Watching games last night, I saw great examples of a couple of the things that have stood out the most this season. Two things that I think will have a major impact on fantasy rosters this season and, maybe more importantly, next season.
There isn't a team running away with the league and there isn't a team that's so far back you don't want to touch any player on the team.
Last year, especially if you played in a league that scores plus/minus, it was tough to find a player on the Buffalo Sabres that you were very excited about player. They were constantly losing and even a good player just had so little to work with that it was dragging your team down.
The Edmonton Oiler entered last night's game as the league's last place team. There are a lot of players on that team I'm interested in, no matter what format we're playing.
Part of the difference there is the parity. At this point in the season, there's fewer points between first and last place in the league than in any other season since the introduction of the shootout.
It's really a lot of fun and even though we're seeing more shootouts in the last couple weeks, I don't think coaches have figured out how to kill the fun yet.
The sample of 3-on-3 games is too small to mean a whole lot for fantasy right now, but I'll be interested to see as the season drags on -- and maybe it's not until the start of next season that this matters -- if we can identify some players whose fantasy value goes up because they are both used in overtime and have been successful in overtime with some regularity.
The sample will probably always be too small to really mean much, but there may be a few players who really stand out and can provide some added value there.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid
Canadiens (Dustin Tokarski) at Red Wings (Petr Mrazek), 7:30 PM
Senators (Craig Anderson) at Lightning (Ben Bishop), 7:30 PM
Capitals (Braden Holtby) at Panthers (Roberto Luongo), 7:30 PM
Flyers (Steve Mason) at Blues (Brian Elliott), 8:00 PM
Blackhawks (Corey Crawford) at Predators (Pekka Rinne), 8:00 PM
Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky) at Jets (Connor Hellebuyck), 8:00 PM
Sabres (Chad Johnson) at Flames (Karri Ramo), 9:00 PM
Injury News For Teams Playing Thursday
Carey Price, G (leg) - will remain out
Torrey Mitchell, C (lower body) - didn't play Wednesday
Michael Bournival, C (concussion) - has been assigned to the AHL
Devante Smith-Pelly, RW (lower body) - is on IR
Brendan Gallagher, RW (hand) - will remain out
Detroit Red Wings
Teemu Pulkkinen, RW (shoulder) - is expected to miss at least six weeks
Drew Miller, LW (jaw) - is also expected to miss at least six weeks
Kyle Quincey, D (ankle) - is likely to miss at least another month
Johan Franzen, RW (concussion) - is on long-term IR
Chris Phillips, D (back) - remains week-to-week
Milan Michalek, LW (finger) - is on IR
Clarke MacArthur, LW (concussion) - has no timetable for his return
Andrew Hammond, G (head) - hasn't had an update since it was noted last week that he's had a setback in his recovery
Tampa Bay Lightning
Cedric Paquette, C (upper body) - will likely miss another couple weeks
Erik Condra, RW (lower body) - is at least a week from a return
Ondrej Palat, LW (lower body) - could return Thursday
Brooks Orpik, D (lower body) - is beginning "off-ice therapy" instead of surgery
Nick Bjugstad, C (upper body) - has been ruled out indefinitely and is expected to miss at least the next two games
Alex Petrovic, D (ankle) - his situation is improving, but he hasn't yet returned to the ice
Mark Streit, D (groin) - has begun skating again
Sam Gagner, C (concussion) - has been cleared to play and will travel with the team
Luke Schenn, D (lower body) - remains out
St. Louis Blues
Jaden Schwartz, LW (ankle) - isn't likely to return very soon
Patrik Berglund, C (shoulder) - remains on long-term IR
Steve Ott, C (hamstring) - is expected to miss at least three months after being injured this week
Trevor Daley, D (upper body) - is traveling with the team
Gabriel Bourque, LW (lower body) - has been on IR since late November
Petter Granberg, D (Achilles) - has been assigned to the AHL on a conditioning stint
Colin Wilson, LW (lower body) - did not play Tuesday
Mike Fisher, C (lower body) - is out
Columbus Blue Jackets
Rene Bourque, LW (undisclosed) - was said to be out for about a week around Thanksgibing, but remains out
Sergei Bobrovsky, G (lower body) - was injured on Tuesday and is expected to miss at least three weeks
Markus Hannikainen, RW (shoulder) - will miss a couple months
Jared Boll, RW (foot) - missed Tuesday's game
Cody Goloubef, D (jaw) - will miss at least another month
Ondrej Pavelec, G (knee) - will return at the end of January at the earliest
Cody McCormick, C (illness) - has been out all season
Tyler Ennis, LW (upper body) - is considered week-to-week
Robin Lehner, G (ankle) - is out of his walking boot, but not ready to return
Mark Pysyk, D (lower body) - is week-to-week
Lance Bouma, C (lower leg) - isn't expected back this week
Kris Russell, D (upper body) - didn't practice Wednesday
Jonas Hiller, G (illness) - left the ice during Wednesday's practice
Matt Duchene, C, COL — Hope you didn't dump him at the start of the season when he had just one goal and one assist through the season's first 10 games. Duchene is on fire and he can't seem to do any wrong. He scored again on Wednesday, giving him 14 goals and 10 assists over the last 19 games. His 15 goals rank fourth in the league.
Taylor Hall, LW, EDM — Hall extended his point streak to three games on Wednesday, grabbing the overtime game-winner and an assist. That pair of points move him into a tie for sixth place in the league. Things are good for Hall owners, he's clicking with Leon Draisaitl and as the team gets healthy he'll only have more weapons at his disposal.
Phil Kessel, RW, PIT — Pittsburgh has been having a tough time getting the puck in the net. Kessel is no exception. He has points in just a single game over his last six. He's getting the ice time, a good center and power play time, so it's likely a matter of time before he's clicking again, but it's been a tough run for anyone who is playing Kessel, especially since it's coming on the heels of a stretch where it seemed like Kessel was finally hitting his stride.
Jarome Iginla, RW, COL — Iginla has gone five games without a point. Over the last 10 games, he has one goal and no assists. That puts him on the slowest goals pace he's had since the 1997-98 season. A product of Colorado's difficulties climbing the standings? No. The Avs are scoring the eighth most goals per game in the league. Age? Possibly. Iginla is still making an impact and is on pace for 23 goals at age 38. It's impressive at his age, but he's not the fantasy dynamo he once was.
Olli Maatta, D, PIT — Maatta is back from a scary crash into an open bench door against the Minnesota Wild. The injury doesn't appear to have slowed him down at all. In the three games since he returned he's got points in each, with two goals and two assists total.