Some afternoon updates for you:

James Neal gets five games for his knee on Brad Marchand's head.

Evgeni Malkin will apparently be back in the lineup for the Pens.

The Islanders have waived Pierre-Marc Bouchard and word is that they will call up Ryan Strome. I think Strome is worth a grab off the wire if you can get him, but temper your expectations. Strome has 29 points in 22 AHL games - not a bad pro debut! Here is a very thorough fantasy profile on Ryan Strome.

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As anticipated, Clarke MacArthur is taking a run at his career high (62 points). But as with the Maple Leafs and Thrashers, he loses some of his shine after making a splash that first year. Great to acquire now, but even better if you can trade him for high return come June, in keeper leagues. I had him for 47 points this year in the Fantasy Guide, but also made him a rare 20% sleeper - as in I was 20% confident that he would top 55 points.

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James Wisniewski is out for a week with an LBI. If that's all that happens to him this year, consider it his healthiest year ever. The Wiz has just two points in his last eight games as the market correction fixes his stats. The injury should see David Savard get back into the lineup.

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Mike Kostka has been activated from IR and Chicago will put him back in the lineup. Not worth a wire grab, but worth watching. The last game he played he scored and took four shots (against his former team the Leafs).

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Kris Versteeg has been playing with Patrick Kane and the result has been three points in his last two games. While I think this has potential, I don't trust it. If healthy he should be safe for 50 to 55 points, so his production will certainly improve. But I don't see him sticking on a big line like this one and blasting his point total up into the 60s. Not happening. I liked his situation in Florida better.

Here were the line combos for Sunday:

16.67%

EV

26 HANDZUS,MICHAL - 88 KANE,PATRICK - 23 VERSTEEG,KRIS

16.27%

EV

52 BOLLIG,BRANDON - 16 KRUGER,MARCUS - 28 SMITH,BEN

14.68%

EV

81 HOSSA,MARIAN - 10 SHARP,PATRICK - 19 TOEWS,JONATHAN

10.32%

EV

11 MORIN,JEREMY - 20 SAAD,BRANDON - 65 SHAW,ANDREW

Six Hawks picked up at least two points in the contest.

Jeremy Morin has two points in three games and is plus-2 since being called back up (while Brandon Pirri was sent back down). If I needed a winger in roto leagues, I would consider grabbing him because his plus/minus and shots on goal should continue to be solid even as his points taper off.

Corey Crawford left the game with an injury - looked to be groin. And he needed help off the ice, which tells me that this could be a two- to three-week thing. Antti Raanta anyone? Scoop him up!

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With Chris Kelly out for the long term (broken ankle), the Bruins have recalled Ryan Spooner. Spooner has 19 points in 19 games and although he won't get much in the way of ice time, perhaps he'll pull a Tyler Toffoli and do more with less. See Spooner's scouting/fantasy profile here. He's ranked 34th on my Fantasy Prospects List.

The Boston - Pittsburgh game, if you were having holiday dinner or something, got ugly in an awful hurry. Orpik took out Eriksson just 21 seconds into the game, which led to Chara retaliating against Kunitz. Minutes later, Lucic fights Engelland. And then after that is the incident - while Brad Marchand was down on the ice, James Neal skates by and knees him in the head. Neal will get up to five games for that one (phone hearing).

Here are all the incidents. The knee to the head is around the 1:20 mark. And while play is stopped, around the 1:50 mark, Thornton takes down (and knocks out) Brooks Orpik:

The comments below are gonna be on fire over this one. All I ask is you keep it clean and respect other opinions. They aren't wrong, they just disagree with you! My opinion - I have to think that Thornton's move was so brutal that it hides the seriousness of the Neal incident. If Thornton wasn't such a bonehead, maybe Neal gets seven or eight games instead of four or five? Thornton is going to get the book thrown at him.

The repercussions - what an opportunity for Beau Bennett…if only he wasn't out for the next eight weeks! Opportunity lost. Instead, the Penguins put Jussi Jokinen back on the Malkin line (assuming Malkin returns soon) and perhaps Chris Conner?

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After going five games without a point, Carl Soderberg picked up a pair Sunday.

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Do you have a fantasy hockey question? Ask me here!

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Marc Staal is out with a neck injury (some are speculating it's a concussion, which is scary given his history). But this pretty much means that Michael Del Zotto will be harder to scratch. Del Zotto played last night, topping 20 minutes for the first time since the start of November. He assisted on the only goal. If there was a catalyst, besides being traded, that could get MDZ going, it's this one. So if you're waiting for a sign to pick him back up - go ahead. I suspect he'll do better now, but stranger things have happened.

