Minnesota played an excellent game on Thursday booking an impressive 5-2 win over the Blackhawks.  Sadly for them, it came at a brutal cost.  Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter both left the game injured and were already ruled out for Saturday’s game.  Coyle was hit in the back of the leg with a shot while Nino looked to suffer an ankle injury that could cost him multiple weeks.  Hopefully you have an injured reserve spot for both of these guys but Nino definitely should be held through the injury.  With Mikael Granlund out as well, the Wild are getting extremely thin.  So who gets a boost?  Jason Zucker (1+1, 5 SOG) becomes must-own in 12’ers while Chris Stewart (2G, 5 SOG) moves back on to the streaming radar.  We’ll have a clearer picture tomorrow but this is a big blow to the Wild and fantasy teams in the short term.  Here’s what else happened the last two nights around the league:

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Giving up five goals to St. Louis in the opener wasn’t extremely concerning for the Penguins.  But ten goals to Chicago in game two?  I believe that qualifies as a mess.  Obviously I’m not going to panic in regards to the Pittsburgh season outlook; I’d actually try to trade for Matt Murray if their owner is panicking.  We’ll have to wait a few weeks to develop a bigger sample size, especially because this spot was perfect for the Blackhawks, but maybe they’re better than I gave them credit for.  Let’s take a look at the eight games from Thursday night and see what developed:

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The Chicago Blackhawks were the best team in the Western Conference during the 2016-17 regular season but unlike in years past, the postseason had no success.  The Blackhawks were demolished in the first round by the Predators leading them to make some radical offseason changes.  Out goes Artemi Panarin, back comes Brandon Saad.  Out goes Marian Hossa due to injury, back comes Patrick Sharp.  Out goes Niklas Hjalmarsson, Connor Murphy comes back in return.  Overall, I really don’t like the direction that Chicago is going as I discussed on this podcast.  Despite the fact that I think they could be in a battle this season just to make the playoffs, there’s still plenty of fantasy talents worth discussing.  Let’s take a look at what they’re working with:

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Everything we talked about on the trade deadline podcast regarding Alexandre Burrows came to fruition on Thursday night. In Burrows’ debut for the Senators, Burrows scored a brace (two goals for those who aren’t aware) on three shots playing 14 minutes in the 2-1 win over the Avalanche. I called him a great streamer for this game (streamer success!) and he performed admirably. Do I think he’s going to be a huge difference maker down the stretch? Probably not unless he piles up a ton of penalty minutes. However, I do expect him to be useful. While the next two games for the Senators are tough matchups, the Senators play the Stars, Coyotes and Avalanche next week. That is an excellent opportunity to stream Burrows. I’m even fine with grabbing him now just to make sure you have him for those games. As along as he stays on the first line, there’s some fantasy value here. Here’s what else happened the last two nights:

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Apparently January 10th is Sam Reinhart day. Last year, he scored his first career hat trick on January 10th and he followed it up with another three point night yesterday. Reinhart scored a goal and two assists with four shots in the 4-1 win over the Flyers. It almost feels a bit disappointing because he missed a wide open net that I’d expect a high school player to bury. Regardless, that’s 12 points in the last 10 games for Reinhart. I’ve been preaching for weeks that he’s a must own but he’s still available in over 2/3rds of leagues. He’s not available in RCL’s (well done guys!) but for your other leagues, grab him if you’ve been hesitant. How can you not like a Rein-o on a horse? Jack looks like he’s having too much fun. Anyways, let’s take a look at what else happened the last two nights around the league.

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Brad Marchand was one of the biggest breakout players in 2015-16 scoring 37 goals drastically increasing his shot rate to 3.5 per game while adding 90 PIM. While all of those numbers are taking a slight step back this season, he’s improving the weaknesses in his game to become a well rounded player. Marchand returned to his old ways this weekend with three goals on six shots over two games to give him 12+22 on the season. He’s only six assists from a career high and we’ve just reached the halfway point. Marchand also has nine power play points which is already a career high. Instead of being a three or four category stud (depending on plus-minus), he’s become a big plus in five categories with the potential for all six if the plus-minus improves. These totals have him 15th in the player rater among forwards and that shouldn’t come as a shock coming off a top ten season. It might not be exactly what you wanted but it’s been excellent across the board. Here’s what else I saw around the league this weekend:

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I certainly didn’t think I’d be writing about Peter Budaj at any point this year. After all, he played in a whopping one game over the past two seasons combined. Alas, we’re here in December with Budaj being a major talking point of the NHL season. After Jonathan Quick went down, the expectation was that offseason signing Jeff Zatkoff would get the majority of the starts but when he went down as well, Budaj stepped in and has kept the job. He had arguably his best two performances over the weekend. Budaj posted a 39 save shutout in the 1-0 OT win over the Penguins before making 29 saves on 30 shots in the 1-0 loss in Boston. Budaj is currently #12 in the ESPN player rater among goalies making him a bottom end #1 or elite #2. With the news that Quick is going to be out until at least March, it’s Budaj’s job going forward. Despite that, Budaj is still available in over 40% of leagues. Can I explain it? No, not one bit. If you don’t already own him and he’s available in your league, grab Budaj. Let’s take a look at everything that happened around the league the last three nights:

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For the first time since 2007-08, the Chicago Blackhawks were quite mediocre. Yes, they finished with 103 points but they had a negative goal differential at even strength. That’s simply not going to get it done and at this point, the Blackhawks are out of the first tier of teams in the NHL. It sounds crazy to say with the stars they have but man, the roster is incredibly thin after the top few guys. For fantasy, there’s not much in terms of value plays but if you’re willing to spend a high pick, you’ll have your choice of some studs. Let’s take a look at what Chicago is working with:

Please, blog, may I have some more?