Dion Phaneuf has been suspended two games for his hit on Kevan Miller Sunday.

 

*

 

The Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 on Monday night in a pretty competitive matchup.

 

Once again goaltender Curtis McElhinney looked solid stopping 28-of-30 shots. He is coming off a shutout in his last game against Minnesota and he figures to get plenty of starts while Sergei Bobrovsky is injured for at least the next month or so. The goals that beat him last night were hardly his fault as one came from a great individual effort from Evgeni Malkin and the other was a tough bounce that just hit Sidney Crosby in front.

 

Ryan Johansen picked up an assist on a late Matt Calvert goal to give him seven points in his last five games. He finally looks like he’s starting to figure things out at the National Hockey League level.

 

Jack Johnson is now 15 straight games without a point and going strong. He did at least post a team leading seven shots against the Penguins, but finished minus-2. Despite the struggles he seems to be in no danger of losing ice-time because of it. Johnson played a team leading 22:38 on Monday.

 

*

 

As mentioned earlier, Evgeni Malkin scored a beautiful goal after missing two games with a lower-body injury.

 

 

With James Neal suspended for five games it remains to be seen how that will factor into Malkin’s play. Those two were really clicking before Malkin got injured as both were lighting up the scoreboard at a torrid pace.

 

Olli Maatta picked up an assist to go along with four blocks against the Blue Jackets. He was up around 20 minutes in this one after averaging around 22 in his previous two games. Perhaps with Brooks Orpik hurt he will continue to get decent playing time.

 

Marc-Andre Fleury was great on Monday stopping 32 shots. He probably deserves more talk for a spot on team Canada, but with his recent history in the post-season fresh in everyone’s mind, he is going to be in tough to earn a spot.

 

*

 

Ottawa topped Philadelphia 5-4 in a shootout that was a back and forth affair.

 

Neither goalie looked particularly stellar as there were a few questionable goals on both sides. Craig Anderson conceded a weak one late to Kimmo Timonen that sent the game into overtime. He’s been shaky this year and his numbers have taken a big hit. Robin Lehner could be playing more regularly if Anderson doesn’t pick it up.

 

Clarke MacArthur scored twice to put him up to 25 points now on the year. The Leafs let him walk to easily this summer even if it was going to be tough to sign him because of cap issues. MacArthur has always been a great secondary scorer and with more opportunities this season he is proving to be even more than that.

 

Bobby Ryan had a nice game for the Sens after going two without a point. He notched two assists and had six shots.

 

Jason Spezza had two assists for his second straight multi-point game, but has just two shots on goal over that span.

 

*

 

Steve Mason had his second straight poor performance. He’s been solid for most of the year in Philly, so let’s see how he handles this little bit of adversity.

 

With Vincent Lecavalier hurt, some young Flyer forwards are going to get a chance to step up. Michael Raffl had a goal and an assist against Ottawa and has seen his minutes increase recently.

 

Tye McGinn is another one to watch. He was recalled recently and although he was scratched on Monday, he led the team with three goals earlier in the year before being sent down to the AHL. Three goals doesn’t sound like much but at that time the way the Flyers were scoring that was quite the accomplishment.

 

Timonen and Luke Schenn combined for two goals and two helpers, but don’t expect that very often. Or ever again.

 

*

 

Vancouver beat Carolina 2-0 thanks to a shutout by Eddie Lack. There was probably some concern from the Canucks heading into this season with Cory Schneider gone that their goaltending would take a step back when Roberto Luongo had the night off. Not so though as Lack has been steady this year.

 

Chris Higgins is heating up for Vancouver and had two helpers against Carolina. That now gives him five points in his last three games and he is a plus-5 over that stretch.

 

Jannik Hansen scored his first goal in 10 games.

 

*

 

Jeff Skinner was held off the score sheet for the second straight game and was a minus-2. He did lead the Canes with five shots and now has 22 over his last five contests.

 

Justin Peters stopped 21-of-22 shots in a losing cause. He's been excellent this year.

 

*

 

This goal from Corey Perry on Monday pretty much sums up how things are going for the Islanders. They've lost 10 straight.

 

 

At least Thomas Vanek and John Tavares each broke out of two-game mini slumps with a goal and an assist against the Ducks.

 

*

 

Cam Fowler had a goal and two assists against the Isles to give him six points in his last five. He's been getting huge minutes lately.

 

Daniel Winnik had three assists and now has four points in two games.

 

*

 

Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk should check back into the lineup on Tuesday after missing seven games with a concussion. It will be interesting to see how his presence alters the Wings as they had been playing arguably their best hockey of the season while he was out, going 5-2.

 

Johan Franzen will reportedly play with Datsyuk on Tuesday and he collected nine points while the Russian was out of the lineup. Having Datsyuk back should allow Franzen an opportunity to increase his offensive totals even more if they indeed do skate together, but what does that mean for Gustav Nyquist? He was playing with Franzen when Datsyuk was hurt and collected five points in those seven games. This likely means Nyquist’s minutes will take a slight drop, so keep an eye on that.

 

Something else to ponder about Nyquist is his play on the power play. Since he was recalled by the Wings he is averaging over three minutes a game on the man advantage but has yet to pick up a point in a power play situation. Nyquist is actually getting the fifth most power play time on the team and ranks fourth among forwards. With all of his offensive abilities it is curious that he has yet to break through in that area.

 

*

 

San Jose Sharks forward Tommy Wingels is still just 33% owned in Yahoo Leagues and he is now up to nine goals and 19 points on the year. Wingels came into this season with just 22 career points, so he is quickly making a name for himself.

 

There were signs last season that he was coming around as he was able to record 13 points in 42 games. Wingels most frequent line combination in 2012-13 was with Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau, which is no different than this year. What is different is his next two most frequent combinations. This year he has the benefit of seeing some time with Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, and Tomas Hertl as well, where as last year he was seeing additional time with players like Raffi Torres, T.J. Galiardi, and Michal Handzus. The players in 2013-14 are a big upgrade as far as offensive talent goes.

 

To go along with the upswing in offensive production, Wingels has also improved his shots on goal and plus/minus greatly this season. In 2012-13 he finished as a minus-9, while this campaign he is already at plus-11. Last year he had just 69 shots in 42 games, but in 2013-14 he has almost equalled that in 30 contests with 59.

 

*

 

Sean McIndoe gives his take on the incidents in the Penguins/Bruins game last weekend.

 

*

 

Jarome Iginla returns to Calgary on Tuesday night and he should receive nothing but a warm welcome.

 

Michael Amato is an Associate Editor for DobberHockey and a News Editor for theScore. You can follow him on Twitter at @amato_mike


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Excelsior said:

Excelsior
... Good ramblings Michael. Especially enjoy your take on Wingels, Nyquist etc. We can all check out boxscores but it is the fantasy opinions that we come here for.
Well done.
December 10, 2013
Votes: +3
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