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Wednesday Daily Puck: Senator Elect?

Dan Pennucci

Dan Pennucci

Dan Pennucci has covered hockey for Rotowire since 2002 and is the author of Blue Line Buzz since 2011 as well as being the co-author of Morning Skate. He also is a contributor to Talking Red, a New Jersey Devils blog and podcast. He is an English teacher and formerly wrote for The Coast Star in Manasquan, New Jersey where he and his sports section won several New Jersey Press Association awards. Dan Pennucci is a supporter of the New Jersey Devils, Washington Nationals and Chelsea FC. He's attended sporting events in six countries.

Tuesday Observations

-No one in the Eastern Conference seems to want to make the playoffs. Pittsburgh demonstrated this with a frustrating 4-1 loss to Carolina. At this point, Boston can play their AHL club and likely capture the East, provided they can get by either Tampa Bay or Montreal; the Bolts and the Habs battled one another Tuesday, with Tampa Bay earning a 3-1 win in the battle for home ice in the Atlantic Division's 2-3 matchup.

-Toronto actually won a game, beating Calgary 3-2. The East has been so mediocre that after losing eight consecutive contests, in regulation mind you, the Buds are immediately back in the playoff hunt. Parade dates have not been announced.

-New Jersey continues to stay mathematically alive, but on a night where Washington was shutout 5-0 at home by Dallas and Columbus lost 3-2 in overtime to Colorado, the Devils couldn’t beat a struggling Buffalo squad, once again falling in a shootout, 3-2 in a nine-round shootout. This Sabres squad had just one win in 13 games and scored 15 goals over that span, a Sabres squad rolling a netminder, Nathan Lieuwen in search of his first career win. The Devils entered the game going 1-for-30 on shootout attempts, but snuck two by Lieuwen, in the nine-round skills competition before losing their 14th consecutive shootout dating back to last season; they’re 0-10 this year. In terms of overcorrecting a trend, the Devils were dominant in the early years of the shootout's inception, now what was once a way to pick up extra points likely will contribute to the team missing the playoffs for the third time in four years. (It’s hardly the only factor).


Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)


For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid

Islanders (Evgeni Nabokov) at Senators (Robin Lehner), 7:00 PM

Bruins (Tuukka Rask) at Red Wings (Jimmy Howard), 8:00 PM

Oilers (Ben Scrivens) at Ducks (Jonas Hiller), 10:00 PM

Coyotes (Thomas Greiss) at Kings (Jonathan Quick), 10:30 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Wednesday

New York Islanders
Lubomir Visnovsky, D – Out with post-concussion symptoms
Kyle Okposo, RW – Lower body, did not play Tuesday, day-to-day
Michael Grabner, RW – Recovering from concussion, remains out, likely for season
John Tavares, C – Recovering from knee injury, see you in September
Brian Strait, D – Broken hand, done for season
Sebastian Collberg, RW – Remains out with shoulder injury

Ottawa Senators
Stephane Da Costa, C – Out at least two weeks, facial injury
Jared Cowen, D – Did not play Monday, check back for Wednesday’s status
Colin Greening, C – Out with lower body injury
Jason Spezza, C – Could be out until weekend, out Wednesday
Bobby Ryan, RW – Shut down for season, sports hernia surgery

Boston Bruins
Dennis Seidenberg, D – Knee, could return with deep playoff run
Adam McQuaid, D – Quad injury, increasing off-ice workouts, remains out

Detroit Red Wings
Mikael Samuelsson, RW – Shoulder, skating on own, remains out
Jonathan Ericsson, D – Finger, out for regular season
Alexey Marchenko, D – Done for season with high-ankle sprain
Stephen Weiss, C – Sports hernia, remains out indefinitely
Pavel Datsyuk, C – Knee, will skate Wednesday morning, could play against Boston, check back.
Henrik Zetterberg, LW – Back, will likely need a Detroit playoff appearance to return this season.
Dan Cleary, RW – Knee, still not skating, out indefinitely

Edmonton Oilers
Andrew Ference, D – Torn pectoral muscle, done for final two weeks.
Jesse Joensuu, RW – High ankle sprain, likely done for season
Ryan Jones, LW- Done for season with minor knee ligament tear
Luke Gazdic, LW – Done for season with shoulder surgery, goon leagues left in a pinch
Tyler Pitlick, C – Left practice Tuesday, game-time decision Wednesday.
Mark Arcobello, RW – Done for season with shoulder injury
Nail Yakupov, RW – reaggravated ankle injury, likely done for season

Anaheim Ducks
Stefan Noesen, C – Done for season after knee surgery.
Cam Fowler, D – Knee ligament sprain, likely due back during first round of playoffs.
Sheldon Souray, D – wrist surgery, hasn’t played this season, won’t play this season.
Mark Fistric, D – Hasn’t played in seven games, could return Friday

Phoenix Coyotes
Mike Smith, G – Skating on his own, but not practicing
David Moss, RW – lower-body, was game-time decision Tuesday
David Schlemko, D – Skated on his own Monday, likely in for Wednesday.

