Cory Schneider is starting for the Canucks tonight - Robeto Luongo gets a second straight game off. Don't read into this one too much, Luongo's wife is expecting.
Martin Erat is a game time decision for the Preds tonight. He's been very productive over the past few weeks, and seems to do this a few times each season. He has the skill to be a point-a-game player, but lacks the consistency/right envioronment to break out.
I am curious to see how Canada divides up its ice time - really looking forward to watch Brett Connolly play. He has recovered from a minor concussion.
Troy Brouwer has eight goals in his past 15 games - not a surprise if you consider both Kane and Hossa have been out during that time. Brouwer has stepped up and made the most of the opportunity, but pretty soon he'll be back on the third line.
Boston has put together some new lines:
Lucic-Savard-Horton, Wheeler-Krejci-Ryder, and Recchi-Bergeron-Seguin
Sami Salo's return has been pushed back until late January or early February. Kevin Bieksa's good play (defensively) has been a bit of a revelation, so this news isn't as crippling as it could have been.
He's progressing well, but the team doesn't want to rush him back from such a serious injury.
Marian Hossa is back tonight. Patrick Kane is not. Turco will get the start because Corey Crawford is sick.
The Derek Roy injury in Buffalo is absolutely crippling. Tim Connolly has been brutal this season, and Ennis is not ready to lead a top line at the NHL level.
A little Christmas mailbag was opened up yesterday - here are the questions (and answers).
How many poitns do I see Phaneuf ending up with?
30-ish. A slight increase based off of the pace he is currently on. Law of averages - he's bound to improve given the ice time he receives.
More points this season - Backstrom or Malkin?
Give me Backstrom. Malkin is the better player, though.
Brad Richards or Ilya Kovalchuk, short and long-term - who do you like?
Short term definitely Richards, but with the uncertainty of unrestricted free agency, that changes long term. A lot also depends on league format (winger, center, shots on goal, goals, assists, what is valued basically). Richards has been Mr. Consistency over the past year and a half, but you'd be getting Kovalchuk at the bottom right now (unless you think New Jersey can sink any lower...)
How many more years will Kiprusoff be productive for, and will he be moved at all from Calgary?
I think the first part depends a lot on the second part. It is obvious to everyone (save for Darryl Sutter, maybe) that the Flames need to blow it up (which would include trading one or both of Iginla and Kiprusoff). I think on a good team he has 2-3 years left of being a valuable fantasy goaltender.
Pick six keepers from: Heatley, Hall, Eberle, Kane, Carlson, Shattenkirk, Visnovsky, Myers, Havlat, Vanek, Koivu, Savard, Giroux, Lecavalier, Rask, Ward, Pavelec (standard rotissere categories):
Hall, Heatley, Kane, Giroux, Rask, Ward. I'd debate keeping a d-man or Eberle over Ward, but I love having two goalies on my keeper list. Great list of young talent here.
Will Drew Stafford ever hit 30 goals?
Not in Buffalo. He still isn't showing the consistency required to be an elite level scorer. He has the skill set to hit 30 in the right situation, though.
Has Filip Kuba lost all fantasy relevance?
Yes. He's also lost the ability to play defense at the NHL level.
Rank the following in a points-only keeper: Dadonov, Zuccarello, and Pacioretty:
1) Pacioretty 2) Zuccarello 3) Dadonov
Would I be surprised if Gillis moves Ehrhoff instead of Bieksa?
100% yes. Word is that Salo is still "out" until February. I think the Canucks may try and keep him out until the playoffs, when the salary cap is irrelevant. Bieksa has played better this season, but Ehrhoff sets the table for so much of what they do offensively.