This week's article includes the No. 2 center in L.A., it's Ryder and not Wrong in New Jersey, Hertl the Turtle out long-term and a free-agent signing in Montreal having another tough season.
U.S. Hockey selected its Olympic team with the other countries to name their teams in about a week.
First Liners (Risers)
Tyler Bozak, C, TOR - Bozak was sidelined from December 2 to December 29 with a upper-body injury. After coming off long-term injured reserve, Bozak has been red-hot, notching three assists on December 29 and then adding a goal plus the game-winner in the shootout in the Winter Classic. He now has 15 points in 18 games and should continue to rack up points while skating with Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk.
Jeff Carter, C, LA - Carter scored one of the Kings' goals and assisted on the other in the team's 3-2 loss to the Stars on Tuesday. Carter's been all over the goal column lately, having tallied in six of his last 10 games. He's collected six assists in that span, too. After posting a Cy Young mark last season, with 26 goals and seven assists, Carter has been much more balanced this campaign, with 13 goals and 11 assists in 31 games.
Colin Wilson, LW, NAS - Wilson scored two goals and added an assist during Nashville's 6-4 win over Detroit on Monday, giving him five points in his last three games. Wilson now has 20 points in 39 games so far this season, putting him on pace to eclipse his career high of 35 points from two seasons ago. He continues to skate on the Preds' top line alongside Mike Fisher and Patric Hornqvist, and represents very good fantasy value in medium to deeper formats.
Michael Ryder, RW, NJD - Ryder scored the game-winning goal and assisted on New Jersey's other tally in Tuesday's 2-1 win over the Penguins. He has three points in the last two games and three goals in the last six contests. Ryder has more value in deeper leagues, as he likely won't return to his 30-goal form in the season's final 41 games, but he could finish with close to 25 goals.
Brent Burns, LW, SJ - Burns supplied a goal and assist in San Jose's win over Anaheim on Sunday. Despite the recent departure of Tomas Hertl from the top line due to injury, Burns doesn't seem to be any worse for it, totaling three goals and four assists over his last four games. The 28-year-old currently sports a 12.9 percent shooting percentage, nearly six percentage points better than his career mark, though he just shifted from D to O last season.
Jacob Trouba, D, WPG - Trouba extended his mini-point streak to three games with a goal Monday. After returning from a neck injury in late November, Trouba posted nine points in 14 games in December. The 19-year-old rookie is an elite fantasy hockey defenseman in the making, though unsure we should give him the Super Trouba moniker again.
Keith Yandle, D, PHX - Yandle picked up an assist Saturday in a 3-2 loss to the Ducks to give him 20 on the season (in 38 games) after notching 20 last season in 48 games. He continued his fine recent play, scoring twice while adding an assist Saturday, to give him six goals and 21 assists in 39 games. Unfortunately for him, and possibly for Team USA, he was not named to the Olympic hockey team, losing out to either Paul Martin, Justin Faulk, Cam Fowler or Kevin Shattenkirk for a spot on the blue line.
Jonathan Bernier, G, TOR - After a recent losing skid, Bernier has righted the ship with three consecutive wins and has delivered save percentages above the .914 mark in each of his last six outings. The last of these outings came in the Winter Classic; where Bernier was named the game's first star after delivering a 41-save performance in a 3-2 shootout win over Detroit. Bernier is now the #1 netminder in Toronto, relegating James Reimer to back up status.
Al Montoya, G, PHX - Montoya shutout the Sabres on Tuesday night, stopping 27 shots in the victory. It was the third straight stat for Montoya, who has gathered the win and allowed one or fewer goals on each occasions. Although he's not a good bet to permanently displace Ondrej Pavelec for the starting job, coach Claude Noel will probably continue to roll with him while he remains hot. Noel has already confirmed that Montoya, who is 8-1-2 with a 1.85 goals-against average and .934 save percentage, his best campaign since 2010-11 with the Islanders, will make the next start for the Jets on Thursday vs. the Senators.
