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Sunday Daily Puck: Beasts Of The East

Noel Baldwin

Noel Baldwin

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

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The playoffs are right around the corner and a couple of one-time contenders are hurting units. The Pens and Hawks have lost a couple of key guys on their way toward the playoffs making their prospect less clear. The Blues have stayed relatively healthy and look to be positioned for a deep run. But, today let’s pay tribute to the beasts of the East, the Boston Bruins who clinched the conference title Saturday.

The Bruins are 10 points clear of the second place Penguins, but more impressively lead the conference in goal differential by a whopping +38 (where they also lead in goals for and against) and the league by a solid +10. They have been fantastic of late, posting a 7-1-2 record in their last 10 games. It sure looks like they’re poised to return to the Stanley Cup finals for a third time in the last four years and like no one in the East can really stand up to them.

Will someone emerge from the gauntlet of the Western Conference healthy and scrappy enough to run with the bears? We will see.

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

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

St. Louis Blues (Ryan Miller) at Chicago Blackhawks (Corey Crawford), 12:30 PM
Dallas Stars (Kari Lehtonen) at Florida Panthers (Roberto Luongo), 5:00 PM
New York Islanders (Evgeni Nabokov) at Columbus Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky), 6:00 PM
Buffalo Sabres (Matt Hackett) at Philadelphia Flyers (Steve Mason), 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury) at Colorado Avalanche (Semyon Varlamov), 8:00 PM
Anaheim Ducks (Jonas Hiller) at Edmonton Oilers (Ben Scrivens), 8:00 PM

* = Confirmed

Injury News For Teams Playing Friday

St. Louis Blues
Alexander Steen, C - Steen (upper body) will not play Saturday, and is unlikely to play Sunday as well, NHL.com's Lou Korac reports. (4/4/2014)
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW - Updating a previous report, Tarasenko (hand) did not skate Wednesday morning, Lou Korac of NHL.com reports. (4/2/2014)

Chicago Blackhawks
Michal Handzus, C - Handzus will not play in Friday's game against the Blue Jackets, as he stayed behind in Chicago to rest. (4/4/2014)
Jonathan Toews, C - Toews (upper body) will be out for the remainder of the regular season, Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. (4/2/2014)
Johnny Oduya, D - Oduya has a lower-body injury and will not play in Friday's game against Columbus, but he could return Sunday against the Blues. (4/4/2014)
Patrick Kane, RW - Kane (lower body) skated Friday and it went well. (4/4/2014)

Dallas Stars
Ray Whitney, LW - Whitney suffered a lower-body injury Thursday and will not play Saturday, the Dallas Morning News reports. (4/4/2014)
Erik Cole, RW - Cole (upper body) will take the ice for pregame warmups before a decision is made on his status Saturday, the Dallas Morning News reports. (4/5/2014)

Florida Panthers
Jonathan Huberdeau, LW - Huberdeau (upper body) has been cleared for contact and remains questionable for Sunday against the Stars, George Richards of the Miami Herald reports. (4/5/2014)
Aleksander Barkov, C - Barkov (knee) is unlikely to return this season, Erin Brown of FOX Sports Florida reports. (4/4/2014)
Tomas Kopecky, RW - Coach Peter Horachek confirmed that Kopecky is out indefinitely with a concussion, Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. (2/22/2014)
Brad Boyes, RW - Boyes is listed as an injured scratch due to back spasms Friday against the Flames. (4/4/2014)

New York Islanders
Kyle Okposo, RW - Okposo (lower body) will miss his fourth straight game Wednesday against the Senators. (4/2/2014)
Michael Grabner, RW - Grabner (concussion) practiced Friday and could rejoin the lineup for Saturday's game against the Capitals, Long Island Newsday reports. (4/5/2014)

Columbus Blue Jackets
Nikita Nikitin, D - Nikitin (lower body) did not take the ice for pregame warmups Friday, Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (4/4/2014)
Nick Foligno, LW - Foligno (lower body) will likely sit out the rest of the regular season, Shawn Mitchell of The Columbus Dispatch (4/4/2014)
Nathan Horton, RW - Horton (lower body) did not take the ice for pregame warmups Friday, Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (4/4/2014)