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Philipp Grubauer earned his first career NHL win Sunday, stopping 39 of 40 shots. I get the feeling that the Caps will move Michal Neuvirth in the offseason somehow, and that next year Grubauer will be the backup.

Mikhail Grabovski has six points in his last five games, with points in four of those contests. He leads the team in plus/minus with a plus-5.

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Marco Scandella has four points in his last five games. Maybe he has that offensive ability that we saw in him after all? Still only 23, it's not that farfetched. I wouldn't bank on it long term, but I would grab him for the short-term if I needed a defenseman.

The Wild won their game Sunday despite taking only 12 shots on Antti Niemi.

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It turns out that Vincent Lecavalier has a fracture in his lower back and will miss the next four weeks or so. These last several years, if he didn't have bad luck he'd have no luck at all. Remember when he was a safe, guaranteed 80-game guy? Here's hoping this doesn't happen to other safe, 80-game guys like Steven Stamkos. Anyway, at this point you should be counting on no more than 70 games from Vinny. I had him for 69 games in the Fantasy Guide.

Lecavalier's missed three games so far and here are Philly's line combos over those games:

#1

36.3%

GIROUX,CLAUDE - HARTNELL,SCOTT - VORACEK,JAKUB

#2

31.4%

COUTURIER,SEAN - DOWNIE,STEVE - READ,MATT

#3

27.4%

RAFFL,MICHAEL - SCHENN,BRAYDEN - SIMMONDS,WAYNE

That's free info you can grab anytime about any team thanks to Frozen Pool. The longer Lecavalier is out, the more Sean Couturier can rack up the points.

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Dmitry Kulikov has one point in his last 15 games and is minus-5 in that span. He's injury prone. I don't see this booming trade market when it comes to him. And I hope whoever lands him doesn't have to give up much, because right now it's 100% potential.

Aleksander Barkov has three points in his last 21 games and is minus-8 in that span.

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Still waiting for Mike Santorelli to hit that wall. But it's not happening. Instead, he's still getting better. Three more points Sunday along with six shots and plus-2. Kudos to you if you picked up on him early. More proof that the coach has a lot of influence on fantasy value. Couldn't even make a team full time these past two years, and suddenly he's a top scorer on the best team he's played on in years.

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Dion Phaneuf is getting a phone call from the league for this ugly hit. I'm thinking five games on this one:

 


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coldsquad2002 said:

coldsquad2002
... The NHL is becoming the No Hit League !
December 09, 2013
Votes: -2

hawkdog said:

hawkdog
... in hindsight
orpik gets tossed last
orpik plays tonight
potentially Neal as well maybe

orpik stays in
orpik misses multiple games
neal out for 5 games

i wonder what pitts mgmt would prefer.
December 09, 2013
Votes: +0

hawkdog said:

hawkdog
... unfortunately its a slippery slope for the nhl
if they are going to promote the vengeance style mentality
they should ditch the instigator rule and stop trying these stupid band aid approaches like penalizing players for taking off their helmets
let the players enforce it on the ice then the players know if they are going to hit the Toews of the world there will be immediate consequences
more teams will have a goon on the bench
I don't think that retaliating by head hunting the opponents stars is the answer, there is to much emotion involved
the NHL is trying to adjust to our changing society, but its not easy

I was simply suggesting that if a player hits a guy hard enough to knock him out of the game that the player doing the hitting be tossed for the remainder of that game otherwise the nhl needs to bring back the goon cause all this BS after is taking away from the game. If a hard hit is given and the player gets up and skates off great let him play. Players will adjust,
You can argue all you want that that is advocating against hitting, but I will agree to disagree. It might not be the best suggestion but
the NHL is trying to reduce head injuries and they are not doing a very good job.

And now you Orpik and Eriksson out on IR, and Neal and Thornton (soon to be) suspended. Awesome headlines and PR for the NHL


December 09, 2013
Votes: +0

rataylor22 said:

rataylor22
... I'm sure Chicago hated having Toews out of the lineup, but a clean hit is a clean hit. I'm sure they felt Mitchell should have gotten a stiffer penalty, but that doesn't mean he deserved one. Joel Quenneville, coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, thinks that hit should be a suspension. Joel Quenneville, coach of the Vancouver Canucks, thinks that is a completely legal hit which it is. Objectivity is key, and objectively a clean hard hit is not grounds and should not be grounds to toss a player out of a game. Player X getting injured due to Player X's fault doesn't warrant a suspension for Player Y who made a clean play, and a game misconduct is a form of suspension.

