Friday, December 22, 2017

Morning Player Notes in the Draft (Dec 22)

The Chicago Blackhawks re-inserted forward Richard Panik into their lineup on Thursday night against the Dallas Stars and made Patrick Sharp into a healthy scratch instead, but that didn't boost the offense any, as they were unable to score a goal against their hosts, losing 4-0 in the end.  There's a pretty fine chance that the Blackhawks will continue to rotate their players to try and find some more consistency and they would probably be one of the teams open for business, when the holiday roster freeze ends.

Well, the return of Panik was good for Tony, in the sense that he at least had the chance for a point in the standings, while Benson's forward, Sharp, came out and didn't even give him that chance.  Benson has the team that could use more chances, as his team sits on the outside of the money, looking in, only 3 points back in 4th place after Thursday night.

A lower-body injury was the listed reason for the absence of Nashville Predators forward Craig Smith from the lineup on Thursday against the Hurricanes.  No other details have been released, so we've listed him as out day-to-day for now.  Smith was starting to find his groove with newcomer Kyle Turris and Kevin Fiala, so it was a pretty big piece of offense to come out of the lineup.  It will be interesting to see if he comes back for Saturday's Christmas Break finale, away to Dallas.

Dale C.'s team has fallen off the pace of late, having only 10 points in Week Twelve, through Thursday night's action, which has dropped his team down to 9th, now 21 points back of the money.  Smith has been excellent since being activated from the Waiver Draft, picking up 8 points in his first seven games under Dale's umbrella.

New Jersey Devils rookie forward Jesper Bratt blocked a shot earlier in the week against the Anaheim Ducks and he had suffered a foot injury, one that kept him from dressing Thursday night against the Rangers and his availability for their final game before the break, at home to Chicago on Saturday night, will still be up in the air.  One would have to think that the team will give him all the appropriate tests, making sure nothing is broken, but we haven't seen much of anything like that yet.

Bratt was another one of those Waiver Draft pickups a few weeks ago and for Ryan's team, he has been pretty good as well, picking up 6 points in his first seven games.  Unfortunately for Ryan's team, it hasn't quite picked up the pace, with the good pickups in tow.  Through Thursday night, Ryan has 12 points from his team this week, which is much closer to the Basement Dweller nod, than the Mover & Shaker.

A personal issue forced Ottawa Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf from the lineup on Thursday night, when they went into Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning.  The Senators coaching staff believe that this is a minor matter and that they expect him to rejoin the team in time for their finale before the break, away to see the Panthers.  You could argue that the Sens may have missed Phaneuf, dropping a close game, 4-3 in the shootout, to the Lightning.  In 32 games played this season, Phaneuf has 3 goals and 11 points.

The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired defenseman Jamie Oleksiak from the Dallas Stars earlier this week and on Thursday night, the big blueliner made his debut, which meant that someone had to come out of the lineup and that was Ian Cole, making him a healthy scratch once again this season.  Cole has only appeared in 29 games this year and has only posted 2 goals and 6 points, well below expectations.  Cole has been a name thrown out into the fray, as a name on the trade block and now with a new piece on their blueline, the Penguins may feel a little more comfortable moving him soon.

So, the losses of both Phaneuf and Cole really depleted Neil's defense corps for Thursday night's action and his side has suffered a little bit, only registering 14 points this week.  Neither defenseman had been all that great, leading up to their absences, but if Neil's team wants to improve from 20th in the standings, he'll need all the help he can get.

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