Here are your fantasy studs for December 15:
Goals: We had four multi-goal scorers in the NHL tonight with some familiar names leading the pack. Shea Weber – arguably the best fantasy defenceman on the planet – picked up two points as the highest goal scoring D-Man on the night. Weber is unavailable in your league – I know this for a fact – and most attempts to acquire him will just get you laughed at. He was joined by three forwards who had two goal nights of their own. Paul Stastny, Taylor Hall and Drayson Bowman all had a pair for their respective teams. Stastny has had a rough start to the season, only scoring 17 points in 28 games. However when he’s on he’s a very solid scoring forward – look for him as a possible buy-low candidate right now. Hall returned to the Oilers lineup after missing seven games with a shoulder injury and scored both of his goals on the power play. He’s another player that has had a tough season thus far and has been a general disappointment as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has really emerged as the top dog in Edmonton. That being said, in a keeper league format the way Hall has been playing may be enough for you to pry him away from his current owner. Many people think Hall has 50-goal potential in him – I don’t but that’s another conversation altogether – making him a player worth taking a flyer on. Bowman’s two goals came in what was his third game this season. I’d be reluctant to go picking him up right away unless your league is bafflingly deep.
Assists: Matt Carle wins the Backhand Shelf assist-getter of the night award with a three assist performance in the Flyers’ 4-3 win over the Canadiens in Montreal Thursday night. Carle is on a nice little run right now as he the assists push his current point streak to four games. He has seven points over that span. As far as fantasy defencemen go, you could do a lot worse than Carle who has these streaks in him – especially on a Flyer team that often relies on offence from its blueline. While he won’t be scoring seven in four consistently this season, you can generally count on him to pick up enough points and penalty minutes to earn you a couple of points a night on average. After all, every little bit counts.
PIMs: Alex Burrows and Sean Couturier top tonight’s penalty minutes leaders with six apiece and both offer their benefits for a fantasy owner. Burrows, obviously one of the NHL’s super-rats, is a fantasy owner’s dream in that he has 30 goal potential every season playing with a loaded Vancouver squad and brings a style of play that lends itself to 100+ PIM per season. Right now Burrows is behind his usual PIM pace, but expect that to pick up as games get more heated down the stretch. As far as goals are concerned, expect him to finish somewhere around the 25 goal mark. Couturier is an interesting case as one of the young talents on Philly’s totally revamped roster. What makes him intriguing from a fantasy perspective is where he could fit in down the stretch on an injury plagued roster currently missing the NHL’s leading scorer. Couturier has averaged over 15 minutes of ice time since Claude Giroux went down with a concussion and has been getting opportunities here and there on the power play. Odds are good that he’s a free agent in your league so if you’re looking for some depth with upside, he may be worth the add.
Goaltending: Michal Neuvirth wins the fantasy Vezina trophy tonight as he posted the lone shutout in the NHL against the Winnipeg Jets on the road. Neuvirth turned aside all 26 shots on goal the Jets put on him which gave the Capitals enough time for Alexander Ovechkin (!) to score the game winner with under two minutes to play. There have been a lot of goaltending questions in Washington this season – surprise, surprise – as Tomas Vokoun has really struggled at times. With a fresh slate under Dale Hunter, don’t be shocked if Hunter rides the hot hand of Neuvirth who has come on a little bit. Since replacing Vokoun in a 5-1 loss to Philadelphia, Neuvirth has stopped 36 of 37 shots put on goal by his opponents. His numbers have been bad this season but the Caps are searching for answers and it could be Neuvirth.
Goal of the night: Alex Steen scores this bizarre goal (fantasy points for me!) in the Blues 4-1 win over the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist is still confused as to how this happened.
That’s your fantasy recap for December 15th.