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Thursday Daily Puck: Dubnyk's Ascendance

Neil Parker

A loyal Leafs, Cubs and Cowboys fan for decades, Neil has contributed to RotoWire since 2014. He previously worked for USA Today Fantasy Sports and founded TheFakeHockey.com.

Devan Dubnyk is the Vezina Trophy frontrunner.

He's pacing the league in save percentage (.946), GAA (1.63) and shutouts (four), and Dubnyk also boasts the league's best five-on-five save percentage (.957) among goalies with at least 500 minutes.

His current form is obviously unsustainable, but even regression down to his production over his first two seasons with Minnesota (.925 save percentage, 2.13 GAA, 59-35-8 and 10 shutouts) through the rest of the year will provide a huge return on investment.

The 30-year-old goalie has now strung together dominant stretches in each of the past three years, and backstopping a deep team filled with two-way players and Bruce Boudreau behind the bench is a cushy fantasy gig.

After touting Dubnyk wherever and to whomever I could all summer, I sold high two weeks ago. Don't be like me.

Featured Matchups

Blues (PP: 8, PK: 2) at Islanders (PP: 30, PK: 13), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Jake Allen (13-3-3, 2.44, .909), Jaroslav Halak (5-6-5, 2.88, .912)
Key Injuries: Johnny Boychuk (illness), Mikhail Grabovski (concussion)

The Islanders have been sound on home ice with an 8-4-4 record, and three consecutive wins at the Barclays Center. St. Louis has also been excellent at home (12-1-3), but the Blues are just 3-6-1 on the road. The Islanders have been struggling to find linemates for John Tavares, but Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson have clicked of late. Bailey has two goals, eight points and 22 shots over his past eight games, and Nelson has a goal and two helpers with 13 shots over his past four outings.

Jaden Schwartz is coming off a big three-point game and is up to an impressive nine goals, 15 points and 41 shots over his past 14 outings. Over the past three seasons, he and Vladimir Tarasenko have combined for an impressive 3.09 goals for per 60 minutes, and the duo is one of the best one-two punches in the league when paired together. St. Louis' road woes against the Islanders' recent success at home should prove to be an exciting matchup.

Oilers (PP: 10, PK: 11) at Flyers (PP: 2, PK: 18), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Cam Talbot (13-9-3, 2.61, .914), Steve Mason (10-8-3, 2.71, .908)
Key Injuries: Brandon Davidson (shoulder), Mark Fayne (undisclosed), Andrew Ference (hip), Eric Gryba (undisclosed), Darnell Nurse (lower body), Sean Couturier (knee), Michal Neuvirth (lower body), Matt Read (oblique)

The Flyers have won six consecutive games and boast one of the best top-six groups in the league. During the stretch, Mason has an impressive .947 save percentage and a 1.74 GAA, and his horrific start is likely behind him. Additionally, the Philly style makes for entertaining games, and getting up for a matchup against Connor McDavid is unlikely to disappoint. Edmonton enters with consecutive overtime losses and 13 goals through four December games.

Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek have been reunited at even strength and have combined for five goals, 15 points and 47 shots on net over their past seven games. For Edmonton, it's been the McDavid-Leon Draisaitl show. The Oiler duo has also been outstanding with 13 goals, 29 points and 61 shots over their past 10 games. Add what Wayne Simmonds and Milan Lucic bring to the game with a dash of Shayne Gostisbehere and there is plenty to be excited about.

Rangers (PP: 9, PK: 10) at Jets (PP: 21, PK: 24), 8:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Antti Raanta (5-1-0, 2.20, .931), Connor Hellebuyck (10-9-1, 2.67, .910)
Key Injuries: Pavel Buchnevich (back), Michael Grabner (personal), Rick Nash (groin), Matt Puempel (concussion), Jimmy Vesey (upper body), Mika Zibanejad (leg), Joel Armia (undisclosed), Alex Burmistrov (upper body), Shawn Matthias (lower body), Tyler Myers (lower body),Nicolas Petan (lower body), Mark Scheifele (undisclosed)

After the monster start to the season, New York is just 4-5-1 over its past 10 games, including consecutive road losses to the basement-dwelling Sabres and Islanders. The Rangers have also scored just 2.5 goals per game during the stretch. Winnipeg, meanwhile, skidded in November with a winless five-game road trip and is coming off a home loss to the Red Wings on Tuesday. However, the Jets are still averaging 3.14 goals per game at home with a winning record at the MTS Centre.

Now 21 starts deep in his season, there is cause for concern with Henrik Lundqvist. His .912 save percentage and 2.55 GAA are considerably worse than his career .920 and 2.29 marks, and the Rangers are allowing the fourth-most high-danger scoring chances (11.17) and own the third-worst Corsi for percentage (46.1) at five-on-five this year. Additionally, New York is playing its second consecutive road game. This is a good spot for the Jets, especially if Scheifele (lower body) is cleared to play after skating the past few days.

Other Matchups

Avalanche (PP: 16, PK: 25) at Bruins (PP: 26, PK: 3), 7:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Calvin Pickard (4-2-1, 2.44, .920), Anton Khudobin (1-3-0, 2.75, .902)
Key Injuries: Matt Beleskey (lower body), John-Michael Liles (concussion), Frank Vatrano (foot), Erik Johnson (leg), Gabriel Landeskog (lower body), Fedor Tyutin (lower body)

The Bruins are on the wrong end of back-to-back games after losing in Washington on Wednesday. Khudobin will likely be making his fifth start of the campaign, and this checks out as a potential spot for Colorado to squeeze out an upset. The Bruins own the second-lowest team shooting percentage (6.96) in the league, and David Pastrnak is the only Bruin with more than seven goals. He has 15 in just 21 games.

