With 12 games on Thursday, it seems prudent just to jump into the action. If you do want a theme/general message, the basic mood is defeated (the Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks left the undefeated ranks empty) and broken (there were some big injuries and/or bad health-related news).
CAROLINA 3, TORONTO 2
-- So, just when James Reimer looked like he was going to put the heat back on Jonathan Bernier, he collided with Josh Leivo* and now has a “headache.” Please note that the Maple Leafs weren’t very forthcoming about his “headache” in 2011-12, a season that was marred by his “post-headache-related symptoms.”
-- Things that were just in quotation marks were probably related to concussions.
-- Cam Ward got the win, and also an assist. Is anyone secretly bummed that you don’t get anything for a fantasy goalie assist? I’d love if a platform kept that stat open, or at least factored into other things, like tie-breaking. (I feel similarly about shootouts; whether you like them or not, shouldn’t “standout shootout specialist” be something fantasy owners should ponder, too? It’s a part of the game whether we like it or not.)
-- Joffrey Lupul remains fancy stat-defiant, scoring six goals on 29 SOG (20.7 percent). Even if he's lucky, fantasy owners have to love him taking an average of 3+ shots each night. Also, before you think he's TOO lucky, consider the fact that he shares names with one of the most detestable figures in modern fiction. Hopefully the Buds don't read or watch HBO.
-- Eric Staal is heating up. He has three points in his last three games, and in addition, he has 15 SOG and four PIM. Promising.
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Oh, and there’s still plenty of time to join a Yahoo! Hockey Pool, so get on that.
DETROIT 4, COLORADO 2
-- Niklas Kronwall is such a bombastic hitter that people describe his hits by making his last name a verb (Kronwall’d), so it’s weird seeing players like that in another situation, but that’s what happened on Thursday, as Cody McLeod was ejected and Kronwall was stretchered off following another questionable hit. The NHL will react one way or another, but chances are, they won’t be proactive. On the bright side, he’s “only” concussed.
-- I've got to admit that I was probably too negative about Daniel Alfredsson's potential in Detroit; he's now on a ridiculous four-game run in which he's generated a goal and seven assists, including three helpers last night. The only things that factor against him in a legitimate way are a) Father Time and b) a quality linemate like Johan Franzen getting injured, as he's wont to do. OK, I’d still like to see Alf getting more than 19 SOG in eight GP, too, but how can one complain about those results?
-- The DD was high on Jonas Gustavsson this week, but three straight wins with really nice numbers? Even better than expected. I have no clue how often the Red Wings will play him once Jimmy Howard’s healthy (he seems close), but they at least now have to consider giving him more reps, right? Howard at least doesn’t need to rush back … unless he’s worried.
-- It was inevitable that the Avalanche would slow down, especially in net, where Semyon Varlamov’s been especially ridiculous. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jean-Sebastien Giguere starts next.
BOSTON 3, FLORIDA 2
-- Really, the Bruins beating Tim Thomas is probably the best situation for everyone, all things considered.
-- Regardless, Thomas was fantastic, stopping 37 out of 40 shots last night. I'm still pretty supportive of Thomas’ value, at least in terms of being your team's third option. He might not get a ton of wins, but there's a perfectly reasonable argument that he could be like a cheaper Ryan Miller: low wins, high saves.
-- I like that Aleksander Barkov is getting solid minutes, but three of his five points came in one game and he only has 14 SOG in eight contests. Whether Florida keeps him around - seems likely - or not, I'm not big on his value. You don't get style points (i.e. getting a first-rounder who’s doing well for a first-rounder) for this, after all.
MONTREAL 5, COLUMBUS 3
-- It was suffered on Wednesday, but still: Max Pacioretty is out about three weeks with a leg injury.
-- More and more, I'm feeling like there might be something to the notion that P.K. Subban is the best fantasy defenseman right now.
-- The instinct might be to say that Sergei Bobrovsky is blowing it after getting paid nicely, but it seems like it's more about his team. He has a .921 save percentage despite that 2-4-0 mark, although last night wasn't his best.
ISLANDERS 3, EDMONTON 2
-- I must admit, I don't know a ton about Mark Arcobello but ... eight assists, already? Holy cow. It appears that he's getting first-line minutes with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, so I can't blame you if you at least give him a short-term watch. Wow.