If instead of Mitchell hitting Toews, Toews made that exact same hit on Mitchell, does Toews deserved to get tossed? Hell no. Would Vancouver want Toews tossed? Probably, but that doesn't mean he should be. Advocating players getting kicked out of games for clean hits is advocating the abolishment of hitting. Arguing the necessity of a hit? Well Vancouver should scored on that play, and the whistle shouldn't have blown. Toews had the puck, Mitchell separated him from the puck creating a turnover and a breakaway the other direction. So the hit caused a turnover, and therfore it was a necessary hit. Necessary impact? There is no way to lessen that impact of the hit. It's simple physics and momentum. So yea, there wasn't much way he could let up on that hit either. Clean play and no he doesn't deserve to get ejected for it.
December 09, 2013
Votes: +0

marsid6687 said:

marsid6687
@hawkdog I would hope Chicago would feel like they want to line up one of the Sedin's for a clean, hard hit. If they team whose player is on the receiving end of hard hit, their only response should be to return the favor. Any other reaction and you're hurting your own team. These guys know what they're signing up for, similar to football players, and they should be willing to accept the risk.
December 09, 2013
Votes: +0

hawkdog said:

hawkdog
...

So put Toews on the other end of the hit, he gets put out for 6 games. How do you think Chicago feels about that?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLbLiGXqHIA
Think they would have complained if Mitchell got tossed for the game?
As a Canucks fan I love this hit, but I also don't like to see players miss games for an overzealous hit.

December 09, 2013
Votes: +0

Username said:

Username
... Orpik's hit was 100% legal. He buried his shoulder squarely into Eriksson's chest, but unfortunately Loui had his head down (as usual).

December 09, 2013
Votes: +0

rataylor22 said:

rataylor22
... I have seen Getzlaf, Perry, Toews, Ovechkin, Backes, Malkin, Subban, Thronton, Kronwall, etc. etc. All throw massive, clean hits in games. How do you think Anaheim, Chicago, Washington, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Montreal, San Jose, Detroit would feel about these players being tossed for simply throwing a hit? There is always going to be a response to a big hit regardless of if it is big or not. You can't just stop tossing guys because they threw a good hit on the off chance that something might happen. What if one of these hits happens in the first 5 minutes of a game? Chicago deserves to lose Toews for a game because he knows how to hit and that might make some fourth line plug unhappy?

You certainly are advocating taking hitting out of the game if you're proposing that Orpik should have been tossed for a clean hit just in case some shenanigans happened later in the game. There are absolutely zero grounds to toss Orpik from the game unless you are acting on the grounds of removing hitting completely.
December 09, 2013
Votes: +0

hawkdog said:

hawkdog
... whoah nelly, not at all suggesting clean hits get taken out.
I simply suggested that if Orpik had been tossed for knocking Eriksson out of the game
the shenanigans that happened after might have been avoided.

it might have been a legal hit, but now you have 3 guys out of the game because the refs let it escalate.

I am Orpik would have preferred that to getting his head bashed against the ice.

December 09, 2013
Votes: -1

rataylor22 said:

rataylor22
Hawkdog Wut? The refs should have tossed Orpik for throwing a clean, legal hit? So from now on any player who throws a hit should be tossed? So maybe you're suggesting we should take hitting out of the game? And by maybe I mean you are absolutely suggesting we should take hitting out of hockey, if any player who throws a hit should be tossed.
December 09, 2013
Votes: +1

bullwinkle said:

bullwinkle
My Take on the Bruins/Pens incident:

1. The Orpik hit on Eriksson was legal - as was John Scott's hit on Eriksson. Eriksson has a bad habit of skating with his head down, so don't blame the other team.

2. Neal did not even look at Marchand when he skated by. Marchand was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I see no intent to injure at all.

3. Thornton should be suspended for the season. Chasing after Orpik and then slew footing him and hammering him when he's down. There is a code to fighting. When one guy has the other on the ice, he stops punching. Not Thornton. This guy is 10x worse than John Scott.
December 09, 2013
Votes: -1

number54 said:

number54
C'mon Ref! At some point, you have to put the blame on the refs. This isn't to hold the players blameless here, because clearly they're responsible for their actions. But, the refs' job is to keep the players calm, cool and collected. When they see a guy's too hot, they should step in. They could have slapped 1- on Thornton for instigating on several occasions, and instead they waited until Orpik paid for it. Same thing leaving Neal in the game later. I've seen a good number of games where the teams had a handful of guys left on their benches, and this SHOULD have been one of those. Shame on the refs for completely losing control and failing to read the "temperature" of the game.

