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Thursday Daily Puck: A Minny-Streak

Dustin Nelson

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

It was just Saturday I was saying that you can't trust the Minnesota Wild until the ship is fully righted. At that point they'd lost seven straight, weren't scoring and were getting scored on like crazy.

They lost another one before the team fired coach Mike Yeo, the league's fifth most tenured coach.

While it's tough to say that an instant turn around deserves to be credited to an incoming coach, but the firing of Yeo appears to have galvanized the Wild some. It can't hurt that their first three games after the hiring of John Torchetti are a swing through Western Canada to play struggling squads in Alberta and British Columbia, but they're scoring and looking like a tight team again.

I'm ready to believe it to some extent, but if they can pull out a third straight win on Thursday, they'll head into a real test when they face the Chicago Blackhawks in a Stadium Series tilt. If they win there, it's worth believing that tides have turned and that it's worth trusting their middle of the road guys again.

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

Capitals (Braden Holtby) at Islanders (Jaroslav Halak), 7:00 PM
Red Wings (Petr Mrazek) at Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury), 7:00 PM
Rangers (Antti Raanta) at Maple Leafs (James Reimer), 7:30 PM
Hurricanes (Eddie Lack) at Senators (Craig Anderson), 7:30 PM
Jets (Ondrej Pavelec) at Lightning (Ben Bishop), 7:30 PM
Sharks (Martin Jones) at Panthers (Al Montoya), 7:30 PM
Kings (Jonathan Quick) at Blues (Brian Elliott), 8:00 PM
Bruins (Tuukka Rask) at Predators (Pekka Rinne), 8:00 PM
Wild (Darcy Kuemper) at Oilers (Cam Talbot), 9:00 PM
Stars (Kari Lehtonen) at Coyotes (Louis Domingue), 9:00 PM
Ducks (Frederik Andersen) at Canucks (Ryan Miller), 10:00 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Thursday

Washington Capitals
Jay Beagle, C (hand) - has still not resumed practicing

New York Islanders
Calvin de Haan, D (lower body) - remains out, but isn't expected to be out long
Adam Pelech, D (upper body) - may not return this season
Eric Boulton, LW (undisclosed) - remains on IR

Detroit Red Wings
Johan Franzen, RW (concussion) - remains on long-term injured reserve
Jonathan Ericsson, D (lower body) - will not play Thursday
Drew Miller, LW (ACL) - isn't expeted back this season
Niklas Kronwall, D (knee) - skated in practice Wednesday, but isn't expected to return Thursday

Pittsburgh Penguins
Evgeni Malkin, C (knee) - is unlikely for Thursday's game
Nick Bonino, C (hand) - isn't likely to return Thursday
Beau Bennett, RW (upper body) - remains out
David Warsofsky, D (concussion) - practiced Wednesday and has started taking contact again
Pascal Dupuis, RW (blood clots) - will no longer play hockey
Eric Fehr, RW (lower body) - remains on IR

New York Rangers
Rick Nash, LW (leg) - is considered week-to-week
Marc Staal, D (personal) - didn't play Wednesday and his status for Thursday is unknown

Toronto Maple Leafs
Stephane Robidas, D (knee) - remains without a timeline for his return
Shawn Matthias, C (whiplash) - remains out
James van Riemsdyk, LW (foot) - remains on IR
Tyler Bozak, C (head) - skated before practice Wednesday, but isn't likely to play Thursday
Jared Cowen, D (hip) - is on IR
Josh Leivo, LW (upper body) - is also on IR
Joffrey Lupul, LW (middle body) - remains out of the lineup
Milan Michalek, LW (finger) - is considered week-to-week

Carolina Hurricanes
Cam Ward, G (leg) - is traveling with the team and is expected to be available Thursday
James Wisniewski, D (ACL) - continues to rehab from an injury suffered in the first game of the season
Justin Faulk, D (leg) - is not traveling with the team for their current road trip

Ottawa Senators
Mark Borowiecki, D (upper body) - didn't play Tuesday
Clarke MacArthur, LW (concussion) - hopes to return in March
David Dziurzynski, LW (undisclosed) - is on IR
Chris Phillips, D (back) - is not making progress recovering from offseason surgery