Others include Joe Thornton (assists in five straight games), Valtteri Filppula (another goal and an assist Wednesday), Pavel Datsyuk (seven points last seven games), Frans Nielsen (four points last four games after slump), Adam Henrique (heating up lately), Ryan Getzlaf (eight points last six games), Ryan Johansen (six goals, three assists last 10 games), Martin Hanzal (points in five of his last six contests), Jordan Staal (13 points last 20 games), Tyler Seguin (scored #20 Tuesday), Andrew Cogliano (10 points last 12 games), Phil Kessel (extended point streak to three games and five points in Winter Classic; was named to US Olympic hockey team), Mats Zuccarello-Aasen (no signs of slowing down), Kyle Okposo (heating up again and wonder if U.S. Olympic snub spurs him forward), Kyle Palmieri (three goals and three assists the last seven games), Nick Foligno (two goals and four assists last seven games, but could get moved down a line when Nathan Horton returns to action Thursday), Alex Chiasson (two assists Tuesday, five last five games), Corey Perry (six assists last five games), James van Riemsdyk (points in three straight, including a goal in the Winter Classic, plus was named as a member of US Olympic hockey team), Erik Cole (eight points last six games), Dion Phaneuf (three-game point streak and five points last five games), Ryan Suter (four points last five games, including first goal of the season), Andrej Sekera (two assists Tuesday, four points last three contests), Duncan Keith (36 assists in 42 games), Seth Jones (back-to-back two-point games), Cody Ceci (nice complement to Erik Karlsson of late), Cody Franson (five points last seven games), Mark Streit (goals in back-to-back games), Jonas Hiller (nine straight wins), Justin Peters (seeing starts with Cam Ward hurt again), Henrik Lundqvist (solid in back-to-back starts and wins), Josh Harding (off IR and should start nearly every game in Minnesota), Brian Elliott (excelling when starting for St. Louis), Ben Bishop (another start, another win on Wednesday) and Jeff Zatkoff (winning as back up to Marc-Andre Fleury).
Training Room (Injuries)
Tomas Hertl, C, SJ - A former NHL trainer familiar with Hertl's type of injury said that a best-case scenario for Hertl's return would be approximately 12 weeks, but he'll likely miss six-to-nine months, ending his rookie campaign. Hertl, injured on an a unpenalized knee-to-knee hit from the Kings' Dustin Brown on December 19, underwent surgery to repair damage to the MCL and PCL ligaments in his right knee Tuesday. NHL team are not required to disclose injury information, so Hertl's official status may be in limbo for a while yet, but he likely won't be able to start weight-bearing exercises for six-to-eight weeks.
Ryan Callahan, RW, NYR - The Rangers waived Taylor Pyatt on Wednesday, indicating that Callahan, sidelined since December 10 with a Grade 2 MCL strain of his left knee, may be ready to return. There is no guarantee that Callahan will play either Friday against Pittsburgh or Saturday against Toronto, but he is in the middle of the expected four-to-six week absence when he was injured with no setbacks, so he will be back sooner rather than later. In addition, Callahan was named to the U.S. Olympic hockey team.
Corey Crawford, G, CHI - Crawford, out since December 8 with a lower leg injury, will come off injured reserve to start Thursday against the Islanders. Though Antti Raantta has done a commendable job filling in for Crawford, going 8-1-2 while he was sidelined, coach Joel Quenneville won't hesitate to return the net to his No. 1 goaltender right away. Crawford may be a little rusty coming back from injury, but Chicago is so good, they may be able to cover up for some of those struggles until he settles into a groove.
Sergei Bobrovsky, G, CMB - Bobrovsky, out with a groin strain since December 3, is expected to return Thursday against the Coyotes but will most likely serve as the backup for the time being. Bobrovsky just returned to practice Monday and the Blue Jackets evidently don't think he's quite where he needs to be to return to his role as primary goalkeeper.
