Morning update: Alex Tanguay had a setback in his recovery from his knee injury and will be sidelined indefinitely. In this article, it sounds pretty bad and I wouldn't count on him before February.

**

Anyone have any side bets as to what I'd kick off today's ramblings with, after watching the highlights of last night's games? If you put your money on the topic of Cam Atkinson, it was a wise move. Yes, I have my man crushes. I've been doing this a long time and let me tell you - I get the most pleasure out of picking up on a player early in his prospect days, watching his progress, and at each step he checks off a box on my imaginary sheet of things I'd like to see in order to feel confident in him as a fantasy prospect. Atkinson has checked all of those boxes except this latest one. I wanted to see 40 points and no injuries this year. His four points last night put him back on track, but it's good to see. We've all been there - drafting a prospect, holding onto him and feeling hopes rise with each passing season. The only difference between what you feel when that happens and what I feel right now is that I have the added pressure of a website with thousands of people watching to see if I called it right, or if I blew another one. As long as Atkinson stays healthy, I'll be right about this one. Temper expectations - stick to the 40-point plan. But great things to come.

What's sparked Cam of late is the return from injury of Matt Calvert. Now Calvert isn't anything special, in fact Atkinson is far superior in both talent now and long-term upside. But something about those two together get them both going. Maybe Atkinson won't need the help in the future, but early in his young career I think he needs the chemistry. And adding Brandon Dubinsky to the line has worked well the last couple of games.

Dubinsky's four points put him back on pace for over 50 on the season. Throw in his 196 PIM pace and that's quite the fantasy gold.

*

Another Dobber Darling (as one of you coined a couple of years ago - I kinda like it) is Tyler Johnson, who also had a big night with three points. Expectations for him are the same as they are with Atkinson, but Johnson is playing with a slightly better linemate - take a look:

 

20.21%

EV

51 FILPPULA,VALTTERI - 17 KILLORN,ALEX - 16 PURCELL,EDWARD

18.82%

EV

9 JOHNSON,TYLER - 18 PALAT,ONDREJ - 26 ST. LOUIS,MARTIN

12.2%

EV

23 BROWN,J.T. - 56 KUCHEROV,NIKITA - 44 THOMPSON,NATE

That trio also made up the first PP unit. As long as that remains the case (and who knows, given that TB lost, if it will) you could see great things in the short term. Not to be outdone, Palat has four points in his last three games on the top line and makes a very good pickup as a LW, at least for the short term. He has six SOG last night.

Nikita Kucherov took 17 seconds to score his first NHL goal, but it took him six more games to get his next one, but he popped one in last night and saw 14:07 of ice time. He'll hone his craft on the third line until he gets sent back down

*

Braden Holtby was pulled after 11 minutes when he gave up three goals on eight shots. Phillip Grubauer, a top goalie prospect for the Caps, stopped 32 of 34. That's two straight wins for Grubauer. Is it enough to steal the job? No way. But it's probably earned him another start and it's also enough to let the Caps no doubt believe that Michal Neuvirth can be traded. And wouldn't that be something? Two years ago people are asking me where Holtby fits in given Varlamov/Neuvirth are the long-term tandem for the Caps. And we could very well see, within two years, both those guys gone.

Alex Ovechkin's four goals give him 48 goals in his last 50 games. I can't begin to tell you how many "washed up" comments I had in these ramblings and other articles just 10 months ago when he got off to a slow start last year on the heels of two weak seasons. This puts him fifth in scoring and of course tops in goals by a wide margin. I can't stress enough - Malkin, Crosby and Ovechkin should never be written off until they are 37. No matter how bad a run they go on - one season, two seasons, even three seasons - don't write them off. Treat them the same.

I get the sense that Connor McDavid is going to join the Big 3. A step above MacKinnon, Tavares and Stamkos (who are a step above Hall, Yakupov and Nugent-Hopkins). Just a feeling that I get, and by no means an expert opinion. My prospect knowledge kicks in the month or two before they get drafted. Until that point, it's just a casual interest (I have enough on my plate with the drafted prospects and full-time NHLers). But that's my sense, and I'm treating that draft year (i.e. first overall pick in 2015 extremely valuable) accordingly.

*

Radko Gudas will get 20 points this year. And 240+ PIM. But he's also gold in leagues that count hits - and he had 10 of them last night.

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Lost in my Atkinson holy shrine above was the fact that there was a hockey game being played. And the Jackets played the Devils. And Damien Brunner scored twice, his first goals since October 26. A streaky player, he may go on a little run now. Naturally he waited until I finally gave up on him (last Thursday).

*

Martin Jones had a 31-save shutout and that really puts Scrivens owners in a tough spot. I had been advising in the forum that they hang in there, Scrivens will get his job back and get a ton of wins over the next three weeks. But a 31-save shutout? That changes things. Jones will probably get the next start, even though it's tonight and it's back-to-back. After all, Jones has two straight shutouts now, how do you sit him? Jones is a great prospect I would put in the same category as Grubauer in terms of talent and upside. Scrivens owners - if you have a chance to grab Antti Raanta instead, then do so. If not, give this situation two more games.

Update: Thanks to the commenter below, I was reminded that the Kings play the Leafs. So I'm sure Scrivens will be in net against his former team. And it's his big chance to make a statement. But short of a shutout, I can't see him keeping Jones from starting the next one.

