The Boston Bruins delivered their Christmas present for the Ottawa Senators with a 5-0 thrashing. Reilly Smith put up two goals while Brad Marchand picked up a shorthanded goal and an assist. Tukka Rask was stellar, as usual, and posted his league-leading 4th shutout of the season. Rask remains the best goalie in both real life and fantasy, so continue to roll him and enjoy the ride.
Boston's Resolution: Do whatever it takes to keep this going. They are playing their best hockey so far.
Ottawa's Resolution: DEPTH, DEPTH, DEPTH. Their team is too stacked up front to be this bad.
The Columbus Blue Jackets and New Jersey Devils enjoyed a stingy night of hockey, with the most fantasy relevant story being in net. Curtis McElhinney stopped 16 of 17 shots and is now 6-5-1. He continues to be inconsistent, so hopefully you have better options. Martin Brodeur continued his impressive season stopping 29 of 30 shots. He is now 11-8-3 and will keep splitting time with Cory Schneider.
Columbus' Resolution: Find a way to get back to last season's ways. Their Vezina-winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is looking more like a one-hit wonder. Get well soon.
New Jersey's Resolution: Keep Brodeur healthy. This gives Schneider healthy competition while solidifying a goalie duo that could help surprise the East, "surprise" being the key word.
The New York Rangers and Washington Capitals game was much of the same. Cam Talbot has been great for NY but wasn't able to come away with a win on Friday night. An even better surprise has been Philipp Grubauer, who has officially challenged Braden Holtby for his role as the number one goalie. He is now 5-1-1 and is proving to be a solid fantasy asset in deeper leagues.
New York's Resolution: Don't disappoint the fans, again. You've done the shopping and the talent is there, this team just needs to come together. Hopefully Alain Vigneault is the right guy for the job. What do you think Vancouver?
Washington's Resoultion: Figure out the goalie situation. Holtby and Grubauer are manning the crease quite well leaving Michael Neuvirth in the AHL. It may be time to shop the young European talent instead of letting him rot in the minors. Teams would be willing to give this kid a chance at the right price.
James Neal enjoyed a very productive night when his Pittsburgh Penguins took on the Carolina Hurricanes. He scored a goal and added an assist while adding five shots in over 20 minutes of hockey. If you own Nathan Gerbe, congratulations. He scored a goal and an assist while throwing 5 pucks on net. Sidney Crosby had just a mediocre night by his standards with 1 goal, 2 shots and 3 blocked shots. He must still be recovering from the holiday turkey. He'll be back to his superhuman output in no time.
Pittsburgh's Resolution: Find the cure for our injury bug. Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang have been sidelined throughout the season and several other players have gone down as well. If the Pens want to stay strong for the playoffs, they will need to find ways to cope with their losses while preventing them as well.
Carolina's Resolution: Get our secondary scoring back. Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty have been major disappoints this season after breaking out as a deadly trio with Eric Staal last year. The Canes simply don't have the talent to keep up with the best teams, especially when their supporting cast fails to show up on a consistent basis.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were able to squeeze out a much needed win by beating the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout. The most concerning part is the Maple Leafs let in a powerplay goal with just 25 seconds left in the game. From a fantasy perspective, Dion Phaneuf contributed 1 assist, 12 PIMs, 5 shots and 2 blocked shots. Cody Franson also had a productive night with 2 assists, plus-2, 1 shot and 6 hits. Both Ryan Miller and Jonathan Bernier faced a ridiculous amount of shots but stood strong, finishing with respectable numbers given the circumstances.
Toronto's Resolution: Give the goalies a break. They are simply facing too many shots a game and are bailing out the team on a regular basis. James Reimer or Bernier would be solid trade bait but the Maple Leafs are benefiting from a balanced workload for both goalies. They've played well and rolling with one of them would be fine. If only they didn't need the other just as badly.
Buffalo's Resolution: Scout well. The Sabres are one of the hardest teams to look at on paper and will finish with a top 5 NHL draft pick guaranteed. They need to draft someone who is able to help the team in the near future, because they are in need of it desperately.
