Here are your fantasy studs for December 17:
Goals: It was all “Geno” on Saturday as Evgeni Malkin lit it up for the Pens in their first game since Sidney Crosby was placed on IR. Malkin had a league high five points – three of which came on goals – en route to the Penguins’ 8-3 win over the Sabres. I’m going to state the obvious here and say Malkin is absolutely owned in your league. If he is not, you must be playing in some sort of bizarre Roto that only gives points for PIM. On a more serious note, if you’ve been contemplating a trade for Malkin this is the time to get after him. Without Crosby and with a clean bill of a health he is the man in Pittsburgh and everything is going to run through him.
Assists: Tonight’s top playmakers are somewhat unlikely names in this category as Dan Cleary and Rich Peverley led the way with three assists apiece. Peverley was the more valuable fantasy player given that two of his three assists came on the power play, thereby counting as power play points for those in leagues who count that type of stuff. Call Cleary old fashioned, but all of his points came with the combatants at even strength. Peverley is the much better fantasy option of the two as he has overcome a very slow start to the season to be a fairly regular offensive contributor who is a good option if you need help up front for your team. Cleary should really only be an option for your fantasy team in a very deep league. Unless he goes on a huge tear, I wouldn’t expect him to finish the season with more than 40 points.
PIMs: Anyone who plays in a fantasy league that values PIMs loves it when the Bruins and Flyers get together as nothing brings out the anger in a hockey game more than when two teams filled with bruisers face off in what turns out to be a lopsided score. Today’s top four PIM getters all took part in that contest. Johnny Boychuk and Zac Rinaldo took the gold with 17 PIMs apiece while Milan Lucic was close behind with 15 and Brad Marchand was a fight behind him at 10. As far as fantasy value goes, obviously Lucic and Marchand are the most valuable with their scoring ability as they each had a point in the game. Rinaldo barely offers any offence and contributes nothing fantasy wise beyond the occasional fight. Boychuk on the other hand is really only fantasy worthy if your league counts plus-minus ratings.
Goaltending: Tim Thomas is tonight’s fantasy Vezina winner as he posted the lone shutout of the night in the Bruins’ 6-0 victory over the Flyers. Thomas posted 31 saves en route to the goose egg as the Bruins continue to roll through their schedule, this time snapping the Flyers’ seven game win streak. Thomas is obviously one of the top goaltenders in the world but he is an interesting situation from a fantasy perspective. Thomas blocks Tuukka Rask – who realistically could be a Vezina nominee on any other team with his 1.82 GAA and .939 save percentage this season – and splits time with the young ‘tender. As a result, Thomas is tough to rely on as your go-to fantasy goalie given that Claude Julien has no problem going with the hot hand. Best case scenario for Thomas owners: find a way to pick up Rask too and you are cruising. Luckily for you Thomas owners, Rask is only owned in about 50% of fantasy leagues.
There it is, your fantasy rundown for December 17.