Others include Jason Spezza (LBI, out Thursday), Johan Franzen (concussion, still sidelined), Alexander Steen (concussion, out indefinitely), Evgeni Malkin (leg, close to returning), Carl Soderberg (head, returns to lineup Thursday), Patrik Elias (total body soreness, DTD), Ryane Clowe (concussion, returned to action this past week), Ryan Malone (foot, activated Wednesday), Nathan Horton (off-season shoulder surgery, will play Friday), Zach Parise (fractured left foot, out at least another week), P.A. Parenteau (second degree sprained MCL, out six weeks), Loui Eriksson (concussion, skated Wednesday)), Dennis Wideman (fractured hand, will play Friday for first time since injured in late-November), Dougie Hamilton (lower-body, cleared for contact), Jonathan Quick (groin, heading out in short rehab stint), Jonas Gustavsson (groin, DTD), Roberto Luongo (groin, inching closer to returning) and Cam Ward (lower-body injury, out the next two games).
Fourth Liners/Press Boxers (Fallers)
David Legwand, C, NAS - Legwand extended his current scoreless drought to six games after failing to hit the scoresheet during Nashville's 6-4 win over the Red Wings on Monday. It's a tough thing for fantasy owners to stomach when your guy's team goes out and scores six goals, but he doesn't even pick up a measly assist, especially after seeing a whopping 20:52 worth of ice time, including over five minutes on the power play. However, those owners who are familiar with Legwand know that he's a streaky scorer whose production tends to come in bunches. He has a team-leading 25 points in 40 games so far this season, giving him a decent shot at cracking the 50-point mark for just the third time in his career. Bottom line here is, he continues to see huge amounts of ice time for a second-line center, so as long as that continues, the points should come. However, for the time being, until you see some signs of life, staple him to your bench.
Daniel Briere, RW, MTL - Briere was a healthy scratch for Montreal on Tuesday against Carolina. Briere, who has one point in the month of December, hasn't scored a goal since Nov. 29 and scored just 10 points in 29 games, is currently buried on Montreal's depth chart. At this point, coach Michel Therrien feels it's better to give a young player, like Michael Bournival, the playing time. The Flyers used one of their compliance buyouts this past offseason Briere, whose two-year, $8 million contract given to him by Montreal looks to be one of the worst free agent signings this year.
Raphael Diaz, D, MTL - With 11 points in 41 games this season, Diaz has been a regular for the Habs to this point despite accruing a minus-3 rating. Diaz is on pace to exceed the 16 points he scored as rookie in 2011-12, but he will need a move to another team or an injury to get prominent minutes with P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov in Montreal. Diaz is a UFA after the season and has been mentioned in trade rumors, but for now, he will be a third-line defenseman for the blue, blanc et rouge.
Ray Emery, G, PHI - Emery won his first game in more than a month Tuesday, stopping 23 of 24 shots in a 4-1 triumph over Calgary. He had dropped his last four starts, last collecting a victory back on Nov. 21. Emery remains little threat to Steve Mason for playing time and is hard to trust for fantasy purposes even on a matchups basis. Before the season, it looked as if Emery might challenge for the top spot in Philly, but so much for being able to come home again.
Others include Ryan Kesler (no goals since Dec. 8 and has just one point in the last seven games), Sam Gagner (one point last seven games), Paul Gaustad (first point in eight games Tuesday), Nail Yakupov (nightmarish sophomore campaign in Edmonton), Tuomo Ruutu (first point in seven games Tuesday), Cory Conacher (12 points in 40 games, but four in last four games. First multi-point effort of season Saturday, amazing he went for Ben Bishop and we all thought Steve Yzerman was fleeced in the deal), Michael Del Zotto (healthy scratch for eighth time of season Tuesday), Olli Maatta (healthy scratch Tuesday), Dylan Olsen (one point last six games), Ondrej Pavelec (ceding top role to Al Montoya), Braden Holtby (solid in start and 2-1 loss Monday, making 35 saves, but will he grab top job back from Philipp Grubauer?), Niklas Backstrom (bench, Backstrom, Backstrom, bench) and Anders Lindback (starts will be few and far between).