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The Devils beat the Oilers 2-1 in game between two teams that looked like they were dying to get to the Olympic break.
Jon Merrill's first career NHL goal was the overtime winner for New Jersey. It's been a slow start in the first 31 NHL games of Merrill's time with the Devils as he's managed just five points and a minus-8 rating. He was never a huge points guy in College anyway, so give him time to figure the pro game out.
Adam Henrique scored his first point in five games just in time for the break to destroy any momentum he might have been building. That's something to consider from a fantasy perspective is how the layoff will impact guys on point streaks and playing well right now.
Cory Schneider turned in another strong performance for the Devils. Does Martin Brodeur get moved before the trade deadline? Or does he return to New Jersey in 2014-15?
Nail Yakupov has been impressive in his last three outings, or at the very least not as bad. He has points in every game during that stretch and has played at least 17 minutes in his last two contests. He's only had one streak longer back in mid-November, so this is a good sign.
Here's a predicament I bet the Oilers never thought they would have just a month or so ago: two goalies playing well. Both Ilya Bryzgalov and Ben Scrivens have been strong as of late, making it tough for owners to get significant starts from either one. At least their stats are good.
David Perron has three assists in his last three games, but hasn't scored in five straight now unfortunately.
Nick Schultz with a whopping five blocks on Friday. He's up to 113 on the campaign to lead the Oilers and rank in the top 15 in the NHL. Schultz is a good add if you need help there as you know Edmonton is going to be giving up plenty of offensive opportunities to opposing teams.
The Panthers continue to struggle and dropped a 5-1 decision to the Hurricanes on Friday.
Tim Thomas was chased from the game after giving up four goals on 10 shots. Thomas was actually coming off two strong starts, but those are likely to be few and far between when you're tending goal for the Panthers.
Nick Bjugstad scored his 13th goal of the season on Friday. He hasn't had a terrible year despite his surroundings and hasn't had many lengthy goalless stretches either.
Tom Gilbert has officially cooled off and right on cue after I picked him up. He had a stretch of three straight two-point games, but followed it up with just one in his next six. Gilbert's still getting quality power play minutes, so I'll hang on to him for the time being.
Andrej Sekera had a goal and six shots against Florida. Talk about exceeding expectations this season.
Anton Khudobin continues to block the net in epic fashion and finished with 34 stops versus the Panthers. Poor Cam Ward.
Eric Staal snapped a three-game pointless drought with a helper. He also went plus-3 Friday. I'm liking this Jiri Tlusty-Eric Staal-Alex Semin line and hopefully they stick together the rest of the way.
Justin Faulk hasn't scored since late December, but he had six blocks on Friday. Between his 20-plus points, 30-plus PIM, and 100-plus shots, he's had a productive year.
Noticed Jeff Skinner played just 13:27, his second lowest minutes of the season. He did manage two assists though. Didn't notice an injury but I only watched part of the game.
The Rangers edged the Penguins 4-3 in a shootout and they were provided a couple of goals from Benoit Pouliot. He was playing some good hockey in late December and into early January but had slowed down since. More than half of Pouliot’s goals have come on the power play this season and he sees solid minutes there.
Despite not recording a point it was an encouraging effort from Chris Kreider. He posted five shots which is the most he’s directed on goal since late November. He’s still pointless in seven games though.
Derick Brassard notched an assist to extend his point streak to six games. He also added four hits for good measure.
Ryan Callahan has gone two straight without point and is minus-2 over that stretch. That’s worth about $7M a year isn’t it?
However, Derek Stepan’s play is far more concerning though. He’s on a five game pointless streak and played under a minute with the man advantage on Friday. He’s also managed no more than one shot in his last three outings. Yikes.
Dan Girardi may have had the fantasy line of the night with two points, three shots, four hits, and five blocks. He’s about the only one doing anything on my fantasy team right now as I continue to sink like a stone in theScore’s 20-squad league.
With the frightening news about Kris Letang’s health and the fact he will likely be out for a while, Olli Maatta could be someone to look at as a replacement. He had two points on Friday to go along with four shots and is starting to see some decent power play opportunities. Those will likely increase with Letang sidelined, and let’s hope he gets back on the ice soon.