Winnipeg Jets
Mark Stuart, D (hand) - will miss the next four-to-six weeks

Tampa Bay Lightning
Jason Garrison, D (lower body) - will miss a few weeks
Vladislav Namestnikov, C (upper body) - practiced Wednesday

San Jose Sharks
Brenden Dillon, D (upper body) - is questionable for Thursday

Florida Panthers
Aleksander Barkov, C (upper body) - the team hopes he's closing in on a return this week
Willie Mitchell, D (undisclosed) - remains out
Dave Bolland, C (lower body) - also remains out
Brandon Pirri, C (leg) - will miss a few weeks
Erik Gudbranson, D (upper body) - is still sitting on IR
Quinton Howden, LW (upper body) - is likely to miss Thursday's gam.e

Los Angeles Kings
Marian Gaborik, RW (knee) - is out "long-term, for sure," according to the team
Matt Greene, D (shoulder) - will miss the rest of the season

St. Louis Blues
Alex Pietrangelo, D (knee) - is on IR
Jake Allen, G (knee) - has practiced, but it's not clear when he'll be back
Steve Ott, C (hamstring) - remains out

Boston Bruins
Chris Kelly, RW (femur fracture) - is out for the season

Nashville Predators
Gabriel Bourque, LW (upper body) - remains out
Eric Nystrom, LW (foot) - is on injured reserve

Minnesota Wild
Jonas Brodin, D (foot) - remains out
Marco Scandella, D (undisclosed) - did not play Wednesday

Edmonton Oilers
Zack Kassian, RW (illness) - didn't practice Wednesady
Eric Gryba, D (knee) - is likely to miss the next month
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C (hand) - remains out
Oscar Klefbom, D (infection) - could return soon
Andrew Ference, D (hip) - is out for the remainder of the season
Teddy Purcell, RW (undisclosed) - status is unknown

Dallas Stars
Travis Moen, LW (lower body) - is on IR
Jason Spezza, C (upper body) - could return Thursday or Saturday

Arizona Coyotes
Boyd Gordon, C (upper body) - is on Ir
Mike Smith, G (lower body) - remains out
Joe Vitale, C (concussion-related issues) - is going to miss the remains of the season
Anders Lindback, G (Achilles) - is out for the season

Anaheim Ducks
Shawn Horcoff, C (suspension) - continues to serve his suspension
Clayton Stoner, D (hip) - has returned to practice
Chris Stewart, RW (jaw) - will miss upwards of a month

Vancouver Canucks
Alexander Edler, D (fractured fibula) - remains out
Brandon Sutter, C (jaw) - will miss upwards of a month

Hot
Tomas Hertl, C, SJS We adjusted expectations on Hertl earlier in the year when the points just weren't coming. In the first 33 games of the year he had three goals, nine assists and a minus-6 rating. Now it's time to adjust expectations again. In his last 21 games he's posted eight goals, seven assists and a plus-12 rating. Some of that is moving on from the third-line center experiment, but he also looks like he has that killer instinct again. The pieces are in place for Hertl to be a solid fantasy option again.

Artemi Panarin, LW, CHI Panarin became the first rookie to hit 20 goals on the season with a hat trick in Wednesday's win over the New York Rangers. His 22 goals and 35 assists have him leading rookies in points and tied for fifth overall in the league. He's been a revelation for Chicago and continues to look better and better as the season wears on. Five goals and six assists in his last six games have made him a guaranteed "must-play" every night.

Cold
Patrick Sharp, LW, DAL Sharp finished up a 12-game point streak on Jan. 9. He immediately went into a slump. In the 10 games since that streak ended Sharp has no goals and two assists. He also has a minus-8 rating, without a single positive plus/minus rating throughout the slump. His shot rate has also dipped significantly. He averaged five shots per game during his streak and 3.1 per game during the slump. Nonetheless, 3.1 shots per game is still a good deal of shots and he's seeing power play time with some of the league's best offensive weapons. He's going to break out of the slump at some point soon.

Recommended Pickup
Erik Haula, C, MIN It's not just the transition to Torchetti, Haula has been looking good for a while now. The interesting thing about playing Haula is that he was looking good while Yeo was still the coach and under Torchetti he's moved up to being the third line center and is creating a lot of opportunities. In depth formats, he's worth a look with four goals and nine assists in his last 20 games. He's also been weighting that production toward recent games with nine points in the last 12 games.

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