This week's article includes Captain Coyote, Mack Truck, a Vezina Trophy candidate sidelined longer than expected and the former No. 1 center in Montreal a healthy scratch recently.
First Liners (Risers)
Brayden Schenn, C, PHI - Schenn potted two goals in Philly's 2-1 win over the Penguins on Wednesday. Schenn also led all skaters with six hits and ended the contest with a plus-1 rating. The center has been on a tear, and now has five points in his last three games, as the Flyers try to dig themselves out of the hole they dug earlier this season. Schenn, who came to Philly from L.A. in the Mike Richards deal, is seeing similar minutes to last year, but his hot streak is somewhat driven by the increase in PPTOI, as well by a possibly unsustainable 18.8 shooting percentage.
Tyler Seguin, C, DAL - Seguin had a four goals Thursday and now has a three-game goal streak, during which he has scored six goals. On the season, Seguin, who came from Boston this offseason in the Loui Eriksson deal, has 12 goals and 10 assists in 19 games. After a so-so 2012-13 campaign, after which questions about his maturity and commitment were brought up, Seguin is thriving with the additional responsibility placed upon him in Big D.
Tyler Toffoli, RW, LA - Toffoli scored the game-winner Thursday in the Kings' three-goal, third-period comeback against the Islanders, giving him points in all five games since his call-up. He backed up his pair of 100-point campaigns in the OHL with a fine 2012-13 debut in the AHL at Manchester. Toffoli scored 28 goals in 56 games before chipping in five points in 10 games with the Kings. And he capped off his season with six points in 12 playoff games with the big club. Toffoli failed to make the club in training camp but was Manchester's leading scorer this year with seven goals and five assists to earn a promotion. The ultra-talented young forward is playing solid minutes and generating plenty of chances. If he's somehow still available in your league, snatch him up immediately.
Andrew Ladd, LW, WPG - Ladd extended his mild points streak to three, notching an assist Tuesday, giving him five points in that stretch. He now has five goals and 12 assists in 20 games for the 'Peg. Ladd had the breakthrough campaign that has been predicted for a while last season, notching almost a point a game, and the Jets captain has continued that fine this year, keeping close to point-per-game pace.
Marian Hossa, RW, CHI - Hossa scored Thursday in a 5-4 shootout win over Phoenix and now has nine goals and 15 points in 19 games this season. He's steady and boring, but that's perfect, particularly for head-to-head action. Count on him for a point per game (or a handful less), which always has a place on your fantasy roster.
John Carlson, D, WAS - Carlson scored in the second period and assisted on Alex Ovechkin's OT winner against the Jackets on Tuesday. With just seven points on the season, Carlson doesn't look like an overly enticing fantasy option right off, but he actually has four goals and an assist in his last six outings - fantasy-relevant stuff from the blue line. Furthermore, Carlson's been putting the puck on net with consistency lately. It's a good formula, and it makes him an intriguing fantasy pickup.
Dan Boyle, D, SJ - Boyle scored two power-play goals Sunday against the Jets, then added an assist Tuesday against the Flames and the game-winning goal plus an assist Thursday against Vancouver. Boyle missed time with injury, but since returning he's scored seven points in six games. He has nine points in 11 games this season and may have fallen beneath the radar due to his absence.
Ben Scrivens, G, LA - Scrivens, who came over to the Kings in the Jonathan Bernier trade this offseason, now is charged with holding the fort until Jonathan Quick returns his strained groin that is expected to sideline him 3-to-6 weeks. Scrivens got off to a good start, stopping 23 of 25 shots and was rewarded when LA scored three goals to erase a 2-0 deficit Thursday against the Islanders. If you own Quick, like I do in the Rotowire Staff Keeper League, try to grab Scrivens.
Ondrej Pavelec, G, WPG - One week, outhouse, one week, penthouse, so it goes for Pavelec. Pavelec stopped 41 of 43 shots Tuesday, then stymied two of three shootout attempts to down the Red Wings, 3-2. That was an impressive performance for Pavelec, who's now won three games in a row after dropping five of his previous six, stopping 112 of 118 shots. He has been so inconsistent, it's hard to believe he has turned the corner, so be prepared to jump if he turns back into a pumpkin.
Others include Valtteri Filppula (two goals Thursday, eight on year), Claude Giroux (first goal of the season last Saturday ... finally), Alexander Steen (two more goals, 16 for the year), Joe Thornton (17 assists on the season), Brandon Dubinsky (solid in Columbus), Paul Stastny (10 points last nine games), David Backes (a goal and two assists Thursday, 19 points in 17 games), Kyle Turris (still productive), T.J. Oshie (four assists Thursday, 14 on year), Shane Doan (still hot), Jamie Benn (a goal and five assists Thursday, 15 assists on the season), Gabriel Landeskog (hot in Colorado), Jakub Voracek (two goals Tuesday, starting to heat up), Devante Smith-Pelly (eight points in 12 games), Patrick Sharp (on fire lately with eight points in last four games), Corey Perry (still rolling), Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello (still scoring on Broadway), Milan Lucic (eighth of season Thursday), Tommy Wingels (13 points in 18 games), Joel Ward (goals in three straight, nine on year), Slava Voynov (three-game scoring streak), Ryan McDonagh (Mack Truck rolling), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (hot in the Desert), James Wisniewski (14 points in 17 games), Dan Hamhuis (suddenly, he has woken up), Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo (23 assists between the two), Cam Fowler (seven points in last eight games), Kevin Bieksa (first goal Thursday, 10 points in 21 games), Ben Bishop (secure in role as No. 1 in Tampa), Jaroslav Halak (bolstered by strong St. Louis squad), Henrik Lundqvist (slow start a memory), Martin Brodeur (a hot Devil), Roberto Luongo (poor outing against L.A. on Tuesday only blemish lately) and Kari Lehtonen (five wins in last six games, 9-3-2 on season).
