Chris Kunitz - PIT - LW - 99% owned
Chris Kunitz is a player who has amazing chemistry with Sidney Crosby. Some may even call him a "Crosby Wing" much like Peter Mueller was a "Duchene Wing" except there is no cure to play with Crosby. He's a physical player, who does all the small things to mesh perfectly with Crosby. In only two games last week, Kunitz put up a stat line of 0-0-0, +1 with two hits and two blocks. I will cut him a little bit of slack, as these were his first two games after missing quite a bit of time but it didn't seem like his conditioning held him back. He still averaged 21:25 in those two games. In the non-overtime game, he still got 19+ minutes. He's gotta be better than that.
Matt Duchene - COL - C, LW - 96% owned
Fantasy owners who own Matt Duchene, and actually watch the Avs games are probably getting pretty frustrated with him. The goalpost gods have been especially brutal to him this year. It honestly, reminds me a lot of that year that McGinn hit at least 11. Even more alarming, is that Duchene has looked less dominant, at least in my opinion, than he did at the beginning of the year. In three games this past week, Duchene put up 0-0-0, was +1 and had 3 hits. That's just not enough for the highest paid and best player on the Avs. There seems to be some chemistry issues on that line, as it hasn't been the same line all season. Roy is still trying to find the right match ups over a third of the way into the season. This lack of production and line juggling isn't helping Duchene fantasy owners.
Patrick Marleau - SJ - C, LW - 98% owned
Patrick Marleau is third on our disappointments list, and is the third significant player to lay a giant goose egg this past week. In three games this past week Marleau, put up 0-0-0, was even in the +/- department, while having 6 hits and 1 blocked shot. He averaged over 21 minutes of ice time and had 7 shots. If there is a silver lining to his week, it is the fact that he is still shooting and playing physical. Maybe this Christmas break will be a nice time for him to rest up and get back to his normal self.
The Pleasant Surprises
Mark Scheifele - WPG - C - 14% owned
Mark Scheifele has had a bit of a slow start this year, as I'm sure Winnipeg has expected a better season out of the former 7th overall draft pick. He's a player that I would really like to see reach that next level, and he seems to have taken a big step this past week. In 3 games this past week, Scheifele put up 2-3-5, +3 and had 3 hits. He's not owned by too many, so those who did own him will be happy. If you are one of them, go ahead and pat yourself on the back. If you aren't and are looking for a center, he may be one of the better options you have.
Craig Smith - NSH - C, RW - 17% owned
It has been Snipe City Central for Craig Smith this past week putting up 3-1-4 and was +4. He had 3 hits and two blocks as well. Craig Smith is putting together another very solid season, following his 24 goal and 52 point performance from last year. He's on pace for about 25 goals again (give or take). Depending on the flexibility of your team, Smith may be a better option than Scheifele because he has the dual position. For many of you that show disdain for Winnipeg, he may also be the better choice. If you value ice time, then you may want to stick with Scheifele.
Justin Faulk - CAR - D - 66% owned
His percentage owned is a little high for a "pleasant surprise" but any time I can throw a bone to a defenseman on a bad team, I will. This past week, Justin Faulk put up a stat line if 1-2-3 and was +2 in 4 games (including a thrashing of Toronto *giggles*). He also had 10 hits (count-em, ten hits) and two blocked shots. For a guy who is only 6 foot, he had a hell of a physical week. He may be available in your league, and if he is, it's a risk to pick him up. To me, it depends on if your league counts, hits, blocks, etc. because he will kill your +/-.
Calvin Pickard - COL - G - 28% owned
I'm not going to discuss Pickard's stats here. He probably doesn't have any fantasy implications unless you are in a two tier league with an AHL and NHL team. He will probably get sent down, probably over the freeze because he is an "emergency call-up" and I will probably be super irate by that. I will be super irate because this team has a back-up goalie that they can't trust, they refuse to use but also refuse to send down to the minors. But getting back on track. Super props for Picks coming in for these few weeks. This past week especially, he gave the team every chance to win pretty much every game, and the team came out with 5 out of 6 points. For a 21 year old rookie to do that is absolutely amazing. Maybe it's talent, maybe it's will power, maybe he hasn't been scouted yet (side note, this thought is silly, every goalie has been scouted and the book on them? shoot high), maybe it's luck and you know what? Maybe I don't care. This kid has a lot to be proud of for his stint with the Avs and seems to have a super bright future.
Well that's all, folks. I'll be back in two weeks, since writing next week would be a super small sample size to discuss. I hope you all have a great holiday and travel safely!