Buffalo Sabres
Chris Stewart, RW - Stewart (ankle) hasn't written off returning to the ice for the Sabres this season, Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News reports. (4/3/2014)
Michal Neuvirth, G - Sabres coach Ted Nolan said Neuvirth, out since March 13 with a lower-body injury, is still a ways from returning, according to John Vogl of The Buffalo News. (4/1/2014)
Tyler Myers, D - Myers (midsection) is not close to a return to action, the Buffalo News reports. (4/1/2014)
Henrik Tallinder, D - Tallinder (lower body) will not play in Friday's game against Detroit. (4/4/2014)
Drew Stafford, RW - Stafford (undisclosed) will not play Friday, and Sabres coach Ted Nolan said the forward's injury may be worse than the coach originally thought. (4/4/2014)
Marcus Foligno, LW - Foligno (lower body) won't play Friday, but Sabres coach Ted Nolan said that the forward's prognosis is better than the team originally thought. (4/4/2014)


Philadelphia Flyers
Steve Downie, RW - Downie (head) has missed six straight games, but Flyers coach Craig Berube insists he will be part of the lineup when he's healthy, reports Sam Carchidi of The Philadelphia Inquirer. (4/4/2014)

Pittsburgh Penguins
Joe Vitale, C - Vitale returned to Pittsburgh to have his mid-body injury evaluated. (4/5/2014)
Jussi Jokinen, LW - Pens coach Dan Bylsma said Jokinen's upper-body injury is "not long term at this point." (4/5/2014)
Beau Bennett, RW - Bennett (undisclosed) practiced on the team's No. 2 power play unit Saturday, an indication that he'll play against the Wild, Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. (4/5/2014)

Colorado Avalanche
Cody McLeod, LW - McLeod (ankle) is out for Saturday's game against the Blues, Adrian Dater of the Denver Post reports. (4/5/2014)

Anaheim Ducks
Cam Fowler, D - Fowler (leg) could return sometime next week, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. (4/2/2014)
Frederik Andersen, G - Andersen left Friday's game after the second period with an upper-body injury, Joshua Cooper of The Tennessean reports. (4/4/2014)

Edmonton OilersNail Yakupov, RW - Head coach Dallas Eakins does not expect Yakupov (ankle) to play again this season. (4/4/2014)
Tyler Pitlick, C - Pitlick left practice early Tuesday due to a sore knee, according to the Edmonton Sun's Rob Tychkowski. (4/1/2014)
Andrew Ference, D - Ference (chest) is likely out for the season due to his torn pectoral muscle, the Edmonton Journal reports. (4/1/2014)

Hot

Patrice Bergeron, C, BOS – Bergeron has been silly hot of late as he is on his way to putting up a 60 point season. Bergeron has 10 game point streak going in which he has 14 points, including four multi-point efforts. Oh, and he’s plus-36 while winning 58% of his face-offs.

James Wisniewski, D, CLM – Wisniewski has put up a huge season offensively for the surprisingly good Blue Jackets and emerged as one of the league’s best power-play quarterbacks. He is at 47 points on the year with 26 coming on the power play. He has eight points in his last six games and has picked up six of those with the man advantage.

Anton Khudobin, G, CAR – Khudobin, like the rest of the Canes is playing for next year, but in his case it’s for a starting gig either in Carolina or somewhere else. The 27 year-old has great numbers in 33 games this year, posting 18 out of Carolina’s 34 wins, a 2.15 goals against average with a .931 save percentage.

Cold

Martin St. Louis, RW, NYR – The defending Art Ross trophy winner as the league’s top scorer was on a roll earlier this year leading a Tampa Bay team without it’s best player toward a playoff berth with 61 points in 62 games when he asked to be traded to the Rangers. Regardless of what you think of his behavior, the results in New York have been awful, as St. Louis has only put up four points in 16 games since arriving in the Big Apple. You have to wonder if he misses Steven Stamkos.

Zdeno Chara, D, BOS – Chara does a lot of stuff for the Bruins that do not get captured in many fantasy leagues, like generally scaring the hell out of all the normal humans playing in the NHL. That said, the things fantasy players care about have been lacking of late. The big man has only one goal in his last six games while not really wracking up a solid plus/minus rating or penalty minutes. He has driven 16 shots on net, so more offensive goodness is sure to come. Hopefully not too late for players counting on him for a playoff drive of their own,

Craig Anderson, G, OTT – The whole season has been a mess for Ottawa and Anderson’s season certainly mirrors that. His 3.10 goals against average and .907 save percentage are subpar. He has given up more than three goals in a game six times since the start of March. At some point Ottawa will have to decide whether to move to Robin Lehner and fantasy owners are already fed up for this year.

Recommended Pickup

Michael Cammalleri, C, CGY – Camamalleri is making fantasy owners remember his name as he has punched more than 25 goals this year. In his last 15 games, the veteran has 19 points and, given that in some formats he is owned in less than six of ten leagues, you can still ride his hot streak to playoff gold.