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Friday Daily Puck: Health Break

Noel Baldwin

Noel Baldwin

Noel Baldwin covers the Phoenix Coyotes and writes about fantasy hockey for Rotowire.

Around the Rink

The news that Steven Stamkos got close, but ultimately not all the way back from his broken leg in time for the Olympics was the big injury news this week, but not the only news. We got a few other updates on players who are recovering from their own ailments and worth keeping in mind.

Logan Couture, once also considered to be a likely member of Team Canada, will not be back from his broken hand in time for the Olympics. He is on target to be ready close to when play resumes.

Henrik Sedin had actually made it back from his injury (rib) to appear in a couple of games, but will sit back down for Vancouver’s remaining games before the break and will not play for Sweden in the Sochi.

Mikko Koivu has yet to get back on the ice following an ankle injury and his status for the Olympics is in limbo. Koivu would play for Finland if healthy and more importantly play with Wild teammate Zach Parise who is on fire lately in Minnesota.

Johan Franzen came back for one game before being shut down again with concussion symptoms. His teammate in Detroit (but Olympic rival) Pavel Datsyuk made it back to play just over 13 minutes Thursday in his first game since January 1.

All of these guys would be in lineups in almost all fantasy leagues. There is always a sting of disappointment when a player doesn’t hit a target for returning from an injury, but in this case, because of their profile, the Olympic break was always an artificial deadline for these guys. While we will miss seeing what they might have done in Sochi, for fantasy purposes in almost all of their cases it is probably best for them to have extra time to heal. The twenty-to-twenty-five games that most teams have left are going to be crucial for determining fantasy fates and you want these guys on the ice for your team. So don’t feel too bad if you’ve got a Couture, or Sedin, or even Stamkos that they did not make it all the way back. You might just reap the benefits down the stretch.

On to the preview of Friday’s games...

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid

Edmonton Oilers (Ben Scrivens) at New Jersey Devils (Cory Schneider*), 7:00 PM
New York Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist*) at Pittsburgh Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury), 7:00 PM
Florida Panthers (Tim Thomas) at Carolina Hurricanes (Anton Khudobin), 7:00 PM
Chicago Blackhawks (Corey Crawford*) at Phoenix Coyotes (Mike Smith), 9:00 PM
Columbus Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky) at San Jose Sharks (Antti Niemi), 10:30 PM

* = Confirmed

Injury News For Teams Playing Friday

New Jersey Devils
Anton Volchenkov, D - Volchenkov (lower body) failed to practice Tuesday, Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger reports. (2/4/2014)

Pittsburgh Penguins
Zach Sill, RW - Sill sustained an undisclosed injury with AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton over the weekend, Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. (1/27/2014)
Taylor Pyatt, LW - Pyatt will miss the Penguins' next two games with a lower-body injury. (2/4/2014)
Kris Letang, D - Letang (illness) won't travel to Buffalo, where the Penguins play Wednesday. (2/4/2014)

Chicago Blackhawks
Johnny Oduya, D - Oduya (undisclosed) did not participate in practice Thursday, Tracy Myers of CSN Chicago reports. (2/6/2014)
Patrick Kane, RW - Kane will miss Friday's game against the Coyotes to be with his family following the passing of his grandfather earlier this week, ESPN.com reports. (2/6/2014)

Columbus Blue Jackets
Marian Gaborik, RW - Gaborik (collarbone) will not play for Slovakia in the upcoming Winter Olympics after failing to receive medical clearance Thursday. (2/6/2014)
Fedor Tyutin, D - Tyutin (unspecified reason) did not practice Wednesday, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (2/5/2014)
James Wisniewski, D - Though Wisniewski (lower body) did not practice Wednesday, he is expected to play Thursday against the Kings, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Post-Dispatch reports. (2/5/2014)
Jared Boll, RW - Boll (ankle) resumed skating Friday. (2/1/2014)
Ryan Johansen, C - Johansen (unspecified reason) did not practice Wednesday, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (2/5/2014)

