Here are your fantasy studs for December 20:
Goals: Marian Gaborik was the familiar face atop the NHL scorer’s leaderboard tonight with his two goals and single assist against the New Jersey Devils. I say familiar because he was joined at the top of the pile by Ottawa Senators forward Erik Condra who scored two goals in the Senators win over the Buffalo Sabres. As far as fantasy options go, if Gaborik is not taken in your league you and your competitors are a disgrace given that he may be the best pure goal scorer in the league (i.e. that’s all he does). As far as Condra, don’t be tempted by a big night. Tonight’s output was 1/3 of his scoring this season.
Assists: Speaking of familiar faces, Evgeni Malkin has been ripping it up since Sidney Crosby went down and has looked possessed since the season kicked off. He has company at the top of the scoring leaderboard as Rangers’ sophomore Derek Stepan had three assists in the Rangers’ victory over the Devils. For all that was made of the Richards signing, Stepan has really flourished when paired when with Gaborik so it’ll be interesting to keep an eye on. As I said on Saturday night if you wanted a time to pick up Malkin it is NOW. The guy is on another level and only getting better. As far as Stepan, his point production will be directly proportional to his time with Gaborik so keep an eye on Rangers line combos.
PIMs: John Scott is our heavyweight of the night for rushing to the aid of teammate Marcus Kruger after he was demolished by Deryk Engelland of the Penguins. Scott is an interesting case because he’s a pretty tough customer when it comes down to it, but his penalty minutes don’t always reflect that. He also switches positions from time to time – he played forward tonight – but is generally listed as a defenceman. I don’t see much fantasy value in him, but if you’re a diehard ‘Hawks fan with a roster spot, have fun.
Goaltending: In the goaltending department I’m going to give tonight’s Backhand Shelf Vezina award to Marc-Andre Fleury of the Penguins. With no shutouts in the NHL (damn you for ruining my predictions, Josh Harding) Fleury was tied for the lead in wins (1) and led the league in saves (36) to top all goaltenders in fantasy production. Fleury is one of the top fantasy goaltenders in hockey. Enough said.
Those are your fantasy studs from December 20.
Happy winning friends,