Maybe the NHL should look at cutting back on the number of games, so that they can use fewer refs. Seems to me that the quality's been suffering lately. Besides, the games mean a lot more when there are fewer of 'em. There's also less chance of serious injury, and less game time missed due to injury when you have fewer games. To me, that's a win-win.
December 09, 2013
Votes: -2

hawkdog said:

hawkdog
Neal Anyone other than Marchand and Neal gets 5.
My money is on 2 games due to Marchand's history of theatrics.

If the refs toss Orpik none of it happens, legal hit or not you know the Bruins are going to respond. When does the league start holding the refs accountable?

December 09, 2013
Votes: -1

Jeremy said:

onthebeach96
Over reaction on Neal!! I'm not a Pens fan or a Neal fan but I think there is an over reaction on the Neal incident. He may have steered in Marchand's direction but he did make a follow through with his knee, and Marchand's head snapped around way too much compared to the speed of the impact. Marchand is a little faker and he didn't miss any time!!! 2 games max for Neal!!! Phaneuf 2 games as well.
December 09, 2013 | url
Votes: +1

kbooks said:

kbooks
Phaneuf Expect Phaneuf to get about 2 game suspension for that hit on Miller.

It will be interesting to see who gets the Phaneuf shutdown role and minutes. This will be a great chance for Liles to restore his NHL career if he is given the chance. I expect it will be Gardiner and Gunnarsson playing top minutes, with other pairs being Liles/Franson, Ranger/Rielly. If they decide to let Rielly go to world juniors then perhaps T.J. Brennan gets a shot but I expect the Phaneuf suspension might just end the Rielly to World Junior talk.
December 09, 2013
Votes: +0

marsid6687 said:

marsid6687
Bruins/Pens So when did Boston sign Bertuzzi? Seriously, history or no history with player safety Thornton should receive 15-20. Neal gets the 5 games, no question. Orpik's hit on Eriksson looked clean shoulder to shoulder and it didn't help Eriksson that he was looking down for the puck. It reminds me of some of the hits Scott Steven's used to deliver.
December 09, 2013
Votes: +1

Loki said:

Loki
... Nice slash by Dupuis on Kelly to fracture his tibia...needless to say another missed call (slash) by the refs.
I heard one of the announcers mention the Neal hit on Marchand might have stemmed back from a boarding incident between the 2 during last year's playoffs (related to his back injury?)...not in defense of Neal and I dn't remember the incident in the playoffs...just mentioning it to see if anyone else heard the same.
Anyone else notice how scared Fleury looked at the end of the game? You could almost sense Boston coming in for the kill.
December 09, 2013
Votes: +0

Loki said:

Loki
... Not defending Neal or Thornton (both should be punished) but if the referee following Crosby when he took down Marchand had called the penalty none of the rest would have happened.
December 09, 2013
Votes: -4

Axeman33 said:

Axeman33
... As long as Spooner is in the Boston system, his value is lower then it should be in my eyes. He will face the same issues Tyler Seguin had in Beantown. An offensive player who's only NHL opportunities are in a somewhat checking role on the 3rd (if not the 4th) line. Round peg, square hole. As long as Bergeron and Krecji are there, Spooner isn't worth much to me, unless you like to own big name prospects. Big name prospects don't help you win your leagues.

Too bad really. He's a good offensive young player.
December 09, 2013
Votes: +0

rataylor22 said:

rataylor22
... First the fun. Grabovski taking a slapper on a penalty shot? That was great haha.

On to Pitt-Boston. The Orpik hit I thought was clean in headshot terms. 2 minute inference penalty. Incidental contact to the head possibly because he is taller than Eriksson, but he was aiming for body on body. Orpik's body went completely through Erikssons. I also don't believe this "all could have been avoided if Orpik would have fought Thornton then" as many people say, for 2 reasons. Firstly, I hate this macho hockey hubris that every hard but clean check requires you to fight about it. Dude threw a hard check, he shouldn't have to fight because of it. Secondly, Orpik is completely out of Thornton's weight class. If Thornton wanted a fight, that's what Engellend is on the Pens for. And I say this as someone who has played hockey for 18 years and commonly perpetuated that dumb fighting thing.