Training Room (Injuries)
Steven Stamkos, C, TB - Stamkos' surgery involved the placement of metal rod along the full length of his fractured tibia. He suffered a displaced fracture of the tibia Monday afternoon after hitting the goalpost at high speed when checked by Dougie Hamilton; in a hockey play that did not look to have any intent to injure, as some have suggested. There's still no word on the exact timeline for his return, but many believe he will be out 3-6 months.
Brent Burns, LW, SJ - Burns, out since Oct. 19 with a mouth injury, wore a non-contact jersey at practice Thursday. Burns was already going to be held out of Thursday's matchup with the Canucks, but the fact he couldn't endure contact at practice still isn't encouraging. It would appear that he suffered some sort of setback in his recovery, so monitoring his practice status the next couple days should give us a better idea of when he'll be able to return
Niklas Backstrom, G, MIN - Backstrom, who suffered a head injury due to Nazem Kadri's elbow that resulted in a three-game suspension, likely will miss a few games. It's a vague estimate, following Backstrom's removal from Wednesday's game. Josh Harding is now left as the only healthy goalie on the active roster, and if Backstrom, who missed four games in October with a knee injury, is forced to miss more than a few games, the team likely will be forced to add some depth from the AHL
Jonathan Quick, G, LA - Quick is expected to miss 3-6 weeks with his Grade 2 groin strain suffered when he made a save Tuesday against the Sabres. This particular strain indicates Quick suffered a partial groin tear, which won't require surgery, but can still produce volatile timetables depending on factors such as a player's history of groin injuries and the amount of inflammation associated with the strain. The Kings will count on Ben Scrivens to assume most of the starts in net while Quick is out, with recent call-up Martin Jones serving as the top backup.
Cam Ward, G, CAR - Ward, out with a lower body injury since Oct. 24, was a full participant in practice Thursday. It marked the first full practice for Ward since sustaining the injury. Assuming he avoids any setbacks overnight, he should be ready to back up Justin Peters on Friday and would likely get the starting nod Saturday in St. Louis.
Others include Mike Fisher (LBI, full participant in Thursday's practice), Jeff Carter (LBI is actually a broken foot), Ryan Getzlaf (UBI, DTD, inching closer), Stephen Weiss (groin, skated on his own Thursday, could be back next week), David Booth (undisclosed, returned to lineup Thursday), Radim Vrbata (LBI, returned to action Thursday), Rick Nash (concussion, practiced with team in non-contact jersey this week), Patrik Elias (back, returned to practice Thursday), Jeff Skinner (UBI, could play Friday), Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion, no closer to a return), Justin Schultz (groin, skated with team Tuesday), Anton Khudobin (ankle, light work at practice Thursday) and Viktor Fasth (LBI, activated off IR on Thursday).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
Jordan Staal, C, CAR - Staal scored a goal, assisted on another and went plus-2 in Carolina's win over Colorado on Tuesday. Finally a nice game for Staal, who had yet to notch a multi-point outing all year entering Tuesday's action. It'll take more than one good game to make up for his struggles to start the year, but keep an eye on Staal's production to see if this is the start of more offense, as both he and his brother Eric have struggled mightily this season.
Dan Cleary, LW, DET - Cleary was a healthy scratch Tuesday. He has struggled to find the box score this season, with only three points in 18 games. Cleary has seen his point production drop the past two seasons, and this year looks no different. Coach Babcock likes Cleary's play but needed to shake up lines with the Red Wings in a bit of a slump.
Seth Jones, D, NAS - Jones was moved to the third defensive pairing during Nashville's 5-0 loss to Winnipeg last Friday. He played just 16:44, his lowest ice time of the season. The move was made to jump-start the 19-year-old rookie, who had previously been playing on the top defensive pairing with Shea Weber but suddenly found himself alongside Ryan Ellis midway through the first period. Jones saw his ice time spike back up the past two games, but he failed to score and was a minus-three in the two contests. Stick with him, as there is tremendous upside, but remember defenseman growth is not linear.
Craig Anderson, G, OTT - Anderson was tagged for five goals on 31 shots Tuesday in a loss to the Flyers but will get the nod between the pipes Friday. He was struggling before suffering the neck injury that kept him out of action more than a week, and as a result he's now allowed a startling 19 goals in his last four starts. While Anderson likely will turn it around, this certainly provides something of an opening to Robin Lehner, who excelled in Anderson's absence, especially if he struggles again Friday.
Others include Patrik Berglund (overall numbers are disappointing), Nail Yakupov (back in lineup but situation in Edmonton continues to deteriorate), Evgeni Malkin (goalless streak at 11 but points streak at five), Derek Roy (first good game in ages Thursday), David Desharnais (fourth-line duty), Artem Anisimov (struggling in Columbus), Max Pacioretty (struggling since return to lineup), Viktor Stalberg (two points in 12 games), Michael Del Zotto (still on third line and production so-so), Tobias Enstrom (one point last 12 games), Justin Faulk (still hasn't turned it around after solid start), Antti Niemi (rough patch finally ended Thursday), Jacob Markstrom (sent down to the AHL), Carter Hutton (blowing shot at filling in for Pekka Rinne) and Frederik Andersen (sent to minors Thursday with return of Fasth).