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Fantasy Hockey News for Friday

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A fantasized look at Thursday's NHL games.

Marianne Helm

Last night I intended to surf between all games, but started watching the Blues-Bruins game and couldn't stop. Seriously, pray for these guys to meet in the Stanley Cup Final. Just awesome execution from both teams, no letup at all. Great goaltending, great coaching, just great. It was a goddamn shame it had to end in a shootout, although that did provide another excellent clip for Tuukka Rask's awkward rage highlight reel. Awkward rage is the best kind of rage, as it tends to diffuse more than escalate.

Has Torey Krug arrived? Full credit to skeptics who want to see more. That, logic dictates. But personally, I caved in last night. Krug was everywhere, and if your league had a category for je ne sais quoi, Krug would be your guy, in, you know, the je ne sais quoi category. It's not just the points with Krug - I was officially sold when, with about 2:40 left in the game, Krug pinned a rushing Brendan Morrow against the boards in the neutral zone. Morrow was immobilized, and Krug came away with the puck. Now, granted, Morrow has zero foot speed these days, but he's 6' and 209 pounds, and he's Brendan Goddamn Morrow. Krug is 5' 9", 180, and appears to be the NHL's next Herve Villechaize. The little guy that could. Welcome, to Fantasy Island.

Lots of players with single points in that game but David Backes (1G, 5 SOG, 3 hits, 2 blocks) stood out, as usual.

Jaroslav Halak stopped 29 of 31 shots for his second win in a row and 12th in 17 games. Tuukka Rask suffered just his 5th loss in 19 games.

So, Predators 4 - Maple Leafs 2. Just when Jonathan Bernier owners were starting to get a bit comfortable, he managed to choke on the length of his leash. He allowed four goals on 28 shots, and with Bernier starting the last two in a row (and six of the last nine), James Reimer will no doubt get the next start. But it's going to take a lot more than one off-game to change the Leafs' course when it comes to Bernier. Trading for him last summer was an obvious statement in itself, but starting him in 14 of 21 games? Those are numbers even the most earnest Reimer advocate can't deny. In Bernier's 15 games played, last night was only the third time he had a save percentage worse than .919. Reimer has also played really well, considering his circumstance, but this job is Bernier's to lose.

Loved the Coyotes' homer announcers on Fox Sports last night after Martin Hanzal's goal tied it up 2-2, "Too big, too strong...he cannot be stopped". They were literally almost breathless. In a way though, they're right, in the sense that Martin Hanzal is too big, too strong, and cannot be stopped.

The Coyotes' colour guy also called Keith Yandle's OT penalty "a little bit of a cheapie if you ask me". Which we didn't. But yeah, Hanzal.... a goal, plus-1, two PIM, six shots, four hits and 12-8 in faceoffs. Just shitty. His last six games have given you two goals, five assists, plus-5, six PIM, 19 SOG, three PPP and 17 hits.

Has any NHL defenseman in history started a season with seven goals and no assists? The Coyotes' Michael Stone has done just that, potting number seven last night in just his 16th game of the year. He's shooting at a supernatural 24.1%.

Nathan MacKinnon had a PPA, three shots and was 8-8 in faceoffs. He's on pace for 51 points, plus-16 and 242 shots, and although his average TOI this season is 15:32, his last game with less than 16 minutes was October 27. Dude turned 18 less than three months ago. 242 shots. Fantasy gold.

I hope Ilya Bryzgalov fixed himself up with a nice new thermos. Devan Dubnyk stopped 24 of 25 shots for his third consecutive win, and he's allowed just three goals on 74 shots in that span. Granted, it was only Calgary, Columbus and Florida, but there might be some light at the end of the tunnel.

The Tim Thomas dream continues to die a slow, stubborn, misguidedly patriotic death. Not exactly his fault considering the team in front of him, but a 5-7 record and 2.79/.911 peripherals ain't getting you invited to the White House. Thomas stopped 31 of 34 for his first loss in three games. Plenty more where that came from.

For the Oilers, Jordan Eberle (2G, 4 SOG), Taylor Hall (2A), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (3A) and Sam Gagner (1G, 7 SOG) were standouts. Justin Schultz had an assist and has a point in each game since coming off the IR. Eberle has goals in four straight and 5+5=10 and 29 shots in his last 10 games, Nugent-Hopkins has five assists in two games after two games with nothing. Gagner has a four-game point streak with 17 shots in that span. Hall has 3+5=8 in eight games since returning from injury. The Oilers appear to be rolling.

3-2 win for the Rangers over Dallas. Since October 19, Henrik Lundqvist has allowed more than two goals in a game only two times, and one of those was a win anyway. Were you actually worried about The King? On October 19th his peripherals were 3.45 and .890. Today? 2.26 and .920. And the best is yet to come.

Holy shit, Dustin Byfuglien. Goals in four straight now and five of six. 16 PIM and 36 shots in his last ten games. Despite the minus-6 rating he is the ninth-ranked skater (F and D) and top-ranked D in Fantrax standard leagues. Ahead of Phil Kessel, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews...yeah you get the idea.

On the other end of the Winnipeg spectrum, Tobias Enstrom had an assist! His first point in nine games. Were those 50-point seasons a mirage? He'll come around, but three points in 19 games despite being entrenched on PP1...maybe he's still (or always) banged up.

