One day after a 48-save shutout from Carter Hutton was needed for St. Louis to defeat Winnipeg, it was much the same kind of domination by the Jets on Sunday. They jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first period thanks to Adam Lowry and shots on goal were 21-10 for Winnipeg halfway through the game. St. Louis has a couple of injuries in the lineup, but they have been one of the better defensive teams in the NHL this season, and Winnipeg was shredding them.
Patrik Laine shredded them for his 16th goal of the season, this one coming with the man advantage (his 10th PP goal). It looked like a play where the team would have to continue setting up, working for a good shot. Laine had other ideas, and it’s shots like this that make him one of the most dangerous shooters on the planet:
that laine shot tho pic.twitter.com/lbwGuHJmKP
— Michael Clifford (@SlimCliffy) December 18, 2017
That he can shoot at that angle with the goalie in a set position, and make said goalie look as if he had no chance, is something special.
Mark Scheifele and Josh Morrissey each scored in the third period to salt this away. Connor Hellebuyck held on for the 24-save shutout. Jake Allen faced 45 shots, giving the Jets 93 shots (!) in two days against St. Louis.
For those that may have missed in on The Athletic, Paul Campbell had a nice article breaking down the adjustments Connor Hellebuyck made in the off-season as it relates to being quieter, more compact, and not relying on pure athleticism/size all the time. His save percentage now sits at .920 after that game. If he can be anything close to that goalie, with this team playing the way it is, they are a legitimate Cup contender.
Alex Pietrangelo was activated off the injured reserve on Sunday in time for the Blues’ game against Winnipeg. He missed four games with a lower-body injury. While it’s obviously good news for the Blues and Petro’s fantasy owners, it’s bad news for fantasy owners of both Colton Parayko and Vince Dunn. Both blue liners had seen some top PP time with the team’s top defenceman out of the lineup, and that PP time is sure to disappear now.
It should be said, though, that Parayko was kept on the top PP unit for Sunday’s game, even with Pietrangelo back. I doubt it lasts, but it’s worth mentioning.
Patrick Kane got the scoring started for Chicago, potting his 13th of the season in the middle of the first period, and his 14th in late in the second frame. He’s now on pace for 35 goals and a shade over a point per game. This is pretty much the Patrick Kane fantasy owners have come to expect, outside of his career year in 2015-16. He and Artemi Panarin undoubtedly had great chemistry, and we’re seeing a return to normalcy for Kane with Panarin in Columbus. It’s no coincidence his two highest five-on-five on-ice shooting percentage seasons came with the talented Russian on his left wing, so expecting Kane to pass 100 points again is asking too much. He’s undoubtedly one of the elite offensive talents in the NHL, but he can’t do it all himself.
Richard Panik was scratched again for Chicago, his third game in a row (if I’m counting correctly). It’s a confusing situation, but if you were hanging on to him, it’s probably best to just drop him now. Even if he were to make his way out of the press box, it seems pretty unlikely he jumps back into a top-six role.
Minnesota got a boost last night as Jared Spurgeon slotted back in the lineup after missing three weeks with a groin injury. He had been on pace for career-highs across the board until being forced to the sidelines, so it’ll be interesting to see how he rebounds. At the least, this will help the Minnesota defence that has been inconsistent at best this year, which in turn should help Devan Dubnyk get on track once he himself returns from his current injury.
I will say, though, this team hasn’t been great defensively all year, with or without injuries. Over the last month, with a mostly-full roster, the team is 20th in adjusted shot attempts allowed. Now, they still aren’t giving up a lot of scoring chances, so maybe their defensive system will hold up as it has for a couple years now. We’ll see how this goes.
So, uh, sorry, Canucks fans?
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) December 18, 2017
Boeser did not return to the game. It’s doubtful we get an update on the severity of the injury until sometime Monday afternoon at the earliest.
It wasn’t long ago that Baertschi-Horvat-Boeser was one of the top production lines in the league. Now, Horvat has a broken ankle, Baertschi is out for another month with a broken jaw, and we’re awaiting the severity of the injury to Boeser. I suppose by default the Sedins are now the top line again, but this is going to be a slog of an uphill climb. I suppose Rasmus Dahlin is a decent consolation prize?
Mark Jankowski scored his sixth of the season in the first period of Calgary’s game on the road against Vancouver. I know Flames fans were hoping for more when he was originally drafted, but Jankowski is on pace for nearly 20 goals playing 13-15 minutes a night on the third line. For a guy that took five years to make his NHL debut, it wasn’t always certain he’d pan out. If he could even be a middle-six winger for the next decade for this franchise, that is a huge win. By the way, he has given some sparse top PP minutes tonight with the Johnny Hockey line. If that can continue, he could be a viable fantasy option in most leagues. That’s a big if, however.