-- Speaking of wow, Hall scored two goals in eight seconds, breaking Wayne Gretzky's record with the Oil. One cannot help but wonder if the Oilers' optimism is mostly hype, but Hall is the real deal.
-- My feeling was the Islanders erred in sticking with Evgeni Nabokov, but he's been lights-out so far. Even if the aging goalie slows, he should get plenty of starts. He's available in approximately one-third of Yahoo! Leagues, for what it's worth (67 percent owned).
Before the jump: note that Ryan Callahan is expected to miss three-to-four weeks with a broken thumb. Huge bummer for the New York Rangers, who seemed like they might possibly be approaching a turnaround.
After the jump: the rest of Thursday’ games.
* - I feel like Josh Leivo’s last name is actually Leino, but he wants to distance himself from his secret brother Ville Leino.
VANCOUVER 3, BUFFALO 0
-- Chris Higgins seems like the winner of the John Tortorella sweepstakes, or at least that's what I assume is what has gotten into him. Higgins has 29 SOG in eight games this season, with four points. Those efforts are starting to translate to results, with three of those four points in his last two games.
-- Once again: poor Ryan Miller.
PITTSBURGH 4, PHILADELPHIA 1
-- Sidney Crosby scored a goal and an assist, giving him 14 points in seven games this season. If he can stay healthy, it's hard to imagine anyone compiling more fantasy value. Unless his universe-appointed rival Alex Ovechkin keeps his seven-shot-per-game pace up, of course.
-- Marc-Andre Fleury's really playing well and/or benefiting Tomas Vokoun's injury.
-- Don't blame Steve Mason (.923 save percentage) for his 1-5-0 record this season. It seems like a strange reversal of fortunes, as he was once the person to blame in Columbus but now he’s a faint beacon of hope in Philly.
OTTAWA 5, NEW JERSEY 2
-- The Devils really seem like they're paying some kind of karmic punishment for helping make the league less exciting in the 90’s; they generated a 42-23 shot advantage and still lost handily.
-- Craig Anderson had a much-needed great night, with 40 out of 42 saves. His shorthanded work was especially impressive, as he stopped 11 of the 12 on the PK.
-- Cory Schneider hasn't been great (.908 save percentage) but Martin Brodeur has been awful (.865). The Devils might want to give the young fella more starts.
TAMPA BAY 3, MINNESOTA 1
-- The Minnesota Wild rank highly - if not in first place - in the "most top-heavy team in the NHL" category. At least Josh Harding continues to show some short-term value.
-- I continue to like Valtteri Filppula as a depth option. He's getting plenty of ice time and keeps producing, although that 44.4 shooting percentage makes me wonder if I should drink the Kool-Aid.
-- Ben Bishop continues to be one of the league's best values (and best-kept secrets).
ST. LOUIS 3, CHICAGO 2 (SO)
-- The Blues have very little reason to take anything but back-to-back starts from Jaroslav Halak right now, so Brian Elliott will need to do something special tonight to really nose his way in here.
-- It's nice to see Alex Pietrangelo make good on the promise of that big extension, as he has six points (all assists) in six games.
DALLAS 4, SAN JOSE 3 (SO)
-- Nice to see one of the truly talented-but-underrated wingers Ray Whitney get some nice action on Thursday, as "The Wizard" collected two assists to bump his season total to four (both for points and assists). I'm not sure Dallas has the scoring depth to help him out much, as it seems the Stars' powers are largely revolving around the deadly Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin combo.
-- Antti Niemi might be one of the top bargains among fantasy goalies; he still hasn't lost in regulation.
-- No shock Dan Ellis has been a solid backup for Kari Lehtonen, who seems close to a return (but who knows with the fragile Finn).
LOS ANGELES 2, NASHVILLE 1 (SO)
-- Jonathan Quick pulled the "veteran move" of removing his mask a second time to stump the flow of a Predators' power play. I shudder to imagine this rule loophole being exploited more and more; when can it become a delay of game?
-- Patric Hornqvist is one of the Preds to have, at least when he's healthy; he didn't score but he had seven SOG last night and just generally gets his nose into everything (28 SOG in seven GP).
-- The Predators strike me as a bubble playoff team, especially since Pekka Rinne seems settled in.