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Sunday Daily Puck: No Blue Streak

Noel Baldwin

Noel Baldwin is a hockey and baseball beat writer, and writes about Sunday Daily Puck, for Rotowire.

Around the Rink

To play Captain Obvious for a moment, the St. Louis Blues are an awfully talented team. That said their recent run of goal scoring has been incredible. Since the start of January, the Blues have outscored their opponents 27-12 in five games (after Saturday’s 5-4 shootout win over Carolina), including one loss. While that stretch includes wins over the Coyotes and Hurricanes, it also includes two 7-2 demolitions of San Jose.

While Vladimir Tarasenko and Kevin Shattenkirk have carried the offense at times, what has characterized their recent success is that the depth of talent they have is starting to produce huge output. Look at a list of the hottest players in the NHL for the past week or two and it is littered with Blues. Consider that since January 1:



These guys are putting up video game numbers. The Blues have supplied fantasy owners with good options for a few years – last year they had five twenty-goal scorers and seven guys who topped 40 points. Halfway through this year they are again on pace for five to reach the 20 goal plateau with as many as nine who could get to 40 points or better. This team is a fantasy gold mine.

The Blues were clearly among the group of elite teams that would compete for the Cup this year. The offense has allowed them to also take time easing starting goalie Brian Elliott back into the fold and even the luxury of hanging on to legend Martin Brodeur a little bit longer. They are showing with their recent play that they can hit a level that is tough to top. Whether they hold it together through the second half remains to be seen.

Now, onto the preview of Sunday’s games.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)

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

Florida Panthers (Roberto Luongo) at Edmonton Oilers (Ben Scrivens), 7:00 PM
Minnesota Wild (Niklas Backstrom) at Chicago Blackhawks (Corey Crawford), 8:00 PM
Winnipeg Jets (Ondrej Pavelec) at Anaheim Ducks (Frederik Andersen), 9:00 PM

*Confirmed Starters

Injury News For Teams Playing Wednesday

Florida Panthers
Aleksander Barkov, C - Barkov (illness) was a late scratch Friday and will not play against the Flames, Steve Goldstein of FOX Sports Florida reports. (1/9/2015)
Dmitry Kulikov, D - Kulikov (illness) will not play Friday against the Flames, George Richards of the Miami Herald reports. (1/9/2015)

Edmonton Oilers
Tyler Pitlick, RW - Pitlick (spleen) will miss the remainder of the season, reports the Edmonton Journal. (1/6/2015)

Minnesota Wild
Keith Ballard, D - Ballard is still experiencing concussion symptoms and is weighing retirement, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. "Knowing what we know about concussions, I have to think about the long term," Ballard said. (1/6/2015)
Marco Scandella, D - Coach Mike Yeo said after Saturday's loss to the Predators that Scandella (head) wouldn't travel with the team to Chicago for Sunday's game, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. (1/10/2015)
Darcy Kuemper, G - Coach Mike Yeo said Thursday that Kuemper will miss at least one week due to a lower-body injury, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. (1/8/2015)

Chicago Blackhawks
Trevor van Riemsdyk, D - Coach Joel Quenneville said van Riemsdyk (knee) is considered ahead of schedule, ESPN Chicago reports. (1/5/2015)

Winnipeg Jets
Grant Clitsome, D - Clitsome (upper body) was placed on injured reserve Thursday. (1/8/2015)

Anaheim Ducks
Eric Brewer, D - Brewer (foot) is no longer in a walking boot, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports. (1/9/2015)

Hot

Jonathan Huberdeau, RW – The 2012-13 Calder Trophy winner is working his back into fantasy relevance after a sever sophomore slump last year. Huberdeau has nine points in past seven games to bring him to 22 points in 36 games on the season. Encouragingly his shot rate is back over two per game, but on the down side his ice time remains fairly low (15:58 per game, just eleventh on the Panthers and fifth among forwards) and he has not capitalized on solid power play time (2:24 per game, third on the Panthers) with just five points. He is a work in progress, but he has the skill to be an impact player and he has taken his game up a notch lately.

Andrew Ladd, LW – The Jets captain has stepped up his play to lead his team into the playoff hunt with a huge run the last two weeks. Including Saturday’s game (a win over LA in which he picked up an assist) Ladd has put up seven points during a five game point streak and 11 points in his past eight games. He is doing work on the power play too, leading the Jets with 11 points with the extra attacker. The hot streak has propelled him up to 34 points in 42 games, which is a pace for a career high 66 points.

Cold

Niklas Backstrom, G –With Darcy Kuemper landing on IR Backstrom is set to start Sunday, which is bad news for the Wild, because his recent run of play has been simply brutal. The veteran Finn hasn’t let in fewer than three goals since December 5. Backstrom was at one time an above average to very good NHL tender, but those days are past as he hasn’t posted a season save percentage above .910 in three years, with this year’s .893 his worst mark and simply unacceptable.

Patrick Marleau, LW – Marleau is the clubhouse leader for most appearances in the “Cold” section of The Daily Puck, including as recently as January 3, but it is difficult to overstate how poor his play has been in recent weeks. Marleau has 28 points on the season, which makes it easy to overlook that he already had 20 of them on December 1. Since December 6 he has not recorded a goal and has just four assists. When Marleau grabbed an assist on Monday in a win over Winnipeg it was his first point in nine games. Marleau may be done and anyone still holding him in anything but the deepest leagues should have been done with him long ago.

Recommended Pickup

Derick Brassard, C – Brassard is flying under the radar (owned in fewer than half of Yahoo leagues) for a guy averaging just under a point per game (33 points in 37 games). He also is putting up great numbers recently – while his four game point streak was snapped Saturday, he has six points in his last five contests. Brassard has also become a huge producer on the power play with 14 of his points coming with the man advantage, including four during his recent hot streak. His 14 points are more than Logan Couture, Henrik Zetterberg, Jonathan Toews, (teammate) Martin St. Louis, and Ryan Getzlaf among others.
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