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Thursday Daily Puck: Wish You Were Here

Dustin Nelson

Dustin Nelson is a writer based out of NYC. His fantasy team is full of loafers.

Montreal lost again.

That's four straight losses, all to non-playoff teams. They're 1-8-1 in their last 10 games with only five games coming against a playoff team (though one of those five wasn't at the time of the game) and their one win coming against the Maple Leafs in a shootout.

It's been a really terrible go for Montreal, who gave up three unanswered goals in the third period to Buffalo on Wednesday to blow their lead and lose the game. They're now 5-20-1 in their last 26 games.

In their first 26 games they only let 11 points slip away. In the next 26 games they only put up 11 points. It's a mess and any hope of making the playoffs is fading very quickly.

Only 19 teams before this year have ever put up 41 points in the first 26 games of the season. (Dallas also did it this year.) The thing they have in common? Not one of them has ever missed the playoffs.

Without Carey Price, it's hard to see how they pull out of this funk and there aren't any indications that Price is on his way back into the lineup in time to salvage the season.

Could the team who started the season on a historic win streak actually miss the playoffs?

Looking back to last season when it was said repeatedly that this team is mediocre and being floated by an elite goaltender, this doesn't seem that crazy. Without that elite goaltending, they've fallen apart. It's not the only reason, surely, but it's hard to look away from the fact that their collapse began with Price's second exit due to injury. The first tiem he was shelved, Mike Condon took the reins and played very well.

That hasn't been the case since then. We may be watching a historic implosion and if that's the case, something needs to change soon, because players and management generally don't last long when a team can be called a historic implosion.

The only question is what happens first: A surprising turn around, the return of Price or the firing of coach Michel Therrien.

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

Bruins (Tuukka Rask) at Sabres (Robin Lehner), 7:00 PM
Wild (Devan Dubnyk) at Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist), 7:00 PM
Islanders (Jaroslav Halak) at Capitals (Braden Holtby), 7:30 PM
Devils (Cory Schneider) at Maple Leafs (James Reimer), 7:30 PM
Oilers (Cam Talbot) at Senators (Craig Anderson), 7:30 PM
Red Wings (Petr Mrazek) at Panthers (Roberto Luongo), 7:30 PM
Sharks (Martin Jones) at Blues (Brian Elliott), 8:00 PM
Flyers (Steve Mason) at Predators (Pekka Rinne), 8:00 PM
Stars (Antti Niemi) at Avalanche (Calvin Pickard), 9:00 PM
Blackhawks (Corey Crawford) at Coyotes (Louis Domingue), 9:00 PM
Blue Jackets (Joonas Korpisalo) at Canucks (Ryan Miller), 10:00 PM
Ducks (John Gibson) at Kings (Jonathan Quick), 10:00 PM
Injury News For Teams Playing Thursday

Boston Bruins
Chris Kelly, RW (femur fracture) - will not play again this season
Adam McQuaid, D (upper body) - practiced on Monday
Jonas Gustavsson, G (illness) - is traveling with the team

Buffalo Sabres
Tyler Ennis, LW (upper body) - according to coach Dan Bylsma, his return is "not imminent"
Cody McCormick, C (blood clots) - isn't closing in on his season debut

Minnesota Wild

New York Rangers
Rick Nash, LW (leg) - has been ruled out of Thursday's game
Kevin Klein, D (fractured thumb) - broke his thumb in Tuesday's game and will miss some time

New York Islanders
Eric Boulton, LW (undisclosed) - remains on IR
Johnny Boychuk, D (shoulder) - has missed 11 games and is doubtful for Thursday
Adam Pelech, D (upper body) - may not return this season

Washington Capitals
Brooks Orpik, D (lower body) - practiced on Tuesday for the first time in a very long time
Taylor Chorney, D (illness) - left Tuesday's game with flu-like symptoms
Jay Beagle, C (hand) - has skated, but may not be ready to return to game action
Marcus Johansson, LW (upper body) - skated before practice Tuesday, but is out Thursday

New Jersey Devils
Jiri Tlusty, LW (wrist) - will miss a few months following surgery
Patrik Elias, LW (knee) - had surgery and may not play again this season
Michael Cammalleri, LW (hand) - is expected to sit out this entire week
John Moore, D (lower body) - is expected to return Thursday
Jon Merrill, D (upper body) - will not play this week

Toronto Maple Leafs
Stephane Robidas, D (knee) - remains out and has no timetable for his return
James van Riemsdyk, LW (foot) - remains on IR

Edmonton Oilers
Andrew Ference, D (hip) - will not play again this season
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C (hand) - will miss another couple weeks
Oscar Klefbom, D (finger / leg) - is jointly dealing with a broken finger and a leg infection
Brandon Davidson, D (undisclosed) - remains out

