Around the Rink
'Twas a pretty quiet Thursday of NHL action, with just three games, but the fans got their money's worth, with two of them going to overtime and all three home teams coming away with wins.
On a night without a whole ton of major fantasy takeaways, the biggest one for fantasy purposes is probably Carter Hutton's second straight rough outing, as he blew a 3-0 lead, gave up four goals in regulation and lost to the Coyotes in the shootout. That's nine goals and two losses for Hutton in the last two games, which is probably bad enough that 22-year-old Magnus Hellberg will see his first NHL start sometime soon. If Hellberg plays well – and there's certainly a strong argument that he's already a better goalie than Hutton – don't be surprised to see him grab a bigger share of the Preds' tending job very quickly while Pekka Rinne remains out. Nashville is in fifth place in the Central Division and has a minus-10 goal differential, so Hutton can't expect much patience from the coaching staff.
Perhaps the biggest news of the week is Semyon Varlamov's, uh, incident. Varly's girlfriend claims that he kicked and stomped her in a fit of rage, and apparently it's not the first time. The resulting legal issues apparently won't threaten his availability to start in goal – can't have silly things like the law interfering with our pro sports, after all! – but you have to wonder if this whole thing won't weigh heavily on his mind in the coming days. It ought to.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid.
Lightning (Ben Bishop) at Hurricanes (Justin Peters), 7:00
Capitals (Braden Holtby) at Flyers (Steve Mason), 7:00
Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky) at Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury), 7:00
Islanders (Evgeni Nabokov) at Senators (Robin Lehner), 7:30
Blues (Brian Elliott) at Panthers (Jacob Markstrom), 7:30
Canadiens (Carey Price) at Wild (Niklas Backstrom), 8:00
Avalanche (Jean-Sebastien Giguere) at Stars (Kari Lehtonen), 8:30
Red Wings (Jimmy Howard) at Flames (Joey MacDonald), 9:00
Injury News for Teams Playing Tuesday
Well, Tom Pyatt's still on IR, but everyone else is healthy
Radek Dvorak, RW (lower body) – Placed on IR, but could return as soon as Saturday
Jeff Skinner, LW (upper body) – Placed on IR; out through at least the weekend
Brett Bellemore, D (lower body) – Cleared to return to game action / fantasy irrelevance
Kevin Westgarth, RW (upper body) – Out the next two games
Anton Khudobin, G (lower body) – Could start skating as soon as this weekend
Cam Ward, G (lower body) – Still out 2-3 weeks more
Alex Ovechkin, RW (upper body) – Could be back Saturday
Jay Beagle, LW (illness) – Sat out Wednesday's practice; Friday status unclear
John Erskine, D (upper body) – Placed on long-term IR; could return at end of November
Pretty healthy, but pretty bad
Derek MacKenzie, C (lower body) – Could play Friday; morning skate will indicate
Boone Jenner, C (leg) – Out for a period of weeks
Nathan Horton, RW (shoulder) – Has an MRI check-up coming next week
Beau Bennett, RW (lower body) – Not expected back at practice 'til next week
Rob Scuderi, D (ankle) – Successful surgery; out indefinitely
Chuck Kobasew, RW (lower body) – Out 3-4 weeks
James Neal, RW (upper body) – Still out indefinitely and not practicing
Lubomir Visnovsky, D (concussion) – Didn't practice Wednesday; no timetable
Brian Strait, D (upper body) – Didn't practice Wednesday; no word on when he'll be back
Magnus Paajarvi, LW (upper body) – Traveling with the team; could play on current road trip
Brenden Morrow, LW (upper body) – Ruled out for Friday
Tim Thomas, G (leg) – Out Friday and Saturday, but expected back in about a week
Ed Jovanovski, D (hip) – Back at practice Thursday; return approaching
Tomas Fleischmann, LW (illness) – Was out Sunday, but likely feeling better by now
Max Pacioretty, LW (hamstring) – Will return this weekend
George Parros, RW (concussion) – Expected back Friday
Travis Moen, LW (face) – Still out for the next five days or so
Charlie Coyle, C (knee) – Will be back Friday
Jonas Brodin, D (face) – Not expected back Friday
Semyon Varlamov, G (personal) – Apparently an awful human being; will start Saturday
Jamie McGinn, LW (knee) – Didn't practice Wednesday, but seems likely for Friday
Cody McLeod, LW (suspension) – Friday's the fifth game of his five-game ban
Hearty and healthy.