The Neal incident absolutely terrible. Should be an in person hearing and more than 5. To me, I see very little difference between that play and the play that started Crosby's concussion issues with Steckel. So for anyone saying "how would Pens fans act if it was Sid", well that's happened, and Pens fans watched Steckel get absolutely nothing. Neal should get the 5 permitted, and should have gotten more.

The Thornton incident was one of the worst things I've seen since the Bertuzzi incident. No I do not think they are close in magnitude, but that was my first reaction before I had time to think about it. Attacks a defenseless player from behind, no chance to defend himself. Throws multiple vicious sucker punches, including an extra shot after it is clear that Orpik is already unconscious. Saying Thornton "isn't that kind of player" is dumb because you only aren't that kind of player until you are. Maybe he hasn't been up to this point in his career, but he is that type of player now. I would say this falls somewhere between Cooke on Savard and Bertuzzi on Moore in terms of viciousness.

Overall, too much senseless violence and goonery in the league this year and I'm not sure why. I love hockey but it is getting tiresome having a player taken off on a stretcher every week.

Possible fantasy implications? Penguins are now without their top 3 defensive defensemen and 3 of their top 4 defensmen overall (Martin, Scuderi, Orpik). I think that hurts just about everyone on Pittsburgh.

Needless to say, hopefully everyone ends up being ok with no long term effects. Hope this isn't the start of real concussion problems for Eriksson as I love him as a player. Orpik plays tough and I think very clean. Tough to watch a guy like him go down. He always has reminded me a lot of Regehr. Plays very hard, very tough, very gritty, throws big hits, but is almost always a clean player. Marchand I basically hate, but even him I hope is ok. He's a puke but an effective player and I never make a habit of wishing injury on a player.
December 09, 2013
Votes: +7

Atomic Wedgy said:

Atomic Wedgy
Barkov So is Barkov a buy low right now? OR is it more of a lower your expectations moment?
December 09, 2013
Votes: +1

BrianSTC said:

BrianSTC
Crawford apparently not serious. Was about to grab Raanta but looks like Crawford may be only day to day.
December 09, 2013
Votes: +0

ianinnis said:

ianinnis
video of James Neal's responses to questions after the game... http://video.penguins.nhl.com/...7&catid=-6
December 09, 2013
Votes: +0

ianinnis said:

ianinnis
BOS vs. PIT definitely agree that, because Thornton's takedown and sucker-punching of Orpik occurred right after the Neal knee-to-head of Marchand, it made Neal's actions a lot "better" or the "lesser of two evils".
I could only watch that clip objectively with the sound off, so I didn't have to listen to the NESN commentators.
Orpik should have been penalized for the hit to the head, as it was the first point of contact. The head snap motion doesn't help, but Orpik did have plenty of time to react, especially if you look at the second angle of the Orpik hit. Due to the events with Thornton, I doubt there is secondary discipline.
Neal should get the 5 maximum as it is a play with intent and there is no way any player of their calibre should be able to justify their shin not getting out of the way of a stationary object.
Thornton. 10 games. He came from behind Orpik, after the whistle, takes him to the ice. And then pushes him against the ice, then proceeds to punch him while he was down. Twice. And with his free hand so there was a bit of room to get a wind-up. However, Thornton has no history with Player Safety, so I doubt it reaches into the 15+ game territory.
December 09, 2013
Votes: +2

mojavedesert said:

mojavedesert
... Neal's response to questions after the game (I only read his answer, and did not hear him speaking) provide me with the image of an immature man-boy who talks similarly as a puerile teenager - I mean, like, how many times, like, does an adult have to, like, use the word "like". Grow up Neal. Speak maturely and maybe you can act mature. You are 26, not 16. I have Neal in my keeper league and I hopes he receives the maximum 5 games permitted for the phone hearing.
December 09, 2013
Votes: +2

mojavedesert said:

mojavedesert
... Neal's response to questions after the game (I only read his answer, and did not hear him speaking) provide me with the image of an immature man-boy who talks similarly as a puerile teenager - I mean, like, how many times, like, does an adult have to, like, use the word "like". Grow up Neal. Speak maturely and maybe you can act mature. You are 26, not 16. I have Neal in my keeper league and I hopes he receives the maximum 5 games permitted for the phone hearing.
December 09, 2013
Votes: +0

hunterscott_ said:

hunterscott_
... Why do they keep trying to say Thornton is not that kind of player? He went after Orpik repeatedly through the game. 15 games for him, and there should have been 5 games to Julien. 5 to Neal for stupidity, and wish you could suspend Marchand 2 for being a jackass.
December 08, 2013
Votes: +0
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