Ottawa Senators
Chris Phillips, D (back) - isn't making progress toward a return
Milan Michalek, LW (finger) - remains out
Clarke MacArthur, LW (concussion) - practiced Wednesday for the first time in over two months
Marc Methot, D (undisclosed) - practiced Wednesday, but is questionable for Thursday
Kyle Turris, C (ankle) - skated before practice on Wednesday

Detroit Red Wings
Johan Franzen, RW (concussion) - remains on long-term injured reserve
Drew Miller, LW (ACL) - is unlikely to play again this season
Riley Sheahan, C (illness) - did not play Wednesday; is questionable Thursday
Niklas Kronwall, D (knee) - is on long-term injured reserve and won't play until at least Feb. 14

Florida Panthers
Dave Bolland, C (lower body) - doesn't appear ready for a return Thursday
Willie Mitchell, D (undisclosed) - will not play Thursday

San Jose Sharks
Raffi Torres, LW (knee) - is in the AHL

St. Louis Blues
Steve Ott, C (hamstring) - remains out
Jake Allen, G (lower body) - will not play Thursday
Jaden Schwartz, LW (ankle) - has been ruled out of Thursday's tilt

Philadelphia Flyers
Michal Neuvirth, G (lower body) - is expected to miss the whole week

Nashville Predators
Colin Wilson, LW (lower body) - practiced Wednesday
Gabriel Bourque, LW (upper body) - practiced Wednesday, but there's no word on when he'll return
Eric Nystrom, LW (foot) - is on IR

Dallas Stars
Colton Sceviour, RW (head) - is questionable for Thursday

Colorado Avalanche
Ben Street, C (chest) - remains on IR
Brad Stuart, D (back) - has recently had surgery and isn't likely to play this season
Reto Berra, G (ankle) - has resumed skating
Jesse Winchester, LW (concussion) - is still not back in the lineup

Chicago Blackhawks
Marcus Kruger, C (wrist) - remains on injured reserve

Arizona Coyotes
Mike Smith, G (lower body) - is unlikely to return to game action in the month of February
Joe Vitale, C (fractured orbital bone) - has not had his situation updated
Jarred Tinordi, D (undisclosed) - did not play Tuesday

Columbus Blue Jackets
David Clarkson, RW (upper body) - remains on IR
Curtis McElhinney, G (ankle) - is traveling with the team on the current road trip
David Savard, D (oblique) - practiced on Wednesday
Sergei Bobrovsky, G (groin) - is without a timeline for return

Vancouver Canucks
Henrik Sedin, C (upper body) - practiced Tuesday
Dan Hamhuis, D (face) - was set to be reevaluated Wednesday

Anaheim Ducks
Clayton Stoner, D (hip flexor) - remains out
Shawn Horcoff, C (suspension) - continues to serve a 20-game suspension

Los Angeles Kings
Matt Greene, D (shoulder) - will not play the rest of the season
Kyle Clifford, LW (upper body) - was recalled from the AHL

Jack Eichel, C, BUF Continuing his hot streak from before the break, Eichel grabbed an assist on the power play Wednesady, giving him points in three straight games. He's put up three goals and five assists over the last six games and is working his way back into the Calder conversation. He should be owned in every league even though he's on a terrible team. Eichel is able to overcome Buffalo's shortcomings.

Nikita Kucherov, RW, TBL In the last game before the All-Star break, Kucherov had an eight-game point streak snapped. He returned from the break and picked up where he left off, scoring a goal and an assist against Detroit. his hot streak goes well past that eight-game stretch though. Over the last 19 games he's put up 10 goals and 15 assists. It's been an incredible run and it doesn't look like it's close to stopping.

Brendan Gallagher, RW, MTL Remember when Gallagher's absence was considered the reason that the Habs were struggling? Then he came back and they won the Winter Classic, confirming that narrative. Gallagher is crucial to the Habs success, but he's having some rough times that coincide with Montreal's spiral out of control. Gallagher has only registered a point in one of the team's last six games, a two-point night. In that stretch he also has a minus-6 rating. It's been tough going.

Lars Eller, C, MTL In the last 11 games, Eller has put up a goal and an assist. He has a minus-6 rating over that stretch and is just another in a long list of Habs that are not getting it done. Outside of guys like Max Pacioretty or P.K. Subban -- who aren't performing where you want them to be still -- there aren't many players in Montreal you can count on right now.

Recommended Pickup
Brayden Schenn, C, PHI Schenn is an interesting pick-up, particularly if you are looking for some extra power play production. Since the first of the year, no player with average ownership below 50% has as many power play points as Schenn. He's put up eight on Philadelphia's top unit. The next closest player is Bo Horvat with four and then a handful with three. Schenn presents an unexpected solution if you're in need of more power play production.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.