Los Angeles Kings
Dwight King, LW – Didn’t play Monday
Colin Fraser, C – Out for regular season with broken hand

Hot
Patrice Bergeron, C, Boston- If only there was some kind of metric in fantasy leagues for hockey sense, leadership and defensive ability, you’d be flipping a coin between Jonathan Toews, David Backes, Anze Kopitar and Patrice Bergeron. The latter has been undoubtedly one of the Bruins’ best players all season and especially during this outstanding run of play that has essentially secured the Eastern Conference’s top seed and, perhaps, the President’s Trophy for Boston. Bergeron has at least one goal in seven-consecutive games; he’s totaled eight goals and three assists over an eight-game points streak, not including this beauty in Boston’s shootout win over Philadelphia on Sunday:



Bergeron is mostly known for his end-to-end game, but he’s been a terribly consistent performer of late and figures to be a rather savvy pick for playoff pools, as no one in the East looks like they can even contain Boston at this point.

Travis Hamonic, D, Islanders- Amidst rumors of another ownership group expressing interest in the soon-to-be Brooklyn Islanders, the team has been getting a great look at its future in the last week, namely the likes of Brock Nelson, Anders Lee and Ryan Strome. Travis Hamonic became a rather trendy pick after his rookie year, especially in leagues which rewarded secondary statistics such as hits, blocked shots and penalty minutes, not to mention 27 points. Those numbers tapered off last season and haven’t come around until recent weeks for the bruising blue liner. Hamonic has been rushing the puck out of his own zone and getting involved in the attack of late with four points in the last five games, including a goal in Tuesday’s tilt against Florida. He’s not the most adept of scorers, but he’s worth a look in deep league as the season winds down, especially if you need to make up ground in secondary counting categories.

Jordan Eberle, RW, Edmonton- There hasn’t been much to cheer about in the Oil Patch. The Oilers have been woeful this season and, barring acquiring two first-pairing defensemen, Edmonton should have a good chance of maximizing their odds in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes in 2015. However, the Oilers still are blessed with a trio of foundation forwards in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. Eberle has been one of the team’s top offensive threats of late, posting six points over a four-game span heading into Tuesday’s tilt with San Jose. He still has a respectable 56 points on the season, but it’s off the point-per-game pace he’d established the last three seasons. He’s a talented winger and could come cheaper next season, just be aware of Edmonton’s penchant for disappearing in the offensive zone.

Cold
Ondrej Pavelec, G, Winnipeg- Once or twice a season, a goaltender has a game that seems like a living nightmare. Such was Pavelec’s evening Monday against Anaheim. With the Jets holding a 4-0 lead over the dominant Ducks, the Jets harkened back to their Atlanta days, proceeding to lose the game 5-4 in overtime. Pavelec surrendered all five goals in the collapse on the heels of being pulled after allowing three goals on 16 shots in Saturday’s loss to Los Angeles. Somehow, Pavelec earned the start Tuesday evening against, Phoenix, which is potentially good news for Phoenix, a team still in the playoff hunt. Pavelec has long been one of the league’s streakiest goaltenders; he can look like a world-beater one night and then follow that with several baffling performances. Employing any goaltender from the ThrasherJets is rarely a sage move, but Pavelec seems to be a recipe for disappointment.

Erik Karlsson, D, Ottawa-By Karlsson’s superhuman standards, the mercurial talent has just two points and no goals over the last four games heading into Wednesay’s date with the Islanders. The Senators are still clingling to playoff life and Karlsson likely will factor much into that fading quest. It’s frustrating seeing Karlsson “struggle” like this considering it’s playoff time in most leagues and the waning weeks of rotisserie. This four-game mini-slump was preceded by six points in three games which featured a goal in each contest.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Edmonton- Endorsing any Edmonton player usually comes with caveats, like the fact they play for the Oilers. Despite RNH’s skill level, the center has been largely absent from the scoresheet since before the Olympic break, owning just one goal in the last nine weeks. 2011’s first overall pick has two assists in the last five games and just six in 15 games since the Olympic break. Making matters even worse is that three of those points came on March 18 against Nashville, leaving three from the other 14.

Recommended Pickup
Mika Zibanejad, C, Ottawa- One of the building blocks in Ottawa, Zibanejad introduced himself to North American audiences with the game-winning goal for his native Sweden in the 2012 World Junior Final. Z-Bad has a point in each of Ottawa’s last two games and has shown excellent chemistry with Ales Hemsky. While Jason Spezza is out and with Ottawa battling for their postseason lives, Zibanejad could be worth a look in deeper leagues down the stretch, as the Islanders, the Sens’ opponent Wednesday, are not the most sound team. With only four games on the Wednesday slate, give Zibanejad a look for that game and the remainder of the season.


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