Darren Helm, C (groin) – On track to make season debut Saturday
Jonathan Ericsson, D (shoulder) – Will be placed on IR to make room for Helm
Lee Stempniak, RW (foot) – Week-to-week; has a break
Chris Breen, D (abdomen) – Day-to-day; possible for Friday
Mark Giordano, D (ankle) – Out 6-8 weeks
Nazem Kadri, C, TOR – Opportunity has knocked for Kadri with Tyler Bozak's injury, and he's answered the call, stepping into a first-line role and ripping off two goals, three assists and a plus-5 over the last three games. Kadri's skills have never been in question, and now that he's getting plenty of time alongside Phil Kessel, he's putting up big numbers that make me wish I wasn't the idiot who cut him in our staff keeper league before last season.
Ryan Kesler, C, VAN – Despite being held off the board Wednesday, Kesler's been one of the hottest players in the league of late, racking up eight points in the five games leading up to Wednesday's loss to Detroit. Remember when he scored 41 goals back in 2010-11? Well, he's got eight in 15 games so far this year – a 43-goal pace. Injury monkey off his back, he's officially returned to the realm of the elite.
Keith Yandle, D, PHO – After he picked up just two assists in the first nine games this year, Yandle was starting to look like a has-been offensively, but he's had a flame ignited beneath him over the last five games, as he's posted four multi-point efforts en route to a nine-point total in that span. Just like that, he's now got 11 points in 14 games, an All-Star pace. How quickly things change.
Ryan Ellis, D, NSH – Ellis hasn't been able to carve out a consistent top-four role for the Preds, which has left him skating no more than about 15 minutes a game all year long – sometimes a good amount less. The result has been an eight-game scoreless slump during which he's gone minus-2 with 11 shots on goal. Ellis has spectacular upside as a 2009 first-round pick and a 100-point scorer from the blue line in junior hockey, but a lack of steady minutes is destroying his fantasy value outside of dynasty formats.
P.A. Parenteau, RW, COL – After a hot start, it's been tough sledding for Parenteau recently, as he's gone scoreless with a minus-4 rating over his last five games. He'll be given plenty of leash to turn things around, having collected 110 points in 128 games over the last two seasons, but it's disturbing to see that Parenteau hasn't put a single shot on goal over the last three games, comprising some 48 minutes of total ice time.
Nikolai Khabibulin, G, CHI – So far, Khabibulin hasn't proven to be half the veteran backup to Corey Crawford that Ray Emery was last year, having given up 12 goals in seven and a half periods of work. That said, it's only three starts and the 'Hawks are going to give him time to work things out. That said, Finnish import Antti Raanta has been playing well as the starter for AHL Rockford, collecting a .926 save mark, and if Khabibulin keeps struggling, Chicago could turn to Raanta as a more reliable backup in time. Considering that the Bulin Wall is going to turn 41 in January, it wouldn't be totally shocking if he wraps up his NHL career this season.
Chris Kreider, LW, NYR – Kreider's been a revelation since being recalled from AHL Hartford, and his strong play is starting to translate into points – he's potted goals in consecutive games, including Thursday's bank shot off Ryan Miller's back. He's playing serious minutes on a talented line with Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello, and with the way he's using his speed and his body right now, it's looking like he may finally be breaking out for real. [Disclaimer: I'm a Rangers fan. That said, Kreider's looked great. I wouldn't steer you wrong.]