Matt Niskanen is another option and now has points in two straight. He played over four minutes on the power play against New York. He posted some nice numbers when Letang was injured earlier in the year.
After going eight games without a goal, James Neal now has one in three straight. He’s actually got eight PIM in his last four as well and is up to 39 on the year. That’s not bad for a scorer like Neal.
Jussi Jokinen has six points in five games. His ice-time unfortunately fluctuates quite a bit though. He was up near 18 minutes on Friday, but he can easily go under 14 with regularity as well.
The Blackhawks were shutout by the Coyotes on Friday and Chicago had not been held off the score sheet for almost two full calendar years.
Mike Smith deserves much of the credit for turning aside 30 pucks. He’s now turned in three great games heading into Sochi, although he is unlikely to see the ice there.
Keith Yandle’s goal and assist on Friday give him37 points on the year. The fact that he’s minus-16 though is tough to swallow and that shouldn’t happen in a Dave Tippett system. Yandle’s been a plus-35 over his last four seasons combined, so it’s puzzling to say the least.
A rare night where the Blackhawks didn’t light up the scoreboard. Brandon Saad is now three games without a point, but the good news is that he played over 19 minutes, the most ice he’s seen in a couple of weeks. Saad’s ice could very likely drop back down to the 13-minute mark though when Patrick Kane returns to action. He sat out of Friday’s contest to attend his grandfather’s funeral.
Corey Crawford seems to be finding his groove again after missing a month earlier in the year with an injury. Sometimes that long of a layoff can throw off a goaltender but Crawford has been solid since returning. In fact, he’s got six straight starts with a save percentage above .912.
Columbus fell to the Sharks 3-2 even though Sergei Bobrovsky made 44 stops. What a machine.
Ryan Johansen with another two points on Friday to give him eight in his last five contests. He’s up to 46 in 58 games this season and isn’t getting anywhere close to enough attention league wide.
This pass from Johansen set up a Boone Jenner goal against the Sharks.
Speaking of Jenner, he’s on quite the run himself right now. He has five points in five games and has gone plus-6 over that stretch. Jenner also has 138 hits and can be beneficial there for you if that’s a category in your league.
Nathan Horton has picked it up recently as he finally seems to be getting his legs after missing much of the year recovering from a shoulder injury. He’s got four points in his last four and has also gone plus-4 over that span.
Tommy Wingels has a three game point streak going after a goal on Friday. He played nearly four minutes on the power play and looks to be recapturing some of the form he had to start the year.
The fact that Joe Pavelski hasn’t picked up a point in three straight games now is mildly concerning. He did have six shots against the Blue Jackets though after posting just one in each of his previous two games. Good news.
Fantasy owners of Dan Boyle probably wish his play right now was only mildly concerning, but instead it’s in full-blown panic mode. Boyle has just one point in 14 games and is minus-8 on the year. He has never been a minus player since coming to San Jose. There is a strong chance he will record a career low in points over a full season and may finally be showing signs that he is 37 years old.
Curious choice for Team Sweden to tab Marcus Johansson as Henrik Sedin’s replacement in Sochi. He’s got points in just three of his last 11 games. Some reports said it was going to be Calgary Flames forward Mikael Backlund initially and that may have been the wiser choice. Backlund, on the other hand, has 10 points in his last six, scoring at least two points in five of those contests. Perhaps the Swedes are hoping for a connection between Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom, but I’ve always been a fan of taking the hot hand to these short tournaments. Then again, we are taking about a group who inexplicably left Victor Hedman off the team. Unreal.
Big blow for Finland as Mikko Koivu will reportedly miss the Olympics as well with an injury. With Valterri Filppula also out with an ankle injury, that leaves Olli Jokinen as the top center for the team right now. Scary thought.
The Sabres placed Linus Omark on waivers Friday. If you can’t make it in Buffalo right now, you can’t make it anywhere.
Interesting look at fighting in the NHL from Bryan Curtis.