Fantasy Hockey News for Thursday

Bruce Bennett

A fantasized look at Wednesday night's NHL action.

Only four teams in action last night but they scored 13 goals, so grab a coffee and let's talk about each one before you start actually working.

The New York Rangers climbed back from down 3-1, only to fall to the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 in the shootout. Mats Zuccarello led the comeback effort with a goal and a helper. The coaching swap has done wonders for Zuccarello. He's earned Alain Vigneault's approval, demonstrated by the additional minute of ice time per game this year compared to last year. He's also the Rangers' second-leading scorer with 23 in 34.

John Moore had two helpers and if you have John Moore in your pool, your pool is very deep. If it were the backyard variety, it would be the envy of all your neighbours, no doubt.

Also tallying for the Blueshirts were Carl Hagelin and Derrick Brassard; assists were awarded to Brad Richards, Justin Falk and Benoit Pouliot.

Rookie black-and-yellow defender Olli Maatta looked sharp with one assist, four shots and three blocked shots. He played 28 minutes, second only to Matt Niskanen, as a Mattaa-of-fact.

Checker Brandon Sutter was channeling Datsyuk on this goal. He also scored the only goal in the shootout, in the 6th round. Send the highlight clip around your league and try to sell high, he'll never do anything like this again.

Sidney Crosby had two assists; Pascal Dupuis scored a goal; Chris Kunitz had the stat line of the night: 1G, 1A, +1, 2 PIMS, 7 shots, 2 hits, 2 blocked shots.

Both Marc-Andre Fleury and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 29 of 32, but Fleury earned the win thanks to the shootout. The Pens have won 10 of their last 11 despite a rash of injuries and suspensions.

The New Jersey Devils were all over the hapless Ottawa Senators, 5-2. Jaromir Jagr scored the game-winning goal to become the NHL's all-time leader with 122. He called the record "the only record Wayne Gretzky doesn't have."  I also love how he has been just ripping his teammate Dainius Zubrus for a few games now [see also this video].

Patrik Elias had two assists. He has quietly put up eight points in his last eight games and 22 in 27 on the year. 37-year-old Elias has never received much attention, but this year with Jagr coming in and stealing all the old man love, he gets none. Shame. 

Damien Brunner scored a beautiful if controversial goal. Mike Milbury felt Brunner should have been penalized for chopping the stick from the hands of the defender, Jared Cowen. Brunner would add an assist. He has five points in his last four games after just one point in his previous seventeen(!). The increased production appears to coincide with a move to Elias' line. 

Reid Boucher scored his first NHL goal. Boucher is most famous for breaking Steven Stamkos' single-season goal record with the Sarnia Sting by scoring 62 in 68 (Stamkos had 58 in 61, actually a better pace). Most analysts didn't expect Boucher to see any NHL games this season, but his AHL stats suggest he was playing very well for the Albany Devils (10+8=18 in 21 games), and New Jersey is so goal-starved (22nd in goals per game, dead last in shots per game) that they are willing to try anything at this point. Boucher now has three points in seven games; he's averaging around 13 minutes a night. It was a little disappointing to see him only earn 41 seconds of powerplay time tonight when ten others played more than two minutes. I mean, Steve Bernier had powerplay time. Steve Bernier. On the bright side, Boucher doubled his season shot output from four to eight. At 5'10" / 5'11" (judging from the photo, I'd say 5'10"), he's not tall, but the 4th-round pick has beaten the odds so far. Keep your eye on him. 

Rookie rearguard Eric Gelinas had a goal and an assist, bringing him up to 15 points in 26 games. He's getting second line powerplay minutes with fellow rookie and fellow second-round pick Jon Merrill (4 shots). I wouldn't be surprised if Gelinas worked his way onto the top pair this year, likely at the expense of Andy Greene over Marek Zidlicky.

Adam Henrique and Travis Zajac also set up goals for the Devils.

Ottawa Senators players didn't do much of note. Colin Greening and Milan Michalek potted goals while Patrick Wiercioch, Erik Karlsson and Mika Zibanejad earned assists. Clarke MacArthur received 14 penalty minutes which seems like a lot but I wouldn't really know because I'm not in any fantasy leagues that award points for rule violations. It's just illogical - I mean, by extension, suspensions should be worth a ton of points too. Civil assault charges should basically win the pool. 

Robin Lehner's loss was his sixth in seven starts, which is concerning, but more a reflection of the inexplicably disastrous team in front of him. His .926 save percentage is still good for seventh in the league. 

Martin Brodeur won his second consecutive start and he's not ready to yield the crease just yet. He's going to stick around for a while and steal old man love from Elias.

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