Mark Giordano added a couple goals for the Flames in their rout of Vancouver with David Rittich picking up the win in net.
Sam Bennett picked up four points here, a goal and three assists. After going pointless in his first 15 games, Bennett has 15 points in 19 games. If you own him in a league with hits, you're laughing. It's nice to see him right the ship after the rough start to the year.
Of course, all fantasy goodness was secondary to the health of Boeser. He had such an incredible start to his career. Let’s all hope it’s nothing serious.
The game of the night was Florida/Vegas, without a doubt.
Michael Matheson and Radim Vrbata scored less than two and a half minutes apart in the first period to get the Panthers out to a 2-0 lead. Nate Schmidt and Colin Miller replied for Vegas to give us a 2-2 game at the end of 20.
Erik Haula tipped home a Miller shot in the third period that would stand as the game-winner.
Jonathan Marchessault scored an empty-netter and added two assists, meaning he’s now a point-per-game player on the season with 29 points in 29 games.
I talked about it a couple weeks ago with regards to Miller, but one thing that has been fun to watch in Vegas this year is how guys who had been typically third-pairing guys for their careers are now performing in Vegas. Miller is absolutely crushing it in all facets; Nate Schmidt is having a rough year in the shot-share department, but is doing much better playing away from Luca Sbisa (surprise, surprise); Brayden McNabb is performing as expected, and even earned himself a new contract. Guys who couldn’t earn a top role in other spots are flourishing for the Golden Knights. I’m sure there’s a lesson to be learned here from league execs/managers, though we’ll see if they actually glean anything.
A bit of news regarding injuries to a few of New Jersey forwards. Taylor Hall skated with Nico Hischier in practice on Sunday, indicating his return to the lineup is imminent. He missed two games last week with a knee bruise, but looks ready to go for Monday’s game against Anaheim. Those in weekly leagues, don’t forget to activate him; with three home games and a relatively soft schedule (Ducks, Rangers, Blackhawks), you don’t want to leave him on the bench by accident.
Kyle Palmieri also skated on the top line with Hall and Hischier, which means he’s likely ready to return Monday after missing four weeks with a broken foot. Palmieri averaged 28 goals and 55 points over his first two years in New Jersey, and had showed promise skating on the top line earlier this year that he could repeat close to that level again. Like Hall, if you’re a weekly fantasy owner, it’s time to get him back into your lineup.
Marcus Johansson, on the other hand, appears to not be quite ready to make his way back into the starting lineup. He did practice with his team on Sunday, but skated as an extra, meaning he will likely miss at least one more game. He’s officially a game-time decision for Monday night.
An update on Logan Couture:
Logan Couture out tomorrow (at least) with a head injury, per DeBoer. Day to day
— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) December 17, 2017
Readers will remember that Couture left San Jose’s game against Vancouver in the third period after taking a hit to the head. As always, concussions are a fickle injury, and when Couture will be ready is anyone’s guess. It could be a couple games, a couple weeks, a couple months. There’s just no way to know.
With Couture out of the lineup, Chris Tierney moved up to the second line with Tomas Hertl while Kevin Labanc took Couture’s spot on the top power-play unit. In practice on Sunday, though, Hertl shifted to the middle of the second line with Labanc and Melker Karlsson on his flanks. My guess is that this is probably just a situation to avoid, and looking for a direct replacement for Couture from the Sharks roster is not advised.
Nikita Zaitsev was placed on injured reserve by the Leafs and Martin Marincin was called up to take his place. That will keep Zaitsev out until after the Christmas break, which is a break in itself for Toronto as the team only has three games in the next 10 days.
It has been a rough year offensively for the 26-year old, but he was still valuable in real-time stats leagues averaging nearly two hits and three blocked shots per game. It shouldn’t be too difficult to replace him on waiver wires, however. It depends how deep your league is, but a couple blue liners that can help replace Zaitsev’s production include Derek Forbort and Calvin de Haan. Keep an eye for more information today on de Haan, though, as he was seen in pain after the team’s overtime win on Saturday night. It may be nothing, but no need to pull the trigger on the waiver add just yet.
Colorado could get Alex Kerfoot back tonight after missing a few games with a foot injury emanating from an unintentional blocked shot. On the season, Kerfoot has nine goals and 21 points in 29 games, with 10 of those points coming with the man advantage.
While this could be construed as a good thing for fantasy owners, it might be time to see what he can fetch in a trade. He’s averaging just over one shot on goal per game (seriously, he has 30 in 29 contests), and the team is shooting 12 percent with him on the ice at five-on-five. All his numbers are going to regress over the final 50 games of the season, and it could be severe. Anyone that took the chance on him with a late-round flyer in September should be looking to trade him now. You got as much value as you could have hoped for. It’s time to move on.
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