Uh...Chicago scored some goals:

Player G A +/- PIM SOG
J. Toews, C 1 3 3 0 3
M. Hossa, RW 1 1 3 0 2
B. Seabrook, D 0 2 4 0 0
P. Kane, RW 1 1 0 2 4
D. Keith, D 0 1 4 2 4
B. Saad, LW 1 0 1 0 3
P. Sharp, LW 1 0 2 0 2
M. Kruger, C 0 1 1 0 2
N. Leddy, D 0 1 0 0 2
K. Versteeg, LW 0 1 0 0 1

Justin Williams is 75% owned in Yahoo! leagues. Let me see if I can rephrase that for your benefit: IN ONE OF FOUR FANTASY HOCKEY LEAGUES, JUSTIN WILLIAMS IS AN AVAILABLE FREE AGENT SO WILL YOU MOTHERFUCKING PLEASE ADD HIM IF HE'S AVAILABLE.

Why? Williams had five shots and a goal last night, and in his last ten games has five goals, five assists, plus-6, eight PIM, 26 shots. Add him! I'm looking at 25% of you.

Anze Kopitar had an assist and his last ten games look like five goals, six assists, plus-6 and 23 shots. Sound familiar? Williams is his evil twin.

In that same ten game stretch, linemate Dustin Brown has kept pace in peripherals (plus-8, 6 PIM, 33 SOG) but with only three points. But he had an assist last night, and a goal the game before, and it was really only a matter of time. Look for a tasty streak to develop.

And now, from scenic Austin Texas, MasterOfPuppets has some additional game notes for y'all:

Detroit, Michigan, where Swedes come to play.

Gustav Nyquist (2 G GWG, 2 SOG, plus- 2) TOI 15:26, PPTOI 1:40 scored Detroit's first goal 17 seconds into his season debut

and what turned out to be the game winner on a beautiful breakaway late in the third.

Niklas Kronwall who was active in the offensive zone, was credited with a power play goal that was actually a rebound kicked passed Peters just over the line by Eric Staal. (1 PPG, 6 SOG, 1 BLK)

Henrik Zetterberg (3 assist, 5 SOG, plus-2, 1 PPA, FOW-7 FOL-7 50%)

Darrren Helm (1 G, on 2 shots, with 2 Hits)
after missing 18 months Helm scored a breakaway goal in his first game back Nov. 2, since that game he spent the next 4 games pointless while averaging about 16:00 per game, understandably a bit rusty having only made two conditioning appearances in AHL games before rejoining the Wings, with his goal tonight Helm has 4 points 2 goals and 2 assists in his past 4 and now has 5 points, 3 goals and 2 assists on 16 SOG, over 9 games this season, not known as a scorer he also contributes in a little physical play recording 23 hits in those 9 games

Jonas Gustavsson has looked better but squeaked out a win stopping 24 of 27 .889 SV%

Carolina's offense all came from the defense

Andrej Sekera was very active in the o-zone scored 2 goals one short handed, on a team leading 4 shots

Brett Bellemore scored his first career NHL goal was a plus-2 adding 2 Blocks and 2 Hits The goal was only his second point in 18 games, I don't know what kind of offensive potential is there but he has a hefty 61 Hits and 29 Blocks in those 18 games.

Justin Peters who stopped 43 of 47 .915 SV% was better than that. The first 2 goals by Nyquist and Helm were both rebounds that found their way onto the respective sticks thru traffic. Eric Staal kicked the Kronwall goal by him and Nyquist 2nd tally was a sweet breakaway that he was just beaten on.

1st Period
Gustav Nyquist 1 (Assists: Jonathan Ericsson 4, Henrik Zetterberg 14)
2nd Period
Darren Helm 3 (Assists: Justin Abdelkader 5)
Brett Bellemore 1 (Assists: Radek Dvorak 1, Drayson Bowman 3)
Andrej Sekera 3 (Assists: Eric Staal 8)
3rd Period
Niklas Kronwall 2 (power-play) (Assists: Johan Franzen 6, Henrik Zetterberg 15)
Gustav Nyquist 2 (Assists: Henrik Zetterberg 16)
Andrej Sekera 4 (short-handed) (Assists: Jordan Staal 4)

New York Rangers (3) @ Dallas Stars (2)

Kari Lehtonen 24/27 .889 SV%
Henrik Lundqvist 41/43 .953 SV%

Scoring Summary

Rick Nash slipped behind the Dallas D to score his 1st goal of the season on a power play
Stefan Robidas with a power play goal
Chris Kreider sniped his 3rd goal from the top of the circle
37 seconds later
John Moore scored his 2nd goal of the season through a screen from the high slot
Alex Chiasson with his 6th goal on a 2 on 1 with Cody Eakin who had 2 assists

Tampa Bay Lightning (1) @ San Jose Sharks (5)

This game was not as lopsided as the final score would indicate, Niemi was just that much better than Lindback
both offenses having multiple scoring chances.

Anders Lindback 31/36 .861 SV%
Antii Niemi 36/37 .973 SV%Scoring Summary

Tommy Wingels 1st career 2 goal game
Logan Couture career high 3 assists
Tyler Johnson 4 game point streak (1 goal 3 assist)

1st Period
Tommy Wingels 6 (Assists: Logan Couture 13, Patrick Marleau 11)
Brad Stuart 2 (Assists: Tyler Kennedy 7, Logan Couture 14)
2nd Period
Tommy Wingels 7 (Assists: Patrick Marleau 12, Justin Braun 4)
3rd Period
Brent Burns 5 (Assists: Joe Thornton 21, Scott Hannan 3)
Patrick Marleau 11 (Assists: Logan Couture 15, Justin Braun 5)
Tyler Johnson 5 (Assists: Ondrej Palat 3, Richard Panik 9)

Called up: Blair Jones, Elias Lindholm, Gustav Nyquist

Sent down: Chris Terry, Steve MacIntyre (waived), Rostislav Olesz (contract terminated)