San Jose Sharks
Matthew Nieto, LW - Nieto left Wednesday's game in the second period after blocking a shot with his foot. He's likely out of Friday's game, according to Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area. (2/6/2014)
Tyler Kennedy, LW - Kennedy (undisclosed) is not expected to return to the lineup until the Sharks' first game after the Olympic break on Feb. 27, CSN Bay Area's Kevin Kurz reports. (2/6/2014)
Jason Demers, D - Demers will not suit up for Wednesday's game, according to Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area. (2/5/2014)
Logan Couture, C - The Sharks confirmed that Couture (hand) will not be returning before the NHL breaks for the Winter Olympics, Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area reports. (2/4/2014)
Raffi Torres, LW - Changing his tune a bit, Torres says he is now unlikely to suit up prior to the Olympic break, according to CSN Bay Area. (2/3/2014)

Hot

Alexander Semin, LW, CAR – The 29 year-old winger is often a source of frustration for fantasy owners, but when he gets hot he can carry your offense. His season totals of 13 goals and 15 assists are not particularly notable, but he has put up eight goals and 5 assists since the start of January and four points (1 G, 3 A) in his last five games. He is also plus-10 and has launched 52 shots in 15 games in 2014.

Tyson Barrie, D, COL – Barrie is coming on lately with six points in his last six games. Just 22 years-old, Barrie is emerging as a solid offensive force for Colorado and is seeing a healthy 2:46 of power play time, which has seen him pick up two goals and four assists.

Alex Stalock, G, SAN – For a legitimate contender in the tough Western Conference, San Jose’s goaltending situation has become murky as Stalock has emerged while incumbent starter Antti Niemi (see below) has struggled. Stalock has started six games since January 1 picking up four wins and posting a .953 save percentage. Stalock may not usurp his veteran partner, but he certainly looks like the better goalie right now and is worth a gamble while he is this hot.

Cold

Patrick Marleau, LW, SAN – Marleau leads of a trio of struggling Sharks. While his 22 goals and 49 points on the season is solid, the vet is scoreless in six games and has lit the lamp just twice in his past 10 games. Surprisingly, the normally reliable Marleau is minus-7 during his scoreless drought, adding real insult to injury in leagues that count plus/minus. He will turn things around, but bear in mind that the 34 year-old won’t get much rest as he heads to Sochi for the Olympics.

Dan Boyle, D, SAN – Boyle is actually having a better season in terms of offensive production than he did in the lockout shortened 2013 season with 22 points in 51 games, including 13 power-play points. It has been a struggle lately, however, as Boyle has no points in his past nine and just a single assist in his past 13. Like Marleau, he has also been dragging down your team’s plus/minus with a minus-6 in that stretch. As other young defensemen have emerged to fill the top ranks of the league, Boyle has been a bit forgotten, but the reality is that his days as a consistent 50+ point producer are over.

Antti Niemi, G, SAN – The normally reliable Niemi, has been a gas can for a couple of weeks, to the point that it’s probably a very good thing he isn’t going to compete for Finland in the Olympics because he needs to figure out what’s wrong with his game or risk seeing more start go to teammate Alex Stalock. In his past six appearances, Niemi has stopped just .896 percent of the shots he’s faced, which is, to say the least, not good. The Sharks want and need Niemi to be the guy they ride into the playoffs, but fantasy owners should consider sitting him down until he puts together a few solid starts in a row, if they can.

Recommended Pickup

Gustav Nyquist, C, DET – Having spent part of the year with Detroit’s AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids, Nyquist seems to be trying to make sure he never goes back. His play earned him the chance to replace teammate Johan Franzen on the Swedish Olympic team – Nyquist has nine goals (including his first hat trick) and five assists, is plus-14, and has taken 30 shots in his past 10 games, including Thursday. He is going into Sochi as hot as anyone in the league and will look to carry that through the tournament and into the home stretch.