Just 13:45 of ice time but that's not gonna hold Tyler Toffoli down. Two more points for the rookie. It's an interesting rookie scoring race because Hertl is slowing, and the next wave of rookies is growing - Kreider, MacKinnon and Krug are going to be joined soon by Johnson, Toffoli and Nichushkin. A seven-player race now (but my money is still on MacKinnon).

*

Here is my THN article from Monday - three teams on the rise and three on the decline for the second half - and manage your players accordingly.

*

With two points last night, Andrej Sekera has 10 in his last nine games.

Big night for the Oilers, funny that David Perron wasn't in on that despite five goals. One minute he's leading the team in scoring, the next minute he's third and just a point up on fourth as both Hall and Eberle passed him.

Despite the third-line minutes and linemates, Mark Arcobello managed an assist. In fact, despite playing with the hot dog vendor on one wing and the "Programs, here!" guy on the other wing, he's still managed four points in his last four games. Arcobello has 52 hits which leads all Edmonton forwards.

Sam Gagner is showing signs of shaking off the slump with four points in his last five games.

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I was annoyed with Barry Trotz last night when I saw that Craig Smith was scratched, given that he's second on the Preds in points and SOG. But I was corrected on Twitter - he has the flu. Alright then.

Roman Josi has four points in his last four games.

The big win for Carter Hutton puts the ball back in his court. Marek Mazanec had lost three straight games. This situation for Mazanec owners is not unlike the one with Scrivens owners.

Ryan Callahan is out for a month or more (knee sprain)  thanks to this:

 

 

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Tim Thomas has won three in a row and allowed just five goals in that span. He's 7-5-1 since starting the year 2-5-0. And it's understandable that he started slow, given his one-year absence. Mr. Thomas is back, gang.

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Hey - remember my Monday ramblings? I think you can go ahead with Michael Kostka. Still a risk, but definitely short-term reward is possible. Kostka picked up two points in his return to the lineup, though he saw just 15:04 and no PP time.

Patrick Kane becomes the second player to hit 40 points this season, with three points Tuesday night.

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Did you see this? In Florida they replaced the broken glass with a glass pane (of course) - but they couldn't get the cover off. So for much of the third period, it was like a big wall blocking the fans there.

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Mark Giordano has three points in four games since his return. Kris Russell is hanging in there - two points in those four games. So it looks like Russell could keep this going until Dennis Wideman gets back.

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The Flames pay tribute to Jarome Iginla (starts at 2:20):

 

 


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Comments (10)add comment

mojavedesert said:

mojavedesert
Jones/Scrivens Although I am disappointed to see Scrivens on the bench I can understand the thought behind the decision to start Jones in net against the Leafs. First, you ride the hot hand and currently that is Jones. Secondly, the Leafs will know Scrivens' weak spots and attempt to expose what they already know. Against Jones, they will be less knowledgeable, thus giving the Kings an advantage.
December 11, 2013
Votes: +0

loco man said:

loco man
... Looks like its the old face-slap for Scrivens - Jones starting tonight. Just dropped Scrivy for Raanta
December 11, 2013
Votes: +0

27Blue said:

27Blue
... Nichushkin is going to be a stud and he is coming on, but he hasn't even been the best rookie on his team this year.
Chiasson won't likely even be in the conversation at the end of the year, but there is no doubt that he has been one of the best rookies in the league... in the same way as Lindholm (mentioned below)... but voters and fans tend to focus on stats and not much else.
December 11, 2013
Votes: +1

Pengwin7 said:

Pengwin7
Great rambling. One of my favourites of this hockey season!!!
December 11, 2013
Votes: +0

Rodgort said:

Rodgort
Calder Race What about Hampus Lindholm in Anaheim!? East Coast Bias for sure! hahaha

Oh and don't worry Dobber Trotz Craig-Smith'd Seth Jones by giving him 9 minutes of ice time that game, so he knew who to take down instead. Along with Ellis only getting 11 minutes of ice time but I assume that has been going on all year. How dare these young skilled forwards in Nashville DARE to try and play offense!

December 11, 2013
Votes: +0

Jordyr77 said:

Jordyr77
... Do you think rnh hall and Yakupov ever move into that tier with Mackinnon, Stamkos and Tavares? Or is that highly unlikely?
December 11, 2013
Votes: +1

Sheepdogged said:

Sheepdogged
Iginla Well done, Sir. +1 He was a Minnesota Wild killer.
December 11, 2013
Votes: -1

Dobber said:

Dobber
... Thanks Ryanmccor - I updated the blurb
December 11, 2013
Votes: +1

Ryanmccor said:

Ryanmccor
... LA plays toronto tomorrow, Scrivens' old team. Is it a huge slap in the face to Scrivs if they start Martin?
December 11, 2013
Votes: +0

rataylor22 said:

rataylor22
Iggy Ugh. Exams. Thanks for the Iggy link Dobber, I knew I could count on you. Been a Calgary resident my whole life and have a love for Iginla that I'm sure most people outside of Calgary don't understand, just as many people have with their "hometown hero". I wasn't able to watch the game tonight as I had to study (made much more worse by the fact that I had an opportunity at tickets to go which I couldn't take), but thank you for sharing the tribute for me.
December 11, 2013
Votes: +0
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