In another stomping, the Chicago Blackhawks took it to the Colorado Avalanche with a score of 7-2. Jonathan Toews gave his fantasy owners a late Christmas gift with 2 goals, 2 assists, 6 shots and 1 PPP. Patrick Sharp continued his torrid pace with 3 goals, 1 assists, 1 PPP a plus-4 rating and 5 shots. Duncan Keith also enjoyed a productive return with 3 assists. Looks like the Hawks won't need much time to get back to their dominant ways.
Chicago's Resolution: Keep doing what we're doing. They are unquestionably the best team in the NHL and have a 27-7-8 record to prove it.
Colorado's Resolution: Keep Patrick Roy happy. You don't want to see him when he's angry. The Avs have enjoyed a stellar season with their young-and-gun team. Age is merely a number for these guys.
In a high scoring battle, the Winnipeg Jets beat the Minnesota Wild 6-4. Both teams had several players contribute with Blake Wheeler and Jason Pominville standing out the most. Wheeler scored 2 goals, had 4 shots and 3 hits. Pommer contributed 2 assists, 1 PPP, 2 PIMs and 3 shots. If you owned any fantasy relevant player on either team, you likely got a point somewhere. If you didn't, questions should be arising. Smarten up Nino Niederreiter.
Winnipeg's Resolution: Fight till the end. The return of Evander Kane will be a huge boost for the Jets moving forward, but they need to keep pucks out of the net to have any chance at the playoffs.
Minnesota's Resolution: Stay productive. When they're hot, they're HOT, but a 20-15-5 record suggests several cool down periods. Young players like Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund and El Nino need to step up large. The same goes for Danny Heatley.
The Dallas Stars continued their hot streak by defeating the Nashville Predators 4-1. Eirk Cole gets star of the night honors for this game with 2 goals, a plus-2 rating, 5 shots and 2 hits. Several of the Stars' players found the board while the Preds were forced to deal with a very hot Kari Lehtonen. He stopped 33 of 34 shots on route to his 15th victory of the season.
Dallas' Resolution: Don't screw up a good thing. After a slow start, the Tyler Seguin trade is paying huge dividends while Russian prospect Valeri Nichushkin has been tearing it up recently. If they keep it up, the Stars could surprise a few by season's end.
Nashville's Resolution: Find consistent scoring. For a team with an elite goalie and a solid defensive group, the Preds' 16-18-4 record suggest some struggles. Pekka Rinne has been injured but the problem is on offense. The team needs to put more pucks in the net to win more games. Seems simple enough, right?
The battle of Alberta ended in a surprising 2-0 victory for the Edmonton Oilers. The Calgary Flames found it hard to beat Devan Dubnyk, who stopped all 27 shots to earn his 10th win and 2nd shutout of the season. Ryan Smyth must have been a good boy this year, as Santa gave him a late gift of 2 goals, 1 PPP, 6 shots and 1 blocked shot. If you had him on your roster for any reason, nice move.
Edmonton's Resolution: Don't be cheap. They have a plethora of young talent at forward but are in desperate need of a defensive presence. Trading one or two of their assets at forward could be revolutionary for a team that has consistently been one of the worst in the league.
Calgary's Resolution: Find a new GM. No explanation necessary.
In another great battle, the San Jose Sharks defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3 in a shootout. The Sharks have been nothing short of amazing this season and their production seems likely to continue. Brent Burns and Joe Thornton continued to find chemistry scoring two points each. Joe Pavelski also enjoyed a two-point night and has been a major part of the Sharks' success. Radim Vrbata was the best player for the Yotes, scoring a late powerplay goal to keep his team in the game. He finished with 1 goal, 1 PPP, 4 shots, 1 hit and 2 blocked shots.
San Jose's Resolution: Playoffs are what matter, let's not forget that. The Sharks have blown teams out of the water during the regular season before, but have been a laughing stock in the playoffs. This could be the year they turn the tide, knock on wood.
Phoenix's Resolution: Get Vrbata signed. He is one of your most consistent scorers and losing him would mean losing a player who literally wins you games. That is simply bad business.
Hope all of our readers enjoyed the holidays and we wish you all a very Happy New Year. Enjoy the Saturday games folks!