded a goal and an assist on Thursday, so he’s already not a bad player to jump on in mid-sized to deeper leagues.
Charlie McAvoy returned to the Bruins’ lineup on Thursday, skating 21 minutes without recording a point. With the B’s defense more healthy than it was earlier this season (save for Zdeno Chara), the power play going forward is starting to take shape. Torey Krug manned the first unit with four forwards, while McAvoy was on the second unit with Matt Grzelcyk. The latter defender has seen his icetime dip below 20 minutes over the last two games while being held without a point over his last 12 games. It’s probably time to move on if you made Grzelcyk an early-season pickup.
And suddenly Mike Smith is hot. Smith stopped all 31 shots he faced in the Flames’ 2-0 win over Minnesota. After struggling for most of the first two months of the season, Smith has now reeled off five consecutive wins. Over that stretch he has a 1.50 GAA and .939 SV%. Smith obviously won’t keep this up, but he seems to be back in the driver’s seat as the Flames’ starting goalie, playing in five of the last six games with David Rittich struggling recently.
What appears to be Elias Lindholm’s breakout season continued on Thursday, as the Flames forward scored another two goals. Lindholm now has seven points in his last four games, is scoring at over a point-per-game pace on the top line, and he’s now only 13 points back of his career high of 45 points and only two goals shy of his career high of 17. And he has over half of the season left. So he’s in great shape to smash both totals. For more on Lindholm, check out our latest Geek of the Week offering.
If you’ve been an Alex Ovechkin keeper owner since Day 1, this is all he’s done for you in the shots on goal category. Far and away the best option here.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) December 6, 2018
Although he’s a distant second, props to Eric Staal here as well. Although Staal no longer fires 300+ shots per season, he’s still good for at least 200 in a season in his 30s.
Defending Vezina Trophy winner Pekka Rinne entered Thursday’s action with the league’s best ratios (1.81 GAA, .935 SV%). But even he is not immune to the rough nights that goalies can have. Rinne allowed four goals on 25 shots to the Canucks before being pulled at the end of the second period. Surely this seemed like an easy win for Rinne, as he was facing a Canucks team that had lost 12 of its past 13 games. But nothing’s a sure thing when it comes to goaltending in 2018-19.
With a goal on Thursday, Loui Eriksson scored his first point in 11 games. God help you if you have him in a salary cap league.
Elias Pettersson recorded two points, including this goal on a penalty shot. This had the look and feel of a sure save by Rinne, but yeah… Petey snuck that puck in.
In order for the Canucks to bring in Josh Leivo earlier this week, they had to put Brendan Leipsic on waivers. The speedy Leipsic seemed like a great candidate to be claimed, and he was by the Kings. Both Leivo and Leipsic have been installed in their new teams’ top 6 this week – Leivo skating with Pettersson and Brock Boeser, and Leipsic with Jeff Carter and Matt Luff. Leivo scored his first goal as a Canuck on Tuesday, while Leipsic scored his first goal as a King on Thursday. Both players could be worth watching if their new roles stick, particularly Leivo, who was buried down the depth chart in Toronto.
After busting out of the gate with seven goals over his first four games, Kyle Palmieri scored just five goals over his next 22 games. That’s why his fantasy owners have to be especially encouraged by his two-goal performance on Thursday night. Palmieri also took six shots on goal, which was a number that was closer to his per-game shot totals earlier in the season. Even more encouraging: one of Palmieri’s goals was on the power play, where he hadn’t even recorded a single point over the previous 30 days.
Entering Thursday’s action, Will Butcher had recorded just a single assist in his past 13 games, yet he was still owned in over a third of Yahoo leagues. Those who stuck with him or simply haven’t been paying attention were rewarded with a goal and an assist on Thursday. In spite of this lack of production, Butcher has remained on the Devils’ top power play and probably will over Sami Vatanen and Damon Severson, at least for now.
If you haven’t received the memo, it’s time to remove Jonathan Quick from must-start status. The Kings’ struggles have been well-documented and they are no doubt dragging his value to the ground. But after allowing five goals on Thursday, Quick now has just one win in eight games to go with a brutal 3.52 GAA and .884 SV% – not nearly the numbers we are used to with Quick. He did pitch a shutout two games ago against Carolina, but he has allowed fewer than three goals just once in the other seven games. Further concerning is the fact that he has also been sidetracked by injuries two of the last three seasons. At the very least, we could see more of Jack Campbell and/or Cal Petersen if the Kings continue to trail the pack in the Western Conference.
From my good friend Nick Alberga:
Imagine the Blackhawks and Kings finished 30th and 31st in the NHL? That's where we're headed.
— Nick Alberga (@thegoldenmuzzy) December 7, 2018
Finally… release the Kraken… from the list of Seattle team names. Phenomenal movie scene, but there are so many better options.
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.
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