Devils (PP: 20, PK: 6) at Canadiens (PP: 7, PK: 17), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Cory Schneider (9-6-4, 2.60, .912), Carey Price (14-3-1, 1.82, .942)
Key Injuries: Nathan Beaulieu (neck), David Desharnais (knee), Alex Galchenyuk (lower body), Zach Redmond (foot), Pavel Zacha (face)

A 2-2-1 record through a tough five-game road trip is nothing to shake a stick at, but the loss of Alex Galchenyuk (knee) was a huge blow. Galchenyuk's 3.27 points per 60 minutes rank sixth in the league among skaters with at least 400 minutes, after all. Expect Tomas Plekanec to be the biggest fantasy beneficiary. This game also kick-starts a daunting December schedule for New Jersey. The Devils have two games against the Blues, Rangers, Penguins, Capitals and solo dates with Ottawa, Nashville and Philadelphia following their date with Montreal. Don't expect much from Schneider, and outside of Taylor Hall and Michael Cammalleri, there isn't a lot to like from New Jersey.

Canucks (PP: 24, PK: 8) at Lightning (PP: 4, PK: 16), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Ryan Miller (5-9-0, 2.73, .911), Ben Bishop (8-9-1, 2.74, .910)
Key Injuries: Ryan Callahan (lower body), Jonathan Drouin (undisclosed), Jason Garrison (knee), Steven Stamkos (knee), Alexander Edler (finger), Jannik Hansen (ribs), Philip Larsen (undisclosed), Chris Tanev (ankle)

Through his past three appearances, Bishop has a .960 save percentage, and he grabs a perfect matchup Thursday to continue his strong play. The Canucks are averaging just 2.08 goals per road game, after all. It's worth noting, through 10 games without Stamkos (knee), the Lightning are averaging just 2.2 goals per game compared to their 3.1 mark before his injury.

Penguins (PP: 15, PK: 28) at Panthers (PP: 29, PK: 7), 7:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Matt Murray (8-2-0, 2.01, .931), Roberto Luongo (9-7-2, 2.14, .926)
Key Injuries: Jonathan Huberdeau (lower body), Jonathan Marchessault (undisclosed), Alex Petrovic (ankle)

The Penguins have scored 19 goals through three December games, whereas Florida has seven over four games this month. Not only is Pittsburgh clicking offensively, the Penguins are also healthy. Sidney Crosby has hit the score sheet in 16 of 20 games and posted 17 goals and 27 points, but he is tied for second in scoring with Phil Kessel. Evgeni Malkin paces the Pens with 10 goals and 28 points, and the big three are all among the top-eight scorers in the league.

Predators (PP: 6, PK: 18) at Stars (PP: 14, PK: 27), 8:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Pekka Rinne (11-5-4, 2.23, .926), Antti Niemi (5-3-3, 3.20, .902)
Key Injuries: Ales Hemsky (hip), Julius Honka (arm), Jiri Hudler (illness), Mattias Janmark (knee), Johnny Oduya (lower body), Patrick Sharp (concussion), Ryan Ellis (upper body)

There have been 10 goals through the first two games between these two teams, which seems a touch low. After a slow start, Roman Josi is hitting stride of late with two goals, eight points and 23 shots on net over his past eight games. Also, it's worth noting that Viktor Arvidsson leads the league in shots per 60 minutes at five-on-five (12.96) among skaters with at least 300 minutes.

Flames (PP: 28, PK: 26) at Coyotes (PP: 22, PK: 22), 9:00 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Chad Johnson (11-4-1, 2.04, .931), Mike Smith (4-3-3, 2.77, .924)
Key Injuries: Brad Richardson (leg), Ladislav Smid (neck)

Currently in a playoff spot, Calgary has hit stride with Johnson manning the crease, and now Johnny Gaudreau is also back in the fold. Johnson is sporting an active 9-2 run with an incredible .946 save percentage and 1.63 GAA. The Coyotes are allowing the most high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes (13.04) and have lost 10 of their past 13 games, including five straight.

Hurricanes (PP: 12, PK: 1) at Kings (PP: 27, PK: 23), 10:30 p.m.
Expected Goalies: Michael Leighton (1-1-0, 3.05, .893), Peter Budaj (12-7-2, 2.23, .909)
Key Injuries: Eddie Lack (concussion), Elias Lindholm (lower body), Jordan Staal (concussion), Brayden McNabb (collarbone), Jonathan Quick (groin)

The Hurricanes visit the Staples Center on the wrong end of back-to-back road games after losing 6-5 in a shootout to Anaheim on Wednesday. It's a horrible spot for the Hurricanes, as the Kings are 9-3-1 at home while allowing just 24.6 shots per game. With a personal 9-2-1 record at home, Budaj checks out as a solid streaming option or flier in daily contests, too.

Recommended Pickup

Jason Zucker, LW/RW, MIN - Currently playing a top-six role and chipping in plenty of offense (two goals, seven points, 14 shots and a plus-6 rating over seven games), Zucker is a nice grab with the duel-winger eligibility. Additionally, he owns the sixth-ranked 2.79 points per 60 minutes at five-on-five among skaters with at least 300 minutes this year. He's not receiving power-play time, and his 108.1 PDO will crash down in short order, but Zucker's 10.8 shooting percentage is sustainable. He's worth a look in deeper leagues, considering he's in his offensive prime and has a track record of scoring at all levels.